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The Dish: Boys Do Cry
Let me preface this by saying: I don’t have kids.
But if I do, I sure want them to play in the Little League World Series.
Don’t get me wrong: I think youth sports rock. And as recently as say 10 years ago, playing in the LLWS would have been a wonderful experience. But after what I saw last weekend in the championship game between Georgia and Japan, I’m ready to catch it in Williamsport. And of course, all the bad things in this particular situation (like many others) fall on ESPN.
They need to stop covering this show. wait a minute There’s no reason Orestes Destrada needs to do feature stories and promos pretending he’s grown up, with a four-foot-tall catcher scrawled across his face. There’s no reason to make Gary Thorne aware of his hernia (after all, doesn’t Gary Thorne feel that when he gets a little excited?) when some poor shortstop boots a grounder. Steve Phillips — who couldn’t hack it as a major-league general manager and, if I’m being honest, seems to have found his level in evaluating 12-year-olds — “There’s no reason to question the stuff. “The kid’s. This adds to the air of pressure and negativity that now clearly pervades the experience of children at LLWS.
Don’t tell me anything about how that makes them tough or how kids want that level of exposure, so the world should give it to them. There are some things 12- and 13-year-olds aren’t ready for, and public humiliation on national TV is one of them. Why not have the kids have a free-throw-shooting contest with their little sisters suspended over 100 glowing knives? Free throws, make life for Johnny and little Sally. Otherwise…
Need proof I’m right? Watching the finals last weekend was a tear-jerker. These poor little boys were so injured that they were crying while on base. In the last inning, down one, Japan’s leadoff hitter got on base and watched the next batter take a strike, grumbling. At strike two, he was hiding his face in the sleeve of his uniform. Japan was still in the game. They had a legitimate chance to win and this kid who got hit is crying at first base. A third kid up was crying in front of his bat and had to be comforted by his coach after the first pitch strike. Then the tables turned; When the American pitcher struck out the fourth batter and put runners on first and second, his team gathered around him and he just couldn’t keep a straight face as his eyes flashed with tension. There is no reason for this.
Oh, sure, if the competition wasn’t televised, would the kids feel pressured? yes Absolutely. But I don’t think they see clearly if ESPN does the right thing and goes back to Connecticut with a playmaker between his legs. Seeing that little boy cry at first base before the end of the game, I vowed never to see LLWS again.
The two games that stand out to me for this first weekend of 2006 college football are California at Tennessee and, of course, Florida State at Miami. What should fans look for in that huge matchup?
BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog.ws: Since the first game of the year is important to both Florida State and Miami’s ACC title hopes, the electricity surrounding this game is inextricably heightened. Florida State fans will be crossing their fingers as QB Drew Weatherford tries to break down Miami’s staunch, nation-leading pass defense. With Weatherford’s reputation, Miami’s defensive backs will look to catch some errant passes from the Florida State QB. However, Weatherford’s saving grace includes offseason improvements to his offensive line, allowing him more time in the pocket to make better decisions. As for California at Tennessee, the Vols have a horrendous 0-6 record when playing top 10 teams at Neyland Stadium since 2000, and it will be on their minds as they try to turn that number around against ninth-ranked California. Meanwhile, California coach Jeff Tedford has said both of his quarterbacks could see game time during the season opener, so stud running back (and potential Heisman Trophy candidate) Marshawn Lynch could be relied upon heavily to run the ball.
Besides those Cal/UT and FSU/Miami what’s your favorite game on the Week 1 docket?
BDB, BoDog.ws: Our second favorite game has to be Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech. This year is our first chance to see Heisman favorite Brady Quinn showcase his talents.
What is your prediction for Terrell Owens in Dallas this year? Huge season or monster bust?
BDB, BoDog.ws: With Terrell Owens’ talent, it’s silly that his head isn’t right. Drew Bledsoe has a big arm, but can he handle moody receivers in the past like the likes of Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson and Eric Molds? We’re expecting big things this season regarding the TO situation in Dallas; Either 15+ touchdowns from a TO or the pairing of Jerry Jones between two of the biggest egos in the game, Bill Parcells and the infamous TO, either way, this equation has a bigger bump than anything we’ve seen. It’s going to be an exciting year in Dallas.
Do you watch any of the Little League World Series when it’s on TV? What is your impression? Do you want children to succumb to this kind of national pressure?
BDB, BoDog.ws: After catching some of the action from the recent Little League World Series, I have to say I’m more than impressed. The skill level and competitive drive of these 11-12 year olds is simply amazing. Most of these guys have honed skills combined with mechanics developed through rigorous off-season training programs. Not only do their skills reflect those of the major leaguers, but so does their attitude. These kids are out to win and I think the pressure of the national spotlight is something they really enjoy and thrive on. At the end of the day, the mound is still 46 feet from home plate and 60 feet from the base, and that’s what these guys are focusing on.
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