With apologies to Bob Uecker’s drunk and jaded alter ego, Harry Doyle, from my favorite baseball movie of all time, “Major League”:

In case you haven’t noticed — and judging by attendance, you haven’t — the American Legion state baseball tournament ended Thursday at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.

Here at the Sun Journal, we did our part to drum up excitement, providing wall-to-wall coverage of our three local entries in the eight-team draw.

Monmouth Post 204, New Auburn Post 153 and Bessey Motors of South Paris were worth waiting out every desperate pitching change and cringing every time we heard the sacrilegious ping of an aluminum bat.

Too bad that it all felt grossly overshadowed by the Frisco Fraud, the PGA Championship, NFL training camps and north-of-the-border bean brawls.

There are times when covering sports for a community newspaper leaves you with post-concussion syndrome from smacking your head against a concrete wall. Local names and games are your bread-and-butter. No matter how many of both you document, it’ll never be enough. And yet paradoxically we live and work in era that increasingly finds the constituency experiencing sports from the seat of its pants, with fingers affixed to a remote control or a keyboard.

How disheartening to find yourself running late to an assigned weekend or night game at a state tournament, flash your press pass at the gate and then drive on to find obscenely ample parking space within windshield-shattering distance of home plate.

In some respects, it’s symptomatic of society’s increasing detachment with baseball. The game’s too slow and not sexy enough, as I understand.

American Legion baseball has been around three-quarters of a century; as long as there have been foreign wars, basically. Still, I could randomly tell 100 people that I covered the American Legion state championship Thursday night, and 30 of them would picture old guys in sailor hats playing some sort of reenactment game.

Baseball has been the bastard stepchild of high school athletics forever in Maine. If we’re not waiting for the snow to melt, we’re waiting for the flood waters to recede or waiting for a baccalaureate service to end so the seniors can get on the field. It’s a perfect storm of inconvenience, afterthought and apathy.

Why that carries over to a gorgeous summer night on Sebago Lake watching what is still the simplest game for people of all ages to appreciate and understand, I have no idea.

The problem extends to all manner of activities in Maine. High school football remains king, but generously speaking, it’s half the social event it was a generation or two ago. I can hear myself clear my throat with two minutes to go in regulation at the biggest regular-season basketball and hockey games. And we aren’t any better at supporting our minor-league teams when they don’t win.

Anyway, if you want to know the result of last night’s Monmouth-Bangor battle, click the link at the top of the right-hand column on the home page or turn to Page C1.

I hope it was the final to end all finals. I hope you’re miserable about missing it. And I hope you’ll think twice next time before choosing multi-millionaires in your den over your neighbor kids playing for the love and health of it in the Good Lord’s late summer air.


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