There’s a lot of talk about basketball and soccer in the City of Trees. It ranges from stadiums and arenas to tentative deals and the “chaching” of millions of dollars.
But let’s get back to what it’s all about when it comes to sports. Entrance is free; the participants are enthusiastic and excited about every play, despite being compensated in corn dogs and a small drink. Coaches don’t curse at the umps, mainly because much of the time, the coaches are the umps. And the priciest item at the concession stand is a Taco in a Bag, which will set you back $3.50 ($4 if you want extra chili.)
Yes, I’m writing from the third-base stands at Dooley Field in Land Park. The sun is behind the trees by game time, and despite the stands being mostly full (it’s the final regular season game for the AA Orioles), I won’t blow smoke and say the quality of play is fantastic. I don’t see a whole lot of called strikes, and most fielders will run the ball in instead of taking a chance on an errant throw. Nonetheless, there’s something magical about seeing the huge grin after a fly ball lands in a glove or the bat makes surprising contact with a pitch.
Even though these 8-year olds will be done for the year in three innings, there’s still a chance for you to take in a game or two.
The AAA and Major players still have playoffs, and the winner of the Land Park Pacific Little League gets to play in the Tournament of Champions.
Some of the Majors players are really impressive: double plays, home runs over the Six Flags banner in center field (earning the batter a Suzie Burger), and a visceral “thwack!” as a fastball comes straight down the pipe. Games are just six innings — Dooley has no lights, so the games have to end before sundown.
Most importantly, the Snack Shack will be open. Burgers ($2.50) and dogs ($1.50) fresh off the grill, tater tots and fries ($1) hot from the fryer, sodas bubbly from the fountain ($1.50 for a large), and more candy than you can shake a licorice rope at. Finish out spring by letting some wonderful boys and girls, including several from Curtis Park, remind you what sport is all about.
And go ahead, shell out for the extra chili.
–Eric Johnson, SCNA Board President