Baseball has brought a breath of fresh air to local sports

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, June 18, 2020

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It’s been a great couple of weeks for the Elizabethton High School baseball program seeing former Cyclone Evan Carter drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 50th pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft.
This week, news came of former shortstop and Walters State Senator shortstop Michael Robinson committing to play baseball for the South Carolina Gamecocks – a perennial College World Series attending and former champions.
For anyone around the program, they know of the hard work put in by head coach Ryan Presnell along with a great bench of assistant coaches who instill in their players not only the game of baseball but how to grow up and be respectable men in their home and community.
While the Cyclones were benched this season and missed out on a return trip to Murfreesboro and in the process local fans missed seeing Carter play his final high school season, the Cyclones are back to work in the East Tennessee High School Baseball League.
Not off to a great start record-wise, as much as Presnell loves to win, he also knows there is a lot of work to be done between now and when prep season rolls around again and like a wise baseball coach is evaluating his team each time they take the field.
Bulldogs taking shots but keep showing up
Another team in the East Tennessee High School League is Hampton and although their regular coaches have been kept out of the dugout and replaced by volunteer coaches and former player Andrew Smith, the Bulldogs have taken some lumps but it is an experience most of these kids wouldn’t have otherwise.
Facing off against teams like Team Whited (Dobyns-Bennett), Deamons (Greeneville), Cyclones (Elizabethton) and Home of Daniel Norris (Science Hill), the boys from Hampton haven’t faired well but again the experience they will gain in this summer league is something that couldn’t be experienced in Class A baseball.
What is most impressive is that they haven’t dropped their heads or thrown their hands up in the air but come to the field each and every day ready to play the game they love.
Against the Deamons, I haven’t seen as many southpaw pitchers on a team as I witnessed from Hampton against the boys from Greeneville.
Smith didn’t hesitate in changing pitchers throughout the contest holding the young arms to roughly 25 pitches and met his team each time they came off the field with words of encouragement.
The Bulldogs were off to a 7-0 start early on in the 2020 season before being shut down but I look forward to this team picking right back up where they left off under the guidance of a super coach in Nicholas Perkins.
Will they or won’t they
One of the major questions that I have been asked quite a bit lately is will the Major League Baseball teams play this year.
And like I have told many, that is a million-dollar question that is being squabbled about on a daily basis. While Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred and Union Head Tony Clark met to put together a framework for the start on Wednesday, that still isn’t a guarantee that the players will agree to play.
Personally, aside from money, I think that players are using this as a smokescreen to cover up the real reason for not returning and that is their concern over the COVID-19 and the safety of their families.
Regardless, the more time that passes each day, the more that baseball fans are growing weary and could really care less if MLB takes place this season or not.
They have the NBA playoffs, NHL, and PGA opening back up and more than likely can find something to occupy time until fall college sports kicks off if that even happens.
And there is also NASCAR even though many fans have stated they wouldn’t tune back in after recent events including the removal of the confederate flag from race tracks.
Time will tell on that side of the coin but die-hard NASCAR fans will continue to follow the sport and their favorite drivers.
A final word
While it definitely looks like minor league baseball might have seen it’s final days in the Appalachian League, local fans should take advantage of the fact that Boyd Sports has made an effort to put together the East Tennessee Baseball League for local high schools.
This might be the new norm for summers to come as more high schools join the leagues to allow for weeks of baseball to get sports lovers through the summer months between high school spring sports and fall sports.
Five dollars a head is a reasonable admission price and you can catch two games for that ticket while taking advantage of concession stands.
There have been some very competitive games early on as well as blowouts but the freshness of having baseball going on right now can’t be beat.
Also, for those who have young children who participate in youth league football, it might pay to take a visit to the Elizabethton/Carter County Boys and Girls Club website as signups are scheduled to start soon.
Word is also that there will be a Fall League for baseball with information for signups also available at the Boys and Girls Club website.
Until next time… hope to catch you at the ballpark!

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