The joys, and sorrows, of a baseball fan

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Today, Major League Baseball will close its regular season. Itís bittersweet. Bitter because itís the end of the eight-month journey that begins with spring training in February, but sweet because the playoffs start this week, with the Fall Classic coming up at the end of the month.

Why do I like baseball? It probably has something to do with how I was raised.

My great-grandfather would sit on his front porch and listen to his beloved Cardinals.

My grandfather coached my father.

My father spent countless nights playing catch with me, throwing batting practice and taking numerous hits to his legs. Mom was equally as involved with baseball. She chased my ďon-fieldĒ batting practice. (Yes, I had to know how far the ball traveled.) When I was young, she would pick me up at school during lunch and take me to the ballpark for soft toss. She started a boys baseball traveling team and dad helped coach. Let me tell you, thatís love.

We were a baseball family. It connected us, made for good family fun and gave me something that I was passionate about. You probably have a similar story.

I enjoyed the game. The sound of a ball hitting the bat and smell of a leather baseball glove bring back fond memories.

Some people say baseball is as American as apple pie. But clearly the game goes beyond the United States. Latin countries, the Far East and many countries in between embrace the sport. Need proof? Watch the World Baseball Classic every four years. (The next one is in 2021).

Unlike football, the Major League Baseball season is 162 games. Not 16.

Unlike basketball, your ability to participate is not limited by your quickness, ability to jump or physical height.

And unlike soccer, thereís not nearly as much running. (At the high-school level, they have this great thing called a courtesy runner. Catchers and pitchers can have a teammate run for them.)

Maybe itís because of the strategy. Yes, other sports have strategy. But in baseball, itís nonstop. Will they bunt, steal, hit and run, pitch out, pinch hit, etc.? Every pitch has a level of thinking that even a casual fan can play along.

As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, itís been a difficult season. A team with much promise fell short this week. There are plenty of reasons why, and Iíll leave it to the columnists and analysts to recount each one.

But as one regular season closes, here are a few positives from the 2017 Cardinals team:

1) We learned that Tommy Pham has a lot of promise. The long-time minor leaguer made his presence count.

2) Carlos Martinez took the next step to becoming an ace. The Dominican pitcher who represents two fallen countrymen before each game made the All-Star team again and took a step forward.

3) Paul DeJong became a household name. With the struggles of Aledmys Diaz, DeJong became the starting shortstop and, as of Friday morning, had 24 home runs.

Baseball, and especially Cardinals baseball, has a special place in the lives of many people. Itís an opportunity to connect with friends and family. And itís exciting. Hats off to the organization, but we do hope next year brings more wins and another World Series appearance.

Enjoy the World Series.

Lucas Presson is the assistant publisher of the Southeast Missourian. Email is

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