Bob Howell

I did something last weekend I haven’t done in quite some time. I watched softball and Major League Baseball on TV... all in the same weekend. And boy, did I get my money’s worth when it came to unexpected outcomes. 

First, Alabama’s ace, Montana Fouts, threw a perfect game and took the wind out of UCLA’s sails. Fouts’ feat hadn’t been accomplished in 20-plus years. Ironically, Montana retired 21 Bruins on her 21st birthday.  

Then on Saturday and again Sunday night, Mother Nature got involved by sending down heavy rain that delayed the schedule by more than two hours each night. By the time this conversation is printed, we should know the best of three competitors. The ESPN anchors were scrambling to fill as the folks in the production trucks were playing the guessing game as to how much file video they should pull out of the archives, 

One observation. Most all of the young women competing seem to be extremely happy. I’m not saying you have to be down in the mouth to demonstrate your devotion to the game. But regardless of the hard times, most appeared to take it all in stride. 

Now to the rest of my sports viewing ... baseball.

It seems Major League Baseball finds itself in the midst of another banned  substance scandal. This time, instead of pills to give batters the extra “umph” needed to keep knocking the ball out of the park, it’s pitchers that are allegedly using “stickem” to keep batters from having a chance at making solid contact with the ball.

Let’s face it — fans come to the park to see home runs. While they appreciate a pitchers’ duel, “Dan the Fan” comes to eat a high-priced chili dog and enjoy a couple of adult beverages. He wants to tell the guys at work that he was there when his favorite player crushed one into the upper deck in right field for the walk-off win.

This year in the MLB, batting averages are down significantly while strikeouts are up. With baseballs being tossed every time they hit the ground, there is little time to give it the once-over to check for any foreign substance. Keeping in mind the push to make for shorter games. 

I picked up on a concern of Alex Rodriguez during last night’s Yankees vs. Red Sox game. He didn’t like catchers going down on one knee while behind the plate. He says it keeps you locked in one position. Duly noted, Mr. Rod.

Personally, I don’t like velcro used with player’s gloves — particularly batters. Many, if not most players are creatures of habit. And the time taken by batters during an appearance at the plate could be cut substantially if they just eliminated that fastening and unfastening the velcro between each pitch. 

I realize this is a personal dislike of mine which will probably end right here. But I got my chance.

And finally, a big “thank you” to baseball teams across the country that have added safety nets down the baselines to help protect the fans. You can only imagine how fast a hit ball is traveling when it heads into the stands with nothing between it and the fans who may or may not be paying attention to the incoming baseball.

By the way, the possums are doing well ... making their nightly visits to the catfood bowls looking for leftovers. 

They send their best.

Hang in there.

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