Summer is almost half over! That is how I feel now that the 4th of July weekend is over, the unofficial middle of summer has now passed us by.
Perhaps the summer has felt less than summer-y since the weather has been mild so far, or because we no longer get to enjoy taking three months off school. But I blame it solely on the Cleveland Indians.
As summer goes, so does a person's favorite baseball team. This is the time of year when a fan's thoughts of summer turn to thoughts of October.
But not this year!
I could go on and on about how bad they are, and how much I have started hating watching them play ... but I won't. What I want to talk about is how great a game baseball truly is.
I was watching a group of children while sitting at a stop light the other day. I was sitting there on East Market Street, wondering if there was any more construction possible at this point, but I sat and watched a group of kids choosing sides for a game of baseball.
I can remember when I was a kid, waking up as soon as I could and running outside for a game. We used a church parking lot in our neighborhood so much that when they resurfaced, they painted bases on the blacktop. But fancy painted bases weren't necessary, because to a child anything can be used as a base. In my yard it was the front steps, a grassless patch of dirt that we had worn away and a crack in the sidewalk that was used for first, second and third. Pitcher's mound was a tree and home plate was a water department marker.
I've heard that baseball is losing its appeal to younger generations. Most kids these days are in summer leagues, and so was I, but is there still that love of getting out and playing for no reason at all?
I love watching the Tribe play at Jacobs Field (I will not call it Progressive Field!), but when the game is stripped of all the unnecessary junk, what you are left with is a pretty simple and wonderful game. There are no steroids on the sandlot, there are no massive contracts to worry about in the parking lot, and there are no trophies to play for. You just play it because its fun.
I have had the opportunity to play baseball with and alongside a former major leaguer and a couple guys who played in college, and I guarantee that all of them would say that the most fun they have ever had was during the hot summer afternoons playing with dented bats and mitts that had to be traded each half-inning because there were more people than gloves.
We didn't have Gatorade coolers waiting for us, we had the neighbor's hose, and the only thing that would stop a game was lunch and dinner (and the occasional thunderstorm).
I look back at those days as some of the best of my life. I was never as good as my older brother, but just being out of the field was enough for me.
I can even say, with some pride, that I have hit a home run off a major league pitcher ... although it was with an aluminum bat and a tennis ball, but I did it none the less.
Joshua may be the next relief pitcher for the Indians, until then, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org