Parasiliti: Take Crawford-Cobb 'rivalry' at face value

April 01, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI

Some things are deceiving.

For example, it seems to be human nature to accept things at face value.

What’s up front may count, but it is always a product of painstaking background work.

Spring is a time that embraces that idea. We marvel at the beauty of the flowers this time of year brings.

The truth is, though, for beautiful creation, there is hours of work needed to get it started and a strong root system to keep it grounded.

In high school sports, watching our kids compete is the bloom on the rose. Practice is the dirty work, while coaches are the roots.

And the roots? They come from seeds planted years ago.

Some proof of that progression sprouted on Friday at what was considered just another high school baseball game.

On the surface, it wasn’t a big deal. It was North Hagerstown playing at Smithsburg.

So what? The Hubs and Leopards will meet again later this month at North.

Without fanfare, though, this game was a little different.

It was the first time Drew Crawford, North’s new baseball coach, was facing Smithsburg.

Until now, Crawford was an assistant at Smithsburg and had spent the last three springs sitting alongside Leopards coach Trey Cobb.

Now, he was in the dugout across the field.

That conjured up some interesting feelings.

“I have a close relationship with the coaches over there,” Crawford said. “We are all good friends and we are all very competitive. I looked at the calendar, especially to see when we played them.”

And here it was.

Friday was a breezy day with the wind blowing over the first base dugout and out to left field.

Seemingly, it was at the backs of Crawford and the Hubs and North went with the flow.

At this point of the season, the incidents of the game really don’t matter much.

The Hubs are more experienced than the Leopards and it showed.

North used that edge to build an early lead, but Smithsburg used its wide-eyed competitiveness and unbridled talent to rally back.

The Hubs, who hit four home runs, put the game out of reach with an eight-run fifth inning that was capped by Alex Courtney’s grand slam to take a 15-5 victory.

Round One went to Crawford, but it was no time to gloat.

Instead, Crawford and Cobb took the time to show what they were made of and the principles the drive them as coaches.

The two teams lined up for the traditional postgame handshakes. Most of the players were already acquainted after playing with and against each other for so many years on the youth baseball circuit.

Crawford and Cobb anchored the back of their lines.

As the lines filtered through, Crawford had more than a handshake in store for the Leopards.

As they approached, Crawford looked most of the players square in the eye while grabbing their hand. Then came a man hug/backslap combination with a twist, which would have been rated highly by even the most stingy of Russian judges.

There was a mutual respect and admiration there.

The last greeting was left for Crawford and Cobb. They shook hands and exchanged a few words before Crawford playfully pushed Cobb away as each had big smiles on their faces.

There was a mutual respect and admiration there.

“(Drew) is a good friend. I want to see him do well,” Cobb said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed him after all he did to help build this program. I’m thankful for the three years he spent coaching with me here.”

But at that point, a new rivalry was forged.

Smithsburg and North Hagerstown didn’t need any help on that front. For years, it has been the David vs. Goliath syndrome.

Smithsburg has been the small school taking on the county giant. North is the big guy with the bull’s-eye that is trying to duck the Leopards’ inherent stone of talent and tenacity.

Crawford and Cobb began a more friendly rivalry.

It is one of mutual respect and admiration

It’s because they are cut from similar cloth.

“He’s a Smithsburg guy,” Cobb said. “That’s what you take from the program here. We are proud of the character it gives.”

Sports have a habit of being all about winning and losing.

Crawford doesn’t deny that, even in this rivalry.

“It’s great to play against great friends, especially when we win,” he said with a grin.

Those two results — winning and losing — drive so much of who we are.

It’s why these games are reported in the media and why fans want to know the results and why they get excited about the competition. It’s an exciting diversion to everyday life.

 Winning is a “Get out of jail free” card, allowing the holder to thump his chest, to talk fertilizer and feel some supremacy.

Losing is the “Go to jail” card that makes the owner understand what like a piñata feels like, at least for a day.

That’s some of the beauty of sports.

But the mutual respect, admiration and character that are part of young coaches like Crawford and Cobb make up the forgotten foundation of amateur sports.

They are the roots to all that is athletically beautiful.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at

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