Centershots 8-19-11

Is bigger really better?

Bigger milkshake, yes, please. Bigger bed, definitely. Big leagues? I’ll pass.
I love watching pro teams just as much as the next guy, which is why I shell out hard earned cash to watch groups of guys tackle each other, run around in the dirt, or kick a ball into a net. But if given the option, I’d pick  a minor league team over the pros any day.
For example, this summer my family and I visited the Springfield Cardinals, a double-A division of the St. Louis Cardinals, in Springfield, Mo. As we sat on our front row seats down the first baseline (which were only $8–yet another reason to love the minors), players walking from the outfield to the dugout would stop and strike up a chat with us and our fellow front-rowers.
Yes, big leaguers might stop and sign autographs if you scream at them loud enough and long enough, but this team didn’t have to be yelled at, they volunteered their conversation, smiles and banter.
When looking into the eyes of these men, it was as if you were looking into the eyes of a boy, one who remembered what it was like to sit in the stands and watch their hero score the game-winning run.
However, none of the players held the arrogance of believing they were someone’s hero. They were just doing what they loved, and that still meant something to them.
And when the Cardinals batted around the line up twice and had a 7-run sixth-inning (six runs scored before the first out) you better believe you could feel the adrenaline rush right along with them. They were living their dream and you were part of it.
It may only be AA ball, but they were in the big leagues and on cloud nine. Fun was the predominant experience at Hammons Field that night. Playing baseball wasn’t a job to them, it was their passion, and passion is contagious.
That passion and excitement for the game is exactly what college sports have to offer. People are attracted to college hoops and football because the athletes still enjoy the games they play. Their zeal and enthusiasm draws fans and rubs off on them creating a heart-pounding experience like nothing else.
The race for the conference title, the underdog blowing expectations out of the water, and hard work paying off is why we watch the game. Half-court baskets from the knees and 22 OVC championships in as many seasons, simply add to the splendor that is Murray State basketball.
Mix in six-individual NCAA champions and six Olympic team members from the rifle program and the roots of Murray State athletics run a little deeper into the heart of winning soil. That’s not including the countless records set by all the Racers’ sports through the ages.
Adding to the college sports scene is the knowledge that these guys and girls aren’t practicing 24/7, but rather they are balancing an academic career right along with their athletic pursuits.
That’s enough to make you stand up and clap right there.
Rewind to the last little league baseball game you watched, or, better yet, t-ball.
How many home runs were there? How many double plays, strikeouts, or line drives?
Probably not that many, I mean, strikeouts don’t even exist in t-ball. But how much fun was had? How many smiles did you see? How much digging in the dirt was happening from the little boy whose attention span is shorter than a sneeze?
We think it’s adorable when they are younger and just trying to figure out the game, but as they grow up and their ability to comprehend expands, more pressure is placed on them until it becomes a job just to have fun playing the game they are supposed to love.
I call for a return to the fun of little leagues.
Racers and Thoroughbreds, have fun this season. Remember why you started playing the game and let that motivate you to excellence. Let the little kid in you come out as you dominate the OVC, and crush the competition.
A team who has fun, works hard, and practices the basics is unbeatable whether they win or lose.
Sometimes bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes what is best is what you already have, and after jogging down memory lane it is clear Murray State has what it takes.
Let’s go Racers, you have a school and community believing in you, cheering you on, and standing proudly behind you. We are Racer nation, and this is going to be a great year for the blue and gold.
Contact McDonald