Opening Day for Major League Baseball & Spring Training aka Understanding Farming through Baseball Terminology

opening day of spring training at George Steinbrenner stadium

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with the boys of summer. It was incredible! After this winter’s snowed in adventures in Atlanta and St. Louis, along with all the other crappy weather that simply made traveling harder, I think that the mid-80 degree day was truly a gift from God. It’s amazing how clear my head became thanks to yelling for Mark Texeira when he hit a homerun to center field and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” so loudly (yes, I made it to the jumbotron 🙂 ). All I could think of was being in the moment and sharing a bit of that through social media and texts to my nephew.

On the 2-hour drive back to my hotel (which was filled with Red Sox fans in an irony that still overpowers me), I enjoyed the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico and other wanderings of my mind. Halfway into the drive, I got back into the area we had visited farmers on Friday. And yes, that triggered some thoughts that I think are perfect for this blog. It’s a little vocabulary, a little definition and a little perspective:

  • Spring training — What a great time of year! Six weeks or so to see what you may want to change in the ballgame. Try out new players to see if the scouted pitcher has all it takes, etc. and all of that before things really count into your stats, etc! Well, spring training for the 2011 planting season was the 2010 growing season and the ones before that and every lesson learned comes at a price.
  • The thrill of opening day — Yesterday was the opening day of spring training but April 8 is opening day for the baseball season. People take the day off work to go to games, others may have friends over to watch in the new man cave or whatever but there is no question it is an event in the sports world and it signals spring has arrived and a new year begins. Most of the same can be said for agriculture as planters roll the first day. I get pumped when friends in South Texas tell me they’ve hit the field cause the excitement of what the season brings, but on opening day very few family or friends get a day off. It’s really long days to get planted! Fishback Farms captures some of the excitement in this post.
  • Farm team — definitely different. In baseball this refers to the minor leagues, and usually a dream of getting called up to the major league but in farming it is more about the fact it is truly a team sport. Can’t think of a farmer I know who would say they do it all by themselves quite nicely. Now, granted they are independent as can be, stubborn in fact, but young farmers are rarely looked down on. In fact, they are cherished cause far too many farms need some younger players they can pull on!
  • Ground crew looks after the field — Yesterday as the game went on, we were lucky that rain wasn’t going to become an issue. But still the ground crew had to go out and take care of things a bit, smoothing the infield so things would go forward. Farmers are out there taking care of things throughout the season off and on. And some may be far more like the Yankees ground crew than you’d think…. I know a few who would dance along to the Village People’s YMCA for fun too!
  • Three strikes and you’re out — Sometimes getting a member of another baseball team out seems to take forever with foul balls, etc. In farming, the reality is one serious strike in a bad economy can put a farm out. The blog post I wrote New Years talks about a farm that suffered it’s final strike recently. And there’s rarely a chance to return to the dugout til the next inning.
  • 9 innings possible extra innings — Think about the longest baseball game you’ve gone to, according to the Baseball Almanac the longest game on record at 9 innings was NY vs Boston in 2006 at a length of 4 hrs 45 minutes. With extra innings, the longest game was Chicago vs Milwaukee that went 25 innings and 8 hours 6 minutes. At planting time both of those sound like a dream!
  • A seventh inning stretch and belting out “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” can help you get in the right mindset-need to catch up or make sure you don’t screw it up. (Was a great memory to pull up this video Steve Gaither shot when he, Gail, Maureen and I went to the Cubs game with Moonalice.) Something about that just tends to offer the possibility of shifting perspective as can hearing the crowd get behind you. Would love to have something like this to sing once bollset was accomplished in cotton so I may have to work on it, in the meantime, I’ll listen to some of Will’s dairy good tunes. 🙂
  • Reliance on the designated hitter — The designated hitter in baseball is someone you go to so your pitcher can stay fresh — who wants a pitcher to get hit with a ball or get a face full of dust sliding into the bag? Besides, as a friend pointed out, pitchers are usually horrible at bat LOL!The DH should be able to keep good batting stats — both players get to be sort of specialists. In farming, the designated hitter is most likely to be the variety or hybrid that works consistently on your farm, making the most of the soil, moisture, etc. But very few farmers would go to their designated hitter every time — either every season or every field. You really need a combination of designated hitters!
  • The salary cap and talk of all the paychecks baseball players get. I think that many Americans have become totally focused on the money that goes to sports pros and I can understand why. We hear stories of hundreds of thousand dollar contracts and none of us can connect to that. If you think about the fact there are 30 Major League Baseball teams with 40 man rosters, that’s 1,200 players in the majors. Reality is there are four or five times that in the minor leagues and more than 300,000 in college (numbers from and I’m assuming millions upon millions in high school and rec leagues for youth and adults. For some reason, some people tend to hear about a few big farm operations and they tend to assume that’s common place. Or that it’s comparable in someway to the extravagant sports salaries. Farmers have incredible expenses in land, equipment, storage facilities and while a big check may go to a farm, the check has lots of places to be disbursed to. Reality is we should be paying farmers far more for what they do it is one of the few professions we simply cannot live without!
  • Finally, the phrase I started with “the boys of summer” — Its an icon as American as they come. Men in pinstriped uniforms leaning on a baseball bat. Farmers tend to be icons more along the line of Grant Wood’s American Gothic to many Americans. The icons for many seem to still hold water in baseball — it’s still a man’s sport only. That’s not the case for farming! There are incredible women who Before a bunch of you assume I mean farmers — I’ll point out that some very good ones are girls and I’ll make sure you remember they tend to work a lot more than 180 days a year. Some of the women to see blogs by are Chris Chinn, Barbara Martin, Jan Hoadley and others on the page I have of women who blog about their home & farm.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I do love baseball! Special thanks to Kathleen for telling me weeks ago camps would be open while I was down here — it resulted in a bucket list item with a check box. And I may have to come back.

What other baseball terms do you think may have an interesting ag connection?


About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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8 Responses to Opening Day for Major League Baseball & Spring Training aka Understanding Farming through Baseball Terminology

  1. SlowMoneyFarm February 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    One of the biggest terms – a home run! Farmers may not get it very often when those things align and all goes right but it’s worth it when it does. And even better when bases are loaded. 🙂

    • JPlovesCOTTON February 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      How did I miss home run & grand slam? Thanks for the add Jan!

  2. shannon February 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    A real farm visit in Florida is the Arcadia Stockyards. I still remember that stop from our family vacation 15 years ago, one only a farm family would humor.

    • JPlovesCOTTON February 27, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

      I went to a big ol ranch near Arcadia. I will be writing more about the trip this week. 🙂


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