I have a suggestion: Head out to one of the many youth softball or baseball games that take place most weeknights all over Richmond County.
Following a major league baseball team can be a frustrating proposition indeed: You often get the idea that some of the big leaguers are going through the motions, just there to get a paycheck and live a lifestyle.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to make a trip to Charleston, South
Carolina, where former Richmond Raider standout Kyle Roller is playing for the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League - the low-Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, who drafted Roller in the eighth round last year.
Watching Roller and his teammates, I saw young players battling for their chance to fulfill a lifelong dream that’s usually born in Little League or youth sports days: Playing in the big time, hearing your name announced over the PA system at Yankee Stadium, or Nationals Park, or wherever you may end up.
Of course, not very many young players make it to “The Show.” But life’s pretty bleak sometimes without dreams to hold onto.
I especially derive great joy from watching the littlest players … the 4-5-year-olds just getting their feet wet in the world of organized sports.
Watching some of these games, you can’t help but get a big smile on your face.
Maybe these young players throw the ball to the wrong base; maybe they run to the wrong base; maybe they hit the ball, maybe they don’t.
Maybe they stand out in the outfield, reach the end of their usually short attention span, and strike up a conversation with a neighbor.
Or maybe, as I saw at one game last week, they just start dancing. For no apparent reason, with no musical accompaniment.
But the main thing is this: They are having fun. They don’t take it all that seriously. It’s fun to be out there with your friends.
And maybe, just maybe, they learn important lessons about working with others, being part of a team, and doing the right thing.
Watching youth baseball and softball is a win-win proposition for me: First of all, it’s a lot of fun. And secondly, it gives me an early look at the players I can expect to see at the high school level in just a few years.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or by email at email@example.com.