This is Baseball

Baseball for all time

You stand there, weapon in hand, observing them. Nine men who are there to stop you. Sixty and a half feet away, one stares through you, thinking about his approach. His job is to put you down. Alone or with the help of the eight who came with him. You don't know if he will try to defeat you with his might or by deception. His companions cheer him on, eager for the chance to stop you. They want to make you walk back to where you came from, head down in failure.

   You've been in battles like this numerous times. At times you've been triumphant but more often, you find failure, unable to overcome the odds that are against you. But you never back down when it's you that's called upon.

   You step into you're station. Feet firm, hands back, head cooked. Ready to attack. Prepared to take on the 9. Staring down the man standing before you...

  The pitcher winds up. You prepare for launch.

Filtering out the noise

Today, when I look online, I see endless debates about how the game has changed. How long games go on. How homeruns and strikeouts are skyrocketing while batting average and innings pitched are plummeting. The arguments about the importance of WAR, obp+, exit velocity and spin rate. 

You can't see a post about Ohtani without someone mentioning Ruth. Can't talk about the Hall of Fame without Bonds, Rose, steroids or gambling being brought up. You won't hear a conversation about the Astros without trashcans seeing their way in. 

With the current lockout, these conversations have amplified. With the absence of MLB games being played or moves being made, fans have filled in the void with debate.

I'm not going to focus on those debates. Not because I don't have an opinion, but because there's nothing I could add to the conversation that hasn't already been said. It gets old. There are no new insights on these topics. They are a circle of repeated positions taken by the masses of fans.  And while related to the game, it's not baseball. It's semantics.

I'm not saying there isn't a place for those debates. Discussions can be engaging and entertaining at times. 

Just not here. Not now. When I see them brought up, I get a sense they are brought up to stir controversy, not settle it.  It's a periphery to the game. One that fills the time when there's no play on the field. It's a way for some to stay connected to the game. 

But, to me, that's not baseball. 

The game we grew to love

Baseball is something more to me. The game was my first love in my elementary years. A place to test myself. To find improvement. To achieve peace in chaos. To me baseball is different than the noise about MLB on social media.

It's the battle between two teams to have the highest run total after the last out. The one on one match ups between the pitcher and the batter. The game of cat and mouse on the basepaths. The "show me yours and I'll show you mine" mindset of the opposing pitchers. The "bring it" attitude of the batters.

To me that's baseball. 

It's stepping into the box and looking for a pitch to lace down the 3rd base line. The bunt for a base hit no one is expecting. The catcher scrambling for a dropped third  strike to throw out the batter-runner who's hustling to keep the inning alive. 

It's sacrificing your body to knock down a shape groundball. Getting a face full of dirt to get under a tag on a steal. Laying out to make a diving catch to save a run. 

It's the catcher calling pitches to keep the hitter off balance. The pitcher reaching down inside himself to give the last ounce of what he's got left to get his team the out. The manager putting his team in the best place to win. 

It's how one bad hop can change the course of the game. One swing sealing a decision. A base coach taking a risk by sending the runner. 

Its the tryouts. The practices. The league games and tournaments we long for tournaments we long for. It's the satisfaction of completing the win. The heartbreak of falling short in a loss. The handshake line after a hard fought contest. 

It's the Capri Sun and bag of chips after the game. The beer at the tailgate in the parking lot after the dugouts have cleared. The drive home knowing you left it on the field. 

It's the relationships made in the dugout and across the diamond. The bond formed by the chase of a common goal. Every player bringing what they have to offer to help the team.

To me THIS is baseball. 

The game is what we make it

The MLB is the elite of the baseball world. It captures the attention and imagination of fans everywhere. And those that reach that pinnacle have earned that chance. It's baseball played at the highest level. 

At the same time, it's a business. The entity of MLB is focused on entertainment and profit. Thats not an indictment on them. Its an acknowledgement that the business of baseball is separate from the sport of baseball. The choices they make go through that filter. And it's those choices that fuel the arguments and debates. 

But if you go out to the fields across America and in countries around the globe, you can still find baseball being played much the same way it was decades ago. Whether at a little league, a high school, adult amateur league or sandlot game, you'll see people that are playing their heart out for the love of the game. Those that make time in their day to grind it out on the field. 

To me, this is baseball. 

You may enjoy the debates and conversations about analytics, who belongs in the hall of fame or how the game has changed, for better or worse. There are certainly merits to the arguments. Some may enjoy it. For some, it may be their way of staying involved with baseball. There's nothing wrong with that.

For those that love the game, I encourage you to get involved in a much more substantial and fulfilling way. Find a league and join. Go catch a youth game. Root for your local high-school team. Sign up to be an umpire. Volunteer to coach. Hit in a batting cage. Grab a buddy and play catch in the yard. Not everyone is lucky enough to still be able to.

Those that still pick up a ball and a glove or support those in the community that do, keep the spirit of baseball alive and growing.ore than any website (this one included) or even the big business of MLB. I urge you to keep that flame burning, not just for yourself but for those kids just finding the game and others that can't take the field anymore. 

We can foster and pass baseball on to those coming up behind us, just as generations did for us. I'd love to see this become the overwhelming baseball topic on the web. 

Because to me, that's baseball. 


Play ball


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