maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. -arthur miller


Baseball Season, Jr.

I'm a Mets fan. It's a masochistic endeavor, especially in August when their record gets so abysmal that there's just no hope of clawing up to the wild card. Every year I get to a point where my frustration and disappointment which I find a way to savor in April and May becomes totally depressing and I stop trekking to Shea, stop watching the games, everything. The only info I get on the Mets right now is my daily glance at the standings when I scoff incredulously at how last year's freakin' Expos, a team that couldn't find its way out of the cellar with a ladder and a flashlight, are STILL winning games when my Mets are eight and a half back and falling fast.

So I have to find something else to watch, something else to follow obsessively in my fallen-from-grace-Mets' stead.

Luckily, mid-August means one thing on ESPN2: the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Twenty-nine games aired on national television, and that's not even counting the regional championships. And you know what? I'm going to watch as much of it as possible.

One does not watch the Little League World Series for the athleticism. Not since Danny Almonte has the athletic prowess on the LLWS field dramatically exceeded what you would expect from a bunch of twelve year olds.

The real draw are the commentators, former MLB players reduced to saying things like: "Bobby Henson might weigh only 83 lbs, but at 4'10" he sure does have speed! And his favorite movie is Space Jam. Good choice." Or "The boys from Oahu sure have traveled far. But these Hawaians know how to party! They invited their rivals from Idaho to share in a barbecue, where each team prepared their own local specialties. Gosh, these young men are good sports."

I guess every player has to fill out a survey before they get to Williamsport with their favorite food, subject in school, tv show (Does this even have to be a question? It's always SportsCenter.) Favorite baseball players, football players, college basketball teams are all at the commentators' fingertips, ready to be peppered into the game coverage. Brilliant.

And nothing, nothing, tops the fact that the ESPN cameramen have somehow figured out exactly what middle-American woman belongs to which middle-American preteen. After every double, every ball caught in the outfield and every slide into third base, there is a closeup of the players' mothers to catch the reaction. Because without Mom's crestfallen mug on screen, lil' Derek "Jeter" Finklestein's bottom-of-the-sixth (there are six innings in little league) strikeout wouldn't have been painful enough.

I mean, come ON. The kids CRY when they lose. Sit down, Hogan family. Outwit, outlast, outplay? You're outta here. This is reality television at its very best.

Oh, and about the international teams? Pfft.


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