From Wednesday through Sunday, I spent a good portion of my waking hours at The Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach, covering the American Legion state tournament.

Until last month, I had never been to The Ballpark. Like anything in life, it’s got its good points and bad points. In this case, they’re a little more extreme at both ends.

The field itself looks beautiful. It’s a pitcher’s park, which means teams sometimes have to take chances on the bases and manufacture runs. I like offense, but in general, I prefer this kind of baseball to what basically amounts to a contest to see who can hit the most home runs.

The staff is friendly and appears dedicated. Just one example: On the first day, a gentleman from The Ballpark Commission came up to the press box and introduced himself. He made small talk and asked us if we had any suggestions.

I nearly jumped out of my chair, immediately suggesting a fan. The windows in the press box don’t open, so on hot days, it’s like sitting in a microwave oven.

The next day in the press box, there was not only a fan, but a cooler filled with ice and bottled water. It was a very nice gesture. Trust me, this is unusual. I’ve been asking (some would say pestering) the Maine Principals’ Association for over a decade to give reporters a quiet space where we could interview coaches and players at the Augusta Civic Center without having 80 percent of the words drowned out by screaming fans. I’m hopeful that maybe sometime in the next 10 years, in the huge building with about 20 unused rooms during the tournament, we can get a room where we can interview both teams.

Of course, whether the press gets free water doesn’t directly affect the fans, and that’s what The Ballpark needs.

Some things, like a run-down apartment, are just waiting for money. The door to one of the stalls in the men’s room doesn’t close, because it can’t get past the toilet-paper dispenser. There are outlets in every skybox, but none of them work. At one of the games, the outfield lights didn’t work, either. Fortunately, the lights behind the stands worked fine, and the teams were able to keep playing.

The fog is a problem on some nights. In the game between Bangor and eventual champion First Title, it turned the game into a bit of a fiasco. First Title got four hits in the final two innings on routine fly balls that the outfielders simply couldn’t see until it was too late. Outfielders were misjudging the ball by about 20 or 30 feet, and it wasn’t really baseball.

Not all of the quirks are charming. Some of them are real obstacles to a positive ballpark experience. But I love baseball, and I would love to see it work.

• • •

This is going to sound harsh, but saying you run the American Legion baseball state tournament is kind of like saying you’re a “published author” or “an award-winning journalist.” It sounds impressive, but only if people don’t have a clue what you’re really talking about. There’s a big difference between saying you’re in charge of a tournament, and overseeing a well-run tournament.

On the fourth day of the tournament, the game between Post 51 and First Title was listed in the program as beginning at 7:30 p.m. I thought this was a little late, so I asked the poo-bahs to double-check. They told me, “Whatever time it says in the program,” like it was kind of silly for me to ask.

Turns out the game was at 7. I mentioned this to one of the Post 51 coaches, and he told me, “Trust me. We were calling around trying to figure out the time, too.” It didn’t surprise me. It seems like this kind of stuff happens every year.

Then there was the “official” tournament schedule on the Maine Legion baseball website. This had the games on the final day beginning at noon and 3:30. (In fact, that’s still what it says.) Turns out, the games were actually at 1 and 4. What if someone just wanted to show up for the last day, or just wanted to go and wasn’t sure, so they decided to check online?

Honestly, there aren’t that many people who are going to check the website for information anyway. The “Zone 2 Drawing area” section of the website has incorrect names for three of the nine teams in the Zone, and says Madison draws from “Skowegan,” “Forest H.S.,” “Carabec” and Kents Hill. There are links to standings for all five Zones, but none of them actually take you to any standings.

Would it really be that hard to input the teams for the state tournament? There were reporters from at least seven different newspapers at the tournament. Why not post links to their stories each day? Why not post the team rosters online?

An average crowd for the 15 tournament games was about 60 to 80 people per game. This looked much worse at The Ballpark, because everyone is spread out and many fans went to the skyboxes to get a break from the sun.

But holy behind the times, those crowds are pathetic, and while updating the website and giving people correct game times isn’t going to turn that into 400-500 people, I can’t see where it would hurt either.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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