Chris Johnson

What can make baseball even better. That minor league team in Macon figured it out

I love the sport of baseball, even though I kinda gave up on the Braves after 40 years of loving them when they abandoned a perfectly good ballpark for a taxpayer mistake in Cobb County.

I tried to replace them with the Chicago Cubs, but it didn’t work. I like the Cubs. I just don’t love them. I grew up with about 13 channels, one of them TBS that showed the Braves all the time, and the other WGN that showed the Cubs. Maybe the addition of night games and the loss of Harry Caray ruined the Cubs for me.

But there’s all kinds of baseball out there. When I was a sportswriter, I covered everything from Little League to high school to college. I learned that you don’t have to have rosters full of all-stars and major leaguers to put on a good game. All you need are a couple of evenly matched teams with players who love the game for a great show. If you don’t believe me, tune in to the College World Series this year. Or the Little League World Series.

Or, do what I did Saturday night, go see some minor league baseball. Well, technically, it was a collegiate wood-bat summer league team (think talent level around Class A) I watched — the Macon Bacon of the Coastal Plain League. These CPL teams put on a great show, and the name game of the league is pure Minor League excellence with names like the Fayetteville SwampDogs, Holly Springs Salamandars, Savannah Bananas and, of course, the Bacon.

Really, they didn’t even have to offer baseball because they had me hooked at Bacon. As far as I’m concerned, they could have a bacon festival, and it a baseball game broke out, so be it. And there is no shortage of bacon there — on hot dogs, on burgers, on fries and you can even get bacon on bacon in a cup. Mmm.

And they play at Luther Williams Field, a beautiful park that opened in 1929. It’s very similar to Columbus’ beautiful, historic Golden Park, where I’ve also watched many a minor league baseball game. The Braves may see stadiums as “obsolete” after 20 years, but I love an old ballpark — even if the millionaire players and management do not.

Still, there was one thing about the game that was different from every Major League, minor league, college, high school, Little League and T-ball game I’ve ever seen. They played music between every pitch. Yes, it’s fine between innings and as batters came up to the plate, but music played between every single pitch?

Now, some of you just said, aloud, “Ha! Stupid! There is no pitching in T-ball.” But you’re missing the point. The point is that baseball is a relaxed sport, a quiet affair between the moments of excitement. I get that folks are trying to spice up the sport and lure younger folks with short attention spans, but come on!

Part of the joy of baseball is being able to chat between pitches, and to say brilliant scout-level things like, “Good curve ball.” And how in the world is the umpire going to know he’s blind if you can’t tell him so between pitches over some blaring Carly Rae Jepsen song.

I don’t even like the way they play music during play in the NBA. Granted, I agree that the first eight months of the NBA are excruciatingly boring, but let the game speak for itself. They don’t play music during football plays or hockey action. I’d hate to miss hearing a good bone break because Carly Rae wants me to call her. Maybe.

I guess I’m turning into one of those old guys who complains about the good ol’ days and how they didn’t have this awful music or vaccinations when they were a kid and died of smallpox. Ah, yes, the good ol’ days.

At least the baseball is still baseball, even if it’s too noisy and …

Wait, what’s that smell? Oh my. All is right with the world.

Mmm, bacon.

Get more from Chris Johnson at KudzuKid.com.

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