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BASEBALL: THE LOVE OF THE GAME

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 22, 2015

BRYCE ON SPORTS

– It is a great game.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have always had a fondness for the game of baseball. As a kid, I played Little League but also carried my glove and bat with me just about everywhere for a quick pickup game whether it was before or after school, or during recess. Growing up in Connecticut, I followed the early 1960’s Yankees and vividly remember when the Mets were introduced. As we moved around the country I became a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and finally watched the emergence of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. Frankly, I do not believe we will ever see another team as good as the 1976 Reds. They were very special.

I played in coed softball leagues as I got older. When I became a parent, I coached boys baseball, girls softball, served on the local Little League board of directors, and umpired to boot. My signature as a coach was to line my kids up on the infield foul line before a game and pledged allegiance to the flag. After all, it is America’s game. Curiously, there were some coaches who adamantly opposed me doing this, but I see citizenship as an inherent part of the game.

I suffered under no illusion my kids were going to be superstars and, as such, I concentrated on teaching the basics (hitting, fielding, and pitching), teamwork, and hopefully, the love of the game. There is something magical about the game of baseball; the smell of the grass, the heat of the sun on your back, the taste of the leather string on your cowhide mitt, the crack of the bat, and the excitement of the play. You relish the camaraderie of your teammates, the precision of a perfect bunt, the tenacity of a runner stealing a base, and the grace of an infielder flawlessly throwing out a runner or executing a double play.

Baseball is a game of nuances and you really cannot appreciate it if you have never played it. As you approach home plate to bat, you see how the fielders are setting up to play you, either deep, in close, or to a particular field. You take your sign from the third base coach, check the eyes of the pitcher, hear the cheering of the parents, and all along your mind is constantly calculating all of the variables involved. Your hands grip the bat as you position yourself in the batter’s box. Your body language tells the other team whether or not you can be intimidated. Finally, just before the pitcher makes his wind-up, you spit. Translation,
“Bring it on!”

There is also a lot of communications in a baseball game, both vocal and silent. The vocal is rather obvious, the silent communications is a lot more interesting. We’re all aware of the third base coach making strange gyrations with his hands in order to call the play, but there are also a lot of subliminal signs not so apparent, such as a manager turning up his collar or crossing his legs. The communications between pitcher and catcher is also well known. The great Willie Mays was notorious for his ability to study and steal the signs of the opposing team. It just takes a little concentration and attention to detail.

When I coached Little League, and my kids were batting with one or more runners on base, I would suddenly yell from the dugout, “Red-22, Red-22.” Actually, it was nothing more than a smoke screen as it meant absolutely nothing, but it put the other team on edge as they thought some trick play was about to be executed. My kids thought it was a riot.

As a Little League coach, you realize you are having an impact on your young players when they start asking you more questions about the game, such as the meaning of the infield fly rule, how to keep a scorecard, how a batting average is calculated or ERA, the number of ways a runner can advance to first base (eight) or the number of ways to make an out (14), etc. It’s no small wonder baseball is a great game for trivia buffs as there are so many facets to it. Casual spectators do not truly appreciate baseball as much as students of the game.

You know you have a love of the game when you collect baseball cards, not as a commodity, but simply to have them; that you keep a prized baseball signed by your teammates many years ago; that you cannot bring yourself to throw away an old baseball bat or glove years after you have stopped using them, or; you completely understood what Pete Rose meant when he said, “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.”

It is a great game.

Originally published: April 16, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE JEWISH VOTE – Are American Jews being taken for granted by the Democratic Party? 

LAST TIME:  ENGAGING YOUR WORKERS  – How to inspire and motivate the work force.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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11 Responses to “BASEBALL: THE LOVE OF THE GAME”

  1. Chris Payne said

    Right on!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An N.K. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “Of course I love this piece!!! Very well put.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A C.G. of Mason, Ohio wrote…

    “Great piece of writing. Anytime you are up here and want to catch a Reds game give me a shout. Have a great weekend.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An S.M. of Mountain Home, Idaho wrote…

    “played baseball as I grew up, softball later in life, and coached T-ball for my granddaughter. It appears the younger generation has lost interest in baseball and would rather play soccer. It’s sad to see the American past time replaced.”

    Like

  5. “Nuance” is the perfect word and, to a great degree, explains the problem that the game has in terms of appeal to fans in the present day. MLB’s efforts to increase ‘action,’ ‘speed up the game,’ etc. may be well intended (I’m not a fan of watching the batter’s full ritual after every pitch, for example), but the result is also an attempt to turn the game into something that it’s not. Football…basketball…hockey…soccer: all CAN be appreciated in terms of the subtleties woven into the contest…if a fan chooses to know and watch for them. Baseball, to be much more than a social experience at the park (though not a thing of insignificant value either, by any means), MUST be viewed in those terms. It is a game so involved with layers of second-guessing (both coached/managed and spontaneously added by players…including on every pitch: “What does he think I’ll throw?”…”What does he think I think he’s going to throw?”) that one misses, easily, half the game without knowing what’s going on unseen, ‘hidden’ right in front of our eyes.

    I’m in my 12th season with the Rockies (currently an exercise in ‘tough love,’ I’m moved to admit), and my retirement job is a joy and a blessing every day. I often get to the park, before a game shift, at about the same time as the players; walk the concourse to the ticket office; smell the aroma of peppers and onions wafting from the grills…the freshly cut grass…maybe see a few of the guys, if I enter through the clubhouse-level tunnel instead…take a few minutes to appreciate it all in the calm before the daily ritual begins: for me, a lot like being in church!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jim Barre said

    You know Tim, interesting bit of baseball trivia about my favorite player. Hammerin Hank Aaron. If Hank Aaron, the long time home run king, never hit a home run during his career he would still have been elected to the hall of fame, because without all those 700+ home runs he still had 3000 hits. That’s right 3000 singles, doubles and triples. AMAZING! I also loved his book If I Had A Hammer!

    Like

  7. […] BASEBALL: THE LOVE OF THE GAME […]

    Like

  8. A little behind in my reading but I wasn’t going to miss this one Tim. Beautiful!

    Baseball is the only game. Not sure who said that.

    My trick when giving signs was to have my third base coach go through all the motions while I stood in the first base coaching box and just put my hands on my hips or adjusted my hat and that was the sign.

    Liked by 1 person

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