Franke: Baseball and Golf Mean It’s Spring

April 4, 2024

by Mark Franke

The signs of spring are everywhere but something just doesn’t seem right.
It’s partly due to our typical northern Indiana weather. As a lifelong resident I should be
accustomed to temperatures in the 60s one day and the 30s the next. It happens every year at this time but my tolerance level must be in decline.

The golf courses have opened. I know that because I live on a golf course and I can see them
out there, or see them every other day when the temperatures are in the 60s. One can’t watch
any sporting event without seeing a commercial for the Masters golf tournament and much of
the talk at my American Legion post is about the startup of the various golf leagues.

But golf isn’t the sport I follow; it’s baseball and the Major Leagues began the 2024 season last
week. I have renewed my subscription to so I can watch as many games as I care to
just so long as the Cubs, White Sox, Tigers or Reds aren’t one of the teams. MLB in its
unassailable wisdom has decreed that Fort Wayne is in the local TV market for all four of these
teams so their games are blacked out. That includes both home and away games so that limits
things unless I can ever figure out the user interface to our TV service where — theoretically —
these games are available.

Oh well, that leaves 26 other teams I can watch unless, of course, they are playing the Cubs,
White Sox, Tigers or Reds.

Fortunately. we have the Fort Wayne TinCaps, our Class High A minor league team affiliated
with the San Diego Padres. In my retirement I have both the leisure and the disposable income
to hold season tickets. That’s 66 home games every season, most of which I am able to attend.

Last spring, April was a mild month so the early TinCaps games were quite enjoyable. That
hasn’t always been the case — remember we have northern Indiana’s weather — so some
seasons have been a challenge. I will admit to leaving early on nights when the thermometer
was dropping toward the 30s. But that is the blessing of season tickets; you can always come
back tomorrow for another game.

The San Diego Padres, the legal employer of Fort Wayne’s players, released the TinCaps roster
this week and it contains several familiar names from last year. I’m not sure if that means the
Padres minor league system is loaded or that these players are not yet ready to advance to the
Double A level.

But then, I’ve never understood the Padres player-development model. In my biased opinion the
Padres view minor-leaguers as trade fodder rather than future Padres. Maybe I’m still upset
about the Padres decision to decimate our roster just to get a year or so out of Juan Soto. Fort
Wayne lost several talented prospects and for what? Juan Soto is now a New York Yankee and
the Padres still haven’t won a World Series.

Since I am a lifelong Yankee fan, I probably shouldn’t complain (Soto started the season with a
hot streak).

If complaining about baseball mismanagement is off the table, I will go back to golf. I worked
nine years as a caddie and in the pro shop at the country club in my hometown of Waynedale. I
learned a lot about real life there, mostly about working long hours for meager pay. I did save
enough money to buy my first car and the work ethic I developed as a teenager served me well
in my professional life.

My golf attachment ended one year in college when I had to sell my clubs to pay that semester’s
tuition. Since then I have felt no desire whatsoever to swing a club, although I will confess that I
still enjoy watching the golfers on the short par three hole behind my house. Not wanting to be
cruel, some of those weekend warriors ought to find another hobby. They can’t be having any
fun if they need three shots to reach a green only 135 yards away.

I would say I am done with golf but my wife decided to take it up in her retirement. Now the golf
channel is streaming into our family room most waking hours. She considers my caddie
experience adequate to make me her human encyclopedia as she asks questions about rules,
strategy and scoring. The frightening thing is that I can usually answer her, drawing on some
poorly repressed memory of 60 years ago.

Some things never change. Just don’t expect selling a set of golf clubs will pay for a semester at
college these days.

Mark Franke, M.B.A., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review and its book reviewer, is formerly an associate vice-chancellor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.


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