I don’t buy into the “It’s exploiting children! What about the children!” stuff when it comes to the Little League World Series, because it seems like the kids enjoy it, the parents enjoy it and the weird “local fans” enjoy it. Then it’s over. It’s not like these kids have to be scared to leave their homes for the rest of their lives because the paparazzi are parked outside. The kids get a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, have a little fun, find out winning does matter and then they go home. It’s harmless.
In fact, I’m completely in favor of the World Series itself. When I played Little League baseball, I would have killed (possibly literally) for a chance to play in Williamsport. Instead, my team was eliminated three games into our district tournament and everybody cried until we realized that we were 12 and we should man up a little and stop sobbing over the fact that we lost a glorified softball game to a bunch of overgrown pre-teens who already had hair on their upper lips.
What I’m not in favor of is the fact that this event takes over ESPN for like two weeks, and it’s on their entire family of networks, all the time. You ever try to settle in and watch PTI at 5:30 on a Tuesday only to find out that instead of seeing Kornheiser and Wilbon you’re going to be watching a riveting battle between Venezuela and freaking Curacao? I have, and it blows.
Putting 12-year-old baseball on TV every day, all day is not a sound business model, no matter who you are. I know ESPN thinks its untouchable, but nobody gives a sweet one about the LLWS unless you’re A. playing in it, B. a family member of someone playing in it, C. from the town that one of the teams is representing, or D. a pedophile.
That’s it. There’s no other people interested in watching it. Next time you’re at a bar with your buddies, look at your watch and then look up at everybody and say, “Oh god, I gotta run guys. The losers’ bracket final of the international portion of the Little League World Series is on and I forgot to set my DVR. Argentina and Ghana are playing!”
See what kind of looks you get. If I were your friend, I’d hit you in the sack. Yet, ESPN decides that it’s the most pertinent sporting event in the country, and therefore needs to have wall-to-wall coverage so you don’t miss the diving catch (which was actually a falling catch) by the 5-foot-1 right fielder from Tennessee, who – as ESPN will tell us – likes pasta and his favorite movie is The Incredibles!
To make matters worse, ESPN sends Nomar Garciaparra to do “how-to” segments, where he shows the viewers how to do the most basic of tasks like “Running through first base,” or “Catching a fly ball.” Next week, they’re going to have Nomar on HGTV showing you “How to water plants,” and “How to turn off your lights.”
I’d like for someone to show Nomar “How to play in traffic,” or “The wrong way to walk while holding scissors.”
And then, when we’re lucky enough to not have Nomar teaching us how to count to five, we have Terry Francona analyzing the play on the field like it’s Game 7 of the real World Series, not an obscure game of a pre-teen World Series. He’s constantly referring to catches that these kids make as “big league plays” and complimenting the swings of everybody, even though the “big league plays” are usually routine, and the swings are usually so weak that the bat comes to a complete stop when it makes contact with the ball.
It’s not a knock on the kids – they’re 12, they shouldn’t be all that good. So can we stop breaking this stuff down like they’re all doing something magnificent? They’re little kids…
I don’t know what kind of ratings the LLWS gets, but it must be awful. There are probably people like me who want to watch something else then begrudgingly watch the games for an hour while we wait for Sportscenter to start, but I’d be willing to bet that most people are turning it on and turning it off – or not turning on it all.
And if people are watching it? That’s weird. That’s really, really creepy for someone to be so invested in a game played by a bunch of little kids who they don’t know, just because it’s on ESPN. That’s like eating human flesh because someone put it on your plate. “Well it’s there, so I guess I’ll have a bite.” (Bit of a stretch?)
While we’re here, has anyone ever questioned the format of this thing? There is an American champion and an international champion, and they play each other for the World Championships. Now, despite my lack of love for NASCAR, the confederate flag, grits, Daytona Beach, guns and Brett Favre, I’m a pretty patriotic guy, so I’m all in favor of America being viewed as superior to all other places.
But even I can’t really get behind this format. You’re telling me that in Mexico, every single Little League has to play in one big tournament until you get a national champion, and only that one team gets to go to the LLWS, while America has a bunch of regional tournaments and sends eight teams? Christ, even I feel bad for the Mexican runners-up, who probably won like 35 games only to lose in the finals and not get to play in the World Series.
Are we that superior at baseball (we’ve never won a World Baseball Classic, right?) that we get to send eight times the amount of teams – every single year – to this event, while a bunch of other countries have to find a national champion and then, in some cases, battle against the national champions of other countries, just to get to Williamsport? That seems…a touch off.
Oh, and no matter what happens, America has a 50-50 shot at winning the national championship, while every other country in the world has to fight to play us. Hm.
I wish I didn’t even know this stuff. Thanks ESPN. Forget you Nomar.