Little League has advantage over MLB

Published 10:01 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

I haven’t truly enjoyed Major League Baseball since the mid-’90s. I lost interest after their strike in 1994. However, being a sucker for a good story, I let myself get pulled into Cal Ripken, Jr.’s quest to break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak.

In 1995, he broke the record and continued his perfect attendance for another three seasons. When Ripken retired in 2001, there was no one to pick up the mantle – not even my longstanding love of Atlanta Braves baseball.

Fast-forward a few years. After graduating college in 2003, I found myself employed as a sports editor for a small weekly newspaper. I started in the spring, which put me squarely into that community’s baseball season.

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As I followed a handful of high schools, I’d come to realize my love of the sport had not waned, just my willingness to follow the multi-millionaires who seem to so begrudgingly play the game.

Several years and a newspaper or two later, I find myself once again squarely entrenched in baseball season. As the father of a little girl, I rarely refer to it as baseball season. It’s softball season. Much like football season is cheerleading season, I guess.

For those of you who find your interest in “America’s pastime” at or near the bottom of your priority list, I encourage you to travel to watch one of our local schools pick up their softball gloves or baseball bats.

In these games, you will find children who play the game for a hundred different reasons: To honor the tradition of wearing a parent’s former number; hoping to hit the game-winning homer and impress a young boy or girl; pursuing a college scholarship or they, too, hope one day to make it to the professional level.

Watching the players chase those goals is a lot more fun than watching someone trying to achieve a roster bonus.

Demopolis Dixie Youth opening day is today at the Sports-Plex, and this will provide good measurement of your passion for baseball or softball.

Watching our youth learn to embrace a game and its challenges will help you rekindle the interest the likes of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Jose Canseco may have at one time killed.

And the concession stand hot dogs are just as good, too.

Jason Cannon is publisher of the Demopolis Times.