Back to the basics with college baseball
There are numbers and names to learn, stats to memorize, favorites to pick. The last part is easy: Unless the shortstop's a total schmuck, that position always has the inside track to near and dear to my heart.
Then there's the sheer weight of the season. You can't pop in on the weekend, like you can with football, or a couple of days a week like with basketball. You have to put in your time day in, day out. It's wearing.
But the guys have fallen in love with a local college team, which means I, too, must follow.
It was one of the Stan State Warriors himself who sealed the deal, as the guys and I wandered around behind the grandstands during the fourth-inning stretch Sunday. I know tradition dictates stretching during the seventh, but 3-year-old Boots hasn't mastered sitting still and watching.
Boots occupied himself picking up rocks as Big Guy craned his neck to see the game. Just as he turned to update me on the action, a Warriors player walked up. Big Guy gazed at him google-eyed.
"Hey, buddy, how's it going?" he smiled.
Big Guy melted, and I was ready to invite the player home for milk and cookies.
Even though he's yet to play an inning of ball outside our back yard, Big Guy thinks he's a baseball player. He shared that resume entry with roughly 100 people at the game Sunday. And for one of the big baseball players to notice a little baseball player like him was huge.
"Mommy! He talked to me!"
It was sweet and quaint and old-fashioned. But, then, so the entire experience.
Forget Jumbotrons and hat races. At this tiny field, the players go out between innings to change the numbers on the right field scoreboard.
There's no beer-fueled nastiness. An amazing acrobatic catch in right field might have deprived the Warriors of a hit, but it drew applause. A great play is a great play, regardless of uniform color.
The collegial crowd didn't even mind if the guys squawked occasionally, unlike the folks who glared daggers at me when Big Guy cried during his one trip to a Major League park.
And there' was no A-Rod and Tic Tacs, Barry and BALCO or Manny and $45 million.
There are just 30 young men who love the game. Some might dream of The Show, but for most it's a way to pay for school and have a little fun at the same time. They have to drag the infield after the game, so there's still a price for their fun.
We plan on having a lot of fun with the Warriors this season. It's cheap entertainment - $9 got all three of us close enough to hear pitches smack the catcher's mitt -- though not as cheap as I planned once the guys discovered the concession stand. Note to self: Eat lunch before the next game.
By and large, though, it's baseball as God and Abner Doubleday intended. Sunny days, friendly folk and players humble enough to grant an admiring kid a "how's it going."
Life could not be any more perfect.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.