minor league baseball
I love it, I really do. In fact, I love all sorts of baseball. I am privileged to live in a great place for it, the San Francisco Bay Area, and I root for the Giants. Their single-A minor league affiliate, the San Jose Giants, plays in a park not more than 3 miles from my house. Tickets are cheap (less than $5!), and I really should go there more often. When I lived in Durham NC, I was a Braves fan (this was before they got good, I swear I didn't jump on a bandwagon), and their single-A affiliate at the time was the Durham Bulls. Yes, those Durham Bulls. The mechanical bull thingy really is there, and if someone hits it, it does its snorting thing. I loved that park. Here's your useless trivia for the day: the "E" in the mascot's name, Wool E. Bull, stands for "education". There's a decent little school in that town...and I'm not talking about North Carolina Central University, although it's there, too. They eventually refurbished the park, and the team became the triple-A affiliate for the Devil Rays, but I had moved on by then (thankfully, as I couldn't bear to be a Devil Rays fan). After spending some time in California, I went back east for a bit, and lived in Richmond VA, about 2 miles from where the triple-A Braves affiliate plays. Alas, I had become a Giants fan by then. Although I root for the Giants, I also root for the A's (except when they're playing the Giants). I live in San Jose, so that's allowed, as I'm equidistant (give or take) to San Francisco and Oakland.
It's sort of like growing up in a small town smack dab in the middle of the state of Pennsylvania, which I did. You can root for all of the Pittsburgh teams, or all the Philly teams, but never a mix. I'm from a Pittsburgh-rooting family. Sports are a huge deal in my hometown, which is in a rural area with not much else going on besides a lot of Amish people and (now) a Wal-Mart. We're not known for anything except being on the road that takes you to Penn State...and some really good sports teams. The high school girls' teams have won or been serious contenders for the state title, for the past 10+ years. One of those girls went on to play at Duke, which is serious news in an area where high school graduates tend not to leave the area unless it's to go to into the military. In recent years, the local baseball teams have kicked some serious butt at all levels. I read the local newspaper
all the time (it's very short) to keep up with the various state and regional champions at all levels of play, and how funny it is when these rural kids go off to mid-atlantic regionals and play teams from Long Island -- the first thing the opposing coaches usually say, after getting pummelled by these country boys, is "what big city are you near?" The answer, of course, is "we're not". But one of these country boys is getting a shot to play pro ball. His name is Kalen Gearhart, and he's now a Gulf Coast League Dodger. It is difficult to root for any
Dodger-related player (it's not allowed when you're a Giants fan), but I will root for him. If he's lucky, he'll get a promotion from rookie league to A-ball, where he would be...an Odgen Raptor! The Ogden Raptors, coincidentally, was the name of the t-ball team my friend Mary coached to a record of...well, who really knows, since everyone scores and there are no outs. But they sure do have cute shirts.