I hope everyone got a chance to tune in to the Little League World Series over the past two weeks. The series, which concluded yesterday, is one of the more worthwhile sporting events on television. While a lot of emphasis is put on the sportsmanship and “clean” play demonstrated in Williamsport, that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the ballgames are quality ones. Play is truly top-notch and games are often packed with tension and excitement. Saturday’s international final between Japan and Taiwan was a sparkling example. Both teams put forward excellent defensive and pitching performances. Underdog Japan scored a run to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning (Little League’s equivalent to the bottom of the ninth) and went on to win in extras. Yesterday’s championship game between Japan and the U.S. was very good as well.
Besides quality ballgames, there are a number of other things worth tuning in for that you might not see at other levels… you’ve got former major-leaguers testing the broadcasting waters (cough-Nomar-cough,) small precious children playing their little hearts out, a real World Series (with teams from all around the globe,) the most devoted fans on the planet (parents,) and surprisingly good umpiring. The only advantage that professional leagues have on Little League is the absence of smeared, messy eye-black (a trend I loathe.)
The conundrum that presents itself every year is, “Who, among these unknown teams and players, do I root for?” Here are the five options that I choose by:
- The Underdog: Always a solid choice no matter the sport or venue.
- Team with the cutest kids: It might sound wrong, but how can you not cheer on that 4’5″ second baseman with the big blue eyes and ridiculously long eyelashes whose favorite food is pie?
- The “local” team: Hey! My friend’s cousin lives in a city that is only like three hours away from that team’s town! CHULA VISTA 4EVER!!!
- Team with the most kids that name Joe Mauer as their favorite player: Or Derek Jeter, or Josh Hamilton, or whomever you prefer.
- BOTH teams: Because they’re each so cute, and they’re both trying so hard that you just can’t bear to root against either one. This might be the most popular choice.
Japan emerged victorious to cap off this year’s tournament. Congratulations to them, and to runner-up Hawaii. Both teams could teach the pros a thing or two about class.
Be sure to tune in next year, if you missed it. You’d better believe I’ll be reminding you.