They come out in droves this time of year. They fill up message boards or their parenting blogs or whatever outlet they can find to talk about the flaws of little league Baseball. They believe they’re just pointing out the truth. The 12 year olds from Chula Vista, Ca might call them haters. Some might call them pathetic.
More than anything though, I think those who spend the last few weeks of August criticizing the kids playing baseball on ESPN are missing the point. It’s not about some 12 year old’s draft prospects six years from now. It’s about kids from the neighborhood, could be any neighborhood, putting together a magical run of baseball for an entire summer. It’s about the commitment these kids and their families make to the team. It’s about the community that embraces them for it. That’s the stuff that doesn’t quite get through on television.
No, the kids playing in Williamsport probably aren’t the best 12 year old ball players in the world. But they are the most impressive. Little league has restrictions. Teams can’t just put together the best players from a region and see what happens. You go with what you’ve got. Most teams never make it past districts, the initial stage of All Stars. Usually everything after that is icing on the cake. To make it all the way to Williamsport is one of the most special accomplishments in all of sports.
And it’s something none of these kids and no one they know will ever forget.
Forbes Magazine recently called Chula Vista one of the most boring cities in America. That’s not true anymore, not to the folks from San Diego County’s second largest city. They’ll fill up pubs and restaurants and they’ll be glued to the television watching their boys. All the flaws of little league baseball and the people who like to talk about them can go to hell.
Chula Vista will remember this forever. 20 years after Trumbull won the World Series, people in Connecticut still talk about that team. The banner still hangs in the city. My girlfriend is from Cranston, RI and was 12 when her town made it to the finals. They were rock stars, she says. My freshman year of college, I had a kid in my Western Civ course who was the star of the Tom’s River, NJ team that won it all. Our professor even knew who he was.
This means the world to these kids and their communities. And anything that brings that many people that much joy can’t be all bad.