LON sports editor Justin Hubbard gives his take on a few sports topics
We are another week into the summer here in Lake Country, which means the hustle and bustle in our area is picking up.
There are people filing in to visit the lake and enjoy a day on a boat. Sometimes, I’m jealous of them, but then I look across the lake and see it crowded with boats and think, “Nah, I’m good.”
Summertime also means a relatively slow period for yours truly and other local sports writers. It is out of this dead period that my idea for these “musings” columns was born.
This time of year, there isn’t enough local stuff going on for me to dedicate an entire column to one topic. That’s usually the reason I resort to this style of column.
This week is a little different, though. I’m feeling strong opinions about a few topics and I couldn’t bring myself to write about just one of these.
– Take a chill pill, folks
As much as I love sports, I always keep in mind that, ultimately, they are inconsequential in terms of wins and losses.
They truly are not that big of a deal. Regardless of the outcome, life moves on.
I just wanted to remind people of that, because, over the last three years, I’ve seen countless examples of parents who take their children’s sports too seriously. I understand they put in a lot of time, effort and money to help their children play but, goodness, a lot of them act as if they’re playing professionally.
I’ve seen the worst examples of this while covering recreation department sports. Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent some time at our area’s rec departments, and there are many people who need to relax.
Did you hear the nationally breaking story about the parents who brawled over a call made by a 13-year-old umpire at some rec game in the past couple of weeks? I wasn’t shocked when I read about it.
And then, last Friday, I watched and heard coaches and parents chirp at a rec league umpire about his strike zone. Those coaches and parents felt as if their pitcher was getting jipped and, lucky me, I was standing right beside the pitcher’s mom.
It’s a struggle keeping my mouth shut in those moments, so I’m glad I got the chance to get this all out of my system here. Thankfully, though, none of the things I’m discussing involve people here in Lake Country.
Our parents will get stirred up sometimes, but, for the most part, they’re all level-headed. They’re a good example to those who aren’t.
– Rec departments continue success
Now that I’ve got my soapbox moment out of the way, would you just look at what our area’s rec departments are doing this summer?
In Morgan County alone, there have been three Madison-based teams to win district championships across baseball and softball. From my understanding, all of those teams have legitimate chances to win their respective state championship.
Over in Greene County, as you can read about in this week’s sports section, there’s an all-star baseball team that finished runner-up in its district. That group of all-stars is also headed to state.
Because of my hectic schedule during the school year, I don’t get to do anything related to the rec departments until the summer. I’m always impressed by the quality of teams they produce but, this year in particular, there is something cool happening around these parts.
– The Machine is the man
Albert Pujols made more headlines in the past week or two than he has in forever.
I’ve always known Pujols was one of the best players of my lifetime, but recent happenings gave me the opportunity to reflect on the career he’s carved out.
First, Pujols saw a young fan motioning for him to sign his jersey after a game. Pujols walked over to him, took off the jersey he’d just worn during the game, signed it and gave it to him. He signed the jersey worn by the fan, too, and then posed for a picture with him.
One of the things I love about sports is the way athletes can positively affect fans. Pujols’ gesture is a wonderful example.
Then, Pujols made his return to Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I was shocked to learn he hadn’t played at the Cardinals, his former team, since joining the Angels in 2012.
Last weekend’s series produced numerous touching moments involving Pujols, including lengthy standing ovations prior to his at-bats and a couple of embraces with former longtime teammate Yadier Molina.
Pujols is a lifetime .301 batter with more than 3,000 hits and nearly 650 home runs.
He’s a shoo-in for the hall of fame, and last week was a great reminder of his legacy – both on the field and off it.