Saturday, December 15, 2007

No Way Back To Mayberry

Might as well weigh in on this – seems like everyone else has.

First of all, I love baseball. Always have. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get past “batboy” age to the place where one actually got to play in every game and hit against real pitching. We didn’t have pitching machines back then.

Batboy duty was better than nothing, I guess. I mean, I had a uniform with a number, but I think it actually said “batboy” on the back. Geez. But in our cozy little corner of the world, everybody knew everybody else, who your mama and daddy were, and generally, how old you were. Most folks probably knew I wasn’t old enough to be playing.

Batboys picked up bats near the plate during the games, kept the equipment in order in the dugout and took the good natured abuse of the older kids. Batboys also got a free hotdog with the rest of the team at the end of the game. It never occurred to me that some kid’s dad actually bought the hotdogs (probably didn’t set ‘em back much for a couple a dozen dogs…maybe 25 cents apiece). The end-of –the-game dogs were the best.

The highlight of the batboy season came during the final game. I remember getting in the batter’s box and taking swings off a real pitcher. It was cool.

I still love baseball.

Sometimes, on a nice spring or summer evening, I’ll get on my bike (the kind with a motor) and ride in the country around Houston. Seeing lights from a field in the distance always makes me want to turn the wheels in the direction of a game. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s kids playing or adults trying to convince themselves that, with just the right break, they could be in the big leagues.

I just love the game.

But the innocence is gone now. It’s been gone for a while.

The announcement that came on December 13, 2007 was shocking for some. Some of the biggest names in major league ball were on the list of players accused of using performance enhancing substances. Sure, it’s disappointing but not all that surprising. The pressure to perform, stay on the active list, make a pile of dough before your body says “enough” must be incredible.

I think we all have to be careful and not judge so quickly. It’s easy to be critical and judgmental when the dream of being a professional athlete is in your rear view mirror. “Objects in mirror are really farther away than they appear!”

Honestly, all we have to go on is what reports and reporters tell us. Much of it, if not most of it, is probably true. I don’t know. I don’t let it effect my day that often. While it’s sad, there are lots of other more important things to get worked up about. I’m sure you have your own list.

I’ve met a few big league baseball players, a few NFL guys and an occasional player in the NBA. But I don’t know Barry Bonds or any of the other guys named in the Mitchell Report. Their private practices will probably never be able to kill my love for my favorite sport. I’ll still enjoy watching players run down fly balls that would be out of reach for mere mortals or watch hitters put their eyeballs on a rawhide sphere coming at them from 60 feet 6 inches away at 90 miles per hour and make solid contact.

Some of the guys don’t come off as very nice or friendly in post game interviews and so we come to our own conclusions about them – whether they would be the kind of people we’d like to hang with. But that’s all most of us really know of them. I’ve tried to reserve judgment in most cases and simply try to simply believe the best unless I have evidence to the contrary. It helps keep things in perspective.

One of the things I thought as I heard the report being read was this – there might be a payday for some of these guys down the road. It’s not really clear what price their bodies will exact for the abuses that seem to be so widespread. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I hope they all get to see their grandchildren grow up.

So the innocent age of Mayberry is gone. The real Andy Griffith was quoted as saying “I’m not as good a man as Andy Taylor”. Who is?

This is a fallen world and we are flawed people. There are too many things that bring despair and cause us to breathe a heavy “I’ve had it” kind of sigh.

I hope you find the light of Christ in your sights today. He who came as an innocent was exposed to the worst the world had to give – the blame for all the sin on the planet. And yet remained innocent and forgiving.

I hope you find reason to believe in innocence and good today and I hope you are enjoying the sweet purity of this Christmas season.

Wayne Watson


Anonymous said...

Well, this isn't about your subject here, but I wanted to tell you that I was at The Ridge Church Saturday night and sure enjoyed being there. I started to stick around to meet you but didn't....should have, though. I've been a Wayne Watson groupie for many years. The first time I saw you was at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, and I've seen you many times since.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you MORE on this baseball thing. Steroids are an advantage, obviously, but these guys STILL have to hit the ball, and I'm not so sure that steroids can help them with that or not. I still love the game, and I always will! By the way, I'm not sure if you'll remember me or not, but you came to Middlefield, Ohio a few times years ago to sing. To this day, people still talk about your concerts. I am so glad you just keep on keeping on.I was the promoter of those conerts, Don King. No, not THE Don King! LOL What can you tell me about the online songwriting contest that claims you are a judge? Song of the Year is what it is called, and it hails from Houston. You can email me at I wish you and your family the BEST New Year possible, and good luck with the new CD! I know my sister will go right out and buy it, if she hasn't already. In His Love, Don