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How To Not Let The Lockout Ruin Baseball For You

How To Not Let The Lockout Ruin Baseball For You

by Tamar Chalker

March 8, 2022

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I am decidedly more pessimistic (this week) about seeing any Yankees baseball sometime soon. Generally, March Madness always gets me through the last throes of winter in Vermont. As a UConn fan, I always have at least one team who goes deep into the postseason, but what will I do if the lockout is still going after the madness has ended?

Well, there’s been a valiant push on social media for people to get more invested in college baseball. I always enjoy catching the College World Series, and many of those players end up being drafted or playing overseas.

I’ll admit that I haven’t always been the best at keeping a tab on the collegiate game over the years. Every year when the Draft rolls around I realize that once again, I meant to check in and at least get an idea of the guys the Yankees might draft. Perhaps this is the time for me to finally become a college fan.

It was almost two years ago when MLB abruptly postponed the season due to the emerging COVID pandemic. While MLB was on hiatus, the KBO, Korea’s league, was being broadcast on ESPN. Watching the KBO is akin to watching maybe Double-A or Triple-A ball. It is a fun game and there are some players who will eventually give it a shot over here. The main problem, of course, is the time difference. I was excited to check out Korean baseball, having lived there as a kid, but in actuality, the timing of the games made it hard for me. Still, at this point, I’d rather give them my attention instead of this infernal, seemingly eternal lockout.

Finally, I think it’s a great time to remind yourself about local baseball. I’m not talking about the slow-pitch softball leagues where you get anyone who has ever looked at a baseball, though they certainly have their place. I mean the independent leagues and the college summer leagues.

For example, if you are in New England, you can probably get to a New England College Baseball League game without too much trouble. Unless you live in that large part of Maine where nothing is, of course. Even where I am in the middle of nowhere Vermont, we have the Upper Valley Nighthawks nearby.

In fact, they announced today that they aren’t even charging for games for the 2022 season, which they did last year, as well. These are the guys that are really grinding to make it to the Big Show. There’s no bravado, smaller egos, and a whole lot of hope.

So, while MLB seems to be trying to ruin itself, the Nighthawks are doing a great job of growing a fan base and making baseball fun again. In its early days, baseball was much more local and found everywhere, but in the modern era a lot of us have focused primarily on MLB teams. I am willing to bet that most of us are surprisingly close to a team like the Nighthawks, full of players who’ll be foregoing their college summer vacations to ride bumpy buses to cruddy hotels so they can keep their dream alive. Get out there and find them. I think it will be surprisingly refreshing, given the current state of affairs.

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