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I love minor league baseball

July 7, 2008

Saturday night, I got a chance to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes, minor league baseball.

While it sounds weird coming from me, a professed hater of all things major league baseball, there are few things on this planet I enjoy more than going to see a minor league baseball game. The funny thing is, I can’t even figure out why I enjoy it so much.

The play certainly isn’t great. Watch a single-A game like the one the girlfriend and I saw Saturday night between the Asheville Tourists (one of the great Minor League team names in a long line of great Minor League team names) and the Rome Braves, and it doesn’t take long to figure out why these guys aren’t playing in the show. Their play is wildly inconsistent and hardly spectacular.

There certainly aren’t many big names playing in the minors, well at least not in A and AA ball, where you’d be the luckiest person on Earth to catch a rehab start of a star pitcher but more often than not see career minor leaguers play night in and night out.

I honestly think the best thing about minor league baseball is the sense of community you feel walking into a ballpark in a small town. Or in the case of the Tourists, a small ballpark in a small town, it was 297 feet down the line in right. You get the sense when you go to these towns that the team, though the names change every summer, belongs to the community.

I should admit that maybe I’m a little biased toward minor league baseball, having grown up with a team of my own in Jamestown, New York (the Expos and now the Jamestown Jammers, who recently traded in their killer beaver-looking mascot for a bushel of menacing purple grapes) and lived just an hour from the AAA Indianapolis Indians and one of my favorite stadiums in America, Victory Field in downtown Indy. I guess in a way I was born to love the minor leagues.

I guess as I sat at McCormick Field in Asheville, $7 24-ounce Sweetwater 420 in my hand and my girlfriend on my shoulder, I realized that the reason that I loved minor league baseball so was that, at the end of the day, it’s a fun night at the ballpark and nothing else. I don’t care who wins or loses and I’m not wholly convinced that even the players care who wins or loses as long as they play well and increase their chances of moving up.

In a world where we, and I especially, care so much about literally everything, it’s nice to be able to care about absolutely nothing. And therein lies the beauty of the minor leagues.

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