Mike Pound: Baseball still fun after all these years – Joplin Globe

I can only remember one time in my life when baseball wasn’t fun.

We had moved from Okinawa to Junction City, Kansas, and the Little League team I was placed on already had a first baseman, the position I played.

The first baseman was the coach’s son, which meant he got to play wherever he wanted. I’m not saying that was fair, and I’m not saying it wasn’t. I’m just saying that’s the way it was.

With first base already spoken for, I was relegated to the outfield. When you’re in Little League, playing in the outfield sucks. It’s boring. There’s not much action, and if you want to talk to the nearest player, you have to yell across the outfield.

Playing in the outfield during the games was bad enough, but playing in the outfield during practice was even worse.

It was always hot in the outfield during practice, and most of the time there wasn’t much to do. While the infielders fielded ground balls, the outfielders stood around hoping one of the balls would roll out to them. But even if one did, there wasn’t much excitement about picking up a ball as it slowly rolls toward you.

Nope, baseball wasn’t fun that year. But the next year, I was put on a different team and went back to first base. The game was fun again, and it’s been fun ever since.

I’m old now, so I don’t play baseball. I used to play slow-pitch softball, but that’s not really baseball. You can drink beer when you play slow-pitch softball. If you can drink beer while playing a sport, then it’s not really a sport.

I played on one slow-pitch softball team where the pitcher would go to a bar between games and come back too drunk to pitch. One time — and this is true — he fell off the mound. If you’re too drunk to pitch in a slow-pitch softball game, you are way too drunk.

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So now I watch baseball. Some people, who are my wife, will say that I watch too much baseball. Some people, who are my wife, might have a point. But if you really like baseball, you really like to watch baseball. I’m not a baseball expert, but I know enough to know what to look for. And, as much as I like watching baseball on TV, I love watching it in person.

When my wife asked if I would help her with a work-related event at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals baseball game Monday night, I immediately said, “Yes, please.”

Mainly, my job at my wife’s work-related events is to drive and haul things. After the driving and the hauling, I’m pretty much on my own. I think my wife would like it if I made small talk with people at her work-related events, but she knows I’m lousy at making small talk.

What I did Monday night was what I do whenever I go to a Northwest Arkansas Naturals or a Springfield Cardinals game. I grabbed a beer, found a seat behind home plate and watched baseball. I’m not sure what heaven is like, but for me, it would be sipping a beer behind home plate and watching baseball.

Sitting behind home plate reminds me that, not that long ago, I used to think that I could probably get a hit off a major league pitcher.

Monday night, while sitting behind home plate and watching the young minor league pitchers routinely tossing 90 mph fastballs, I laughed at myself.

“You can barely see that. How would you ever hit it?” I said to myself.

For once, myself didn’t even try to argue.

I don’t watch professional baseball thinking, as I did when I was young and delusional, that I could play it myself. I watch it because, all these years later, it’s still fun.


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