Author photo

By Corey Costelloe
contributing writer 

The focused-distraction of the baseball diamond

Xs and Arrows

 

April 27, 2024



I’ve had the pleasure and the honor to play multiple sports throughout my lifetime. I have covered several more as a former broadcaster and journalist, and I have been exposed to several game environments, but for some reason none of them compare to the sanctity of the baseball diamond.

I cannot put my finger on it, but even as a kid and an adolescent there was something about the baseball diamond that just made life outside of those fences disappear for a while. This feeling even continued far beyond my formidable playing days and stretched into recreational softball leagues. It is easy to lose yourself in the game situation, the pitch count and the probability of where the ball might end up in play. It all has a focused, yet distracted feeling to it all.

Even these days when I am not playing, except for the occasional alumni game, as a coach I am still easily whisked away into another world when on the baseball diamond. The challenge is attempting to transfer that message to the next generation of players, many of whom have far more distractions at a young age than I ever did the first time I put on a pair of baseball pants.

There is certainly the ability for other sports to provide that escape as well, just not sure what it is about the baseball diamond that feels different than say the football field, basketball or volleyball court. Maybe it is the fence, other than hockey it is one of the few sports where a physical barrier separates the fans from the players. Other sports tend to be a little more open, with fans mingling about very close to the players. With baseball, there is a fence that separates the participants from the non-participants. In a way it elevates those inside the barrier as a spectacle, the center of attention and the focus of everyone seated on the outside, no matter which team they are there to cheer for.

I remember as a high schooler, dealing with the same drama that most high school kids are dealing with, how much I looked forward to just getting to the diamond, where I knew for a few hours, I would care about nothing else than what was happening between those lines. Add the lights of a night game and the world all but disappears beyond the outfield wall. It would be the one time where I could believe in the nonsensical idea that the world is flat, because outside the shine of the outfield was darkness that I did not care about. As a broadcaster it was the same vibe. I enjoyed getting to the ballpark extremely early, filling out my lineup book alone in the press box and, on occasion in my younger days, I would grab a glove and shag fly balls, because frankly Cal State Bakersfield could not afford to travel that many players so we had to make do with what we had. As I got further in my career I enjoyed a quieter approach, sometimes even throwing on some headphones and music during those sacred moments where I filled out the scorebook and got ready for the magic that was about to unfold. While not a player, it was a close second losing oneself while describing the game playing out before you to an audience.

The game has certainly changed over the years. While advances in technology have allowed us to learn more about baseball and the related performance analytics, some seem to forget about the core of the game. Invented as a distraction during the Civil War, it was an opportunity to think about something other than the problems of life for a few hours. Recently I heard Major League Baseball Superstar Aaron Judge claim, “the power of baseball extends beyond the field,” during a public service announcement played during a broadcast. While I do not disagree, I guess my request is that we do not forget that the power of baseball starts on the field. It starts with the offering of fun, and a chance to imagine a world without issues, without external stress and a chance to think only about the next pitch, the next out or the next at-bat.

Everyone has their distraction in life, mine will always be baseball. While the playing days have passed, I still get that feeling that nothing else matters when I step inside the lines. The world just seems much simpler from the door of the dugout, and it will always be the greatest view in the world.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at corey.costelloe@gmail.com.

 
 

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