It's October. That means it's MLB playoffs time, and that means my attention to Major League baseball is rapt.

I confess, during the regular season my attention often is not exactly rapt.

Hey, it's a long regular season. One hundred sixty-two games, to be exact. Nonetheless, I promised myself I would try to pay more regular season attention to MLB and less to the NFL, what with the parade of serious injuries in pro football and now the dumb new rule as to what constitutes roughing the passer.

I broke my promise.

Major League Baseball really does deserve my attention. It's more cerebral than football and while there are, sadly, catastrophic injuries in the sport every year there aren't the life-ruining head injuries that some football players have suffered.

For all that, I just can't bring myself to be a MLB devotee during the regular season.

I think I just don't have the proper mindset.

I don't like book, movie or television endings that leave the reader or viewer to draw his or her conclusion as to what ultimately happened, and I don't like inconclusiveness when it comes to sports.

That's one thing that attracts me to football. There is a concrete result to every play. It is either good for the offense or good for the defense.

Baseball is often more abstract.

During those marathon at-bats I should be thinking, as the pitch count reaches double digits, "Oh man, is this not great? Here the savvy veteran hitter is, spoiling good pitch after good pitch, upping the pitcher's pitch count, earning every bit of his eight-figure salary."

I SHOULD be thinking that. Often, I'm not. Often, along about pitch seven of the at-bat, I'm sitting there thinking, "Can we get an outcome, please?"

Ah, well, it's the postseason. Time to get excited about baseball. And I'll try harder next regular season. Honest.

Panthers getting better results

Pretty much the same people. Much different results.

At this writing, the Pioneer Valley girls volleyball team was 6-1 in Ocean League matches and in a tie with Morro Bay for first place. Last year, and in years before that, the Panthers struggled to get wins in the PAC 8 League.

The Pioneer Valley roster is about the same as it was last year.

True, the Panthers play in a league with smaller schools now. Previously, however, the Panthers were in a league in which several players from some of the other teams had club volleyball opportunities and most of Pioneer Valley's players did not.

Coach Nikki Doyle deserves credit for instituting a summer weight training program before this season started, and her players deserve credit for being committed to it.

The results have shown. The Panthers are hitting the ball with more authority on their shots, and their blocking has been more authoritative.

This is a classic result of a coach starting a system, players buying in and good things resulting because of all that.

Kenny Cress has covered sports on the Central Coast for about 20 years. Send questions, comments or story ideas his way.


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