No $250 million dollar crybabies here.
August 26, 2001 4:09 PM   Subscribe

No $250 million dollar crybabies here. The Little League World Series has been much more engaging than the pro game to me - mostly because the kids are there to play baseball as opposed to the ego and salaries that permeate MLB. (the broadcast, on the other hand, is the usual commercial b.s. with things like the "Bubblicious Lineup")
posted by owillis (22 comments total)
I live in Houston, home of last year's Little League World Series winners. I was amazed at the way the kids were received when they came home. They didn't have to go to school for a week. There were a few parades for them and many invitations to sponsor commercial events. Many of the kids (I know them personally) were complaining about the attention. They were sick of it. I don't really have a point, except that the commercialism kind of destroyed their experiance.
posted by bloggboy at 4:16 PM on August 26, 2001

I don't know what you guys are talking about. I've had to sit through Little League cames and the only thing that came to mind was "dear God, make this pain end". I think I'd rather have my chest hairs plucked with a rusty set of plyers, than watch baseball — let-alone Little League baseball... Eugh!
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:34 PM on August 26, 2001

The Little League World Series makes me a little queasy in the same sort of way that women's gymnastics does. Is it right to turn children's play into a high-pressure competition?

As for pro athletics, I've stopped paying attention. It's too hard to find anyone I'd want to root for.
posted by marknau at 4:48 PM on August 26, 2001

I always root for whoever is losing... and then they lose...

It doesn't make for an enjoyable experience, really.
posted by whatnotever at 5:16 PM on August 26, 2001

Wow! This troll gets his first post.

I have not enjoyed baseball the same since the last player's strike. I grew up a baseball fanatic, and still have every baseball card I begged, borrowed, bought, and stole as a kid. But when the player's strike cancelled the World Series some years back, something that no world war, natural disaster, or assassination had ever accomplished, I vowed to never pay a dime to support the game again. TV and box scores was it.

Three things have brought me back to the game this year. I joined a local Men's Hardball League, the unprecedented success of my hometown Seattle Mariners, and watching the Little League World Series for the first time.

The Little Leaguers are cool, man. They play with passion and excellence. They do the little things that win baseball games, turning double plays, backing up bases, sacrificing (not unlike the Mariners). They imitate the best attributes of our and their big league heroes. They high five, slap butts, and spit sunflower seeds. They don't drink and drive, or get busted with prostitutes. Some of them will soon enough have agents, tho.

As to the pressure applied to these little kids, the glare of the camera, etc...Pressure is good for a kid. All these kids are stronger for what they will experience playing big time baseball with others watching. Life is supposed to throw tough things at you. Whether it's baseball, or the Spelling Bee, or having to read aloud in front of the class, you gotta learn to do this stuff in public if you want to make something of yourself. These kids happen to be fantastic, wonderful, extraordinary little baseball players, which is something people want to watch, so ESPN obliges.

As to be expected, all the boorish behavior has been exhibited by the parents, with unfounded accusations and visions of private dicks running around looking for evidence of overage performers. When the kids are asked what they think, they just say, "We're here to play".

Yes, some tears will be shed. But I guarantee you there's not one of those kids who will look back on this as a negative experience. And once they hit Dairy Queen for an ice cream, all will be forgotten.
posted by vito90 at 6:25 PM on August 26, 2001

I've been enjoying the LLWS for a few years now, and I have to agree it's a lot better than watching the big league players. Case in point: the other night one of the pitchers for Florida accidentally hit one of the other team's batters. He went over to the batter to see if he was OK and then APOLOGIZED for hitting him, and they smiled at each other and shook hands! That was great. You NEVER see that in a big league game. It's all macho postering and getting in your face and other modern bullshit. In fact, just yesterday in the Cleveland game, you had one the pitcher thrown out of the game after threatening to charge a batter after a disagreement.

Two things I don't like though: putting the show on in prime-time and getting Brent Musberger to announce. He's vile. Every other word out of his mouth during the U. S. Championship was "Baby Bomber" this and "Baby Bomber that," non-stop hype about the NY pitcher (it got nauseating), and today during the World Championship his closing words were: "...and again the team from Florida cannot win a World Series game." Why the hell did he end it on such a downer, and a cliched, needless downer at that? Note to ABC/ESPN: dump this moron. He's making the game into just another cold-blooded American sports "product" with his talk. Keep Jack Edwards and Harold Reynolds and Dave Ryan. They're great.

Sure, the parents of Little Leaguers can often be frightening and put too much pressure on the kids, but if we concentrate on what it means to the kids, then it can be enjoyable for them and us.
posted by sassone at 6:32 PM on August 26, 2001

They didn't have to go to school for a week? Now that's just stupid. First of all that's sending the message that school is a punishment and it's also rising them above their peers. I think the parades and local publicity are great, and they shouldn't have to miss those by going to school, but giving them a one week "vacation" is just going too far in my opinion.
posted by geoff. at 8:07 PM on August 26, 2001

Baseball is a game which time has passed by.
posted by jaynesbit at 8:11 PM on August 26, 2001

I happened to catch the last three innings of the game, and it was a disappointing loss for Florida. However, I did find it humorous listening to the Japanese team talk in their native language.
posted by wondergirl at 8:17 PM on August 26, 2001

I guess you had to be there. I've been following the series, and both of these teams were Cinderellas.

