The best game

Published 1:51 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

By By Matthew Nascone
It is now in full swing and I am loving every minute of it. The game of baseball is the greatest game in the world. I always loved playing little league every summer and I couldn't wait for summer time to get here.
Now, I get to watch the eyes of the little kids who are playing in the big league for the first time. They were in the T-ball league last year and now they get to experience the live pitching of Cal Ripken Jr. League.
That excitement is unreal to feel and you really don't experience the full affect until your second year. But then it is the greatest feeling to be playing with the big boys.
Of course the Major League season is also firing on all cylinders now and the experts can take their guesses on who will stay hot and who will falter when the pressure gets to be too much.
Right now the hot teams that were not expected to be hot are the Blue Jays in the American League East, the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, the New York Mets in the National League East, the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros in the NL Central and the Colorado Rockies in the NL West.
Now of course most of these teams will be exiting stage left on the playoff race by the All-Star break. But it is interesting to have arguments with friends about who will continue the hot streak all year.
I mean the arguments about the White Sox even making the playoffs last year were great. The best argument to have about that team was their style of play. I had an ongoing argument with a friend that the White Sox played a modern version of small ball.
Now, for those who don't know what small ball is, it is the style of play in which the team gets a single from the leadoff man, bunts him over to second and drives him in with a line drive in the gap.
Now I said that they Sox did do that and my buddy said they don't play anything close to small ball. And the battle is still going on today, but it does not matter what kind of ball is played because baseball is the greatest game in the world no matter what.
That is why I am excited for the summer time all over again and this time it is for the excitement of watching the kids' faces light up when they get that big hit or huge strikeout on the mound.
I love these moments and a lot of these moments are lost in translation as the athlete gets older and the monetary amount to play the game rises. As a pre-teenager the joy is still completely in the game and there is no wondering how your play on the field is going to affect your draft status or how much your bonus will be next year.
The only thing you are worried about is hitting the ball solidly and not striking out. And if you are on the mound, where the real excitement is, then you get to leap over that foul line after you struck that batter out with the bases loaded and your team winning by one run.
That kind of adrenaline rush and joy will never be equaled quite so freely ever again on the baseball field. So when that moment comes, take advantage of it and bask in the happiness and elation it brings you.
Matthew Nascone is sports editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123.

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