Can you close your eyes and feel it? The smell of newly cut grass is in the air. The sounds of balls hitting soft leather echoes against the dings of metal bats. The sun is warm again and all things are pointing to the new season of high school baseball. Prep baseball is all about ritual and it’s a rite of spring passage in America as much as Easter and leaves coming back. That’s why we all love it.
Who doesn’t love the tradition of high school baseball. Let’s face it…it probably reaches back further into our childhood than any other sport. Prep football probably doesn’t get a foothold until middle school and basketball usually starts about the same time. It takes forever to really get dribbling down. But little league baseball is a fixture in most towns going back to age 4 or 5 for most kids. That’s where it all starts. You’ve got the uniforms and the baseball caps mirroring the pro teams. There’s the chatter and the dugouts. Let’s not forget the ring pops after the game. Come on…that’s what a 5 year old is really playing for. Ahh….ring pops. So we all have a deep imprint of baseball in our minds stretching back to Kindergarden. That’s part of what makes high school prep baseball so cool…it’s the culmination of years of running, pitching, batting, and and just tossing the ball with friends and dads. Years. And it shows in the skills category.
Baseball is really one of the true skill sports. You can’t just walk onto a baseball team like you might be able to do in football if you have raw athletic talent. It takes years to get down the skills needed to do well in high school baseball. There’s no shortcut. Those hours at the batting cages are starting to bear fruit and that’s half the fun at watching games at this level. You can see the talent on the field now. The pitching has become fierce. The batting has kept pace in a ever-increasing battle against pitching. It’s war! Let’s not forget the defense prowess now. Amazing catches and diving saves. That’s what we’re really there to watch. It’s an increasingly technical execution of some pretty significant athletic skill…especially considering that the tacticians are ages 14-18.
All sports is about the unexpected. That’s what the fans are waiting for. Prep baseball takes this to a whole other level. Each pitch is a potential explosion…literally. It’s like a giant black jack table where the you have 20 and the dealer’s showing an ace every time. You have no idea which way it’s going to go but someone’s going to leave crying. Baseball players don’t cry but you know what we mean. When that bat connects and the crack rings out across the field, there’s a rush of adrenaline to all watching (and playing). We’re all just waiting for the next pop in baseball. We’re all high school baseball adrenaline junkies.
So next time Spring times rolls around, take a second to check out the local team at the diamond. It really is America’s favorite pastime for a reason. It’s just a great way to pass time.