Monday, July 2, 2012

Rant #768: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I am very happy to say that the New York Yankees, my favorite major league baseball team for my entire life, is in first place in the American League East.

With more than half a season to go, they lead the division by six games.

Hopefully, they can maintain that lead up through the All-Star break later this month and throughout the remainder of the baseball season.

They have some big games coming up against division rivals Tampa Bay and Boston, so it won't be easy.

They aren't the only local professional team in first place in their division.

I know the Atlantic League is not nearly as good as Major League Baseball, as it is an unaffiliated minor league featuring a mix of players who have been to the Big Leagues, players who hope to get there, and castoffs who will never make it.

But the league is very, very successful.

The most successful team is the Long Island Ducks, which regularly draw more than 6,000 spectators to their home games in Central Islip.

Their ballpark is a minor marvel, one of the nicest looking minor league parks in the country.

My son and I went to another game this past Friday, and although it was more than 90 degrees with absolutely no breeze at all, we had a fun time.

The Ducks won 7-4, beating the team from Sugar Land, Texas.

That's right, Sugar Land, Texas. The Skeeters.

The Atlantic League is so successful that it is expanding west, and reports are it hopes to have a full Texas division in place during the next few years.

Sugar Land is a suburb of Houston, and the team's new stadium, seating about 7,000, is regularly packed.

The team's manager is Gary Gaetti. You might remember him, as he was a standout on those great Twins teams in the 1980s.

He brings a certain strut to the team, and it has helped make the team so successful that other Texas towns are clamoring for their own team in the league.

Baseball is truly our national pastime, although some would argue that it isn't anymore.

But when you see towns willing to give their right arms to gain a minor league baseball team in an unaffiliated league--meaning that the teams have no ties to any major league baseball team, although scouts do regularly survey the action--you know that baseball is big time, whether major or minor leagues.

Even in the heat of the summer, stadiums from coast to coast fill up to see games that are often played in heat stroke-inducing conditions.

Just the other day, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg had to be removed from a game after just a few innings due to the heat. He had to have liquids pumped into him intravenously to get him back to the desired comfort level.

But back to minor league baseball ...

Unlike major league baseball, tickets are a bargain, food is manageable, and parking is often free.

Sure, you aren't getting Robinson Cano during these games, but you do get a very competitive game, with decent pitching, hitting and defense.

The Atlantic League is equivalent to a Double-A minor league, I believe. For most of the players, this is their last stop, and they probably won't advance beyond this level.

For others, it allows them to showcase their skills for major league teams looking for depth.

And for the fans, each game is a three-hour pause in their daily lifestyles, full of peanuts, hot dogs, Cracker Jack, soda, water and maybe even a beer.

You can't beat it, and although I would love to go to a Yankees game this year, for me at least, you can't beat the fact that after the game, it takes me maybe a half hour to get home.

No, while you really can't beat the heat, you can beat the traffic and the muss and fuss, and this is the way to do it.

No comments:

Post a Comment


yasmin lawsuit