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Little League World Series Becomes A Guilty Pleasure – Kids Seem Ready For The Spotlight And The Game Is Played The Way It Was Designed

Little League World Series Heats Up The Summer The TV announcers know all about the players. There’s instant replay to help the umpires. The stands are packed. It’s baseball...

(Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Little League World Series Heats Up The Summer

The TV announcers know all about the players. There’s instant replay to help the umpires. The stands are packed.

It’s baseball – just not played by adults.

The Little League World Series always conjures up mixed feelings for this fan. There are so much attention and pressure on the kids and we’ve turned 12-year-olds into a source of entertainment. Having coached Little League for many years, I cannot imagine being in such a spotlight so late in the summer. Kids cried when they made errors, got yelled at by their parents for not hustling and what were the stakes in those June games in which I signaled kids to steal (generally in vain)? There were none. Just winning and losing. And now we’re here.

TV. Instant replay. Well, they’re part of the world the kids grow up in. More than 50 who played in the LLWS have gone on to be professional players (current standouts Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Michael Conforto of the New York Mets among them).

The part that’s so appealing, however, is that the style of baseball these kids play – and are coached to play – is exactly what is missing from Major League Baseball. It’s a familiar rant, and USA Today wrote one of those “former players say baseball is unwatchable” features recently, but it’s true.

The Little League World Series is not home runs and strikeouts. It’s hit to the opposite field. It’s taking the extra base. It’s building a run on walks, bunts, and strategy. And the kids are (as we would expect at this late stage of the competition) quite good and athletic. When they play, the game looks like the game.

This baseball fest wraps up over the weekend in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and it really is worth the time for baseball fans. This is the game, the way it ought to be.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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