Welcome, we have arrived at the best two days (I am bias) in Spring Training. The Wednesday and Thursday of the first week of Spring Training, brings us a unicorn in sports that only happens in baseball. College vs. Professional.
Every year a select few play their first actual 9 inning games against another opponent, and that opponent competes in college baseball.
It all starts in a few hours when the Diamondbacks take on the University of Arizona in a 3:05 PM EST start with Taylor Clarke getting the start for the D-Backs.
Then on Thursday we will see five games. The Red Sox will have a double header against Northeastern University which competes in the CAA and Boston College which competes in the ACC.
Detroit Tigers will take on Florida Southern College who competes in Division II! The Phillies take on University of Tampa (Try not to Laugh!). Last the Minnesota Twins will take on University of Minnesota at 6:05 PM EST. to cap off a great day of college vs pros.
The match-ups from year to year typically stay the same, its tradition at this point (What did you expect its baseball?). So if you laugh every time you see the Phillies take on UT it’s most likely you know the story in 2016 when the Philles lost to the Division II opponent 6-2 on a Giovanny Alfonzo grand slam.
Needless to say anything can happen in baseball, but most of the time the pros wipe up on the college competition.
These games have seen likes of Jameis Winston for Florida State when they took on the Yankees just months after winning a National Championship for the Seminoles in college football.
There have also been a fair share of players in these games that go on to be drafted and play in the majors like Tony Sanchez for Boston College who played for the Pirates and now Braves. Yasmani Grandal who played for the University of Miami and was a 12th overall pick in the draft and now on the Dodgers. You never know when you will see these faces again.
Although it is very short lived and the games mean even less than Spring Training games, I like to think this is quite something to watch. We always talk about those dream scenarios in football and basketball of either Alabama vs. Browns or Kentucky vs. Sixers. We actually get to live that out in a small bite size in baseball and it lives in a small vacuum on these two days, so cherish it while we only get a few games.