Occasionally, I come up with some off-the-wall, way out-of-the-box ideas. This one isn’t mine; it’s just one I think Maine should strongly consider.

Most people are unaware of this, but there are three states (Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming) without official high school baseball. As I understand it, it’s pretty much just one long American Legion season. Brandon Nimmo of Wyoming, who was drafted by the Mets in the first round last year, played 70 games for his Legion team in one season.

First off, I know this idea will never happen in Maine. The Maine Principals’ Association will always choose to stay with the current format as long as possible rather than make a change. It’s been obvious for at least 10 years we need a fourth class in football, but it’s only now that it’s being seriously discussed. The MPA was rightfully very proud about putting scores and standings on its site, but New Hampshire, to name one state, had been doing the same thing for several years.

But to me, the best part of bringing this idea to Maine is that the weather just isn’t conducive to an outdoor spring season. High school teams are trying to cram their season into five or six weeks, which means Legion baseball starts late — and then those teams are trying to cram their regular season into a month.

We’d lose some tradition, but I think we’d see a better quality of baseball. We’re asking players now to develop their swings and pitching arms in 40-degree weather as fans watch wearing gloves, winter hats, and blankets. There are lots of talented players who played at a much higher quality during the summer, because, again, the weather supports it.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who are worried about the future of baseball in Maine — not just Legion baseball, but high school baseball as well. It’s  an amazingly beautiful game when it’s played well, and the best way is in the sunshine, not near-freezing with a steady rain.

• • •

The next time you watch a Major League Baseball game, make a note of how the outfielders catch the ball. Almost always, they make the catch with one hand.

The reason they do it that way: Because it works.

Now, that should go without saying. But three or four times a year, an outfielder will drop the ball, and someone who wants to feel better about himself will freak out and say, “See! See! That’s what happens when you don’t catch the ball with two hands!” They’ll say that because their Little League coach taught them that way, and they really believe their Little League coach was correct.

Major Leaguers catch with one hand because it’s the best way for them. Look at the fielding percentages, and I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

• • •

My father lives in another state, but we’ve been thinking the same thing when watching the Red Sox this season: We’re rooting for them, and we’re not sure why.

Maybe it’s because, nothing against Terry Francona, but we both like Bobby Valentine. Maybe it’s because Valentine and the influx of young players have toned down the whining and sense of entitlement the Red Sox used to show on the field.

Maybe it’s because we both tend to root for the underdog, and got more than a little fed up with fans who automatically thought they were better people because they root for the Red Sox. Combine that with a bunch of players who seemed to complain every time a call went against them (John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, David Ortiz) and my dad and I were actively rooting against the Red Sox.

This year, for the first time since 2004, the Red Sox are underdogs. I think that’s a good thing. Some fans around here probably needed to be reminded that the season isn’t a failure just because you didn’t win the World Series.

In 1995, the first year of three three-division setup, the Red Sox clinched the American League East at Fenway Park. It’s amazing to think about now, but there was a huge party on the field. Players were riding horses and throwing hats and shirts into the stands. Whenever the Red Sox win again, there will be that kind of innocence, and I’m looking forward to it.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
[email protected]

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