By Dave Chamberlain
It is a game. Nothing more.
But over the course of its 150-year evolution, baseball has grown into America’s great—summer—pastime. Though other sports during other seasons may have used the 1994-95 strike to vault over baseball in terms of viewership and advertising dollars, (specifically, basketball and football), baseball is as much a part of the typical American family’s summer as trips to the beach and amusement parks. Like hockey in Canada, it’s a cultural distinction.
And also like hockey in Canada, baseball’s talent-development system reaches much further than basketball and football’s high school-college-pro succession. Baseball’s minor leagues, more than 300 teams playing in every city from Rochester, NY to Spokane, Washington, provide young baseball players—right out of high school or college—a chance to play at whatever level they’re deemed ready. Every American-born player, whether highly touted youngster like J.D. Drew or journeyman middle reliever like Eric Plunk, starts in America’s minor league baseball system. Read the rest of this entry »