Important things in more simple terms

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A 12-year-old kid steps into the batter’s box, staring down the opposing pitcher, with the echoes of his parents yelling and the infielders chanting “hey-batter-batter, hey-batter-batter, SWING!!” in the background. It’s a hot and humid summer night.

Another giant corporate conglomerate declared bankruptcy this morning, more troops were sent abroad to fight the “War on Terror” this afternoon and Tom Brokaw declared that Americans, on the whole, are getting fatter on the Nightly News.

But none of that is bothering this kid right now. Right now it is just him and the ball.

Right now, it is simple.

In life, it’s all about the simple things. The most simplistic of things are what make life worth living. The same holds true for sports.

We could not honestly care less about the endorsements, the press conferences, TV timeouts and the waiver wire (well, maybe not the waiver wire).

All of these things are just convoluted meanderings designed to sell tickets and fill air time. They are not what really count.

We don’t really care about those players who are only interested in showering quickly after the game and getting back to their hotel rooms in time to see if they made SportsCenter. Or the owners who try to convince the fans that if they don’t get a new stadium their team is going to go bankrupt.

And we certainly don’t really care about how much money a professional athlete makes.

In truth, there are thousands of people who would give almost anything to do for one day what a lot of athletes get paid millions of dollars to do for a job, yours truly being one of them.

The simple things are what keep fans, both young and young at heart, glued to their TV sets and on the edge of their seats.

Like catching a line drive, foul ball in one hand while not spilling your beer in the other.

Or watching a scrappy little point guard, who is only about 5’6″, drive the length of the court faster than it takes you to get to your 8a.m. psych class on a rainy day in November, then sink a 14-footer from the elbow at the buzzer to beat a team which could have lived for another year and a half off that win.

Or it is something as simple as eye-black. But not those little stickers that guys put under their eyes that have the names of the company who makes them.

No, I’m talking about the throw backs who actually take out the little tin can, which actually doubles as shoe polish in the off-season, before each game and apply it to themselves without having to even look in a mirror.

And they do it whether it’s a day game or a night game. Inside or outside.

It’s playing “beat Michael Jordan” in your neighbor’s driveway for the bazillionth time, because, let’s face it, he’s the only one on the block with a basketball hoop you can dunk on.

It’s about going to Wrigley Field and buying an Old Style beer; a beer you would never dare buy anywhere else. It’s about upper-ninety, set ball, game winners in injury time.

It’s playing an entire round of golf with a score somewhere over the century mark, but hitting the perfect approach on 18, sinking a put for par and not being able to wait to get out and do it all over again next week. Let’s face it, the only way for a lot of us to break 80 in a round is if we picked up our ball and walked into the clubhouse after the 13th. But for some reason we play anyway.

It’s about March Madness and New Years Day Bowl games. It’s the Green Monster and ivy covered walls. It’s about cross-town rivals, day-night double-headers, and eating peanuts out of the shell.

It’s about Jack Buck and Harry Caray, men who made a grounder to second seem anything but routine and who were able to bring a game alive just by turning on a microphone. It’s about high pick-and-rolls and back-door passes.

It’s about suicide squeezes and chin music. It’s about a two-and-a-half dive with four twists from five stories.

It’s the “Shot Heard Round the World” and the “Miracle on Ice”. Because the Giants did win the pennant and we do believe in miracles.

It’s about drafting, the Intimidator and the Viagra car. It’s staying up until 4 a.m. just to see the Senegal national soccer team knock off the defending champs, France, in their first World Cup game.

It’s about titans with such nicknames as the “Splendid Splinter”, the “Yankee Clipper” and “His Airness” and behemoths with names like “the Fridge” and the “Freak”.

It’s about two outs, bottom of the ninth, down by one with a full count and it’s about fourth and goal from the one yard line with two seconds on the clock and you are trailing by a touchdown.

It’s the power play, body checking, sudden death and the two line pass. But it’s not the designated hitter or the BCS.

It is, however, the double switch and the Hail Mary pass, even when it falls incomplete.

It’s about heckling the umps even when they call a good game and it’s about standing up and clapping before, during and after the last out of a game.

Fans do not care about rich players, richer owners and commercial breaks. They simply care about the little perks that newspaper writers hardly find worth mentioning.

And they care about 12-year-old kids who give it their all every game (unlike some, more highly paid athletes) and, win or lose, still remember to shake the opposing team’s hands at the end of the game and get a pop from the cooler.