The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

July 20, 2013

'Crack' is better than a ping

ENID, Okla. — There was an odd, yet reassuring sound heard around David Allen Memorial Ballpark this weekend during the Connie Mack state tournament. It harkened back to the days of yore when times were much simpler in the world of baseball. However, some young fans may not have been at all familiar with it.

The “crack of the bat” returned to baseball at the corner of Grand and Cherokee, replacing the ping of aluminum as the nine teams competing in the state tournament used wood bats. It also meant bringing a decent pace to games that, thanks to aluminum bats, had turned seven inning contests into three-hour-plus affairs.

The early games of the tournament saw contests with single-digit run counts that frequently were completed in a brisk pace of under two hours. It was a welcome sight to see scores like 3-1 and 1-0 as opposed to beer-league softball-style scores of 16-11.

The ball doesn’t jump off a wood bat like a rocket-propelled grenade as it does with the aluminum bats. It takes a little more skill to hit with a wood bat, and it makes pitching even more of a premium commodity. It was a genuine pleasure seeing so many fine pitching performances being turned in, such as the Majors’ Jesus Gamez’s complete game 10-strikeout performance in a 6-2 opening day tournament win.

Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come, a little bit of a back-to-the future moment. Maybe we can petition to have David Allen Memorial Ballpark declared a “ping-free zone.”

• While the teams competing in the Connie Mack state tournament are obviously there to win a state title and advance to the regional in Fort Worth, Texas, and maybe a berth in the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M., there is another aspect to playing in the tournament for many of the players hoping to take their game to the next level.

Beyond the parents, grandparents, girl friends and local fans in attendance throughout the duration of the tournament, scouts have also been on the scene. Oklahoma Connie Mack commissioner Shannon Enfield, who has been a one-man driving force in working to make Connie Mack baseball a viable entity in the state, advised scouts from Major League Baseball, four-year colleges and junior colleges have been taking in and evaluating the talent in the tournament.

Their presence is an indication Connie Mack baseball in Oklahoma is gaining some traction among those that follow amateur baseball.

• While we celebrate a return to tradition in Connie Mack baseball, maybe we should be a bit concerned with the future direction of Major League Baseball under near-octogenarian commissioner Bud Selig.

Selig proudly proclaimed during All-Star week he has never sent an email. This should not be a point of pride for baseball’s boss. The game has many issues and needs not just some real fixes, but somebody technologically savvy enough to keep pace with today’s burgeoning social media as the game desperately seeks some positive press.

How out of touch is Selig? Rumor has it he wanted to launch an immediate investigation when he found players were tweeting, convinced it was another drug scandal.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.

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