LLWS Hugs Our Better Ideals, Wows Again And More!

Marc Elliott

PALISADE HEAD… On Sunday I saw the culmination of a two week sporting event that is one of my favorites of the entire sports season. The Little League World Series Championship was won on Sunday aft in a 12-2 victory by the young men from Japan over the United States titlist Lufkin, TX. I was quite surprised to see the Texas team storm out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first which featured a leadoff homerun no less. Team Japan had been a pretty tight club when it came to giving up any runs let alone a leadoff homer. That was going to be it for Texas’ run scoring for the day. Japan came back with 3 in the bottom of the 2nd, 4 more in the bottom of the 4th and then finished the boys from Texas off with a 5 run fifth which invoked the ten-run rule and gave Japan the World Title. 

I got to see a great deal of the tourney this year and as usual it was great viewing. One of my favorite games was in the International bracket between the Caribbean team and the Latin American entrant from Venezuela. This game was nip and tuck all the way with the LA team getting 2 in the bottom of the 6th to eke out a victory. The young Caribbean pitcher collapsed to the turf upon giving up the winning runs but then his teammates lifted him up physically and in spirit in an emotional show of compassion for their teammate. But then when that ebbed, the Latin American players also came over to give him hugs and congratulations on a game well played. The fans rose and applauded all the boys for an exciting hard played game as well they should. 

And probably my favorite part of the entire tournament is in the friendship and sportsmanship exhibited throughout the course of this event. Some of the players in the International bracket speak no English, but all of these players speak baseball and they seem to make it around their communication barriers. LLWS has helped out as well, with on-site interpreters available. Team Japan acknowledges their fans at the end of each game and in a show of courtesy and respect always lineup on their opponents base line side of the field and bow to their fans. That courtesy usually gets returned when their fans cheer for the boys on the field. It isn’t unusual to see opponents high-fiving each other in the middle of a game on a good play or to see a pitcher apologize to a hit batsman on his way to first base. This event is all about sportsmanship, respect and love for the game. 

I love this event and have watched it since I was a young kid. When I retire in the near future I will definitely be attending in person and I can’t wait. When I observe these young men and their positive behaviors towards each other, no matter where they come from, and without regard for the color of their opponents skin or ethnicity, it gives me some hope. Obviously our society is undergoing some challenges right now from those that have hate and contempt for others who are different from them. I know that for every player I saw shake an opponents hand over the last two weeks that there are a hundred kids here being taught to hate those that don’t look or sound like them. Why? It’s a cycle, and it is a learned thing. Sure, you must be pretty mentally ill to teach a young and impressionable child to hate like you do. But those that do that were taught it as well. How do we ever break this cycle and move forward? Sports is one vehicle for that, but it will take so much more, we need help and we need it now….

THE MINNESOTA TWINS ARE holding tough, clinging to the final Wild Card playoff spot as of this writing. They are on an off night this eve, and will begin a 3 game series versus the Chi-Sox on Tuesday night. They dropped a 5 game series to the Sox last week 2 games to 3 and will need a better result this week. There are some minor changes involving the teams behind them fighting for that last spot. Again, the Twins are unlikely to catch Cleveland to win the Division, (7.0 games back) so they will be focused on the WC entry. The LA Angels have faltered slightly as have the Seattle Mariners, both of which were hot on the Twins heels last week. LAA is still within a game, BALT has moved to within a game and a half, SEA has dropped to two back and T-BAY is in the picture now at 2.5 back. TEX and KC have fallen to 3 back. I am of the feeling that the Twins are going to have to sweep this series versus the Chi-Sox to enhance their WC position… 
YET ANOTHER COLLEGIATE HOCKEY PLAYER has waited out his four years after being drafted by a specific team, let that teams rights to him expire and then signed on with another team. What do you think about this? Is this something the league needs to take another look at? I think some debate is absolutely in order. University of Denver player Will Butcher is the latest to go this route. He was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The Av’s rights to sign him or lose him expired on August 15th. At that point Butcher and his representatives went team shopping and he has ended up with the now up and coming New Jersey Devils. The Av’s? Well, they are not so up and coming. In fact, you can argue that they are basically a pro hockey disaster at the moment. 

In my book the Av’s made a wrong turn when they entered into the Joe Sakic-Patrick Roy era. They elevated Sakic into the GM position with no NHL management experience, and Roy had no NHL Coaching experience. We know what happened with the man-child Roy, taking his toys and going home right before training camp last year, and Sakic? He  isn’t any better at being a GM and the Av’s are paying the price. Butcher didn’t want to go there and who could blame him? Still, I think this rule needs to be looked at. You can get drafted, play out your college eligibility, and if you don’t like the team that took you, you can bail. Is that right? PEACE