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Morning Sun
  • SISNEY COLUMN: Take me out to the ballgame

  • There's something incredibly soothing about watching baseball games.

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  • There's something incredibly soothing about watching baseball games.
    Sitting in the stands at Al Ortolani Field watching Pittsburg State and Missouri Western play a doubleheader before the rains came last Friday evening, I had a familiar revelation that almost nothing can beat watching a baseball game.
    I was alone during this revelation — sitting in the middle of the desolate green stands, jotting notes or keeping score or wishing for more "Green Onions" between innings or flashing back on baseball games from childhood or remembering that foul ball which could have decapitated a poor sports writer a few innings ago before he moved to a different location.
    I love the peace and quiet and the solitude that a small town college or high school game brings to life, especially when we've been having mostly incredible weather so far this spring.
    I try and spend as little time as humanly possible inside the office or a shopping mall or wherever large masses of people are found — away from modern or postmodern technology, away from buzzes and beeps all except for the buzz of bees in the grass surrounding every park, away from e-mail and voicemail, away from a computer or television screen except for those occasions whenever a laptop becomes necessary for TV/Radio or a brief story between games, away from inconsiderate and nasty drivers who flip you the bird when they’re at fault and you saved them from a wreck and higher insurance rates, away from lines that stretch around the block for a cheeseburger. . . .
    As much as I enjoy watching football and basketball and softball, they provide different enjoyments than baseball. Baseball moves slower (in the best possible sense of the word in this hectic world) and seems built less on kinetic motion or sheer, brute force for its appeal. As I struggle to articulate what's so great about baseball, I found a blog written by somebody calling herself Dr. Sanity. She entitled her Apr. 2 entry, "Baseball and the Soul," and she takes a crack at finding the words:
    "I find the sights and smells and sounds of a ballpark on a summer day to be the most soothing experience imaginable. The ebbs and flows of the game are comforting and yet exciting. The joy of your team coming from behind; or your favorite players doing well. The glory of winning the pennant and even the anguish of losing it. Baseball has the rhythm of life . . . not too fast; not too slow but smooth and flowing."
    She touched on her father and her brothers and how baseball runs very deep in her family. That statement might ring loud and true for your family and it certainly does for my family. I remember how sad I was and how disappointed I was in myself after leaving behind somewhere in space and time a baseball glove which my uncle let me have when I first started playing summer baseball, circa the summer following the second grade or 1987. I used that glove as backup plan for several years and sometimes it just felt right using that glove before a big game. Sometimes I wonder exactly what happened and who ended up as the owner of that glove.
    Page 2 of 2 - Perhaps, despite interleague play and the designated hitter and the expanded playoff system, it's because baseball stays basically the same that it gets passed on and spans the generations, the fashions, the trends, et cetera. You catch the ball, you throw the ball and you hit the ball. The majority of changes in baseball have been cosmetic, rather than elemental.
    It's the one and only game that's inspired Walt Whitman, George Will, the Marx Brothers and Fidel Castro.
    When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, I remember seeing a kid on television who started his own magazine, a fanzine if you will, devoted to professional baseball. He illustrated his own covers, wrote his own stories, et cetera. Not only did his story make it onto ESPN, the kid met some of his favorite baseball players. I was inspired and dabbled in a similar enterprise that lasted all of 5 minutes before moving on to the next wild and crazy daydream.
    At 11 or 12 years old, if I could not have been a standout athlete myself, I thought it would be the next best thing to cover them, document them, et cetera. My 11- or 12-year-old self would have never understood any desire on my behalf to pursue a career beyond sports and certainly would have despised any desk job. He would never have used the word "career" in the first place. Sometimes I think we all were a little bit smarter when we were 11 or 12 years old . . . sometimes but not always.
    My girlfriend’s youngest son will be playing summer baseball for the first time, a third grader no doubt a little behind the average Ted Carnino League player. He’s on the raw side but he does have some potential, especially in his arm.
    We attended his first clinic and his first practice. I hope to be able to give him some tips and I hope never to be a parental figure from Hell screaming at the child, screaming at the coach and screaming at the umpires. I never liked any of that being a player, being an umpire for one summer and being a spectator.
    On another detour, I’ll give you my favorite experience being an umpire. It was a Little League game in Mulberry. There was a force play at second and I called the runner out. The opposing coach stormed out because he thought the second baseman dropped the ball before any out was made, appealed the call and dropped a few kind words in my general vicinity. I’ll never forget his standard-issue “Are you blind?” taunt. I laughed at him, at least on the inside, since I was 17 years old and wore glasses already. I was overruled and I still believe that I was right.
    Anyway, let us hope this nice weather continues for as long as possible and we get in as many baseball and softball games before football season.
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