Spring time weather is unpredictable. Clouds burn off and give way to sun, drying up morning rains. Not only does a new day dawn, but a new season dawns around 30 sites in Arizona and Florida.
While many men are proclaiming their love to their wives and girlfriends on Valentine’s Day, their first love is close at hand. Usually within days, pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
The dreams of players ranging from kids fresh out of high school to the most grizzled veterans will either be made or broken in the course of the next two months.
There are more decisions being made besides who will win out position battles. Spring training also sets the leadership styles of that years club. There are two main types of personalities which usually win out. The leaders and the clubhouse cancers.
This is where teams start to gel together and form the nucleus that either bonds or implodes when the weather of July and August becomes sweltering. There are players such as Milton Bradley and Manny Ramirez who are recognized as much for their derisiveness as they are their immense talent. On the other hand, players such as Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners are viewed as valuable veterans whose role of leadership is valued more than their dwindling Hall of Fame talents.
Bradley, likely because of his clubhouse reputation has played for seven teams in the course of ten seasons.
The 2010 Mariners have two of the fore-mentioned players; Bradley and Griffey. Whose influence is more of a factor on a team in-flux, yet ripe in talent is yet to be seen.
Good teams have their Griffey, or their Crash Davis to break up the monotony of a long season. These players are leaders. Many good teams have also ended poorly for the lack of such clubhouse leadership. These teams are led, or more aptly put, distracted by the Bradley or Nuke LaLoosh types.
Which leadership personality wins out is often decided in the early days of spring training and sets the tempo for the rest of the season.