Hope Springs Eternal

Today was opening day for the Malibu Little League. For the first time in years I’m not coaching but I have both boys on the same Middles division team. It’s a bit of a relief to be able to sit in the stands and shout encouragement, but I really do miss being in the dugout. So today was an early morning start (7:00) for the team picture, followed by the first official game at 8:00. It was a messy affair, as the first couple of games always are. We lost 12-10 with most of the scoring on both sides coming from passed balls. Little League catchers get their trial by fire early on, the poor little guys.

I guess you could say I’m sentimental about Little League. Yeah, it brings back memories of my childhood and all that. Plus there’s something about it that appeals to the corny, All American Kid in me. It’s strange that I still maintain the same fantasies about the “innocence” of the game in a time when Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite are being grilled in front of a senate subcommittee on steroid use in majors. It leaves me wondering what we’re pushing our sons towards if we want them to be big leaguers someday. The national pastime is no more folks. Big money and good old avarice and greed have seen to that. Yeah, I digress. You betcha.

But back to opening day… So instead of the usual stupid-beautiful, sunny day I was hoping for, we were treated to weather imported straight from Northern Ireland. It was so drizzly and gray that it actually seemed like rain at times. Folks came in droves as always but no one stayed around very long. We had Dodger legend Steve Garvey there to sign autographs and throw out the first ball. Unfortunately, I forgot the boy’s raffle tickets so I had to skip back home and missed the actual ceremony. By the time I got back, old Steve had packed it in and most of the families were doing the same. It was that cold. Caroline got Steve’s autograph on one of our old mitts though. That was nice.

I’d be remiss to not point out that the playing fields for the Malibu league are outrageously pretty. We play at Bluffs Park, a six acre plot of land directly overlooking the Pacific. It looks like you could bean a passing dolphin with a long homer — all you see past the outfield fence is blue ocean. The park is right across the Pacific Coast Highway from Pepperdine University. Take a look for yourself. If you really want to be jealous, check out the Google Maps satellite view. After all these years, I still can’t believe we get to play here. No wonder visiting teams hate us, and no wonder I still get sentimental. Play ball!

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