Most high school baseball teams’ seasons are in the record books; travel baseball teams have issued equipment for summer competition; and tournaments at the college level are either complete or currently wrapping up.
Congratulations are in order for every athlete and coach who competed on a field and to every parent who endured called third strikes, extra inning games, freezing early season temperatures, dirty uniforms, rainouts and too many fast food restaurants. Even with multiple challenges, baseball continues to be the greatest game.
Let’s face it, baseball is an American sub-culture. We have our own unique uniforms, a very interesting diamond-shaped playing field and even our own language. Recently, I was watching a college game on television; while listening to the color commentator, I laughed out loud thinking about what a “non-baseball person” must think about some of the terms used to describe the action during the game. Have you ever listened to a professional baseball scout describe a player’s abilities? It’s comical to think about how a “civilian” may react to the baseball “lingo.” It’s a great game.
Another moment this spring, when I laughed out loud occurred at a college tournament in Ohio. There was a young baseball fan, perhaps 5 years old, attending the tourney all decked out in a Cincinnati Reds uniform…complete with hat and cleats. It didn’t matter that the Reds had lost ten in a row, he was supporting his team. I couldn’t help but ask, “Hey, are the Reds very good this year?” This young baseball fan looked at me as if I were nuts, shook his head in the negative and continued to play whiffle ball with his buddies. This IS a great game.
So far, it’s been a “topsy-turvy” year in the baseball world: the Cubs are in first place, the Yankees are fourth in their division. At the collegiate level, John Cohen’s Mississippi State Bulldogs won only one SEC series in 2015, this year they finished first in the league! In the same league, Arkansas was in the College World Series last year, this year the Razorbacks finished last in the conference. The ACC and the SEC have dominated the rankings and RPI, but the traditionally powerful Pac 12 struggled in a way I haven’t seen in my lifetime. But, no matter how you finished this season, there’s hope for next season. Yes, baseball is a great game.
As you turn the pages you will have fun as Chris Burke breaks down the powerful swing of Mickey Mantle and Virginia skipper Brian O’Connor discusses how he has created a competitive culture in Charlottesville. There are many other outstanding baseball men sharing insights and tips in this issue. Hopefully, as you read the articles in this edition of Inside Pitch, you will continue to sense that everyone on our staff truly believes that Baseball is indeed a great game.