By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
With the Major League Baseball season still more than a month away from wrapping up, I wanted to direct your attention this week in the baseball world to a yearly tradition that gives the next generation of ball players a chance to shine. The past couple of seasons have seen a huge youth movement in the MLB and those players all got their start the same way.
With the calendar changing to August, the Little League World Series isn’t far behind. The regionals have already begun and the final tournament in Williamsport, PA begins on August 20. It’s our annual reminder of our start in the sport and what it felt like to dream big. The tournament has been televised for years and has become a staple of my summer viewing ever since I was young.
That media exposure can lead to scandals, and last year’s tournament was marred by one of the larger ones we’ve seen. However, that still won’t stop me from watching and it shouldn’t stop you either. At its core, the Little League World Series celebrates everything that is right with not only youth sports but sports in general. The Little League Pledge is one that athletes everywhere should take heed of.
“I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best”
That belief in fair play and mostly (again with the exception of a few teams over the years) following of said belief is one that is lost within our burning desire to attain the highest level of prominence possible athletically. That desire, for many of us, transforms into our rabid fandom. At this point in the year it can get crazy. That’s why when it comes time for the best youth baseball has to offer from all over the world gathering to play in central Pennsylvania, I give myself a break from the chaos and take the time to tune in.
It doesn’t matter to me who wins or loses, there’s no regional bias. I tune in for the stories, for the smile a kid will flash after producing a big hit, or even the speeches that a coach will give after the game.
Those moments, good and bad are why we originally fell in love with baseball. So, whether your team is in the midst of the pennant race or gave up on their season at the trade deadline, do me a favor. Take the time to sit down and watch a game. If you have the time, and the financial capability, make a trip out to Williamsport during the tournament. From personal experience it is one of the coolest and most entertaining things I have done in the baseball world.
Whatever your manner of consumption, enjoy the youth of the sport playing the game the way we all did. Win, lose, it makes no difference. The purest form of baseball will be on display in just over a week. And who knows, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the next star before they become famous. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at all of the players who have gone from the LLWS to “the show”.
The true boys (and girls) of summer are almost here to light up our television screens once again.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email or tweet him.