My Pitch

Little Leaguers have it right

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Thankfully, the intense heat from over the weekend is past us … for now … and we can resume enjoying being outside for the summer.

The heat has nothing to do with this column, I just wanted to start off by saying that it was far too hot this past weekend.

Back to point.

It was another weekend of Little League, as the state tournaments kicked off and we got to see the district winners go head to head for a chance to compete at the regional level. Teams left in the Beacon Communications coverage area include the Warwick Continental 10’s and all three of the Cranston Western teams. The Warwick North softball 8-10’s also took home the state title. Congrats to them.

My biggest takeaway from the weekend, outside of how much I hate the heat, is that the Little League baseball All-Star tournament is by far the most wild and unpredictable sporting event in the country.

The WCA 10’s steamrolled Portsmouth 24-0 in the opening round of the tournament on Saturday afternoon, and looked like an unstoppable force as took it to them early and often.

WCA then went up against CWLL, who also won big in its first game. You’d assume it’d be a tight, back and forth game, right?

Well, CWLL took home the 15-5 victory, and although the 10-run differential is certainly deceiving, it was still surprising to see it happen.

The CWLL 12’s also looked unstoppable in the district tournament, winning by double-digit runs in all but the championship game. They then won a wild 8-5 game against Burrillville in the first round of states, only to come up short on Sunday.

I’m rambling here, but that’s exactly the point. In Little League, what I have learned, especially this summer, is that past victories, standings, runs for and against, coaching, all of that … it just doesn’t matter, all that matters is what happens in each inning and each at bat.

Of course, like any sport, talent, experience and coaching are important, but trying to predict wins and losses in Little League is by far the most difficult in all of sports. The highs are very high, the lows are very low.

The state tournament will be wrapping up at the end of the week, and to be honest with you, this is one of the rare times that I just simply can’t predict who the winners will be. More often than not this summer I have been wrong, and it’s due to the fact that Little League is just so all over the place and each game is totally independent of all the other factors that we see.

What I find interesting when thinking about it, is the reason why it is like this. Why are the results in Little League baseball and softball so inconsistent?

The simple answer would be because we are dealing with young kids, who have not fully developed athletically or mentally yet. One day they may be locked in and have it, other days they can’t get out of their own heads, and they just don’t have it.

But then it makes me think … is the short-term memory that we see with these kids a sign that they are actually, in fact, very mentally tough? Sure, they will get discouraged, hang their heads, and even shed a tear here and there during a loss. But the fact that they always come with a clean slate approach makes me wonder if they’re on to something.

For example, take Chris Sale.

Sale has been one of the top big-league pitchers throughout his entire career, but for some reason, went a full calendar year without winning at Fenway. You also look at Chris Davis from Baltimore, he broke the record for consecutive at bats without a hit earlier this season.

That would never happen in Little League … and it’s because these kids are so used to forgetting what happened in the days prior, even without the coach telling them to do so.

I’m not Sigmund Freud here, I am not trying to dig too far into the psychology of kids, but I do find the highs and lows of the Little League All-Star tournament entertaining, and find it interesting how the kids handle it, which typically is very well.

The pressure is immense at the Little League level, especially during the summer All-Star tournaments. The whole town is engaged and watching, and a trip to Williamsport and national stardom is on the line. Personally, I think it can sometimes be over the top, especially considering the reason why the kids are supposed to be playing is to have fun, but I do think it is great to see these kids sometimes exposed to the high stakes.

I think we can take a lot out of these Little League tournaments for the reasons stated above. Sure, we can say that we as adults have all the answers, but never underestimate what children bring to the table.

Instead of waking up grouchy on Monday morning, or going to bed frustrated after a lousy Tuesday, or anticipating a rough Wednesday … try taking the Little Leaguer approach … every day is a new day, a new opportunity, and the past is the past.

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