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Law Lessons from Spring Training 2023

by Jay Reeves |

Just back from my 2023 Spring Training baseball tour with exciting news to report on chili slaw-dogs, Shohei Ohtani and the privilege of pressure.

Not to mention the Pitch Clock – the biggest rules change in Major League Baseball since the Designated Hitter.

Plus the marvelous World Baseball Classic, which was just getting underway as I wrapped up my most recent visit to MLB training camps in south Florida.

My first such trip was 1968, when my father drove us to Lakeland, FL aka Tigertown. Since then, I have tried to catch a Grapefruit League game whenever possible. This year, I ate unhealthy but delicious ballpark food, scrawled notes on scraps of paper and stained scorecards, and took so many pictures my iphone crashed.

I hope to distill this grand slam of rounders into something that will enliven, enrich and dare I say illuminate you, my dedicated and much-appreciated readers. Here then, some gold nuggets from the green fields:


Law Life Lesson #1: Life is to be enjoyed.

A good way to do this is in a bleacher seat on a March afternoon at the Ballpark at West Palm Beach, ideally while chowing down on a Super Chili Beefsteak.

This steaming masterpiece comes loaded with mustard, slaw, diced onions and half a can of Bunker Hill chili, all of which slides sloppily off the tiny square of tinfoil it’s served on and drips down the front of your shirt into your lap the minute you settle back into your seat. But whatever you manage to get into your mouth is heavenly, as is simply basking in the Florida sunshine as afternoon wind gusts carry lazy fly balls into the palm trees over the right field fence.

Your Challenge: what is one small thing you can do today for the pure sensory pleasure of doing it?


Law Life Lesson #2: Great times are already here.

Those of with a few miles on the tires tend to romanticize the past, if not bloviate about it: the music was better back then, practicing law was better, life was better, blahblahblah.

When I catch myself projecting my personal aches, pains and grumpiness onto the world, I think of Dickens’ “best of times, worst of times” line.

I also think of Shohei Ohtani. Two ways in which baseball has never been better are Shohei Ohtani the Pitcher and Shohei Ohtani the Batter. Years from now, baseball fans will look back and say, “Ah, to have been there and seen him.” We are here, and we are seeing him.

Your Challenge: what might push you out of your comfort zone and towards Ohtaniness?


Law Life Lesson #3: The pitch clock is ticking.

For the first time, MLB pitchers and batters are on a timer. No more endless waits between pitches or batters stepping out of the box to adjust a dozen straps and bands.

As a result, games will be considerably shortened, without losing any of the excitement or drama.

Your Challenge: are there any rules in your office that could be changed to speed up work flow?


Law Life Lesson #4: It’s a small world, after all.

The World Baseball Classic was a showcase of love of baseball. People from all over the world came together and spoke a common language: balls and strikes, sacrifices and home runs. And it ended – magically – with Trout against Ohtani. Sure, it’s only baseball, but it was still special.

Your Challenge: what is one way you can better connect with your staff and clients?


Law Life Lesson #5: Pressure is a privilege.

A player in the WBC said that, and it got my attention.

There are two ways of looking at pressure. One is how terrible it is. The other is it gives you an opportunity to do something important in a situation that matters.

Your Challenge: is there a decision you’ve been avoiding because of a looming deadline or other pressure?

Law Life List: 10 Lawyers Who Made a Difference in Major League Baseball
(1) Branch Rickey, executive (2) Kenesaw Mountain Landis, first MLB commissioner (3) Tony La Russa, Hall of Fame manager (4) Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner (5) Fay Vincent, former MLB commissioner, (6) Bowie Kuhn, former MLB commissioner (7) Arthur Goldberg, lawyer for Curt Flood in 1970 Kuhn v. Flood (8) Richie Phillips, MLB umpire attorney (9) Marvin Rosenbaum, attorney for Pete Rose (10) Charles Gorman, prosecutor Black Sox Scandal 1918.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: I was born and raised in the small town of Kingstree, SC. At spring training, I caught a foul ball and had it signed by Atlanta Braves prospect Justin Dean, who – you cannot make this up – tells me he is from Mauldin, SC, not far from Kingstree. Where else but Spring Training? Irrefutable proof that all good things cohere with baseball, and that we are all but three degrees removed from Minnie Minoso.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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