Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Baseball is family, especially for the Nationals

The Washington Nationals are in the World Series! I think it's more providential than accidental that one of the more family-friendly clubs in the MLB has advanced as far as they have this year.

Team Manager Dave Martinez's encouragement for Daniel Hudson to be with his family at the time of his child's birth instead of pitching during the postseason is highly commendable.

A can't-help-but-smile highlight of the year has been the Baby Shark song as the walk-up music for Gerardo Parra. He chose this in honor of his 2-year-old who loves the song so that she could feel like she was a part of what her dad was doing.

I was first introduced to the baby shark song as a camp song, seemingly long before it was professionally produced as a commercial kids' song recording. The great thing about the full song is it endearingly highlights every member of the family, from grandchildren to grandparents.

Baseball has long been about family. I remember driving one of my brothers to Little League practice when I was in high school.

One of my clearest memories of him with a bat was off the field at a carnival booth for a pitching competition. The objective was to correctly guess your pitching speed. We watched a few batters go before us. I noticed a trend of several of them throwing their first pitch at one speed, and then their two follow-up pitches being 2 mph under their first pitch.

When it was my brother's turn to throw, he threw 45 mph on his first pitch, and his second was 43. He wasn't as fast as the others, but maybe the pattern would hold. He looked to me for a number as his guess for his final pitch and I said, “43.” He in turn gave that as his guess for his next pitch to the contest host. It worked. His next pitch was 43. The host looked up at me like, “How'd you know that?” I just smiled.

Our baseball claim-to-fame-connection is 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein. We went to the same high school around the same time, and his dad was my sister's American History teacher.

Music can inspire a team. A few years ago the San Francisco Giants had fun with Michael Franti's “Say Hey (I Love You).” Sure, there's a lot of money on the line, but things in entertainment tend to go to whoever is having the most fun.

Make no mistake about it, the Nationals are having fun, and being kid-friendly goes a long way to keeping things fun.

Another team understood this well about three years ago. That seems to have been forgotten by some this year, and my prayer is there can be healing there for that family as well.

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