Before the ump yells ‘Play ball!’

by Cathie Lawrence

Baseball was developed more than 150 years ago in the northeast and is now America’s No.2 favorite sport based on TV viewing records. But before the fans hear “Play ball!” from the head umpire, much has to be done whether you are playing in the major leagues or at Los Medanos College.
Both the field of play and the players taking the field must have it ready for game time. The field must be cared for and prepared. Grass needs to be watered and soil raked. Large canvas tarps protecting the field must be rolled and removed. The field needs to be striped and the pitcher’s mound strengthened with fresh turf material.
Players must also be prepped to be at their competitive best. Pitching skills must be developed and fine-tuned since games are often won “on the mound.”
The finer points of batting skills must be honed by each player. Basics such as catching fly balls and fielding grounders must be reinforced.
Injuries must be treated with sound physical therapy techniques but better yet prevented by warming up with stretching exercises during practice and before a game.
The players, through their confidence gained by hours of practice, must adopt a winning attitude before the first pitch is thrown.
So before the fans arrive to fill the stands, a lot of baseball has already been played out behind the scenes.