Think globally, act locally and just what does that have to do with baseball?
Spring is here and if it hasn’t reached the East Coast yet, that’s on them. But in our neck of the woods the rain has stopped and Little Leaguers are enjoying their time in the sun.
From Del Mar to Oceanside, from Encinitas to Vista, North County kids are playing the national pastime with the vim and vigor only they can muster. It’s a kick to watch and we do so with a reminder of just how much fun baseball can be.
That’s clear after watching the World Baseball Classic.
Three other countries joined the United States in the WBC’s semifinals this week at Petco Park. The caliber of ball was, obviously, world class. But with so much at stake, it figures the players and fans would be too stressed to enjoy the moment.
Despite the tension that filled the downtown air, it couldn’t eclipse the jovial atmosphere the players performed with. They executed the game with a zest and passion that couldn’t be ignored.
In Puerto Rico’s 3-1 win over the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, when right fielder Eddie Rosario gunned down Jean Segura with a laser-like throw to the plate, his PR teammates were jubilant.
Pitcher Orlando Roman jumped in the air. Catcher Yadier Molina pumped his fist. And when Rosario returned to the dugout he was greeted by a series of chest bumps that put him on his rump.
Every big play was met with a big response, thanks to a peppy crowd that was long on energy and short on inhibition.
They played drums. They blew horns. They held up signs. They waved flags. They danced. They sang. They had the time of their lives and that was before we reached the fifth inning.
It was a raucous gathering relishing each hit, each pitch and each other.
Just think if that attitude could trickle down to the youth game? Just think if parents rooted their hearts out, not thinking about a future payday or enticing scholarship.
The joy of that moment is the most important thing, and where the chips fall is almost inconsequential to that time and place in their youngster’s life.
Baseball is a tough spot and those tykes figuring out which cleat goes on which foot need to be encouraged, not scolded. Instead of focusing on what went wrong find the right and make sure the youngsters hear about that.
The WBC opens a window to the globe, where we see people that might not look or speak like us but share our common love of baseball. What’s not recognizable is how other nations play the game and how their fans consume it.
Baseball is fun and don’t forget to tell yourself just that when eyeing the kids this summer. Wave a team banner and get the other parents to do the same. Toot a horn and watch the youngsters perk up. Cheer, cheer, cheer for your squad and before you know it, the other side will be revving it up, too.
When Molina hit a homer, the Puerto Rico players bounced from the dugout as if shot from a cannon. Molina took his helmet off at home, revealing a patch of dyed-blonde hair in which all the PR players sported.
So be a good sport this summer. If you see a kid make a good play, let him know. If you see a kid bungle one, remind him the next one will deliver a better result.
Baseball doesn’t have to be dull. It doesn’t have to rival watching paint go from wet to dry. That was proven at Petco, where the good times extended from the field and into the stands.
Bring some WBC mojo to your next youth game and watch the smiles show up even if the wins don’t.
Be the team that has fun regardless, refusing to let the scoreboard dictate the joy baseball can so easily bring.
The world may not be watching. But no doubt an appreciative kid will be.
Follow Jay Paris @jparis_sports. Read his book “Game of My Life Chargers” which is available at bookstores and at amazon.com.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports