Take That, Easter Bunny!
When I came on board in February to write for Twinkie Town, I thought by now I’d be probing deeply philosophical issues such as “was that Luis Arraez at-bat the best ever?” Or “Do you think we can re-sign Nelson Cruz for another year?” Maybe “Has Jose Berrios turned the corner and become a true number one starter for years to come?” “Can Odorizzi give us six, rather than five innings consistently?” But alas, these questions must remain, because we have no idea how any of these players have responded in the first month of the season, since there hasn’t been a first month of the season. So, I’m turning to other deeply philosophical issues, like:
If a T-ball bat falls on the ground in an empty playground, does it make a sound?
Are there implications of not having baseball that will plague (may be too soon for that word) us for years to come? Somewhere out there (actually “in” there now) is a four or five-year old who would be picking up baseball for the first time in an “organized” fashion.
As a former T-ball manager myself, I hesitate to use the word “organized” but perhaps it would be fair to say “more organized” than the sport had been previously for that particular age group. For this summer, it would appear, that particular thrill is gone. It’s already “wait ‘til next year” for four and five-year-olds. And next year seems like a long time away for your average four or five year old, and it’s beginning to feel that way for the rest of us too.
What are the implications? Having known four and five-year-olds, my opinion is actually that there really aren’t many implications, but there could be. In reality most children that age will move on tomorrow to whatever activity is provided them, and treat yesterday as completely irrelevant. Good for them. It might be good for all of us to be so wise, although the self-centered nature of your basic child that age might qualify them for just about any position in the land….but I will not go there. Please stop me from going there.
While many children that age are far more interested in what the snack would be after the game, than the game itself, nevertheless, this was the time that baseball in some form would be introduced, and some child somewhere would fall in love with it. Now, they are ever more likely to fall in love with some indoor version of simulated sports or board games or something else that could potentially keep them inside next year too.
But back to my original point. What about T-ball? Does skipping a year of little kid baseball impact the sport down the road? Will the draft be affected in fourteen or so years when that four-year-old becomes an eighteen-year-old?
Here’s the thing that concerns me fellow baseball fans, and I know you know this, so I know that you can handle the truth. The sport is not flourishing among the youth. And the youth talk to each other. They say things to each other like “baseball is boring” and “I’d rather play soccer.” These are hurtful things that pain us when we hear them. But, it’s reality, and we need to promote youth baseball, or losing a season of little kid T-ball and baseball might actually have some ramifications down the road.
In fairness, of course, all youth sports are off this year, not just baseball, but my concern is that kids talk. Four-year-olds, in my experience, don’t have tremendous influence over one another, but six-year-olds have just a bit more. If a six-year-old has never played the game, and school ever resumes and they can talk to their friends in real life, they won’t be talking about baseball. Six-year-olds are also subjected to peer influences a bit more than four-year-olds, and that may not be good for us down the road, if they’ve never been introduced to baseball.
Baseball’s outreach to children needs to be even more pronounced than it has been. Something must be done! While I’m not the commissioner, or even a person of influence, something must be done, and I have one idea. More mascot out-reach.
While jobs are being cut, people are being furloughed, it may be that now more than ever, we need more, not fewer mascots! Mascots may prove to be the one essential employee of MLB teams everywhere. TC is excellent, of course, and the Phillie fanatic and Mr. Met are indeed fantastic (as long as they stay clear of the law), but clearly, we need more of them, and we need them now.
We need them on twitter doing weird things in empty stadiums and fun things that parents will show their children. Remember when Sean Spicer was the Easter Bunny at the White House? Of course you don’t, and you’re probably better off if you didn’t know that, but we need more people running around in mascot costumes, not only would it make the world a better place, it might just make the world a better place for small children, and that might make the world a better place for the future of baseball.
Last week, my offering here said “take that, Bud Selig!” This week, it’s “take that, Easter Bunny!” I can’t even imagine what next week could bring.