As baby-faced phenom Stephen Strasburg makes his debut (and more importantly makes my fantasy baseball pitching staff ten times better), welcome to the Out of Left Field: Youth Special – we are Doin’ it for the kids! Yep, we’re busting out the italics early, people! But first, a brief disclaimer.
I am trying to become more of an organised man. I have a busy weekend ahead, so I’m writing this here column on Thursday afternoon. Thursday afternoon! Can you believe it? So may I, in advance, apologise for any wonderful stories that occur between Thursday evening and Saturday morning that I miss. May I also apologise if I make fun of anybody who on Friday night saves 500 orphans from a burning orphanage. They are clearly a hero, and do not deserve my gentle ribbing.
I guess I could just go for a vanilla, non-offensive version of Out of Left Field, full of rescued puppies and playful punches on the shoulder (not the puppies’ shoulders, I hasten to add). But then, what if those I profile go crazy on Friday, knocking out umpires, flipping off the fans and storming out of baseball? Then the warm-hearted stories won’t work so well either. Oh dear.
Well, I suppose there is nothing for it. I’ll just have to get on with the column and depart from this bizarre internal dialogue over the nature of writing columns well in advance. You were after something else, right? Now, what was it? Oh, I remember! Baseball! The future of baseball! The children! Think of the children!
Albert Pujols did a grand job this week of turning himself from potential child-beating villain to all-round good guy. His home run on Sunday hit a small boy right in the chest, bringing him to tears (the small boy, not Pujols). Upon seeing the replay, Pujols sent the kid a bat, to make up for the injury. Upon seeing the replay, I thought the boy really should have done a better job at making a catch. If you’re going to wear a glove to a game, catch the ball! Does that make me cold-hearted? Will my future children grow up hating me?
More fan frolics as this guy reaches over to steal a ball tossed into the crowd by David Wright – a ball intended for a small child. And I thought it was only Phillies fans that misbehaved, not my beloved Mets! The miscreant in question claimed he didn’t see the boy he reached over, and as the video shows, was catching it for another child. Apparently, balls were eventually given to all concerned, and everyone lived happily ever after. Maybe if this guy had been around for the Pujols home run he could have saved that boy from a nasty chest injury? Maybe he is just a knight in shining armour, ready to protect small boys from errant balls?
I’ve just read that sentence back, and I don’t know what to say.
And just when I thought I could go a week without a Phillies fan mention – here comes the gold! Those Phillies start ‘em early, as this video of a young child drinking beer shows. I guess that is one way of softening the blow and numbing the pain of a Pujols homer/Mets fan stealing your ball/etc etc. And to steal the gag every baseball columnist in the world has used – he’ll be puking over fans in no time!
Well, there you have it. The future of baseball fandom is clearly in safe hands. These kids learnt important life lessons this week – and hopefully they will now strive to be the next Strasburg, if only to escape the perils to be found just watching a game.