20 Random Baseball Things

You have my respect when you are a catcher.

Shysterball had an awesome post up earlier about his history with baseball, and I thought I’d do one. I don’t normally do those things, and there’s one circulating on Facebook. I hate Facebook, but because most of my friends use it, I feel it’s necessary to keep it up as simply a communication device. Anyway, this is the time of year when we get a little nostalgic. Unfortunately, my history with baseball is not as long as Craig’s or others’, but I’ll get there one day.

1) I’ve played baseball since I can remember. I have two older brothers, and they loved baseball. Because I wanted to emulate them, I played, too I guess. We were one of the few front yards on the street that didn’t have a tree, so kids would come over to play wiffle ball. In retrospect, I have no idea how many hours I played wiffle ball in the front yard, but if I didn’t have that connection, I probably would have played basketball instead (we have a basketball goal, and I loved my plastic one with sand in the bottom and the rim that broke when you dunked).

2) On to Little League, I instantly became a corner infielder. I have never been fast, but I could catch. I spent most of my time alternating between first and third, but I had this secret desire to be a catcher. Why? I thought it was cool to wear the equipment.

3) For the next few years, I worked hard to be a good catcher, but my talents were never really appreciated. As a catcher, I do firmly believe I was one of the best, if not the best, in my age division. Now, should I have been on All-Star teams as the catcher? Maybe, but my bat wasn’t the best in the world. Also, I had to contend with a kid who also caught, but his dad was always a coach. I was screwed. It’s one of the reasons I gave up on playing baseball by age 13. I hated the politics.

4) Why did I quit playing baseball? One, I wanted to catch, where I felt comfortable, but my coaches put me at first because I was a big target and could catch. I hated first base and made that known. My 10-12 year old coach understood and liked me behind the plate, but he took the time to explain that no one else on the team was capable of playing the position (no one could — we sucked until my age 12 season, and I spent most of the year at catcher). Two, I just wasn’t very good anymore. For awhile, I was one of the better players in the league, but I didn’t work as hard as I should have. It’s one of my biggest regrets, but realizing the astronomical odds of me playing baseball professionally lessens the pain. Three, I lost all desire to play (not watch, however). I wasn’t very good, and the biggest reason was a fairly intense anxiety. I was terrified of screwing up, which of course only made things worse. I couldn’t take it anymore.

5) When I got to high school, I still loved baseball, and I asked the freshman coach if I could do anything to be with the team. I knew him from my Little League days, and he said the team needed an equipment manager. I latched on. For the next four years, I was the equipment manager, moving up as my classmates did. I loved it, not every minute but most. I met some good friends through it, and I got to watch a lot of baseball.

6) Growing up, I didn’t go to MLB games very often, but we had a minor-league team in Louisville. The first one I knew of was the Louisville Cardinals, the AAA affiliate. The only player I really remember was Eli Marrero. I absolutely loved him. He was awesome in the minors, but he didn’t do so well in the majors.

7) In 1998, the Brewers took control of the team and changed them into the Louisville River Bats. I had no idea what had just happened. All I knew was that my favorite player had just left, and the team had a really crappy nickname (in those days, Louisville was growing through this “River Pride” phase, and every team had “River” as part of the nickname, including the hockey River Frogs). Luckily, they changed it a few years later to just the Bats (I know how Rays fans feel when people can’t figure out what the name of the team is. I constantly reminded people it was the “Bats” not “River Bats”. Come on, it’s not that hard). The new stadium, Louisville Slugger Field, is an impressive place for a minor-league park. There aren’t too many bad seats, but my mom has this thing about sitting down the first base line. Of course, the sun sets shining in your face if you sit on that side of the field.

8) I became a Braves fan in the mid-’90’s. Of course, this was the optimal time to do so, but I was 7, the Braves were awesome, and my older brother was a Braves fan. Most important to my continued support of the team was TBS. Without those games, I may be a Reds or Cubs fan. Even in the past few years, I have stuck with the team, but I have campaigned for getting rid of Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, and will probably do so soon for Chipper. My mother often says I don’t have a nostalgic bone in my body. This would be example number one.

