Heat Relief

Members of the Astros in the Over-40 Baseball League seek shelter in the shade following a game on Sunday played under heat advisory conditions.

As I write this, the start of practice for the fall high school sports season is three weeks away.

Yet it feels like summer is just getting started.

Sure, as any student will attest, summer time always passes at an accelerated pace. It’s one of those little-known laws of physics, like a slice of bread will always land buttered-side down.

Still — this December will mark 20 years since the calendar moved from 1999 to 2000. Twenty years! I clearly remember the New Year’s Eve party I attended to ring in the year 2000. Feels like it was just a couple of years ago.

As I’ve remarked to friends, it’s not getting older that bothers me; it’s how quickly it seems to be happening. I figured time would slow down as one gets older. Instead, I’m a kid experiencing the summer time warp 12 months a year.

We’re already coming up on four years since the Dundalk football team went to the Class 3A state championship game. It’s been 11 years since the Patapsco baseball team went to the Class 3A state championship game. Fifteen years since the Sparrows Point girls soccer team went to the state championship game for the first time (last season made it 10 trips to the state finals for the Pointers).

Part of it is no doubt due to my being caught in the same school cycle: I’m really busy from mid-August through Memorial Day weekend, then I catch my breath in June and July.

And time always flies when you’re trying to make it seem longer.

The Over-40 Baseball League regular-season ends this weekend. The Over-60 softball regular-season is in its last week. The high school soccer summer leagues at CCBC Essex are in their last week. All before the end of July.

* * *

I have been told, but have not yet confirmed, because despite the start of fall practices being three weeks away the Baltimore County Public Schools Department of Athletics has not yet posted the relevant documents on their web site, that there will be a chance in the county soccer divisions this fall.

(Don’t worry; my source is pretty good.)

In previous seasons the county divided soccer into three divisions. Two of them were both called Division I: North/West and East/South. Then there was a Division II.

Schools considered strong/pretty good in soccer were in the two Division I’s; the rest were in Division II.

Last year in girls soccer, there were seven schools in Division I North/West, six schools in Division I East/South (including Sparrows Point and Patapsco) and 13 in Division II.

For boys soccer, there were seven schools in North/West, eight schools (including Dundalk, Patapsco and Sparrows Point) in East/South, and nine in Division II.

The winners of the two Division I’s met in the Baltimore County Championship game. The winner of Division II got to print “Division II Champion” banners.

From what I’m told, there will be three eight-team divisions this season: Divisions I, II and III.

The eight schools considered the strongest soccer schools will be in Division I, the eight weakest will be in Division III, and those left will be in Division II.

But there will still be a county championship game. It will just feature the top two finishers in Division I.

So, the eight teams in Division I will play each other, and the teams that finish in first and second place will play again for the county title.

Meaning, the team that presumably lost the regular-season meeting gets another shot. So it may come down to timing: lose the first game, win the second, get that “county champion” trophy.

I understand wanting to retain the county championship game — it’s a popular event and often features dramatic finishes like Sparrows Point girls beating Perry Hall in a penalty kick shootout that comes down to the opposing goalkeepers kicking against each other, and the Eastern Tech boys edging Towson on penalty kicks.

And the first-place-plays-second-place format isn’t unprecedented.

For me, it comes down to: was this existing format broken? If not, why fix it?

* * *

The Over-40 Baseball League plays its games on Sundays at 9 a.m. because that’s when ballfields are easily available and so they can avoid the noonday sun and all those mad dogs and Englishmen.

Last weekend, of course, there was no escaping the sun and the oppressive heat that smothered the region and left us all feeling like we were sitting in a car with the windows closed even while outdoors.

Events were postponed all over the area. Yet the Over-40 League played its games, albeit only until seven innings instead of the usual nine.

That somewhat irked me, because it meant I had to venture outside on Sunday morning to cover a game. Of course, I didn’t have to venture out from the slim-yet-welcomed relief offered by the shade.

Time for me to head for Florida, where the wind coming off of the ocean at Flagler Beach helps compensate for the heat.

* * *

Noticed an issue on social media where people debate which athletes from one sport would do best if playing a different sport; i.e., would a football player be better at basketball than a basketball player would be at football.

It seems to have been started by soccer fans, going about how adamant most are that soccer players could transition to other sports easier than other athletes could play soccer.

That’s just ... funny.

A professional soccer player stepping into the batter’s box against a Major League pitcher would rarely get the bat off his/her shoulder before the ball was in the catcher’s mitt.

Unless the soccer player had prior experience in baseball, any contact with a pitch would be sheer blind luck. The same goes for getting a glove on a hard-hit ground ball to third base (particular for an athlete from a sport where eye-hand coordination isn’t that important).

The soccer fans argued soccer players are more physically fit than baseball players. Well, you know, fitness isn’t a skill. Hitting a baseball, catching a baseball, are skills.

Scoring in soccer is a skill, as is ball-handling footwork. But I’ve never heard it described as the “single hardest thing in sports,” as hitting a Major League Baseball pitch has been described.

When you can fail seven out of 10 times, and be considered doing really well, that’s a difficult task.

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