Little League Hype
So I received some negative criticism for yesterday’s “Nobody has asked my opinion but if they did I would tell them” segment in which I stated that the Little League World Series has lost the charm that made it so special.
Even my wife chimed in and questioned if I would feel the same had the team from Toms River made it to Williamsport. The answer is yes (at least I think so.)
Truthfully as one who trekked to Pennsylvania three times in the 90’s to cover the event I think it’s become a case of bigger is not necessarily better. When Toms River East won it in 1998 they were the Eastern Regional champions and one of four American teams to qualify along with four international squads.
Shortly after that the people who run Little League baseball decided to double the number of teams who would compete in the annual event which I’m sure pleased ESPN who televises all the games. So like in other parts of the country teams in the East were split into two regions: the Mid Atlantic and New England regions. The end result is 16 teams head to Williamsport, which 50 weeks out of the year is home to 30,000 people and for about 10 days in August draws many more than that.
So what do I have against all of this? Not a lot but I go back to my original statement about some of the charm being lost. 12 and 13 year olds are now in the national spotlight like never before and I wonder if it does not lead to unwelcome attention and too often lofty expectations.
Take for example the case of Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year old pitcher from Philadelphia who this week became the first little leaguer to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. What makes Davis so special? Well she’s a girl and only a few of them ever played in Williamsport and nobody quite like her. The soon-to-be 8th grader has burst onto the national scene and has been hot on the field and cool off of it. handling herself very well.
However she is just the latest to fall victim to the SI jinx as Wednesday on the same day she appeared on the cover of the magazine her team lost to Nevada. Davis did not pitch badly, giving up three runs before being pulled in the 3rd inning so she would be eligible to pitch again Saturday in the U.S. Championship game if her team wins tonight.
If not then her summer of baseball is over and we’ll have to find someone else to build up. By the way before the game Davis’ mother compared her daughter to Lebron James and Kobe Bryant and said “she’s like the hottest thing around.” Can’t always blame the media for over-hype.