I miss playing baseball terribly. It’s a fun game to watch, but even more fun to play, and every summer I remember the fun. And I share the concern others have about interest in the game.
At a later time, I’ll expand on that, because I have plenty of thoughts on it and the ideas being put forth in the name of “speeding up the game”. But this part of the season, while not always emphasized much aside from the MLB All-Star Game in a couple of weeks, is a fun one if you’re interested in the game.
Right now, the College World Series is going on, with Florida taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. I like that they went to a series for it over a decade ago, not unlike what was done in the Super Regionals. Watching college is a little different from MLB, and a nice change of pace. You see younger players, a number of who you might well see in MLB in due time, and the aluminum bats are a change as well.
I am fortunate to live in New England, and for many years not far away from Cape Cod, because many top players – including those in the College World Series – will play in the Cape Cod Baseball League until August. There are many reasons to go to the Cape in the summer, but for a baseball fan this is one more of them. You see some of the best of the best in the college ranks, it’s a cheap ticket, and the league is well-run, especially for the fan experience. The All-Star Game in late July is always a great event, and it is indeed an event – it goes on all day leading up to an early evening first pitch.
There’s also the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), which is probably second to the Cape Cod League for the quality of college talent in New England. I’ve never been to an NECBL game, which will hopefully change before long, but I know the caliber of players who have been there. I played alongside a few of them, just like I was teammates with some who played in the Cape League and one who made it to MLB.
At this time, other summer baseball leagues in the area are going as well – Park League (where I played for three years), Inter-City League, Cranberry League (another I played in) and MABL (played my last year) chief among them. Occasionally after my playing days, I still checked out a game or two in one of those leagues, especially since I still knew a number of those who played.
MLB may be the grand-daddy of them all, and I get to watch plenty of that. In fact, of late there have been a lot of CWS/MLB doubleheaders on TV. But baseball is bigger than MLB, and there is plenty of it to enjoy watching as well as MLB.
I know many casual fans don’t like how long games can take, and to a degree it’s quite understandable. As someone who has seen baseball from every conceivable angle – I’ve played, coached, been an umpire, a fan and an impartial observer – I enjoy all of what happens in the game and appreciate it. And as is usually the case, at this time and as this summer goes on, I am reminded of how much I miss playing the game.