9) My favorite player is Chipper Jones. He started at the exact point I started paying attention to baseball. He was a switch-hitter and did everything well. Chipper will always be my favorite player, and I will actively campaign for his enshrinement five years after his retirement. However, I will critically analyze whether or not he should be a Brave next season. As for his divorce and affair about a decade ago, I believe no one’s perfect, and although he messed up, I think he dealt with it the best way he could. I believe everyone deserves a second chance, and I think he’s made good on that second chance.

10) Brian McCann will be my favorite active player when Chipper leaves, but he won’t take Chipper’s place. I love everything about Brian, and I hope he follows Chipper’s path as the face of the franchise.

11) I have been to several big-league games but not as many as one would think considering I live 2 hours away from Cincinnati, 4 hours from St. Louis, and have cousins in Chicago. We just never made it to games, but we made at least 5-10 games in Louisville.

12) I have no attachment to the Louisville Bats, and I often cheer for the opposing team. Why? Because I’m messed up, and I think people’s reactions are hilarious.

13) I have been to Wrigley Field, the Old Busch Stadium, Cinergy Field, Great American Ballpark, and Turner Field. I’m ashamed to have been to this few stadiums, but I plan on heading to St. Louis with either my dad (huge Cards fan) or a few friends for a game there this summer. I’ve also thought about going up to Progressive Field and US Cellular Field this summer.

14) My favorite stadium so far is Turner Field. I also completely agree with Craig that GAB is terrible, but Cinergy was worse.

15) I once got to meet Pee Wee Reese, but I didn’t know who he was and didn’t get an autograph. My brother talked to him for about 10 minutes. I was like 7 or 8 and had no appreciation for who he was. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

16) While in Atlanta, I saw Andruw Jones driving down Peachtree Street. He was in a convertible and pullled up next to us. My brother and I completely freaked as he pulled up. He must have seen us, so he looked over, waved, smiled, and took off at about 90 mph.

17) The same trip, we saw Julian Tavarez and Jose Mesa at Hard Rock Cafe (the Giants were in town), and I would have been more excited if I wasn’t preoccupied with watching the waiter (not waitress) hit on my brother.

18) I saw Greg Maddux’s 200th and 250th wins.

19) I always keep score at games, but I never keep the scorecards. I’m not sure why, but I just never bring them home to keep. I have no idea why, but it might be that whole nostalgia theory my mom has about me.

20) I saw perhaps Chipper’s greatest series when he played in Atlanta against St. Louis. He hit 5 HR in three games, and I was the happiest kid in the park. We had these obnoxious fans behind us for the three games, talking about how terrible he was. Normally, I’m calm and wouldn’t respond to such things. Those nights, I didn’t care, and I threw every home run in their face. God, it felt good.


2 Responses to “20 Random Baseball Things”

  1. The Common Man Says:

    “I always keep score at games, but I never keep the scorecards. I’m not sure why, but I just never bring them home to keep. I have no idea why, but it might be that whole nostalgia theory my mom has about me.”

    That’s interesting. If you’re not interested in keeping the record (for me, each card is a memory-jogger, reminding me of random awesomeness I have seen), why make the card in the first place? What is it’s purpose if the score is kept but then not kept? You are a man of contradictions, sir. I like that. Nice list.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    I keep score for two reasons. One, it keeps me focused on the game. Otherwise, I’ll start looking at pretty girls but doing nothing about it. Two, I’m always focused on strategy and the like, so I like to have it there, looking at what guys have done, etc. When I’m done, I doubt I’ll really remember any specific play as a result. I still remember plays such as Ellis Burks getting a concussion while robbing Andres Galarraga’s home run (also, in that game, the Braves had 9 doubles — only — which is a major-league record for most doubles without a single, but it wouldn’t have been if Burks hadn’t killed himself catching that damn ball).

    And as far as contradictions, we’re all hypocrites and weirdos. Why hide it?


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