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Take me out to the Ball game

March 26, 2010 - Michael Palmer

Opening Day for softball and baseball is here.

The year goes by so fast and here we are at the beginning of spring sports season. Track is kicking off Saturday and Monday would have been opening day if weather had cooperated, but the forecast seems to indicate that maybe Tuesday but by Wednesday the teams should be back on the fields.

The crowds for track and field are sometimes pretty big, but the baseball and softball crowds have dwindled to mostly parents and relatives of players in the game. It is a shame because some of these games can be very entertaining. There are only a few schools that charge to watch baseball and softball games and if you bring a lawn chair, a few cold drinks in a cooler and a couple of snacks it can be a fun outing in the sun.

Unfortunately it is just not baseball. While talking with some of the East District officials at the basketball playoffs it was noted that the crowds for these games had dropped by at least one third from just a few years ago.

It could be because of the economy, with jobs being scarce, wages falling drastically, management demanding mandatory overtime and way greedy oil companies milking the wallets of the working class; affording the $6 ticket price for a family of four may not be in the budget.

The trend is especially evident in the student sections of schools. Traditionally the tournament was a place where large groups of painted, sign waving students would travel to the tournament games in force. Barnesville has a traditionally wild student section known as the Greenhouse but at their tournament games they had barely enough to form their own pick up game.

It is eerie to watch a tournament game played in an almost empty gym where the sound of sneakers squeaking on the hardwood is he only sound between whistles. It really does take something away from the athletes experience. A cheering crowd can motivate a team and can be a factor in the outcome of games.

My high school experiences are a testament to this as a cheering crowd was always a guaranteed recipe to produce an adrenaline rush. Even the loud obnoxious fan who protests small, meaningless calls by the officials as if they were the deciding call in the ninth inning of game seven in the world series seems to be a dieing breed. That is a pity, I always enjoyed a good heckler, even when I was umpiring games I often would go over to give the fan a warning and end up laughing and asking them where they come up with their material.

I am not totally sure if anyone actually reads my blogs, but if you do and you would like to show some support for the local softball and baseball teams I can e mail you a list of the local schools that do not charge for admission.

Now: Imagine Will Ferrell as Harry Caray singing -

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

See you at the game!




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