It was a bit weird to watch the Senior Little League Softball World Series today from Roxana, Delaware.
That’s because the last two summers, I was there at the World Series with the Escanaba girls.
One year ago at this moment, I was driving home from the East Coast. We had dodged a lot of raindrops, both on the way out there, and while in Delaware. Also, I had spent an afternoon walking on the boardwalk in Ocean City.
I had fun two summers in a row at Central Regional Tournaments in South Holland, Illinois; South Bend, Indiana; and Elgin, Illinois. And now, I wonder when’s the next time I will get to go to another World Series.
Many Little League families are becoming soured toward Little League, with its long tournaments and rules that do not allow girls to play in multiple games per day. Travel ball is taking advantage of this by putting on tournaments within a few hours of us, and that’s where many four young boys and girls are now playing.
It’s sad, and controversies like the big one at the Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland, Wash. don’t help. In that situation, the host Washington team was caught “stealing signs” in their semifinal game Friday night against the team from Virginia. The coaches were ejected, and Virginia won anyway, 1-0.
Well, later that night, six girls from the Virginia team went on Snapchat and posted a photo of themselves flipping off the Washington team. Little League’s solution? Kick the Virginia team out of the tournament just hours before the World Series championship game, and put the Washington team in it against Ohio!
Now, I agree that those Virginia girls deserved to be punished in some way, but rewarding the cheating Washington team is a joke. It is, however, a lesson that the Virginia girls should learn about Social Media!
Now, this is not the first time that the Junior Softball World Series has had problems. When I was out there in 2012, two teams conspired to manipulate the final score of their final pool play game to make sure they both got into the semifinals and a third team did not. Little League’s bright idea then was to have a “play-in” game to see who would move on.
I feel bad for the tournament director in Kirkland, John Chadwick, who treated me very well when I was there. In both of these situations, it was not his committee’s fault, and Williamsport made decisions that he had to enforce.
But Little League seems to be stuck in the past, and they don’t appear to realize that it costs a lot of money for families to travel across the country to World Series that are on the East Coast and West Coast.
They’ve already had to do away with Big League Baseball and Big League Softball because of dwindling participation. I feel they’ve got to make big changes to how things are run before even more families send their kids to other organizations. I remain a big Little League supporter. And I am still hoping for a great 2018 summer!