By DWIGHT JAYNES (@dwightjaynes)
If you aren't a regular reader of Abby's World on this website you should be. And this week Abby Chin really hits the nail on the head with her blog post on the Little League World Series.
I refuse to watch any of it on ESPN, just on general principles. No good can come from putting 12-year-old kids on national television playing baseball. It's just so out of whack and I refuse to support it.
I remember years ago when I was covering minor-league baseball one of the players was watching a telecast of it in the clubhouse and turned to me with a sad smile and shook his head.
"More people are watching these kids play than have ever watched me play," he said. "And what I want to know is, where do these kids go from here? What could top this? Look at the size of that crowd and the stadium they're playing in.
"Twelve years old and they'll likely never have anything like this again."
And then he added, "And I can't imagine what it would be like to drop a fly ball or make a baserunning mistake on national television at the age of 12..."
I agree. But I'll go you one better -- I don't think the whole concept of kids at 12 playing a "World Series" makes any sense, either. I coached Little League for years and was constantly frustrated by how it screws up the baseball season for kids.
To get the whole all-star thing done in time for the World Series in Williamsport, Pa., most leagues stop playing by mid-June, just when baseball weather arrives in these parts. But worse, an entire league shuts down so that 12 kids can move on as "all-stars."
So the season is over for dozens of other kids while those special ones get to move forward and keep playing and get the sort of intense coaching they all should get. And the problem is, at that age, many of the best kids are just the biggest ones, the early developing ones. And they are usually the ones with advantageous birthdays that allow them to actually be 13 by the time the tournament is in full swing.
It's really an unfair system and it's not conducive to developing quality baseball players over the long haul, which is why Little League -- at least in this area -- has lost ground to local baseball associations such as Junior Baseball.
The local organizations usually sanction many more games, allow teams to play later into the summer and stop any playoff action at the state level -- which is plenty far enough.
When it comes to Little League, my advice is just say no.