Entertainment

Why Little League Is Better Than Professional Baseball

Will you be watching the Little League finals this weekend?

So for the past few weeks, I have been watching the Little League World Series. Yes, I have spent hours watching boys (and some badass girls) run around on a miniature baseball field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and I think you should too.

Now, hear me out. Sure, maybe you think baseball is boring. But let me correct you: Major league baseball is boring. I’m a big baseball fan, but even I find myself sometimes changing the channel amidst all of the strikeouts and the pitching changes and the mound visits and …

… Sorry, what were we talking about?

Now, I might be a little biased. My home state of Hawaii has historically had a lot of success at this tournament, so I have watched Little League for years. But even when Hawaii isn’t in the tournament, I still watch because it just brings a smile to my face. Here’s why:

1. The Kids Are Hilarious

Major League Baseball has a bit of personality problem. The Little League World Series has no such problem.

Unlike Major League Baseball, each edition of the Little League World Series brings a new batch of kids, none of them concerned about their sponsorships and imbued with the total lack of a filter that all pre-teens are blessed with. They ham it up for the cameras. They randomly break out into dance. They look like Dustin from”Stranger Things.”

But the star of this year’s show is pretty clear:

“Big Al” has become an internet sensation, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel, making the word “dingers” cool again and generally just dancing his way into America’s hearts.

2. The Games Are Entertaining

So, here is the thing about major league games: they take too long. Little League baseball lasts only six innings and does away with things like pick-off throws. Plus, umpires call a generous strike zone to keep things moving along.

Oh, and don’t be fooled because these kids are young. They are good. Sure, there are still moments when you remember they are kids, like when they call a timeout because they are nervous or cry after wins.

But they also do things like this:

Oh, and the games are usually close and provide some crazy moments:

ESPN also does a great job keeping the broadcasts light. Rather than list random stats like ERA and RBIs and WAR, they list things like favorite foods, most-used emojis, and secret talents. The other night two announcers spent several minutes trying to figure out if a Fortnite dance was Orange Juice or Orange Julius (it was Orange Justice).

And of course having kids on the field means we get to see their parents in the stands, who alternate between gut-wrenching anxiety and brain-melting joy. Oh, and the siblings too. Long live Cash Money.

3. Everyone’s Having Fun

But no matter how close the games are, the main reason I like watching these kids play is because it reminds you sports are supposed to be fun. When major leaguers hit home runs, everyone gets angry. When Little Leaguers hit home runs, even the pitchers think its cool. When major leaguers get hit by a pitch, fights start. When Little Leaguers hit someone with a pitch, they go over and apologize.

A team from Texas suffered a heartbreaking loss, but the next day the kids were playing in the mud. These players console the other team after wins. Even when teams lose, managers always keep the message positive. In 2016, a father who was coaching went out to the mound in the middle of a game just to tell his son he loved him:

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Every year Major League Baseball moves a game to Williamsport and calls it the Little League Classic, and it gives the pros and the kids a chance to interact. And as cool as it is for the kids to see their heroes, you can tell the major leaguers are having a blast too being reminded why they started playing the game.

Even the pros who aren’t there are following along, and you can too. The semifinals are on Saturday and the final is on Sunday, so there is still time to get in on the craze. Japan and South Korea are squaring off in one game followed by Hawaii and Georgia. Hawaii and Georgia have actually already played, and the 11-inning thriller was one of the most dramatic games in Little League history:

So tune in to see how they top that. I promise, you won’t regret it.