Saturday, April 25, 2009

For the Love of the Game: What Makes Baseball So Great

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to watch a high school baseball game. My good friend, Joe is one of the coaches for the varsity team where we went to high school, and on such a gorgeous spring day I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get outside.

The field had changed a lot in the six years since I'd left. It was complete with real dugouts, new bleachers, and a more fenced in area. It definitely had a more professional look to it.

However, there was no big screen video monitor in center field, no media, no pricey concessions to purchase, and no high paid stars to see.

The home team had a very good day. They were scoring runs quick and easy right from the start, as well as making slick plays in the field.

I was most impressed by their pitcher. I know nothing about him other than the fact that he's a lefty pitcher with a killer breaking ball. Not to mention, behind home plate all you could hear was the pop the catcher's glove was making each time the ball hit the leather.

All I could think of was that this kid could have a lot of great things ahead of him.

His control was phenomenal, and in five innings he didn't surrender a run. He gave up one hit, didn't walk anyone, and struck out ten.

On the other side, was a team that didn't have it together at all. Routine ground balls were bouncing off of their shins or through their legs, and they looked more like the Bad News Bears than a competitive high school team.

It didn't help matters that they were down 7-0 in the second inning, and after an extremely long third inning, were in the hole 17-0. The game was called after the top of the fifth inning with a final score of 19-0.

Part of what impressed me the most was that the home team never let up. They never got lazy, and they played hard despite the fact that they were walking away with the game.

For a little while yesterday, I got to see a group of kids remind me just why I love baseball so much. There was a bunch of guys who were enjoying playing the game they love with each other. No one was trying to improve their own stats or get on an All-Star ballot, they were out there for the love of the game.

If only the professionals could remember that every once in a while.

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