By Scotty Mincher
There’s just always been something that has drawn me to sports. It has sucked me into its wonderful world since 1996. At least that’s about as far back as I could remember sports. When I was still pretty little and growing up in Campbell Ohio, We’d play baseball every day in the summer and it was just a glorious time. My family, friends, neighbors, and I would get together at our childhood house and pick players for teams. Even though I was growing up with a disability I never really felt excluded from anything as a young kid. I do remember having a designated runner, but still being able to smack the baseball like everyone else and to me, that’s the best part about sports. Anytime I’m involved in it in any way I feel more whole as a person and less like a man that just uses a wheelchair. Some of my closest friends and family have helped and still help me get through tough times, but I’ve always viewed sports as a great escape and arguably it could be the best escape that life has to offer. For as much as I enjoyed playing sports, mostly baseball as a youngster, I enjoyed watching it as a fan just as much, if not more so. I used to listen to the announcers and try to imitate them and pretend like I was calling a game.
One of the first pro games my dad took me to was the Bulls V.S. Cavs in 1998 to see Jordan. I remember being stunned that the Cavs who were mediocre at best at that time and considered by just about everybody a cupcake opponent for the Bulls beat the Sh*t out of Chicago, winning by about 20 that night! I also remember being kind of sad that I only remember Jordan scoring about 29 points that night and thought he looked like just another NBA player because despite having a game that a lot of NBA players would kill for I viewed him as some type of superhero and figured he would go off for at least 50. Maybe my memories of that game and my biggest childhood sports idol looking human affected my perception of live basketball viewing. I’ll get to more on that later. As some of you may know I was raised to be a Cleveland sports fan.
My dad took me to my first Indians game the same year I saw Jordan for the first time, to watch the tribe take on the Boston Red Sox.(Screw Red Sox Nation BTW!) My first game at what’s now known as Progressive Field was a dandy. The Indians were a 90’s powerhouse spearheaded by Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar, and Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox weren’t too shabby themselves led by Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, and a lineup that featured Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Troy O’Leary, and Jason Varitek. The Tribe would lose in a pitchers duel 3-2, But I still marveled at the star power on the field that day, the roar of the crowd, and the sights and sounds of the ballpark.
The first Browns game me and my dad went to was in 2001 against the then San Diego Chargers. The crowd was incredibly rowdy and helped launch the Browns to a 20-16 win over Doug Flutie and the San Diego Chargers. Many heartbreaking losses would follow that victory, Including the infamous bottle gate game that we attended that December, but I’ll never forget showing every emotion possible in that game and the fact that it summed up what’s it’s like to be a Cleveland sports fan. On the local level as a fan, I’d love catching my brother’s high school baseball games as a Lowellville Rocket at Bob Cene Park in Struthers Ohio.
I also shadowed a game at Cene last year for YSN’s founder and CEO D.J. Yokley so I got to check out a couple of the teams that are covered by YSN. I was overcome with feelings of nostalgia taking me back to the days when I would attend sporting events as a Lowellville student. It was a beautiful night in Struthers and I even took the different scenarios that were happening during the game and used them to envision how I would call my first game in my head, which was a lot of fun for me since I’m more than willing to lend my hand to help YSN call baseball games in the future and have to stay ready. That’s also in part why when talking about my favorite sports which include baseball, basketball, and football whether I’m playing the sport in the backyard with my friends and family or watching it as a fan, because of my own personal connection to the game my favorite sport and the best one to watch live, in my opinion, is baseball. I’ve just always loved the atmosphere when I’m at a ballgame and the fact that every pitch creates a different scenario and conversation that on top of the sound of the crack of the bat to go along with the roar of the crowd after a home run is why I feel the uniqueness of baseball in person compared to any other sport is unmatched.
A good boxing match is special, but there’s always a chance somebody could pay top dollars for a ticket and the match could end inside of 1 round. Football is great, but there’s so much tension on every play that there’s really never a chance to sit back relax, and catch your breath. I really like the NBA, but feel it’s become a little too much about the theatrics and in-game entertainment than just the game itself, Which is fine for a lot of people, It’s just become a little too much of a spectacle in my opinion. Maybe things will change for me if the Browns ever become relevant and start winning some playoff games. But to me for now anyway, baseball is the gold standard of live sports!