Readers of these blogs know that I love the game of baseball. This love has opened many doors for good friendship and real enjoyment. The truth is that I love baseball at almost every level of play. I have seen three consecutive Minor League games the past three evenings in Huntsville, Alabama. After hot, hot days the evenings have been tolerable and the baseball has been quite enjoyable. The local team is the Huntsville Stars, the AA team of the Milwaukee Brewers. Their opponent has been the Mississippi Braves, the AA team of the Atlanta Braves. All three games have been well-played and well-pitched. The Stars won 3-1 on Thursday night and the Braves won 3-1 and 3-0 the last two nights.
This evening I enjoyed a brief conversation with Eddie Perez, a former Braves catcher and one-time post-season MVP. Jeff Blauser, a former NL All Star, is the manager of the Mississippi Braves. He signed a ball for me, after the game was over, to give to my granddaughter, providing I still part with it when I get home. (I still have a warm spot in my heart for Jeff, who started for the Braves at shortshop for some years in the 1980s.)
Baseball is a game of profound strategy and thus it requires some knowledge of the game to enter into the fullest enjoyment of how it is played and why. It is also a game in which you can see something again and again and then, all of a sudden,, you will see something that you have never seen before. And the names of baseball players are also part of the lore of the game. Tonight I saw Travis Ezi, Cailix Crabbe, Yunel Escobar (a Cuban defector who is a shortstop with a canon of an arm and a great shot to make it to the big club) and Jerrod Saltalamacchia, who if he makes it to the bigs will have the longest name of any player in the game. He is a highly-rated Braves catching prospect but is having a very bad season (his first ever), which underscores one of the most important aspects of the game—perseverance. If this highly-gifted player makes it he will need to learn from his first truly rough season and thus make hard adjustments in order to succeed at a whole new level. This challenge alone underscores how much like life this great game really is. Those who succeed in baseball and make it to the major leagues must face adversity at many different levels and overcome one challenge after another. Perseverance is more important than raw talent in many instances. It is that way in life too. It is better to learn how to overcome adversity long term than it is to be great now and then.
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