No, not the Lance Berkman power shot from last night. Not even the Nick Stavinoha blast in the 14 inning AAA Memphis game. No, it took a Brendan Ryan long shot (in more ways than one) to start my day off with a smile.
What is it about baseball’s sleeper moments that resonate with some of us so completely? I regularly get the chance to admire Cardinals like Berkman, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday smacking it out of the park, but seeing highlights of my former Cardinal-favorite & light-hitting Brendan get his first homerun as a Mariner tops them all.
It’s a recurring theme, probably the main reason I’m an AAA baseball fan. I enjoy championing the underdogs. Following minor leaguers on their quest to break into the Majors or cheering surprise clutch hits from players who are valued for their gloves, but don’t garner as much fan confidence with their bats feeds that fascination I have for the human side of the game.
Heart, personality, positive energy and a palpable, genuine love for baseball coupled with an overwhelming, single-minded drive to succeed. THOSE are the qualities that capture my attention in the ballplayers worth watching. Superstars often get quiet – sometimes overconfident – and don’t wear their heart on their sleeves once they make the big show. At that point, they’ve often become part of a machine, part of a business. Go to work, win the game, job accomplished. Once a player gets to that point in his career, it seems I’ve usually lost interest.
Give me a reason to love you beyond your batting average or slugging percentage and I’ll cheer you through ups and downs. For me, the human side of baseball trumps a team’s final W-L record. Don’t shoot me here … I LOVE my team, but I need to really love the players to truly celebrate wins or agonize over losses. And honestly, it’s easy to admire a superstar who has tunnel vision focused on his job but harder to LOVE him. The big names don’t “need” me to cheer for them. Their names are on a gazillion tshirts and bandwagon fans are making enough noise for the rest of us. Show me the underdog with that spark – those qualities I cherish – and I will delight in his random successes… the human side of baseball.
My baseball habit may have moderated a bit lately while I’ve had opportunities to focus on summer events and precious moments with family, but in moments like today I enjoy a sudden surge of baseball fever from watching one of my beloved ballplayers crack a huge smile in the dugout after a baseball moment that took us all by surprise.
Happiness is a Brendan Ryan homerun.
Want to smile? Here’s the link.
Blessings and Go Cards!!