The Little League World Series comes to a conclusion this weekend which will involve the US champion against the international champions. The US representative will either be from Pearland, Texas or Red Land, Pennsylvania, who square off on Saturday August 29th. The International contest will pair Mexico against Japan, also on Saturday with the winner playing for all the marbles on Sunday.
Every year there seems to be more and more home runs and stellar pitching performances. I have read about some of the home runs have been monster blasts that have traveled more than 250 feet and some over 300 feet. Are kids getting stronger and bigger? Are they juiced on juice boxes, what gives? When I was twelve years playing Little League ball, I could barely hit it two hundred feet as I swung as hard as I could. I remember the most home runs hit that final Little League season was four, it done by the biggest kid in the league. I was convinced he was 16 years old with his mustache. He also pitched which made it doubly unfair.
I remember unfondly my first game in the major division of Little League, the game was videotaped on the local cable outlet. The camera was placed on the first base side and I was the first base coach for the first three innings. My backside was prevalent for the first hour of the game. Then I got in the game for the final three innings, and struck out twice against the man child. I am not sure if my eyes where open when I swung. The Little League World Series is broadcasted to who knows how many countries and it gets big time media attention with famous announcers.
In my Little League years, we used wooden Louisville Sluggers and I didn’t swing an aluminum bat until I was in Pony League. There is no doubt that the bats do make a difference in the velocity of the ball being hit. Great bats now have gotten to be quite the expensive “got to have item” on your team. I guess I missed that span of technology and the glory that would have come of hitting more homers. Trust me, you never forget some of those memories in your youth.
As for the great pitching performances, my theory is that the evolution of Little League pitching is the result of better coaching, more available learning techniques, year round baseball and camps. I don’t think I had one coach in all of my years of organized baseball, up to high school that knew much about pitching. You usually learned to throw a curve from your buddies or playing whiffle ball. I recall having a lot sore arms and elbow pain issues. All of the better coaching is great to see and finally a kid can learn to throw an off speed pitch without improvising something he developed in his driveway.
I will enjoy watching the games this weekend and marvel at how good these kids are playing. I will reminisce about the glory days and block out the embarrassing moments, like the time I beaned my best friend in the rib cage and made him cry. I just want to know if the kids still get treats at the snack shack after the game, that should be a tradition to maintain. Cheers Little Leaguers s all over the world!