Mark Clark: Overlapping sports cause fans to miss great performances

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Okay, so baseball season is just beginning. Major League Baseball started its season last month and almost got in 30 days of attention before football took over the spotlight position. In the last week, we have seen the 2018 National Football League draft of college players. We have started spring practice for our high school teams. We have seen college football finish up spring practices with their spring games on national television stations.

There is a lot more going on with football right now that keeps us from focusing on just baseball. By the time baseball comes to an end – in October – our football teams will be nearing the middle of their seasons or just starting depending on which level you are watching. It is sad to see one sport stepping on the toes of another. But, it happens.

While football has taken the nation’s attention, the National Basketball League and the National Hockey League are in their playoffs. NASCAR just held one of its biggest races of the year – in Talladega. To which we can all ask together – who cares?

It does bother me that baseball is losing viewers while football taps into the audience right now. Folks are missing some great stuff. People are missing the birth of a superstar baseball player in Atlanta in Ronald Acuna Jr. The Venezuelan rookie is on fire. Through Sunday, the rookie was 8-for-19 at the plate with four doubles and one home run and had a .421 batting average. Remember before the season, I said this kid could easily become the National League Rookie of the Year.

And over on the American League side, you have Shohei Otani of the Los Angeles Angels with a .341 batting average through 12 games as a non-pitcher. He has one double, a triple and four home runs. He has 15 hits in 44 at-bats with 12 RBI. As a pitcher, Otani is 2-1 while striking out 26 in 20.1 innings with nine walks. Teams are batting a measly .197 against him. He could become the Rookie of the Year in the American League and its Most Valuable Player if all continues to go well for the former Japanese star.

Another performance you are missing if you are not watching baseball is that of Ozzie Albies of the Atlanta Braves. Albies is in his second season with Atlanta. He played in 57 games last year and ate up his opportunity to be a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2018. As of Sunday, Albies was batting .293 with nine home runs, 20 RBIs, 12 doubles and a triple. Albies is a switch hitter. He is a spark plug at second base. And he is only 5-8 and weighs in at 168 pounds. While I am not a Braves fan, I get excited watching young baseball players make it in the major leagues. Albies is 21 years old. Acuna, who plays centerfield, is 20.

There have been some individual performances that you may have missed if you were not paying attention to what was going on in the MLB in April. The best pitching performance so far has been on April 21st when Oakland’s mm threw a no-hitter over nine innings. He was two batters away from a perfect game, but managed to walk a couple of Boston Red Sox players to ruin that chance. He did strike out 10 and only threw 108 pitches.

Back on April 3rd, in an 11-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees Short Stop Didi Gregorius was 4-for-4 with three runs scored, a double, two home runs and collected eight RBI. That was a game everyone should have seen – at least when Gregorius stepped to the plate.

On the same day Gregorius had his great performance, another was taking place at the San Diego Padres vs. Colorado Rockies game. San Diego Third baseman Christian Villanueva went 3-for-3, scored four runs, had three home runs and collected five RBI. Maybe we should have had a split television screen that day, huh?

On April 10th, Boston Red Sox Right fielder Mookie Betts went 4-for-4 with five runs scored, had a pair of doubles, a home run and knocked in four runners.

Arizona Pitcher Patrick Corbin has had two great pitching performances so far this season. First, on April 4th, Corbin threw a one-hit, shutout, 3-0, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went 7.1 innings on the mound while allowing one hit, walking one batter and striking out 12. Then, on April 17th against the San Francisco Giants, Corbin won a 1-0 contest, going nine innings, walking one batter and striking out eight. That is an arm you want in your line-up any day.

Also ringing up two great pitching performances this season is Minnesota Twins Pitcher Jose Berrios. Berrios beat Baltimore on April 1st 7-0 while tossing a three-hitter. He went nine innings, allowed three hits, walked one and struck out six. On April 12th against the Chicago White Sox in a 4-0 victory, Berrios went seven innings, allowed three hits, walked none and struck out 11.

You can very easily see what you can miss when sports overlap their seasons or another sport steps on your toes with a spring practice game or a draft. I hope one day the different major sports meet and decide not to overlap seasons. Then we will not miss as many great performances.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.