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2018 Little League World Series

Discussion in 'General Sports' started by SanFranSoxFan04, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. SanFranSoxFan04

    SanFranSoxFan04 Member SoSH Member

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    137
    LLWS is my favorite sporting event of the year. I searched but could not find a thread dedicated to it. It would be great to have game threads like we do for sox games, but I highly doubt that many people are watching 12yr olds play baseball during the day.

    ESPN+ has expanded coverage / online streaming this year. If you have DirecTV regional sports package you can also catch many regional games on the Longhorn Network.
    The actual world series games from Williamsport run from Aug 16 to Aug 26th. But thanks to the regional games now being streamed or broadcast, I can enjoy watching 3+ weeks of youth baseball.

    This seems to be the best game schedule I could find with network & streaming info:
    https://www.littleleague.org/world-series/2018/llbws/full-games-listings/

    What I am looking forward to most for 2018:
    - The change in offense due to new USA Bat regulations. No more cheapy HR's should really change the game.
    - The 2nd annual MLB Little League Classic (this year it's Met's vs. Phillies)



    I have a 10yr old son who plays Little League and Travel ball, I coach, serve on our local LL board, volunteer, sponsor and donate to various youth baseball organizations. We live in the SF Bay Area, but was born in Wayland, MA. This 3 weeks of LLWS coverage is the least productive time of the year for me.
     
  2. savage362

    savage362 Member SoSH Member

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    1,218
    The New England Regional tournament runs August 5-11. Below are the representatives. I always like to follow this region in particular since I played in the tournament back in 2000.

    Connecticut Fairfield American LL Fairfield 0-0
    Maine Saco/Maremont LL Saco 0-0
    Massachusetts Pittsfield American LL Pittsfield 0-0
    New Hampshire Goffstown Junior Baseball LL Goffstown 0-0
    Rhode Island Coventry LL Coventry 0-0
    Vermont South Burlington LL South Burlington 0-0
     
  3. SanFranSoxFan04

    SanFranSoxFan04 Member SoSH Member

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    137
    West (where we play) and Mid-Atlantic (lived until age 7) are the teams we cheer for every year. NE Regionals, I'll have to go for Pittsfield MA.

    Unfortunately no team from our Northern California District 3 hasn't won a divisional game since 1965 (and that was one town north of us)
    Our nearest neighbor 21 miles north, Petaluma Little League made it to Williamsport in 2012. Petaluma....home to Jonny Gomes.
     
  4. montoursvillefan

    montoursvillefan Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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  5. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Member SoSH Member

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    4,454
    This kid has the right idea.
     
  6. montoursvillefan

    montoursvillefan Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    603
  7. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    I know they were in the New England finals this year and the game could have gone either way, but theories on why MA hasn’t gone to Williamsport this decade, while RI has now gone 5 times, despite an over sixfold advantage in population by MA? Just random variation?
     
  8. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    21,691
    I cannot speak to the MA vs RI question but some local LL teams are essentially travel programs that play little league during the spring so they can qualify for all-stars (for those unfamiliar, these teams going to the LLWS are actually all-star teams comprised of the best kids in their local league). These teams have a huge advantage as any team with long-standing members does - from pitching roles to the batting order to double-plays to OF assists, the familiarity makes a big difference.

    Meanwhile, some local LL areas aim for parity and will essentially work to ensure that the best players are spread out amongst the teams. They can all wind up on an AS team together at the end but its a bit more complicated in terms of who gets to manage the club, which players from each team get selected etc. This model makes climbing out of the district, sectional etc a lot tougher.
     
  9. canderson

    canderson Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    20,605
    A family member is on the Post Oak team. They should wreck shop in the American bracket.

    If you’ve never been it’s a really wonderful event - go in the early rounds though before the massive crowds arrive.
     
  10. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    So you're saying all-star teams are allowed to compete intact during a LL regular season schedule against teams who are drafted on an even playing field? Doesn't sound right. We have small towns who might be able to field only one team who play an interleague (other nearby towns) regular season schedule. When a town tried to pull this they were promptly excluded from the future scheduling. Why would fairly balanced teams want to schedule regular season games against some all-star squad? Makes no sense.
     
  11. BigMike

    BigMike Dope Dope

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    20,883
    Here is an article which I think talks mostly about what DBMH is talking about

    https://nypost.com/2016/06/20/littl...-using-shady-loophole-to-build-all-star-team/

    So reading this, coach creates an all star team in the fall with his 11 year olds, Works the kids all winter on his travelling team. then the players played for existing teams during the Spring league. Then the coach picks the 12 best kids from his travel team the previous fall/winter, and takes that team with him to compete in LL Distict competition.

    As someone who coaches, it is so hard these days. Half of the better kids you get are playing in travel leagues. A couple years ago, I think 12 of the 18 best players in our spring league citywide were playing in AAU leagues as well.
     
  12. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    4,582
    That few? In my league (in RI), it is almost 100%. I wonder if RI being so small means more of the best players play LL, because the chance to go Williamsport seems more real?
     
  13. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,214
    Yes, I coach as well. Our town has Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken instead of LL. I have been coaching there almost 14 years. The player deterioration started at the Senior division (18U). There hasn't been enough players to field even one 18U team for more than 10 years. There used to be four of them in the league. Then it moved to Juniors (15U). There were six 15U teams 10 years ago. Now there is one. 12U: there were six also, now two. 10U and 8U used to have 8-10 teams, now 4-5 each. Only T-Ball seems to sustain 8-10 teams but the attrition from T-Ball to 8U is more than 50%.

