Archive for Thursday, July 20, 2006

Baseball banter proves baffling

July 20, 2006

It's finally over. The World Cup is done, softball season is over, and baseball season is ending this weekend. What a summer of sports activities. This summer has kept me indulged in the sport I'm most passionate about and in the sports that my kids play. One thing I have realized, as intimately as I know the game of soccer, I have much to learn about the game of baseball and softball.

During the many games I sat through, watching my kids play baseball and softball, I realized this is the only sport that cheers and compliments the mistakes the players make. That provided me with a humorous look at these sports.

Indulge me as I give you my "uneducated" take on these two games.

I have never heard so much coaching from the stands as happens in baseball and softball. Almost every time a kid goes up to bat or does something, instructions rain from the stands. I have seen a few times where the kid actually got confused because he was listening to the instructions from the stands. And you thought football had many coaches and coordinators.

At one game, I actually heard and saw the coach tell a kid to ignore what his parent was yelling to him -- finally a coach trying to help the kids keep their heads in the game.

Baseball and softball is the most forgiving of all sports, I know. In no other sport are the players cheered and encouraged when they mess up. I share this not as a criticism to the players, parents or the game, but more as a humorous view of someone who has not had much exposure of these games.

Here are some things I heard that cracked me up. When the batter goes up to bat, and lets the ball go for a "ball," he is cheered for having "good eye." OK, work with me here, the ball is thrown way up and the batter has a "good eye" because he didn't swing? Come on, does it take some special skill to do that? Isn't the high ball so obvious?

When the first strike is thrown, the player is reminded, "Now you've seen it." I sure hope so, because the ball went right past them, and I saw the player's head follow the ball. What good does it do that "now he/she has seen it?"

They better see every ball, if for nothing else, not to get hit by a wild pitch.

When a batter hits the ball and it ricochets off the bat, they "got a piece of it." Unfortunately, a piece of the ball counts as a strike against you and how that helps, I don't know.

The one I haven't figured out is when the count is full, everyone yells to "protect the plate." Why does the plate need protecting? Isn't the "strike zone" what they need to be concerned with? Next time I'm going to yell "protect the zone" and see what happens.

The one that amuses me the most is when the batter swings and misses the ball completely and is told it was a "good cut." How is that good? They missed the ball completely. They failed to do what they were attempting to do. Why not call it what it is? A miss.

In other sports, you might be laughed at for doing that. It's like missing a kick at a soccer ball, or when you throw the bowling ball in the gutter or you miss the tennis ball as you try the overhand serve. Have you seen your buddy take a swing at the golf ball and miss completely? I bet you busted out in laughter, instead of telling them "good swing."

Missing the object you are trying to hit in any other sport is cause for laughter and good-hearted harassment. But in baseball and softball, it's a "good cut." Go figure.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a criticism of the players or the parents who have been a part of the game. It's just my ignorant view of a sport of which I know very little. Please don't hold this as a "strike" toward me. I promise, it was just a "good cut" at humoring these sports.

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