Take one look at Luke Scott and you see the genuine article.
There is nothing phony about the Baltimore Orioles outfielder. He knows who he is and is strong in his beliefs. Scott has a strong relationship with God and is a stout advocate of America.
He says playing for O's manager Buck Showalter is “a blessing” because “he goes about work in the real American way.”
At times, Scott has been labeled eccentric in some circles. But when it comes to baseball, he is all American. To Scott, baseball is a sport, a game and a pastime. In all cases, it's meant to be fun.
Scott still has fun playing in the majors, where the sport is in a different world. He gets a little distressed, though, when he sees Little League appearing to follow suit.
“When I played Little League, I had no cares in the world,” Scott said recently during an appearance at the Orioles in the Outfield Baseball Camp at Halfway Little League. “I was just playing ball and having fun. The focus should be just that. I'm against taking kids at this level and making (baseball) a business.”
In the majors, the business of baseball is to make money. The business end of Little League breeds intense pressure to play the game flawlessly and win at all costs at such an early age.
“Do you want to get better? Yes,” Scott said. “But you want it to be fun. It is now a business mentality. You want to teach them things to be successful. You want them to be competitive in a game, but the focus should be on fun.”
The objective of Little League has been discussed on the pages of the Herald-Mail for some time — until the writers are blue in the fingers. Pressure, precision and perfection are drilled into kids who are more worried about weekly allowances than long-term contracts.
Young talent is groomed to be discovered by college coaches and pro scouts as a lottery ticket for a free education and lucrative career in players who are more worried about being noticed by Dad or Grandma with a free coupon for an ice cream cone.
Fun? That's a four-letter word to some adults.
“At this age, players don't need to be meticulous,” Scott said. “Once they get to high school or a southern junior college league is when that is going to happen. I get asked what it takes to get to the major leagues. It's not going to fall out of a tree. It takes a whole lot of hard work and discipline. But most of all, make sure you are playing the game for fun.”
Scott looks around camps like Orioles in the Outfield and sees young versions of himself growing up. He has experienced all the joys of childhood baseball that he hopes is being passed on.
“There is no magic formula for taking a group and showing them how to have a major league swing,” Scott said. “It takes a lot of work. You can only give pointers.
“I've been at camps and I've seen kids with their heads down and leaning against the fence. They aren't interested and, in the end, they aren't learning anything. Make it a competition. Make it a game and show them how to do things. Competition brings out the best in kids.”
Without fun, baseball becomes work. Anyone who works knows that monotony leads to boredom and disinterest.
“If you have someone that is half-hearted and one that is less talented, I would always lean to the kid with less talent,” Scott said. “In the end, he will be a better player because he will work harder and have more fun.”
The majors are lined with players, like Luke Scott, who realized they have a talent for baseball and have cultivated it because of a love for the game. These men can truely say they enjoy going to work everyday.
There is something All-American to be said for that.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or email@example.com.
Parasiliti: To O's Scott, having fun playing baseball is all-American right
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)