There are a few things that I truly like about minor league baseball games. The tickets are affordable. They provide a wonderful opportunity to get a peek at young up-and-comers. In my case, they also allow you to see the guys you rooted on as college sophomores playing pro-ball. The latter is what lured my siblings and me to Lynchburg this past Monday to take in a high-A contest between the Atlanta affiliated Hill Cats and the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
While these things are all very well and good, I am sorry to admit that there is a much greater list of things about Minor League baseball that I simply detest. Let’s start with all the “frills”… y’now, those between-inning attractions that take place on the field or atop the dugout. Call me crazy, but I’d rather see actual baseball than people performing some sort of relay involving hula hoops or plastic innertubes. The team personnel who “host” these “events” are always obnoxious, and the extra time necessary to facilitate the activities needlessly lengthen the time of the game. I realize that these things are done to cater to families and children, but as a serious baseball fan I find them hard to sit through. Let a baseball game just be a baseball game, I say.
Second on the list! Surely I can not be the only one put off by the almost barbaric nature of minor league crowds. I always get the feeling that people are ready to knife each other over t-shirt tosses. My instinct is to curl up in a ball and scream, “I don’t WANT the shirt… please don’t hurt me.”
Third: It isn’t that there aren’t ignorant people running rampant everywhere, but they do seem to really flock to minor league stadiums. Or maybe they just stick out more in small crowds, I don’t know. What I do know is that these people presume to know a great deal more than they do. The umpire-heckling is what stood out to me on Monday. It was enough to move me to genuine pity for lower-level umpires everywhere. I do not condone heckling, but if you’re going to do it, it should at least be on questionable calls and with at least a shred of wit. Bellowing “YOU NEED GLASSES!” on a good call doesn’t quite fit the bill.
Perhaps what rankles me above all else is the over-friendly mascots. All the people behind those furry masks may not be grade-A creepers, but you’d have a rough time convincing me that the majority weren’t. I think that Lynchburg’s “Hill Cat” hugged every poor girl in that park against her will. I, for one, would not feel at ease in the embrace of any strange man that I didn’t know, and a costume hardly renders the experience more palatable. I’ll skip my sentiments on the sense of humor these things project… there is really nothing they do that doesn’t give me the creeps.
When you lump everything together, I feel that the baseball plays second fiddle to all these loathsome “attractions.” I hate to be a grump, so if anyone wants to offer any more positives that may be derived from the minor league baseball experience, I am all ears.