NORFOLK, VA — I should start by coming clean: Baseball is my favorite sport.
Ever since I was six years old and started playing T-ball, it’s been a burning passion of mine. I held down second base for my high school’s baseball team for four years. I’m a dedicated Red Sox fan. I even wrote my college application essay on my passion for the sport.
So, when the DP offered me the chance to make the long trek down to Norfolk, Va., to watch the Penn squad take on Old Dominion in a doubleheader, I jumped at the opportunity. In my eyes, it was an ideal way to kick off spring break. After all, what’s a better way to celebrate the end of winter than by watching a ballgame?
The doubleheader didn’t go particularly well for Penn — the Red and Blue were frustrated throughout the day and dropped both games. The Quakers’ two ace pitchers, seniors Ronnie Glenn and Connor Cuff, had solid but unspectacular outings while the offense failed to deliver in key situations.
But, to be honest, the outcome didn’t really mean much to me. I have found that 99 percent of the enjoyment of a ballgame is the ballpark experience — there’s nothing more relaxing or entertaining than sitting in buzzing stands and watching the two teams go at it. When the weather is absolutely perfect, as it was throughout the afternoon, watching a ballgame is the consummate American summer experience.
So my question is this: Why can’t baseball become Penn’s major spring sport? Football a men’s basketball dominate their respective seasons, and with good reason: both sports have wide appeal and the Palestra and Franklin Field are unbeatable venues to watch a game.
But when it comes to spring sports at Penn, no specific team grabs headlines. Men’s lacrosse usually gets the major attention, but the squad has sputtered to a 3-3 start this season. Women’s lacrosse has won a mind-blowing eight consecutive Ivy titles and looks primed for a ninth, but, let’s be honest, lacrosse simply doesn’t have the broad interest base afforded to football, basketball or baseball.
So, why can’t Penn baseball become the spring’s headlining program? Sure, Meiklejohn Stadium is located comically far from campus and is bothersome to get to, but that’s a small price to pay to watch what, in my opinion, is the best sport in the world.
And, recent results aside, let’s not forget that the Quakers have a really good team this season. After tying Columbia for the best regular-season record in the entire Ivy League last season, the Red and Blue return most of their stars. Sluggers Austin Bossart and Jeff McGarry should supply plenty of offense, while Glenn and Cuff, once they get into midseason form, should have no problem shutting down opposing offenses.
So, while it may be a bit crazy to drive five hours just to watch the Quakers get swept in a doubleheader, I have no regrets. With the weather finally getting nicer, my brethren at the DP sports section and I have officially contracted the baseball bug.
Here’s hoping the rest of campus catches it too.
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