By Josh Kramer
Little League Baseball has and always will be the end all be all when it comes to youth baseball. It is the most popular and far-reaching youth baseball program on the globe. Williamsport is the sanctuary of youth baseball and Howard J. Lamade Stadium is the mecca. I understand that. But I have never been a huge fan of the immensely popular program. My main issue is they utilize “baby” rules. They play on a miniature diamond that would likely be more fit for 6-year-olds rather than 6 foot tall 12-year-old man childs. The rules are similar to tee-ball. And all it does is postpone the inevitable move to big boy rules longer than it should. At least one team has dispelled these thoughts from my mind temporarily. And I will give you a hint: It is not an American team.
The team out of Goodlettsville, Tennessee celebrated a victory in the U.S. title game last evening. Their game against Petaluma, California was one for the ages (40 runs scored). It was truly Little League baseball at its finest, or lack thereof for that matter. A ten-run blown lead in the bottom half of the final inning (6th), followed by a nine-run recovery in the top half of the extra inning (7th). Without question, the kids on both the Tennessee and the California team can play. I also am well-aware that these are 11 and 12-year-old kids (some cases 13-year-olds). But who blows a ten run lead in the final inning?
There has been some solid baseball in Williamsport this year as is typically the case (I am well-aware that the kids can play). No team though has embodied “Big Boy” baseball more than the team out of Japan. The team out of Japan made a very talented Panama team look like infants during the course of a vicious 10 to 2 beating. They made the whole international field look inadequate tossing 50 strikeouts and just four walks in four games.
Japan has won the international bracket five times in the past seven years. These five international victories have only resulted in one victory in the World Series title game (2010). Get ready for number two. Japan not only will beat Tennessee in tomorrow’s final game, they will embarrass them.
Japan is superior to all other 15 teams that have had the privilege of playing in Williamsport this year in every way imaginable. They hit better. They field better. And they pitch better. If you want to watch a Little League team play like a big league team, and dispel my disdain for Little League Baseball, tune in to the game tomorrow at 3PM. Japan will not disappoint.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.