Let's televise more Little League
Xs and Arrows
August 20, 2022
I believe it is time to scrap the big leagues for a better version of baseball on television. As the Little League World Series winds down, we have been entertained for weeks with regional and championship match ups that are doing nothing short of reminding us how the game of baseball should be played.
I am talking about the constant examples of sportsmanship, the passion, the great plays and the lesson we are all receiving in humility and fun. It has me asking myself and the television world, why do we wait and only televise these games once a year? If I were a network shut out of the Major League Baseball contract, I would create a Little League package where I travel the country all season long, showcasing Little League games from the far reaches of our nation.
I am watching these contests realizing not only how innocent and pure the game is when played by kids, but the excitement that even a routine ground ball produces. Let us just say 99% of the time a ground ball to third in the big leagues is an out, but at the Little League level that ball has a chance to do some damage because "little Timmy from Garden Grove" may properly throw the ball to first base or three rows deep into the grandstands. He might field the ball cleanly or he might trip over his untied shoe. It is a wild gamble that I am dedicated to watching.
Don't get me started on the sportsmanship either. How many times have we seen it during these games? Kid hits a home run; he gets more high fives and "congrats" from the kids out in the field on the opposing team than his own dugout. Then there are a few of the more marquee moments that most of you saw via newscasts and constant social media videos. One of the most famous was Texas East pitcher Kaiden Shelton having a pitch get away from him, which ended up in the helmet of batter Isaiah Jarvis from Tulsa. Jarvis got up and went to first, but Shelton was visibly shaken about the pitch almost hurting someone. It was not until Jarvis called time out and visited the mound to hug and console his opponent that the situation corrected itself. If you watched that clip and an alligator tear did not start to form in your eye, you need to get in touch with your emotions.
Then there is the humor of the games, usually reserved for the introduction videos of the cast of 11- and 12-year-olds, but not Brody Jackson of Webb City, Missouri whose infographic at the bottom of the screen during a recent at-bat read that his dream job was, "chicken nugget taste tester." Dream big kid. The screenshot is a viral sensation.
Great plays? Those have happened too, one of which was a diving stab by Brendan Hanley, the right fielder from Massapequa, New York. He not only sold out near the line to grab the line drive, but the batter wasn't even mad about it, he rounded first and tipped his cap for the effort, a move remiss in today's professional game. Let us not forget about Jaron Lancaster from Honolulu who hit a hanging breaking ball a distance that can only be measured by NASA instruments. Most of the older kids have outgrown the small diamonds but it does reveal itself for plenty of entertaining smashes like that one.
I just wish we had the opportunity to watch this sort of play on television during the entire baseball season. Why just the Little League World Series? Anyone up for a digital network that just streams Little League games? Can you imagine the characters, the entertainment value and the pure gold of showcasing 11- and 12-year-olds through the baseball season?
Then of course that means us parents will get involved and ruin the fun. Maybe we just need to stay behind the camera and enjoy this month-long re-centering that baseball is due on an annual basis. While the big wigs of MLB continue to tinker with the game, at least the kids keep getting it right. It is great to see the game back in full force and the kids once again teaching us all lessons we should already know-or we just forgot along the way.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.