Home run or no run

The Compass - - SPORTS -

For­get the NHL’s Skills Com­pe­ti­tion.

For­get the NBA’s All-Star Satur­day night.

I ’m not go­ing to men­tion any­thing the NFL does, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count as an al­ls­tar game any­way.

But, if you did count it, for­get that too.

Sure, I’ll ca­su­ally watch the first two, but there is only one event I make sure to tune in to ev­ery sum­mer.

That’s the MLB’s Home Run Derby.

It’s the lead in to the Mid­sum­mer Clas­sic, and of­fers a form of majesty that the other three can’t muster.

It goes back to watch­ing that old Nike com­mer­cial when Cy Young win­ners Greg Mad­dux and Tom Glavine — who gave up hockey to play base­ball — try and turn them­selves into power hit­ters when they see Mark McGwire get­ting all the girls.

Chicks dig the long ball, as they say.

Peo­ple like to see play­ers load up and de­stroy base­balls for three rounds.

It is truly awe-in­spir­ing to watch a ball fly out of the field and land­ing some 400 feet from home plate.

No, there are not al­ways 400foot bombs, but when the big boys get into th e swing of things, there are usu­ally a fair amount of tape mea­sure shots to sat­isfy even the ca­sual fan.

I ’m sure you’re say­ing to your­self that the 100 mph slap shot is just as im­pres­sive. No, it’s not. What’s im­pres­sive is McGwire’s 488-foot bomb that flew be­yond the Green Mon­ster at Fen­way Park in Bos­ton, soared over a park­ing garage and hit a bill­board above a set of train tracks.

Or, Ken Grif­fey Jr., his Seat­tle Mariners ball cap back­wards, be­com­ing the first player to hit a ball off the B & O Ware­house be­yond the left field fence in Cam­den Yards in Bal­ti­more in 1993. The ware­house is some 460 feet from home plate.

This year’s event will be held at Citi Field in Queens, New York on July 16, and could fea­ture the likes of Prince Fielder, Josh Hamil­ton, Miguel Cabr­era and Car­los Bel­tran.

It’s fun to see which hit­ters are go­ing to fal­ter in the derby, and which sur­prises come out of nowhere to win the whole thing.

There is some magic to the other sports and their events, but not on the level of Amer­ica’s national pas­time. Why can’t we have nice things? The base­ball di­a­mond in Har­bour Grace at the Mo­rar­ity Park has the po­ten­tial to be a draw for ball play­ers in this re­gion. That is if it is prop­erly main­tained, and I don’t mean cut­ting the out­field grass.

While that is an in­te­gral part of the process, it is not the only thing that has to be done in or­der to main­tain its us­age quota.

It is im­per­a­tive that the clumps of grass lit­ter­ing the in­field be cleaned up. If not prop­erly looked af­ter, the in­field will be over­grown.

Now, its not likely to hap­pen this sea­son, or for an­other cou­ple, but why let it start to grow at all?

When it was fin­ished for the 2012 Sum­mer Games, it was beau­ti­ful. Save for the lack of lights, it was a phe­nom­e­nal fa­cil­ity for the base­ball por­tion of the games. It’s just that I’ve seen what hap­pens if it goes unchecked. Re­ally, all it needs is some TLC.

But, it lends it­self to a larger prob­lem in this re­gion and that is the lack of at­ten­tion paid to the var­i­ous ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties in the area. Now, I know that a lot of fa­cil­i­ties are kept up and are suit­able for ath­letic con­quests, but there a num­ber that are not.

They’ve been let go and have be­come di­lap­i­dated. How are we sup­posed to en­cour­age chil­dren in the com­mu­nity to get out and play if there isn’t a place for them to play? Of­ten, you’ll hear par­ents com­plain about hav­ing to bring their chil­dren out­side the com­mu­nity for ac­tiv­i­ties, well this is the rea­son.

Of course, fi­nan­cials come into play, but there should at least be an ef­fort put into main­tain­ing th­ese fa­cil­i­ties. Plus, there’s noth­ing worse than driv­ing through a com­mu­nity and see­ing an old, rusted back­stop and an over­grown field.

It makes my heart weep.

Nicholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher for the Com­pass and writes from Bay Roberts.

He can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Up­per Is­land Cove’s Zack Coombs (left) and Bradley Riggs.

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