Imagine a ten-year-old boy with a baseball bat and a pocket full of dreams. Now imagine you’re not a pedophile. ESPN has gone out of their way for years to sell us on the Americana and the “March of the Penguins” heart warmth of the Little League World Series. Let me fully disclose that I’m a bitter hater because as a youth I played for a little league team that was not eligible for the LLWS. Howevah! Is it a good idea (or good TV.) to put fucking preteen shortstops on primetime television slots?
NO. IT’S NOT.
ESPN likes to play up that these kids play for the love of the game, but in reality they are coach’s sons that have been in baseball concentration camps since they were 3. Kids are exploited and burnt out in tennis, golf, and soccer. The addition of baseball dads (read: stage mothers) is nothing new in our celebrity driven society. These kids have been told by the time they’re 5 that they’re gonna play for the Cardinals in the same way Indians are told they’ll run IBM.
Don’t get me wrong I think that kids should play baseball because it’s one of the few times they might have fun before reality kicks them in the dick from the ages 16 to death. But I also think you’re set up for a tragic life if you peak as a human being when you’re 9 years old. For every kid that hits a walk off homerun to win the LLWS, there has to be some kid who gave that homerun up. Today that kid either runs a Wall Street hedge fund, or he killed himself because he never got over that one horrible day. If you don’t believe me, watch “The Replacements” with Keanu.
The LLWS has become “Toddlers and Tiaras” with little boys. I’ve argued for years that if we love spectacle and heart-warming, goosebump moments that we should televise everything with retards. I’ve been rebuffed as an insensitive asshole, but trotting out ten-year-olds that have panic attack pressure on them that results in games with more errors than hits, is just plain good T.V. according to execs.
When I say, “Fuck these kids”, I’m trying to save them. Steven Spielberg once said that the opening scene to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” upset him because he couldn’t top it. I think these kids can feel the same way about their experience in the LLWS; they literally can’t top the days when they were 9. The movie, “The Sandlot” talks reverently about how great it was in the little league days, but isn’t it tragic that those boys (now men) have nothing great to aspire to? Little boys should be burning bugs and discovering their penis, not going to a sports psychologist so that they can have the toughest mental game of all the 8 year olds. If I wanted to watch an emotionless robot child do something unnatural and impressive I’d watch a Chinese kid win the spelling bee. But seeing insecure adolescents dropping 75mph sliders on each other appears to be some bizarre Darwinian experiment.
As usual, I say Fuck you, ESPN. Leave the kids alone!