“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
It’s been nearly two months since the Royals lost the World Series by ninety feet. Baseball went into hibernation when Fox signed off that night, not to be heard from again until April, right?
Of course not, although we do get a welcome respite from Joe “Hack” Buck and Harold “Hack” Reynolds. Baseball is a 365-day-a-year sport (366 in leap years). There are plenty of ways to get your baseball fix in the winter.
Twitter’s baseball community is active year round. It’s slightly less active during the winter, but there’s still plenty of chatter. As I write this, there’s a lively discussion about how lifting the embargo with Cuba will affect baseball. As someone who owns Alfredo Despaigne in a sim league, I’m following this very closely. During the baseball winter meetings, Baseball Twitter exploded, with constant news about trade discussions. Many baseball beat writers and writers from leading sites (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, Fangraphs, etc.) are on Twitter, and many of them do a great job of interacting with their followers. If you’re lucky, you’ll be privy to some spirited debates about evolution (keep fighting the good fight, Keith).
Many baseball podcasts remain active in the winter. Baseball Prospectus has a few active winter podcasts (including the much beloved Effectively Wild). I also listen the Baseball America podcast on a fairly regular basis. When I’m looking for a long and weird podcast to fill some time, I dust off BP’s now-defunct Up And In podcast and listen to Kevin Goldstein (currently director of pro scouting for the Astros) and Jason Parks (currently a scout with the Cubs). The Up and In podcasts routinely push the two hour mark, making them great for long road trips. Any episode with Kevin’s mom is great for a few laughs.
Baseball is played in many countries outside the USA. Some of the seasons align approximately with the MLB schedule, but many of them don’t.
MLB network recently televised the All-Star game of the Australian Baseball League (have it DVR, but haven’t had a chance to watch it yet). The ABL embraced their native son, MLB “superstar” (their words) Grant Balfour, as he returned to Australia and did a meet and greet with fans. Games are televised for free on YouTube and iiNet, and there’s a GameDay app on their website. I’ve recently started following the ABL (go Bandits!) largely because the content is easily consumable for people who only speak English.
If you want to follow a league that has more recognizable names, the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) is a good option, as some major leaguers and minor leaguers play winter ball in the Dominican. There are several apps for LIDOM. I use the LIDOM Movil Premium app for iOS to watch games. The downside of LIDOM is that almost all of the content is in Spanish. If you’re an English-only speaker (like me) you’ll probably muddle around a bit In addition to the Dominican Republican, many other Caribean nations have league. Their seasons will culminate in playoffs at the end of the season, with one team being crowned Carribean Series champions.
You can also follow Cuban baseball on BaseballdeCuba. The site provides content in both Spanish and English. I haven’t followed the Cuban league (Serie Nacionale) very closely, although I do track the progress of individual players.
I participate in a sim league (custom – doesn’t use any of the commercial engines). Our world series just wrapped up, and the draft will be coming in six weeks or so. I’ve traded away some of my draft picks (there are ten rounds), but I still have seven picks. We can draft anyone of note – basically, any player who pops up in an article somewhere. This includes MLB players who are not owned in the league, minor leaguers, sixteen year old Dominicans, etc. My basic strategy is to stay 1-3 years ahead of everyone else. While many people will be focusing on players who are expected to be drafted in the 2015 MLB draft, my main focus will be on the class of 2016. I’ll also try to scoop up a couple of the top sixteen year old international players, or perhaps even a fifteen year old. I’ve also been active in making trades to solidify my roster for next year.
As you can see, I’m keeping plenty busy with baseball activities during the baseball off-season. How do you get your baseball fix in the dead of winter?
Next post: Time Capsule: Cards from the ’80s & ’90s (Part 3)
Previous post: ’14 Flashback: Recollections of the Giants and Royals’ Pennant Seasons (Part 6)