bunt sign

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I wonder if the major league baseball players and owners think there will be an outpouring of national grief if they shut down the game as threatened later this month. Even baseball fans (and I consider myself one) have other things going on in their lives. A whole lot of my time will be freed up if there are no major league games to follow.

All of the highly public, sordidly rancorous negotiations are hurting their image, and it's not something they can recover easily. They still haven't caught up with the interest and attendance they enjoyed before the 1994 strike soured so many people on the situation. Even those of us who flocked back after peace was restored the next year will be a little less enthusiastic the next time they come back from hiatus.

The real pain will be felt by those who have no voice in the decision. I'm not talking about fans in this case, but about the vendors, and the administrative and support staff. Even someone who owns a business in the shadow of a major league stadium has at least as much to lose, relatively speaking, as the athletes who are threatening to withdraw their services, and the businessmen who can't stop themselves from overspending without forcing their employees to make a choice that benefits no one.

Fans will come back when play resumes after all the issues are resolved (for another few years, until the next time). It won't be the same, though. It never has been the same after a baseball work stoppage. What we've lost is something greater than what they'll gain by all this, and it's a hard thing to forgive.

Little League baseball is different. I watched a game between Canada and Guam today. Canada went into the last inning leading 4-0 and needing to finish the shutout to advance to the semifinals. Instead, the team from Guam scored twelve runs in the inning, taking a 12-4 lead and giving themselves a good chance of going on to the next round. Did the kids from Canada give up? No, they did not. They scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and only lost 12-7.

It's beautiful to see these kids from all over the world mingling and playing good, solid baseball without any ill feelings toward each other. The Canadians with their shaggy blond hair and the olive-skinned boys from Guam could all be anybody's children. The mellow team from Hawaii and the intensely animated team from Harlem won't get to play each other, but they represent their families, communities and coaches.

These kids aren't playing for money. Sure, there's pressure, but most of it comes from within, the inner drive to do well. The coaches almost uniformly work to take the pressure off the players. Tears come with a strike out, an error, a loss. But tears dry quickly. It's obvious that these twelve-year-olds are having fun playing ball and getting to know each other.

Parents from the world over support their kids as well as the sense of sportsmanship that pervades everything at South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As children will, sometimes the Little Leaguers embarrass their parents and coaches. More often, they make them proud by taking to heart the lessons they're being taught about teamwork, pride and effort. It's a very cool thing to watch.


Today's sunset was incredible, much more beautiful than I was able to capture in this shot.

I really like the Little League team from Texas, because they go against type. I think they have the smallest players in the tournament (in terms of physical size), and they're one of the few teams that doesn't hit many home runs. They play the game the way it was invented, by getting on base, advancing runners, and scoring runs one at a time. And they're in the semifinals, so they're doing it pretty darn well.

previousbunt signemailnext

Latest recommendation:

Colleen, Mad Redhead, August 20, How to Survive Reg. Ed Classes 101

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Digging Out
"All of the slacking off I've done in not keeping the office organized has come back to nip me in the ankle."

Two years ago: The Best Thing
"Most of the time we're careful not to bother anyone, unless they deserve it."

Subscribe to the notify list to be advised when this site is updated.