End of the Innocence for Little League’s World Series
Maybe it’s because I’m old but the Little League World Series has really lost the charm that made it so special.
I think it’s probably due to overkill with all the games televised on ESPN but I just don’t find it all that interesting any longer and this from someone who made three trips to Williamsport, Pennsylvania in the 1990’s to cover the teams from the Toms River East Little League.
Part of the problem to me is the event has simply gotten too large. When the boys from Toms River East won it all in 1998 they were the Eastern Regional champions and one of only four American teams to qualify for the World Series along with four international squads.
Like it seems we do with everything the people who run Little League baseball decided to expand and double the number of teams to 16 who advanced to the LLWS which I’m sure pleased ESPN which has been filling programming with regional games from around the country for the past week or so.
It was also welcome news in Williamsport, which 50 weeks out of the year is home to about 30,000 people but for ten days in late August draws national and international attention.
Again from covering this event in the past there was this innocence about it all. The players and coaches didn’t get any TV attention until they played in their regional final so most arrived in central Pennsylvania as virtual unknowns. Now with all the exposure and coverage some already have established themselves as 12-year old “legends” and find themselves in the national spotlight which can lead to unwelcome attention and too often lofty expectations.
I may be way off base and I’m sure there are many who disagree but I really liked it when the event was smaller and a bit more obscure. And as I have often said nothing and I mean nothing will match the excitement of what took place 21 years ago when the boys from Windsor Avenue won it all. It was the best of times in Toms River!