The big picture can be a beautiful thing

June 28, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

What's up front doesn't always count.

That statement alone is open to many interpretations. I know, because I had them before I regurgitated that gem of a clich.

Often, we are told to go with our first impressions or notions. In a pinch, gut reactions usually are solid choices.

But when you have time, watching and studying subjects tell a lot more.

Writing sports is a combination of both schools of thought.

On one hand, acting on first impressions is the difference between making deadline and looking for another job. The first things typed on the screen are usually on-the-surface facts that get the job done, but eventually, you realize there is more to a story, person, player or team than can totally be determined with a first impression.


It's called seeing the big picture - something I like to do for nothing more than playing devil's advocate at times - and here are a few snapshots to share.

  • Baseball opened up a few eyes when it went through with its steroids agenda.

With the Congressional hearings, threats and actions, all the moves baseball has made are changing the game.

On one side, you have to wonder how many teams and general managers knew their players were taking some sort of supplement that probably wasn't legal.

A lot of teams were able to hustle Plan B in without missing a beat. Suddenly, there is a drop in home runs and a rise in stolen bases.

It brings up another notion, though. How exciting and compelling will the Home Run Derby be at the All-Star Game?

In the past, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire would take their cracks at being the monsters of the midway point of the season.

Raw power sells - remember, chicks dig the long ball.

The Derby might be a little less compelling this season. The sudden shift in the game - be it in style or from the lack of medication - could have some very unusual and unlikely games going for big flies in Detroit.

Instead of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Jim Thome, Jeff Bagwell and the rest of the beefy herd of big hitters leading in home runs, the mantle is being carried by Alex Rodriguez (20) in the American League and Andruw Jones (24) in the National League.

A couple of big boppers - like David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Miguel Tejada - dot the Derby landscape, but the unlikely names leading the fence finders are Mark Texeira, Alphonso Soriano, Derek Lee, Carlos Lee, Adam Dunn and Morgan Ensberg.

Do you think Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron is feeling like his legacy is being threatened?

  • Say the words "Hagerstown Suns" and you get a combination of reactions.

There are as many impressions about the Hagerstown Suns as there have been players who have worn the uniform.

They are vagabonds, greedy athletes who make more than anyone should allow. They are idols and they are villains. They cause uproars because of the use of fireworks and the tug-of-war surrounding a new stadium.

Those are perceptions that go with tainted views. The men who wear the uniforms and some of their fans have more character than most people know.

1. The Suns recently sponsored a free baseball clinic at Wheaton Park in an effort to get the franchise some positive publicity in the community.

Derran Watts, Dante Brinkley and Ambiorix Concepcion gave up their free time to give instruction, which made an impact on many of the children attending the event.

But Concepcion made the biggest, and most lasting, impression of them all.

The Suns center fielder promised a bat to Lacie Smith during the clinic. Smith and her family are huge Suns fans.

That evening, Lacie showed up at Hagerstown's game. Concepcion asked the Suns clubhouse attendant to go to his locker and bring back a bat before the game started.

Lacie was so excited to have the bat, she was beside herself. It took her a day to realize what she had. Her family came back the next day, and before the game, Lacie - still beaming from the treasure she received - came back to get it autographed.

Concepcion complied with a smile, completing the dream come true for a young baseball fan.

2. The Penn-Mar Challenger Little League attended a Suns game and joined the team on the field for the national anthem.

One little girl player stood proudly at home plate next to Suns catcher Jesus Flores. Flores, who towered over the youngster, looked down and smiled at her.

It was almost as if he realized how blessed he is.

As the anthem started, Flores reached down and grasped the girl's hand for the duration of the song. Afterwards, he put his hand on his head and said a few words to her.

Her smile back was as good as hitting a home run.

  • Local attorney Bill Knight is one of the staunchest Suns fans who is walking the planet.

He sits in his box seat behind home plate and heckles the umpires and the opposing team, all in an effort to support the local guys.

At times, his exterior seems rather gruff. It's just an act.

Every time the Suns Fan Club has one of its autographed bat raffles, Knight buys $5 or $10 worth of chances to win the souvenir.

But instead of pocketing the tickets and trying his luck, he shares his wealth.

You can see Knight walking through the Municipal Stadium grandstands, looking for youngsters who are out enjoying the game.

He stops to talk for a second to the ones he randomly picks out and then presents them with one of the tickets.

Winning the bat is a shot in the dark, but it's a shot most of those young fans would never have if it wasn't for his anonymous gesture.

It's fun watching the kids while they are waiting for the number to be called, just hoping for the free chance to cash in.

The young smile of victory is all Knight needs.

Sometimes, the big picture can be a beautiful thing.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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