Today starts one of my favorite times of the year. Today the Little League World Series gets underway in Williamsport.
I watched several regional games last week, and I was impressed with the play I saw, both at the plate and in the field.
I was dismayed twice, however, when players did a bat flip on homers. Really guys? You’re 12 years old, and by no means good enough to be doing stuff like that. One of the kids was from Hawaii, and his homer came in an early round game; not a win-or-go-home game and definitely not a game-winning shot.
I’m not even wild about bat flips in the majors. Just hit the ball and run the bases. You want to do a little fist pump, I’m OK with that.
I watched Giancarlo Stanton take Madison Bumgarner deep Tuesday night. Stanton didn’t do a bat flip, and considering it was the sixth straight game he’d homered he could have done that, but he stood at the plate for a moment and watched the ball clear the fence and did the trot around the bases.
I also was surprised when the New Hampshire coach got only a two-game suspension for not playing all of his players during a loss to Maine. Supposedly, he wanted the player in question to hit in the fourth inning and the kid didn’t want to. In that instance, I tell the kid to get in the box and hit. I definitely hold the coach responsible when he refused to let the kid hit in the sixth with the game on the line when he was informed not all of his players had played.
Honestly, I don’t like to penalize the kids for the actions of an idiot parent, but in that case I think there needs to be stronger mandates. A two-game suspension for that coach is no big deal. If his son is 12, he’s probably not going to be a coach next year anyway, at least in Little League.
That being said, I’ve never believed all-stars should be mandatory play. The purpose in all-stars is to win games. Save the AYSO everybody gets a trophy routine for the regular season. I do believe everybody should get to play during the regular season, but not in the postseason. I think the bulk of the kids REALLY know how much they should or shouldn’t play in all-star competition, and I think the bulk of players would sacrifice time in lieu of winning a game and advancing. It’s the parents that cause the problem; they pull their kids off an all-star team in the middle of the tournament because they think their kids should be playing more. The parents need to be a lot more realistic.
One thing I would do if a kid still had eligibility remaining in the league and the parent pulled a stunt like that, I would DQ that kid from all-stars the next season.
This year, the Little Leaguers are being treated to a Major League game between the Cardinals and Pirates on Sunday night, the first-ever MLB game played in Williamsport. I think it was a great idea by MLB to make this happen, and hopefully the Pirates and Cardinals will interact with the kids a little bit.
Lastly, Tim Terry, former District 1 administrator and former Carson City Little League coach, is back in Williamsport doing his yearly volunteer gig. Terry has been doing this for more than 20 years, and he always talks about the bonds he has formed with other volunteers.