Jun 22, 2017 72

Love of the game.

Little League baseball! One of the most exciting sports in America. The love of the game begins here. For most boys and some girls, this is their moment of glory. Stands filled with parents and family showing unabashed favoritism towards their own player.

The next batter up, too young to swagger, trots up to the plate. His pants are stained with green grass and red clay from needless slides into base and dramatic lunges at a ball far out of reach. He already has developed quirks that he could carry all the way to the big league. Maybe it’s a soft tap of home plate with his bat. Or a hard tap. Maybe he steps into the batter box and begins to scrap the dirt around with his cleats to get just the “right” feel. Maybe his stance is too wide or too short. His swing is too soft, too wild, or just not there.

The stands are close on these fields. Mother’s correct their kids stance, attitude, and, well, just about anything a mother can think of that her kids might do to embarrass her. Dad’s bark instructions: “Keep your eye on the ball!” “Head down!” “Run!”

The boys in blue, mostly too young to vote, come under fan scrutiny. Neither side is a fan of theirs and most fans don’t even keep up on the rules. They just know the ump is either wrong, or going to be wrong.

Sit in the dugout with the players and you’ll hear comparisons to Babe Ruth: “He’ll never be a Babe Ruth!” “Babe struck our more than anybody.” “Hits like Babe.”

Perhaps the most important discussion: “Who brought the snacks?”