The final tournament was not single-elimination. There was a US division and a World division. In the US division, the team from Florida came up against the team from the Bronx and got blown out of the water by their star pitcher, who pitched 16 strikeouts out of 18 outs and didn't let a man on base. But Florida came back and eventually faced the Bronx again for the US final. A different guy pitched for the Bronx and Florida beat the crap out of him, scoring 8 runs (including 2 3-run HR's). Having gone into the game as the underdog, they refused to roll over and they came back and won the US championship.

Meanwhile, in the World division, the team from Japan lost a game to the team from the Netherland Antilles. But the same thing happened: Japan won all its other games and ended up in the final again facing the Netherland Antilles. NA got a one run lead early in the game, but at the very end of the game Japan got a man on and then another Japanese player hit a HR and won it. They also had been the underdogs and also refused to roll over and die.

Both of those games were superb, by the way; neither was decided by flukes or bad calls or blunders. It was just a matter of one team playing better than the other. (I don't like seeing games decided by errors. I want one team to win it, not the other team to lose it.)

And so with today's game you got a replay of yesterday's World final, nearly exactly. Japan was down nearly the whole game, but only by one run. In the sixth inning they cam back and scored two runs and won it. Both teams played extremely well; it turned into a pitcher's duel, and I always enjoy those because the tension is high.

Japan's shortstop was particularly impressive today; he nearly made a spectacular diving catch, and he did make two very good plays where he caught Florida players in rundowns. Florida only made one error today (its shortstop) and it wasn't critical to the game. It's just that Japan did better and won it. Both teams stranded men on base; it could have broken open at any time.

It was simply a good game played by good players. I saw plays in this series that would have made the pros proud. (Yesterday the center fielder for NA made a diving catch in mid-air that I simply didn't believe. I wouldn't have believed it if Andruw Jones had made it. [Jones plays center field for the Braves and is from the Netherland Antilles.])

Damn, I love baseball. And this was baseball at its finest.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:31 PM on August 26, 2001

However, I did find it humorous listening to the Japanese team talk in their native language.

Yeah, them foreigners sure is funny, ain't they? With their heathen jabberin' and whatnot. Why don't they just learn English like us God fearin' white folks?
posted by Optamystic at 8:35 PM on August 26, 2001

English was good enough for Jesus; it's good enough for me.
posted by marknau at 8:57 PM on August 26, 2001

Hahaha....oh my.
posted by Mark at 9:21 PM on August 26, 2001

Geez, owillis, I guess you never played little league baseball. All the good players had MASSIVE egos because they were the good players. Yeah, even at age 12. Hell, I remember going to the "Rich Gedman Baseball Camp" when I was about that age, and pretty much everyone was a bloated egotistical fuckwad.

These kids aren't average little leaguers, they're the best that their town or county can provide. They have all the ego that major league players have, they just don't have the money. What, you think that much changes from age 12 to age 16, when high school athletes are egotistical and full of themselves, or when they become college athletes banging dim-witted cheerleaders left and right, and then pro athletes wallowing in their self-importance and million-dollar paychecks? There's nothing lamer than that "playing the game for the game" nonsense. Major league players play for the game as well, but they're no more egotistical and self-aggrandizing than these little leaguers, they're just taller and richer. Trust me when I tell you that even little leaguers are arrogant snotwads.
posted by hincandenza at 10:04 PM on August 26, 2001

Yeah, I have to agree with Hincandenza. These guys don't look like egotistical bastards yet, but give them a few years of being star athletes and they'll probably turn out the same as the rest.

And the best way to ensure that they associate victory on the playing field with happiness and importance is to record and broadcast their exploits at an early age.

ABC Sports is creeping me out with how much importance they are giving these games. I played Little League.. it's supposed to be about working hard, having a good time, and going out for ice cream afterwards.
posted by Hildago at 10:26 PM on August 26, 2001

Eh, maybe I was falling into a George Will "this pastoral game of ours" moment that's so typical of baseball.... I was a huge Marlins fan, since I was in FL since the start and the '97 series was the apex - after the team was dismantled I just stopped watching (especially since the Orioles sucked). This game today was the first full baseball game I've watched since the end of the 97 series.

Oh well, in two weeks America's real pasttime kicks off.
posted by owillis at 11:00 PM on August 26, 2001

Urgh, let me get this straight. In America you televise kids playing baseball....?
posted by salmacis at 2:13 AM on August 27, 2001

Yes, salmacis; if nothing else, the premiere of Manhunt has proved that the U.S. will televise anything.

(actually, I was rather looking forward to the show; too bad it was so poorly executed.)
posted by mjane at 2:31 AM on August 27, 2001

Yeah Owillis! There's no ego or salaries in Pro football! Or drugged up bodies! Or violence! Or murderers!
posted by ericost at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2001

But see - in football you want those things (more or less). For a modern game, what's more modern than violence, ego and mayhem - culminating in the Greatest Sports Spectacle of All Time (Or This Year At Least)tm - The Superbowl
posted by owillis at 9:58 AM on August 27, 2001

I agree... nothing like a good murder on 3rd and long.
posted by fusinski at 2:48 PM on August 27, 2001

Football fans are often wrestling fans as well. That says a lot to me right there.
posted by justgary at 5:40 PM on August 27, 2001

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