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Doug Wolter: Should we just play wiffle ball instead?

This is a column about random thoughts. Trapped here, as I am, in the dead of winter, I have only my imagination to keep me company as I dream of green grass and the sound of baseball bats striking pitched balls on ball fields. That crisp echo, I...

This is a column about random thoughts.

Trapped here, as I am, in the dead of winter, I have only my imagination to keep me company as I dream of green grass and the sound of baseball bats striking pitched balls on ball fields. That crisp echo, I remember from happier days, is among the most satisfying on the planet.

I am not talking, of course, about the sound bats striking balls makes inside gymnasiums. It is a sickening sound. Please do not ask me to describe it.

I think I’ve said it three, maybe even four times now to people asking my thoughts about the neverending winter that has aggravated spring sports fans everywhere.

“They might as well just cancel spring sports completely,” I have said.

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Frustration is what causes this kind of attitude, obviously. I’m as anxious as the next guy to find proof that spring has indeed arrived here in southwest Minnesota. I’m growing tired of hearing the words, “Merry Christmas” every time we have another April snowstorm.

No, I don’t want to cancel the spring sports season. That would be cruel. Athletes all over this portion of the state, and in northwest Iowa, too, have been practicing diligently indoors in the fervent belief that soon -- yes, soon (?) -- they will actually be allowed outside to play.

I have watched some of these practices. It’s tough on the coaches, perhaps, most of all. They’re racking their brains trying to come up with something interesting -- some unique feature, perhaps -- that will make weeks of indoor practices seem fun and/or meaningful.

But it’s sad. I’ve gone to some of these indoor practices. The track athletes jog in hallways. The baseball players roll balls to each other to limber up. Their coaches hit rubberized balls along the gym floor for infield practice, but you can’t fool a high school kid -- the balls don’t bounce the way they will in an actual game on regulation outdoor infields.

Sigh.

My imagination kicks in. How can we get this spring sports season started, for real?

Oh, what the heck. Maybe we should just throw the baseball players, and the softball players, too, in those gyms of theirs and have a wiffle ball season. Worthington could host Windom Area one Tuesday, and on Friday travel to play Luverne in the Cardinals’ home gym. Think of the curve balls! I’ll buy a ticket.

Other random foolishness

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  • That’s it. I’m done with instant replay in baseball. It’s stupid. They interrupt the flow of an already slow-moving game to second-guess themselves on plays that, even with replay, are hard to decide. And it’s not just about replays anymore. They change the rules (like telling catchers that they can no longer block the plate), and then they don’t even apply the rules in the way that they write them. Are they trying to make games unwatchable?
  • I am reading a book about Dan Patch and I’m guessing you have no idea who I’m talking about. Dan Patch was a Standardbred pacing horse in the earliest years of the 1900s at a time when harness racing was arguably the No. 1 sport in America. I’m telling you, he was as popular in his day as Babe Ruth ever was in his. And in 2018, hardly anyone has heard of him. The book, by Charles Leehrsen, is mighty good reading.
  • Circle Thursday, April 26. It’s the NFL draft, and most mock drafts have the Minnesota Vikings taking an offensive lineman. I’m going to go against the grain, however, and say they’ll take a defensive player instead. This is a team that loves its dominating defense, and I’m leaning toward Coach Mike Zimmer being unable to resist adding to it in the first round.
  • We’ll have a feature story coming soon about Minnesota West and Worthington High School athletic trainer Joel Krekelberg, who will receive the Fred Zamberletti Award from the Minnesota chapter of the National Football Foundation on April 29. This is a big deal, and the honor has already sparked a wave of applause from all of Krek’s friends and admirers. There’s so much to say about Joel that go beyond what he does as a trainer that I know I can’t cram it all into just one feature story. Krek has made his life a gift to others, not just attending to athletes’ health, but adding extra helpings of kindness to everyone he meets.
  • Hope you like today’s story about basketball recruiting at two-year community colleges like Minnesota West. Even at schools as successful as West, recruiting can be a frustrating process. There is also the common perception that community colleges are too similar to the high school scene. Not fair. The two-year college scene allows students a far greater opportunity to compete, and there’s also something to be said about the fact that at two-year schools, you’re not just a number -- you’re a person.

 
 

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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