When I watch Little League World Series games these days, I always flash back to my younger days. Back then, I'd always hope and wish for a chance to play on national television and I remember that they'd always show the players' favorite TV shows or actors or movies listed under their names when they came up to bat. It was an experience I wanted to have.
Believe it or not, I wanted everyone to know my favorite movie was "A Christmas Story," my favorite player was Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) and my favorite TV show was "Martin." To me, this was the most exciting thing about playing in the Little League World Series (not to mention getting a chance to win it, too).
Watching LLWS games today reminds me of how fun the game of baseball was for me at such a young age, and how it remains fun for kids of all ages all over the world.
Now that I'm 28 years old and play professional baseball and get paid to do it — which is every Little Leaguers dream — can it be as fun as it was when I was 12 years old? I feel very blessed to be able to play baseball at the highest level, and no matter what, it's still just a game, just with a few more fans and a larger field.
People come up to me and say, "You play the game like you are having fun out there all the time." For nine innings, I can say I give my all. If I'm tired or mentally drained, I'll get some rest when the game is over.
Of course, that's often a lot easier said than done. There are so many things that are thrown at a major league player that can easily take the fun out of the game. Most of it comes with the territory like hecklers from the crowd, negative media or the pressure to win. I can understand why a player might look like he isn't having as much fun out there, or why a player gets tossed out of a game, slams a bat or breaks something in the dugout. The game itself is tough enough.
But when you add in all the outside demands? It's really easy for a player to snap, explode and not keep the game in a fun perspective. I try my best to keep it as fun as possible every day, but there are times when I get frustrated, times when I feel I need a break, times when I feel like not answering a question from the media.
But through it all, I try to remember that it's just baseball and that at the end of the day, it's the same great game I played when I was 12.
* * *
Curtis Granderson plays center field for the Detroit Tigers and his blog will appear regularly on Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew during the 2009 season. Make sure to check out and support his Grand Kids Foundation. His previous posts can be read here.