Parasiliti: Baseball's simple joys are as easy as kids' play

June 30, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Things used to be so much simpler.

There were fewer choices, stronger convictions and far less scrutiny. That led to fewer distractions, more focus and less blame.

It doesn't matter what it is, simpler is more difficult … and that's on a good day.

There are many examples, but there was nothing simpler - in its purest form - than baseball.

That whole world used to revolve around running, hitting, catching and throwing. The only thing with fewer ingredients might be old-fashioned lemonade.

Baseball 101 is what the majority of us baby boomers grew up watching and playing.

It was going out on to an open field somewhere on a warm summer day. We played 5-on-5 baseball with hits to right field being outs and pitcher's mound being poison on routine grounders.

We spent afternoons with the basics - running, hitting, catching and throwing. And then there was some lemonade waiting for us when we came home.

The advent of blogs, the Internet and 24/7 television changed that concept dramatically.

Baseball - along with many other sports - is being taken apart like a Thanksgiving turkey. Every part of the game - and the bird - is carved up and taken apart piece by piece.

Now every pitch is delivered with intent. Every at-bat has a strategic meaning. Every instance is placed under a microscope called instant replay to debate the good and bad of the play while measuring for human error for reasons.

The human part of the game writes the stories and builds legends. The complex analysis is probably one of the reasons for the loss of fan enthusiasm.

That constant breakdown has made a simple game interesting and exciting for some and boring and tedious for most.

Still, no matter how much the game is dissected, baseball still comes down to something simple. It's the sweet science of using a round bat to hit a round ball squarely, followed by some catching, running and throwing.

All the action and fun of baseball comes down to those four simple ingredients. How well a team does one or all four of them usually is the difference of winning and losing games.

It makes one long for those simple times. Some of those get recaptured every summer during Little League tournaments. 

It's the time when you see young players struggling to make their bodies do things they have just learned while wearing ill-fitting uniforms. They look like newborn colts trying to take their first steps.

They chatter and chirp, which could be considered a primitive form of teamwork and communication.

It's a dramatic dress rehearsal for the days ahead.

And while grownups are complicating the process  with scrutiny, distractions and blame, the kids still manage to have fun … running, hitting, catching and throwing in an organized setting.

It's all to win a game, but to many, the outcome really doesn't matter … at least not until a grownup tells them it should.

For baseball's new generation, it's about the perks. And those are the traditions of the youth game that get lost in an assembly line mentality. Just watch the simple actions that are the most meaningful.

It's Izaiah Dillinger leaping into a crowd of West End teammates around home plate after hitting each of his two two-run homers against Maugansville in a Maryland District 1 9-10 tournament game.

It's National's 9-10 team leaving the dugout after defeating South Mountain with the league's 11-12 team lining both sides of the exit to pat them on the back.

It's a mother showing up at each dugout after the West End-Maugansville game with a lunch tray covered with a dozen small cups and three big cups of soda for the players and coaches to enjoy after a hard-fought game.

It's the joy, admiration, understanding and love for the game that is exhibited when Maugansville Challenger Division Little League teams come out to play an inning of baseball with the Hagerstown Suns at Municipal Stadium.

Lost in the shuffle and production that baseball becomes is what these times mean to all players. When most every professional player is asked about their biggest moments in the game, it usually goes back to a time when they were just a kid.

Today, baseball has become their livelihood. Back then, it was fun … and they cope with the former while trying to relive the latter.

Nowadays, the game of baseball is misunderstood.

It is labeled as slow and boring by a generation that can't sit still for more than one minute because their concentration level lasts until the next text message. It is compounded by television productions that lengthen it with commercial breaks and overemphasis on situations.

And that recipe's combination takes away from the basic ingredients of baseball and is killing the future of the game.

It's all about acting like a Little Leaguer, having fun and building memories by running, hitting, catching and throwing.

It should always be as simple as that.

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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