Bad hops part of PBL lore

Posted July 2, 2012


Bad hops part of PBL lore

When I came into the Powerline Baseball League in 1999, it was an unknown commodity of what seemed like a bunch of senior citizens who somehow could hit the ball farther and harder than anyone I had played against before.

The Ryley Rebels back-to-back-to-back home runs off me in one game in Armena was a wake-up call. Seeing 50-year-olds trot station to station in a 23-2 loss at the hands of the Brewers was brutal. Watching Bardo’s bevy of 20- and 30-year-olds go oppy over the snow fence in right was humbling.

But the state of the diamond never seemed to be in question. It was still somewhat a farmers league. Teams like Camrose and Lamont were the “big city.” A game in Camrose was like visiting Yankee stadium. It was fun to go there once a year, but you didn’t much enjoy it on a regular basis.

The teams all had local “crews” that manicured the grass and infields the best they could. Were there bad hops? I am sure of it – but no one seemed to complain much. Armena had huge boulders every season we would pick for hours before, during and heading into the playoffs. Opposing teams struggled but it was the way it was.

Over the last few years, lots of local help has moved on. The teams have changed. The league added another “big city” diamond in Leduc. Teams start to see Sherwood Park, Edmonton and St. Albert as much better options when it comes to the fields.

The PBL, however, has a little mystique left in its tank. Some referring to the diamonds we play on as “cow pastures.” Yeah, they actually would be cow pastures. Some think that sucks. Others think that’s awesome.

Last Thursday night, those who think playing on cow pastures sucks, loved the fact two teams faced off at Telus Field. I’m sure it was a treat to be a part of. Many of these people probably think we should play at a “nice field’ all the time. Have a central location we play double and triple headers on each week like they do in Calgary’s league. I have to say, part of me wouldn’t mind if Telus Field was Leduc’s home diamond instead.

Also, I am a huge fan of doing an all-star or make-up game at neutral sites when and if necessary. I’ve scheduled a couple in Sherwood Park for example in the past.

But for some reason, there’s something still special about the old town/hamlet diamonds we still play at. Sipping a cold beer on an endless summer night in Bardo or Armena brings me peace and back to my youth, as well as picturing the same two teams doing the same thing 30 years earlier.

Are there bad hops? Yes. Do I enjoy playing shortstop on a field that should most definitely be floated? Not particularly. But without the cow pastures and the storied teams, the PBL is just another men’s league. We might as well throw names in a hat and do a draft. Forget playing with childhood friends in front of dads and grandfathers who played on the same diamond for the same teams.

Sometimes a bad hop is worth a little tradition. That’s my take anyway. This coming from someone who’s getting old and becoming one of those “senior citizens.” I welcome your thoughts.

Fire away.

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Jason Buzzell

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