by frank | May 17, 2020, 2:38 PM
By: Andre Rodriguez
Try and imagine a world where baseball exists yet its simpler recreational pastimes like “pepper” and “hot box” do not. A world where kids during a rain delay don’t feel an intense restlessness to practice their sliding on the water saturated field. A world in which the only thing that keeps them from doing so is their mothers piercing gaze accompanied by an, I DARE YOU!, that has colloquially become the complete opposite. This three word phrase serves as a pillar of support our youth can lean on. It can foment risk, which in return causes euphoria and/or sadness, as well as victory and defeat.
Ozzie Smith and his backflips, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych and Nomar Garciaparra with their obnoxiously long routines, Ken Griffey Jr and his seemingly perfect swing, these examples are but a small sample of the immense spectrum of characters that this sport, baseball, creates. It is known that a child’s imagination and sense of creativity are essential for their personal development. On the other hand, it is also known that at times, these same children have “cognitive blinders” placed on them. This typically stems from attempting to develop children under an overly strict regimen that aims at evolving a higher sense of discipline and responsibility. The fact of the matter is that in most cases, parents and coaches commit this mistake with the best intentions. We have been informed by traditional education that a child must have a stable, regulated and structured environment in order to improve his/her probability at becoming a productive citizen to our current society. Now, what has me wracking my brain is how exactly is this philosophy applicable to baseball? See, like an artist, every baseball player has the opportunity to convert the field into a canvas and give life to their own peculiar style of play and antics that help distinguish themselves from the rest. Some may be classical like Mozart, others more innovative like Andy Warhol, and others possess more than one skill to enchant us like Da Vinci. Thanks to these “ballpark artists” I for one fell in love and continue to love this game for everything it offers.
So, why is structure imperative in baseball? Well, not only baseball but organized sports in general are tied to a set of fundamentals, both technical and intellectual, that athletes must continue to develop as they continue to advance into higher levels. Now, this structure can prove to be disastrous when it comes to a young athlete’s creativity as it can make them, for lack of a better term, robots. Most, if not every baseball player aspires to play professionally and reach the top, unfortunately we know this is much easier said than done. Therefore, by maintaining a prehistoric ideology of structure alive and force feeding it to children in sports we are limiting our future businessmen/women, educators and professionals to be innovative and simply exist.
In closing, I want to clarify that fundamentales are crucial and should be worked on tirelessly to reach the next level. But, we must also tirelessly promote today’s youth to be original, allowing each of them to enjoy the game in their own way. Let’s focus on dissolving monotony so that we can be awed by the next wave of “ballpark artists” and citizens of the world.