Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Signs of Summer: Major League Baseball

Despite the agonizing fact that the official start date of summer isn’t until June 23, we’ve already had a few waves of summer-like weather in my neck of the woods. Its days like these that energize and invigorate the lion’s share of us who live in areas with over 225 days a year of “gray” weather, and these nice days deserve their due.

With that said, every Tuesday and Thursday until the official start of summer we’ll bring you an ode to the signs of summer, one marvelous item at a time. And PS - we would love it if you would pepper in your thoughts as well.

Today we pay homage to Major League Baseball.

As a kid growing up in western PA, it was pretty much a rite of passage to play organized baseball at some point in your life, even if only at the tee-ball level. I started when I was nine, and man was I awful that first year. I played right field from the fourth through sixth innings on a team filled with awesome 10 and 11 year olds and finished the year with an extremely disproportioned number of errors to hits. Truth be told I think I only made solid contact two or three times all year.

But those two or three instances had me hooked… as well as CONVINCED that I would play in the Majors someday.

Of course that dream would never come to fruition for me and my beastly five foot, three inch frame, but man I did love the crap out of the next seven years that I played. My best childhood memories have to do with aspiring to be a Major Leaguer, most notably getting the save and three RBIs in the peewee league championship a few years after my abysmal rookie season.

Still today, after 17 agonizing seasons of following my losing team, I still get that little flutter every April. That excitement that can only come with walking into a Major League ballpark - smelling the hot dogs and stale beer; watching a perfectly executed 6-4-3 double play; hearing the crowd heckle the ump for a blatantly bad call at the plate (and of course hearing the “lemonade!” guy three aisles away all game); uncomfortably shifting in your seat when your team is down two runs in the bottom of the ninth with the bases juiced and your cleanup hitter coming to the plate…

That’s summer man. Period.

And how appropriate a topic, with yesterday being the MLB Draft… However, I have to say the MLB Draft sorely lacks in the pomp and circumstance department, especially compared to the NFL, NBA and even the NHL.

“And with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, the Cleveland Indians select some dude you’ve never heard of who may or may not ever play a game in a Major League ballpark, and even if he does, by then we’ll have practically forgotten about how great he was supposed to be in the first place.”

Huh… Cool… (remote switches back to the Food Network)

This year there were three players worth mentioning - Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Manny Machado (who analysts must have annoyingly compared to A-Rod 25 freakin’ times). I’m no expert, but I will make one comment: I’m proud of my Pirates for taking a chance on the 17-year-old freak of nature Taillon. Impending Tommy Johns surgery notwithstanding, he could really be someone at the pro level, and signing him at least gives me some semblance of relief that the Buccos are committed to winning pretty soon.

For God’s sake Bob Nutting…

Rant over. More baseball talk here, if you'd like.

See you at 4 p.m. for The Ride. Don't forget to fill out your All-Star ballot.


  1. Good stuff. The best part of going to a baseball game is heckling the ump if a call doesn't go your way, even if it was the correct call, haha.
    My fondest memory of playing baseball was a three-run triple that I hit in 2B (our baseball league in Erie went T-ball, B-ball, 1B, 2B and 3B). It was awesome.

    P.S. - Speaking of the Food Network, did you see the Iron Chef America from a few weeks ago where the challenger decided to compete alone? In response, Iron Chef Michael Symon told his sous chefs to leave as well, leaving us to enjoy craziness in Kitchen Stadium...to the max.

  2. Little league was it, that's for sure. I've managed to block out most of my childhood other than those summers, haha.

    And no, I didn't catch that Iron Chef America... I can't get into the competition shows so much. But I do enjoy the fact that you used the term "to the max."

  3. Speaking of baseball...I'm going to see the Pirates play the Nats on Thursday. And it's ladies night at the National's Ballpark - oh boy!!!

  4. Niiiiiice. Have a blast - how about a report on the ballpark food on Friday?

  5. I'll be sure to give my full report...I'm going to check out this "bull pen" area they have across the street from Nationals Park for some tailgating this evening...maybe this will be awesome, maybe not!!!

  6. You were two days late for Strasburg's historic first start!
    I'll be heading to an Indians game Sunday to see Strasburg's first road start though! Woo hoo!