Saturday, February 27, 2010


It’s in-between season time, ‘down time’ some say, when you look for sports nearby, places to catch a glimpse of action in the neighborhood--a ball and a bat, a runner jumping a hurdle, a rider clearing a curb on a board--the perfect time to enter the world of college baseball.
While major leaguers tune their swings, test their arms, hold out and negotiate amid cactus courtyards and backdrops of palm trees and sand, college players are in action.
Amid the not-quite romantic sound of metal bats spraying balls around the diamond, players cling to dreams of Omaha and the College World Series, high draft picks and bonuses.  The college game is close, intimate, has good players-there are some, and it’s all good if you like sitting close and hearing the game as much as watching it.
Switch out the classic crack of a wooden bat lashing a line drive, fade in grunting umpires punching ‘ring-em-up’ third strikes and you have small-ball perfection, diamonds of just-cut grass and smooth-raked infields. 
It’s baseball, and that’s all you need right now.
Check out these Southern California college baseball websites to get started;

What do I mean about hearing the game?  Baseball is a game of subtle communication, flashing signs between catcher and pitcher—fastball, slider, in or out—the third base coach relaying hit or take, steal or bunt.  The batter acknowledging the ump as he takes to the plate for his first at bat, a nod, a word or two to let the umpire know the batter knows this is the ump’s office, his den, he owns it.  The call of balls and strikes, the thump of ball into mitt, the chatter of infielders moving around the diamond setting up for an inside fastball or a bunt.   
Talk to me.  
Baseball, the team game, nine players on the field, hitting cut off men, throwing to the right base from the outfield to catch a runner sliding into the bag.   
Talk to me.   
The center fielder picking a one-hopper off the wall with a runner moving around the bases, turns and needs to know, now, where to throw. 
Third base. . .Third base. . .Cut Two. . .
Sitting close in small parks you hear the game, see reaction times, read the game and feel a team moving around the action.  This is what is practiced every day before games, taking infield, throwing third-to-first-to-home.  Over and over until it’s natural. 
At a good college game, you see it, and feel it.  This is baseball.  This is good.  
You can have it, early in the spring, late in the winter, no big-ticket prices—many games are free if you just walk in.
Major league spring training in March is money, big money, last minute trades and re-negotiation blues, lots of ESPN and fantasy camp wonders. 
The college game is in full swing, players and teams setting up spring rides into post-season tourneys and future Hall Of Fame draft picks.
It’s the real thing.  It’s right around the corner.  It’s time for baseball, up close, real time, right now.  


mendoman said...

As much as you could write for Ring Magazine, baseball is truly you're game. Always wear your passion on your sleeve...

Sextonesque said...

I don't know much about baseball, but you make me want to know more!