My Turn: A timeless sport, by any accounting
By Bruce La Rue
Baseball season is finally upon us once again. Those of us who appreciate and love the game are emerging from our hibernation, having slinked off to our caves and burrows immediately following the World Series. Colleges and high schools have been at it for a while, while the Little League season kicked off the season last weekend at Salisbury Community Park under gray skies and blustery conditions. Still, it was great to see the boys and girls take the field.
Some may wonder what it is about baseball that makes it different, as dissimilar to other sports as humans are to groundhogs. Both are mammals, yet we have little else in common. Moreover, human beings are inherently superior, the bleatings of PETA notwithstanding. George Thorogood said it quite succinctly; “Baseball is the only true sport; all others are mutants.” He is right, but trying to figure out why baseball is so special can be a challenge.
For one thing, it is one of the few major sports that is not at the mercy of a game clock which shall determine when the game is over. We, as a society, are herded, prodded and occasionally have the rider’s crop taken to us by that relentless taskmaster known as measured time. How appropriate it is that the most stressful moments in clock sports such as football and basketball come about as the clock is winding down.
Baseball is different. The fans are more relaxed (except Little League parents), laid back, almost unconcerned, at least in the early innings. Football and basketball fans frequently check the clock. Perhaps the most irresistible allure of baseball is its subtle, almost polite, contempt for and defiance of time. It is a sort of conjugal visit for prisoners of the clock.
In addition to, or perhaps as consequence of, being clockless, baseball is also timeless. Along with golf (the other clockless game), baseball treats its old-timers with more reverence than most other sports. Chicago may love Michael Jordan, but not in the same way that they love Ernie Banks. Baseball lore is almost infinite compared to other sports. There are a lot more stories about Willie Mays than Joe Montana. Does football have a Yogi Berra? Does basketball have a Bob Uecker?
We are very fortunate in that we have access to some quality venues in our area. Newman Park blends an old-time grandstand with a field that is nothing short of immaculate. Fieldcrest Cannon is a great facility, especially for a class A farm team. Spencer’s Eighth Street Park has that back-in-the-day charm, including a roof over the bleachers at the big field. Of course, I am a bit partial to Salisbury Community Park. My son and granddaughter play there. The groundskeepers do a great job of maintaining the fields, and the concession stand is as good as any. The coaches do a wonderful job with the kids, and the umpires … did I mention the concession stand?
Take in a game if you get a notion to, and leave your watch in the car.
Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.