Friday, April 1, 2022

Andy Young: Whatever the level, it's baseball season

By Andy Young

One of the most irritating trends ever to infect adolescents was the infuriating habit of, while walking away, haughtily dismissing someone older with a backhanded wave and a single word: “Whatever.” (Historical note: on occasion this phrase consisted of two words, as in, “What ever!”) I recall it being pervasive during the 1990’s, and maybe the first few years of the 21st century, but whenever it was, the sheer impudence of this brazenly contemptuous act made my blood boil.

That particular habit didn’t exist during my childhood, since addressing any adult in such a disrespectful manner back then would have had quick and dire consequences. As a parent myself I was fortunate that this scornful, one-word phrase went out of fashion before my own children reached their teens. But I observed it all too often during my early years of teaching at a local high school, and on those occasions when some young person directed it at me or one of my colleagues my blood pressure would jump to…well, whatever blood pressure reading is off the high end of the charts.

Fortunately there’s no reason for stratospheric blood pressure readings at this time of year, since a new season has begun. I refer, of course, to baseball season. Which is, for those of us who grew up with the game, a reliable blood pressure lowerer. Like many people of my generation, I’ve been fascinated with the national pastime since the first time some adult I looked up to brought it to my attention, even though I was probably shorter than one of Willie Mays’s Louisville Sluggers at the time.

College baseball’s season has been underway for over a month now for teams representing Maine institutions of higher learning including UMaine-Orono, UMaine-Farmington, USM, Husson University, and St. Joseph’s, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, and Thomas Colleges.

Local high school baseball teams are eager to start their seasons as well, and after some indoor practices (and outdoor scrimmages, when weather permits), the games that count will begin this week. This spring’s contests will be particularly intense and meaningful for high school seniors, since for most of them these are the last organized baseball games in which they’ll ever play.

But while some players’ careers are nearing their conclusion, others are just beginning. Youth baseball is gearing up as well, with play slated to start late this month. I’m particularly looking forward to Little League baseball; it’s where my own involvement with the game began more than five decades ago. I still umpire at that level from time to time and enjoy being a small part of something that will, for some lucky young people, be the beginning of their own lifetime love affair with the game.

And for those who enjoy seeing the pros, the Portland Sea Dogs open their home season on Friday, April 8. Youth, high school and collegiate games can all be enjoyable, but the fact is the level of play on display from the aspiring major leaguers at Hadlock Field is light years ahead of even the most skilled collegians.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any Major League Baseball this year. The billionaires who own the 32 MLB baseball teams have, in an effort to maximize their already-excessive profits, locked out their youthful, handsomely paid athletic chattel. And since neither the powerful Major League Baseball Players Association nor the owners appear willing to compromise, there isn’t going to be a 2022 season.


Wait a minute.

I’ve just been informed that the labor impasse has been resolved, and that there’s going to be Major League Baseball this summer after all.


Whatever. <

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