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The Dish: Boys Do Cry
Let me preface this by saying: I have no children.
But if I did, I’m pretty sure the last thing I’d want them to do is play in the Little League World Series.
Don’t get me wrong: I think youth sports are rock. And as recently as, say, 10 years ago, playing in the LLWS probably would have been an amazing experience. But after what I saw in the championship game between Georgia and Japan last weekend, I’m ready to protest in Williamsport. And naturally, all the ills in this particular situation (as in so many others) come down to ESPN.
They need to stop covering this event. Only for. There is absolutely no reason why Orestes Destrada should be doing reporting and promotions hovering over a scowling four-foot-tall catcher, pretending he’s an adult. There’s no reason Gary Thorne needs to be conjuring up his hernia (after all, isn’t that what Gary Thorne sounds like the moment he gets a little emotional?) when a poor shortstop kicks a ground ball. There’s no reason Steve Phillips, who couldn’t make it as a major league GM and, if I’m honest, seems to have found his level evaluating 12-year-olds, should question the “stuff” of a kid. little. It adds to an air of pressure and negativity that now clearly permeates the children’s experience at LLWS.
Tell me nothing about how it makes them tougher, or how kids want that level of exposure, so the world should give it to them. There are some things that 12- and 13-year-olds aren’t ready for, and public humiliation on national television is one of them. Why not line up the kids for a free throw contest with their little sisters suspended above 100 shiny knives? Take the free kick, Johnny, and little Sally lives. On the contrary….
Do you need proof that I’m right? Watching the final last weekend was an exercise in tears. These poor children were so upset that they were crying while on the base. In the final inning, one down, Japan’s leadoff hitter reached and, as he watched the next batter take strike first, he started yelling. By the second strike, he was hiding his face in his uniform sleeve. Japan was still in the game. They had a legitimate chance to win, and this kid who got a hit is crying at first base. The third boy was crying before his at-bat and his coach had to comfort him after taking a strike on the first pitch. Then the tables turned; When the American pitcher hit the fourth batter, putting runners on first and second, his team gathered around him and he could barely keep a straight face as his eyes glittered with stress. There is no reason for any of this.
Oh sure, would the kids feel pressure if this tournament wasn’t televised? Yes absolutely. But I don’t think they would view it as negatively as they clearly do if ESPN did the right thing and returned to Connecticut with its Playmaker between its legs. Seeing that kid crying at first base before he finished the game made me swear he’d never see LLWS again.
Two games that stand out to me for this opening weekend of college football in 2006 are California at Tennessee and, of course, Florida State at Miami. What should fans look for in those big matchups?
BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog.ws: With the first game of the year so pivotal to Florida State and Miami’s ACC title hopes, the electricity surrounding this game is inextricably amplified. Florida State fans will cross their fingers when quarterback Drew Weatherford tries to take down Miami’s rock-solid, nation-leading pass defense. With Weatherford’s reputation for throwing interceptions, Miami’s defensive backs will be looking to catch some errant passes from the Florida State quarterback. Weatherford’s saving grace, however, lies in the offseason improvements to his offensive line, which should allow him more time in the pocket to make better decisions. As for California in Tennessee, since 2000, the Vols have a nightmarish 0-6 record when playing top 10 teams at Neyland Stadium, and this will be on their heads as they try to turn those numbers around against ninth-ranked California. California coach Jeff Tedford, meanwhile, has stated that both of his quarterbacks may see playing time during the season opener, so the running back (and potential Heisman Trophy candidate) can be relied upon heavily. ) Marshawn Lynch to run the ball.
What’s your favorite game on the Week 1 record besides Cal/UT and FSU/Miami?
BDB, BoDog.ws: Our other favorite game has to be Notre Dame vs. Georgia tech. It’s our first chance to see Heisman favorite Brady Quinn showcase his talent this year.
What is your prediction for Terrell Owens in Dallas this year? Great season or giant flop?
BDB, BoDog.ws: With the talent Terrell Owens has, it’s absurd that his head isn’t right. Drew Bledsoe has the big arm, but he can handle cranky receivers like he has in the past with the likes of Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson and Eric Moulds. We expect great things this season regarding the TO situation in Dallas; whether it’s 15+ touchdowns from TO or a huge explosion like we’ve never seen before between two of the biggest egos in the game, Bill Parcells and the infamous TO With the addition of Jerry Jones to this equation, either way, it’s going to be a exciting year in Dallas.
Do you watch anything from the Little League World Series when it’s on TV? What is your impression? Do you think kids that young should be subject to that kind of national pressure?
BDB, BoDog.ws: After seeing some of the recent Little League World Series action, I have to say I’m beyond impressed. The skill level and competitive drive of these 11-12 year olds is simply amazing. Most of these kids have finely honed skills combined with mechanics that have been developed through rigorous off-season training programs. Not only do their skills mirror those of the big leagues, but their attitudes as well. These kids are there to win, and I think the pressure of the national spotlight is something they really have fun with and thrive on. At the end of the day, the mound is still 46 feet from home plate and the bases are 60 feet away, and that’s what these kids are focused on.
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