A little bit about a lot of things:

Play ball!

More than 50 youth baseball and softball teams from Crows Landing, Newman and Gustine are taking the field this week (weather permitting) to begin the 2019 season.

While Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into the opening day games scheduled for Saturday, hopefully that does little to dim the excitement of a new season. Mother Nature, after all, always has the final word.....as one parent told us Saturday, Mother Nature is undefeated.

There is always something special about the start of a season.....I looked forward to that as a kid playing baseball, and have never lost my appreciation for youth ball.

The green grass, the excitement of the players (especially the young ones new to the game), the smell of the grills going at the snack shacks, the sound of fans cheering on the players all add up to a wonderful experience.

Many years have passed since I last helped coach local youth teams, but I remember the experience being a great exercise in perspective.

Yes, we all wanted to win but I quickly realized that wins and losses alone do not a season define.

I grew to understand that sometimes my right fielder was going to be more interested in picking dandelions than following the game; that I just had to deal with it when my female second baseman insisted on wearing a skirt to games (no separate baseball and softball teams in the day); that tee-ballers will take your direction very literally (so if you just tell them to run to second base, don’t be surprised if they just sprint across the diamond, bypassing first base altogether); and that sometimes there is crying in baseball.

And I came to know that all of that was okay.

The players understood that life is good and the game was fun regardless of the final score....even more so if there were special team treats at the end of the day. I mean, spending a couple hours out playing ball is time very well spent.

I also realized that I learned as much from the players as they did from me. And that was okay, too.

Yes, championships will be won , but the greatest impact and benefit comes from the overall experience.

Have a great season!

Hats off to the Orestimba Lady Warriors softball team for taking time out of their season to pay tribute to those who serve and who contribute to our community.

Last Tuesday, public safety first responders were recognized....Newman police, Newman firefighters and Gustine police were honored on the field before the game.

That was a great, well-deserved gesture to those who serve.....and seeing our softball players line up to shake the hands of their guests was wonderful.

The softball team will be honoring various groups as the season goes on, with teacher/school district appreciation today (Thursday, April 28), a memorial event honoring Cpl. Ronil Singh on April 2, military appreciation on April 16 and FFA/ag appreciation April 18.

Well done, Orestimba!

Sometimes simple is best.

I greatly enjoyed visiting the site of a groundwater recharge pilot project co-sponsored by the Central California Irrigation District and Del Puerto Water District last week.....seeing it first-hand gave me a greater understanding and appreciation.

Not every solution to our water challenges involves dams or never-ending environmental studies or complex projects.

This is about as basic as it gets.....developing areas where surface water can be applied to expand the aquifer, and essentially store the water underground until it is needed in future dry years. That may be a little overly simplistic, but is the essence of the project.

There is no single, broad solution to the water challenges facing agriculture in our corner of the world, but piece by piece water agencies are building programs which, collectively, can help deliver the vital water which is the lifeblood of our fields and orchards.

I don’t think there is a better time for college basketball fans than the first few days of March Madness....each year always seems to bring its own early upsets and unpredictability.

Of course, there is a certain agony that the tournament can bring as well.

As a former Iowa State student, I liked the prospects of the Cyclones surviving the first two rounds to advance to the Sweet 16.....but the quickly-ousted Cyclones did not live up to those hosts.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.