Home run or no run
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 email@example.com
Upper Island Cove’s Zack Coombs (left) and Bradley Riggs.