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COLUMN: Baseball is more than just a game

I saw my first live professional baseball game in April. The Texas Rangers were in the middle of an early-season series against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.

Ever since his amazing performance at the 2008 All-Star Home Run Derby, I’ve been infatuated with Ranger Josh Hamilton’s comeback story, and subsequently, he’s become my favorite baseball player. After this day, baseball would mean something totally different to me.

During his second at-bat of the day, Hamilton walked up to the plate with the score all tied up at 1-1.

Then with a single pitch, Hamilton knocked his third homerun of the year over the right-field wall, and suddenly, the stadium went silent.

Even I was too awe-struck to cheer. I made it a point that day to become a more well-rounded fan of the sport.

Baseball is an adaptation of life stretching from early spring through late fall that no other sport can truly emulate. While I’m not knocking the other great sports from around the world, most seem to try and brush their black eyes under the rug. Baseball has a more checkered history.

The all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, will probably never be surpassed on his record nor will he be inducted into the Hall of Fame due to his gambling record.

The league oversaw one of the most prolific doping scandals in the history of organized sports.

Fans across the league revile the New York Yankees, despite the fact this team may have saved Major League Baseball in the 1920s following the numerous match-fixing scandals that plagued professional baseball for years.

And yet, among the missteps, misdeeds, some of the greatest stories ever told have emerged.

Jackie Robinson breaking the color-barrier. Kirk Gibson’s lone at-bat in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series; a game he wasn’t even supposed to play in.

And of course, Hamilton overcoming substance abuse to help a new generation of fans become transfixed by the art of the homerun.

Time and again baseball mimics our daily triumphs and failures. A great batter, just like all of us, can always enter a slump at any time, but the sun always comes up again the next day. This game still deserves our attention and our care.