This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … the Little League World Series.
|“I hate fucking kids baseball.”
– Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver
Here, here, you cranky old bastard. I hated organized kids baseball even when I was a kid playing organized baseball, and I hate it even more now. I could barely sit through the seven innings of walk-filled, error-filled little league games when my nephews were making all-star teams. I could barely sit through high school baseball games when I was one of the coaches.
Yet every August, some network – who knows which one – finds time to air a slew of boring-assed games from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the annual Little League World Series. Perhaps, when you were confined to a wheelchair or held hostage in a room with only one TV station, you have watched some of these games. Congratulations for not gouging your eyes out with a pencil. (Well, if you were in a wheelchair, I guess your useless arms couldn’t pull of the feat. So congratulations for not convincing a friend to de-eye you.)
Little League baseball on television is about as bad as TV sports can get, and yes, I even considered NASCAR and Ultimate Fighting before making this assertion. (No, golf did not get consideration. I said “sport,” not “game.” Oh, golf sucks bigtime on TV, but it’s not a sport.) Why anyone would waste a perfectly good end-of-summer day or evening watching limp-limbed, pre-pubsescent spoiled brats play a shitty version of baseball when a Major League game is just a click of the remote away stuns me. (Unless you’re a pedophile, in which case I can see why you’d wallow in this two-hour party of hairless boy porn. You sick fucks.)
While I have no pedophiliac urges (my Jonas Brothers posters notwithstanding), I have to admit that I do try to catch just a few innings of the LLWS every year, mainly because I’m a guy who just loves to hate, and I can work up a good, ulcer-inducing lather while watching and listening to the Little League World Series. The parents in the crowd might nauseate me the most. I know they’re proud, and the trip to Pennsylvania will probably provide the family with an unforgettable summer memory, but these pathetic devotees of the Cult of the Child invest way too much emotion into the fate of sons who can hit and catch a baseball a little better than other kids their age. They paint their faces, carry signs, scream, cry and even engage in those scripted chants that girls’ softball teams do. These pricks, under the guise of being involved, supportive parents, are just sucking on the intoxicating fumes of their children’s modest baseball success in a desperate grasp at some vicarious glory that will help stave off some of the terrifying emptiness they must feel in their daily lives.
I’m also shocked at how the networks waste the talents of their best announcers on this bonanza of boredom. For the last eight years or so, the great Brent Musburger has been forced into calling the big huge stupendous momentous “holy shit, I can’t stand the tension” final game. Even the best baseball analyst in the country, Joe Morgan, has done hard time providing expert analysis of how Chin Wang Dong’s curveball will no doubt give the poor American kids fits. Maybe these announcers cut a deal with the networks at contract time, something like, “… and the party of the first part, Mr. Musburger, having agreed to announce the next five Little League World Series, will be allowed to bang pussy parties Suzie Kolber and Hannah Storm a total of six times before the end of our fiscal year.” If that were the case, I’d love to see the perks they give those two pieces of ass for agreeing to a Musburger muff mauling. He’s a superb announcer, but c’mon, he’s been calling games since Babe Ruth was banging strippers between games of a doubleheader.
I always have to laugh at how these announcers feed us what are supposed to be compelling storylines to make us, the bored senseless viewer, more invested in the game. “And here’s Bobby Blonde-American from one of the three California or Connecticut cities that always seem to win this damn thing. You might recall us talking yesterday about all the travails this scrappy little fireplug has had to overcome in his life, what with his dog Fluffy suffering a bit of distemper this past spring and the fact that he got the first C of his life last winter in pre-algebra. Yet here he is today, having triumphed over his troubles, trying to knock in Stevie Overachiever to tie up this game for the ages. And remember, Stevie is here despite a devastating case of fallen arches. Boy, what an inspiration these two young fella are, huh Joe! Joe? Damn it, Joe! Stop texting Hannah. We’re only in the third inning.”
The networks also turn the LLWS into another disgusting display of jingoistic, red-white-and-blue ugliness, with repeated shots of face-painted yahoos waving American flags at a game played by kids who just recently discovered the joys of jerking off. Yes, there are people in this country who use the exploits of little league baseball players to help stir up a sense of national pride, as if American kids outhitting a team of Taiwanese kids in some way validates the “America Is Number One In Everything, Motherfucker!” mindset they have. It makes me sick and always makes me root for Japan, or Taiwan, or Cuba. I’ll be damned if some 13-year-old kid from Texas is going to be my patriotic prop. The “USA!” chant in Williamsport makes me more embarrassed about this country than the double election of George W. Bush.
I also get depressed thinking about the lives of the local people who attend these games despite having no blood relative on the field. Are things so dreary in Williamsport and central Pennsylvania that a viable entertainment option is paying to watch Little League baseball? As a former Pennsylvanian, I can say that they are.
Finally, what kind of sadistic, kid-hating prick do you have to be to tune into a televised sport in which there exists a great chance of seeing a real kid cry real tears after his team loses the big game thanks to his fielding gaffe or strike out? Some of these kids actually sob, and the networks make sure that they show prolonged close-ups of the kids’ bawling faces for the entire nation to see. I pretty much hate kids, but I don’t want to see them be any more miserable than the rest of us.
But I guess that, once again, I’m in the minority. ABC and ESPN wouldn’t keep showing this every year if they didn’t make a profit, so someone must be watching. But who? I would guess the networks would need several million viewers to justify the expense of the coverage, but are there really that many people who enjoy watching little kids play a sport on TV? The only Americans I can see watching this are other similarly over-involved parents and coaches whose lives are so empty that they are pathetically forced to find purpose and happiness through the just-a-notch-above-mediocre athletic pursuits of their children, and how many of these people do we really have in this country?
Oh wait, nevermind.
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.