It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Thousands of people, young baseball players and their families have descended upon Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the 2019 Little League World Series and I couldn’t be more excited!
This is, unquestionably, the best display of organized sport.
Every. Single. Year.
It’s baseball at it’s purest, played by the people it was created for…children.
Sure, over the years there have been some examples of controversy surrounding the LLWS, but almost all of that was parent created and off the field.
The game on the field, is purely baseball.
These kids aren’t concerned with their next contract, a shoe deal or any kind of transfer portal. They aren’t haggling with agents or worried about their stat line and how it might impact a future deal.
These kids just want to play baseball.
They want to hear their name announced over a PA system, to choose their own walk-up music and to film their special ESPN intro videos. They want to finish their summer adventure with their friends, all while making new friends from around the world and coming together over the beautiful game of baseball.
Of course, there will be and always has been heartbreak. Only one team can win it all and a lot of teams will be ending their quest for the championship over the next two weeks.
Win or lose, though, these kids will have enjoyed an experience that millions of other kids just like them have never, and will never, have a chance at experiencing. The memories they make will live with them for the rest of their lives, and the lessons they learn through victory or defeat will shape who they become as men.
Only a very select few will end up spending their lives on the baseball diamond as just over 50 LLWS graduates have also played in Major League Baseball.
So this, for some kids, is the ultimate baseball memory of their life.
They get to be on television, play in front of a packed out stadium and meet the baseball legends that come out to experience the tournament. Oh, and once again they’ll get to attend an MLB game as the Cubs and Pirates face off live from Williamsport this Sunday night.
I dreamed of all of this as a young, baseball obsessed boy. I wanted to make it to Williamsport, hear “Now batting…number thirty three, Mike Venditti” over the PA system. I wanted my chance at glory.
Just like millions of other kids since the Little League World Series began in 1947, that never happened for me.
This honestly made me love the event more. Just the knowledge of how low the odds are for a team to simply make it to Williamsport, let alone win a United States Championship or a LLWS Championship, drew me in.
As I’ve gotten older, my feelings about this event have gotten even stronger. The more my life becomes a daily roller coaster, the more I need to live vicariously through these kids with not a worry in the world other than playing the magical game of baseball.
So spare me any of the fuddy duddy “exploiting kids” rhetoric that I’m used to seeing every year around this time. You ask any kid in Williamsport today, or ask former Williamsport legend and current New York Met Todd Frazier and they’ll all tell you the same.
That they wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
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