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DC Sports Nut: Nats, AGAIN??

     This is one of those Fridays where I don't know just what to write about. So, I'll pick on myself...and write about why you should never leave a game till it's over.

     Even if it is semi-pro baseball.

     There are two summer leagues the NCAA lets their baseball players participate in (and get paid for). One, the Cape Cod League, is found in the New England area. The other one, the Valley Baseball League (VBL), is found here in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. It's been around for over 70 years, and once upon a time was part of minor league baseball's system.

     For the last 40 years or so, though, it's served as a NCAA-sanctioned league...using aluminum bats, as well. The fact remains, it's turned out its fair share of alumni who've moved on to the majors. Jon Rauch of the Nationals, for example, played for the Harrisonburg Turks of the VBL. Reggie Sanders is another former VBLer.

     Tigers fans remember Tom Brookens from his time in Detroit back in the late '70s and '80s. I saw him (and his brother Tim) in the mid-'70s, when he played for the Shenandoah Indians in the VBL. (Their manager was the head baseball coach at my high school...and my driver's ed instructor. I'm not kidding.) God, that's a long time ago.

     Anyway, back to the point of this.

     We have a VBL team here where I live, about a 20-minute walk for me. Which, I did last night. The team had won the title last year, or the year before...I forget which...and seeing that the Nats are stinking up the joint nowadays, last night was the first chance I had to see this squad.

     I wasn't disappointed. At first, anyway. They jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and had it cut to 4-2 going into the top of the 7th. Lo and behold, a 3-run jack put it at 5-4 in favor of New Market (the visiting team). By this time, it was 10:00--the game started @ 7:30--so I went home, figuring nothing else would happen.

     I see my morning paper, and turn to the sports section. I look at the game roundup...6-5, Luray. (They're called the Wranglers, on account of the Wrangler plant located here. Duh.) OK, my bad. I should've stayed.

     Still, I can't say it was a waste of time. I enjoyed myself. It's on the same level as minor league baseball, really. You get to see these guys before they move on to the minors...just as you see minor leaguers before they get to the bigs. It's fun.

     Who knows, maybe one of these guys will make it to the bigs...and I'll sit and think, "Hey, I think I saw this guy...".


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