By Tony Hooker
It’s the second weekend of February, which means two things to me, love is in the air and pitchers and catchers report!
Yes, I just equated Valentine’s day with baseball. Mrs. HLS is sure lucky to be married to such a true romantic, right? For the record, I thought our honeymoon trip to the Ryman Auditorium to see Roy Acuff sing “The Great Speckled Bird” was very romantic, until I realized that the new Mrs. HLS was napping through the whole thing. Same with the George Jones museum in the back of a record store. No love. This was when it occurred to me that maybe I still had a few things to figure out, marriage-wise. Nearly thirty years later, and I’m still guessing, and usually incorrectly, when trying to divine the mysteries of the fairer sex.
As an example, for the better part of two decades, Mrs. HLS never missed a track meet, dance competition, scholastic bowl meet, ball game or any other activity. In fact, the one JFL game she missed, due to having to take the girl child to a soccer game in another town, was the only game that my mini-me ever scored a touchdown in. Here we are, ten plus years later, and it’s still a sore subject. I am much too cowardly to suggest, even today, that there was any correlation between her absence and our son’s touchdown. She doesn’t read my stuff, so please let this be our little secret!
My mistaken assumption was thinking that she might have developed an affinity for sporting contests over twenty years. The point I missed was that she’s a fan of our kids, and not necessarily the games themselves. No little HLS’s on the field or floor, no interest from the mama.
As for the national pastime, there are so many things that I love about the game.
One of the things I love the most is sound of a baseball that’s been hit squarely by a wooden bat. The Acoustics of Henson Park, here in the river city, are such that with practice, one could discern how well a ball was struck by the crack of the bat alone. I can still hear the sound of Brad Coddington, who earned a childhood nickname from his uncanny ability to make a very real sound of flatulence by putting his left hand in his right armpit and vigorously waving his right arm like a chicken wing, crushing a fast ball over the left field fence in little league. He was using a sweet Adirondack wooden bat with a blue stripe circling it, known as the “big stick”, which at the time was the best available, at least to me and my friends. A couple of years down the road, the ping of aluminum bats became dominant and it became harder, if not impossible, to judge how well a ball was hit based on the sound alone. With no “sweet spot” to aim for, hitters didn’t have to square up quite as well to achieve results. Of course, aluminum bats also didn’t break quite as easily, and remain prevalent today. Today’s bats, however, are subject to BBCOR regulations. BBCOR, which stands for batted ball coefficient of restitution, is a standard which limits how much energy is lost during a bat’s contact with a ball. In other words, the “hotter” the bat, the higher the BBCOR. Basically, the composite and aluminum bats used today basically have the same BBCOR as the wooden bats of yore. Just another example of why you should pay attention in math class, kids. Physics matters, even in the sweet sport of baseball.