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Diamonds in the rough

Baseball often bears the label “America’s pastime” typically by loyal sportswriters and nostalgic creatures raised on the purity of the game. Of course, we know football supplanted it as America’s sport within the last 20 years, leaving baseball fans to wonder what to do with their beloved diversion.

Stretching nine innings over three or four hours at a time, baseball can’t avoid tedium supposed non-fans complain about when it’s even mentioned. Spectators’ butts get number with each pitch and with every sunflower seed that hits the ground after being projected from their mouths like rapid-fire cannonballs.

Even the players out in the field watch just as much of the game as we do, praying for somebody to put a bat on a ball before we slip into a deep sleep. But don’t confuse boredom with relaxation.

Summer wouldn’t be the same without baseball, and that’s especially true in Chilton County. A reporter would love to spend a day at beautiful Jack Hayes Field sitting in those shaded bleachers as local high school teams square off with each other and visitors. Even if we can’t find reasons to explain why our “pastime” blends so perfectly with the hot season, we’ll always know it just feels right.

Unfortunately, I missed both of Major League Baseball’s essential all-star events – the home run derby and game – for the first time in years. DVR saves our failures to watch live events, but something certainly feels like it’s missing from my summer routine.

Growing up, I’d rarely miss an Atlanta Braves game on TBS in the afternoons and at night. It seemed fitting that Brian McCann, current Braves catcher, drove in the winning runs and nabbed the game’s MVP honors to help the National League squad win for once in 13 long years. The last time that side won, in 1996, Braves pitcher John Smoltz got the win in a shutout.

If you ever doubt baseball’s mighty stamp on the summer, spend an afternoon in a ballpark, either here in Chilton County or elsewhere. If you have kids, is a must. Travel to Birmingham for a Barons game or Atlanta for the Bravos. Thank goodness, it’s still a reasonable investment, and you’ll be glad you did it.