    All the kids who formerly played rec baseball now play other sports, have dropped out altogether or they play travel ball (TB) exclusively. All this of course has negative consequences on competitiveness in the rec league. The coaching is generally poor and kids of limited ability are ignored in favor of kids with TB potential. Kids can be in the league five plus years and still execute every fundamental incorrectly. I used to get them in 18U, 10+ years in rec league and they didn't even throw correctly, forget rule, play or strategy subtleties. I remember having to explain in detail to an 18 year old kid why he should have run out a pop-up to 1B with no outs and a runner on.

    Many of the rec coaches also coach low-level or what I would describe as temporary local TB teams simultaneous to the rec league season, using the rec league as not much more than a Minor League for their TB rosters. The league also has coaches who recruit kids for private pitching or hitting lessons of dubious value. Nobody sees anything wrong with this.

    It's clear the side-effect is parents, if they determine a kid is not good enough to play TB, they move him along to another sport. Or worse, they are convinced by some TB coach on the idea the kid is good enough and they get him involved in $300-$500 monthly dues commitments to play on questionably coached travel teams where the bulk of the money goes into coaches' pockets. Flattery can make some parents commit quite a lot of money to a kid who won't crack a HS JV roster on his best day.

    I'm outside Orlando so we're year-round with regular season schedules both in the Spring (actually late Winter through May) and in the Fall (starting this coming Saturday and running to early November). Kids will play on TB teams during the Summer months and scattered amongst Winter Holidays and during the Rec League seasons.

    We have debates in other threads about why baseball is in trouble with young people? This is a big reason.
     
  14. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    21,691
    Thanks guys and yes that article is an example of what I was getting at. I have also heard of some leagues that allow regular season teams to be formed outside of a draft which can also be used to game the system.

    I have been coaching LL and travel (in the same district as the OP) for over a decade at every level and the observations by BM and LT are spot on. Travel clearly siphons off talent as do other sports. However there are other factors as well.

    For example, our league's numbers swelled after the Giants won the WS the first two times. But the afterglow faded and people stopped signing their kids up.

    The other thing is the time commitment for both the kids and parents. Asking kids to patiently wait their turn to hit and have them stand around "doing nothing" during the course of a two hour game (never mind the extra hour plus of warmups plus post game speeches in addition to the 2-4 hours of practice a week) is one thing but asking parents to sit through that or drive to/from is something else. Parents love youth soccer or basketball because the action is constant and the the time commitment is much less onerous. Furthermore, those sports tend to only highlight really good players versus baseball which exposes everyone at one point or another - its always pretty clear who the worst players are on a diamond. That is a bitter pill for some parents.

    Finally, I think the lack of instant gratification in baseball also hurts it with today's kids. Baseball is my sons best sport and he played from Farm all the way through HS in some very competitive leagues. But it's not his favorite sport for many of the reasons mentioned. In some ways, the immediacy of everything in the digital age has made the game obsolete.

    Anyhow, I love LL (not so much travel which has some good aspects but a lot of darker ones too) and I think allstars and the LLWS is about as pure a high level sports experience as you can get, even when you account for the seedy stuff that goes on. These kids are, generally speaking, all playing on a level field and the lack of a profit motive at the team level (a huge issue in travel) means that most playing time and positions are based on merit. Meanwhile, the general level of play at the LLWS is impressive, especially for kids who are so young.
     
  15. Doug Beerabelli

    Doug Beerabelli Killer Threads Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I typed this up but didn't send, but it's in line with what others have written about the effect of travel baseball:

    Travel has really changed things IMO. Beyond what DBMH wrote, which I agree with, lots of the best players don't even play LL. Travel ball may have too many games to allow for LL participation- coached really have to coordinate and cooperate to make it work. Also, there can be a disparity in quality of play when travel is compared to local LL that'll make players and parents decide against playing LL. These LLWS teams are all great, and their players could compete well with most good travel teams (likely because many play travel already), but LL is no longer the clear cut end all be all of where kids (or their parents) want to play baseball.

    SSS - My son pkays travel ball, and has since he was 7/8. He's young (June B-day), so he would have been eligible for LLWS this year. He hasn't played on 46/60 since...2015. 50/70 previous two years, and 60/90 this past year. I asst coached his teams all along (our organization is all volunteer), and as a staff and a program we allowed kids to also play LL in the spring, but none ever did. Usually the game and practice schedule was too much for kids to also do LL, although a few other age divisions pulled it off.

    I support the local LL, and am a board member on it. The best kids generally play travel in our area and state. (CT), and travel programs have grown a lot. With many of the negative side effects mentioned above.
     
  16. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    21,691
    Since we are waiting for the games, a few other observations about travel baseball.

    When you look at it from a distance, its insanity. The number of hours spent not just practicing but traveling to/from tourneys as well as waiting for games. In addition, the cost, which as LT points out, can be exorbitant (our program cost a player ~$500 for about 6-8 tourneys and uniforms per season but it was a not-for-profit program - he is right that sometimes teams will charge three to four times that amount). And then there are the 8am games which are heaped upon late entrant teams and those who perform poorly early on in their brackets. You add in the unreasonable parental expectations and behavior as well as the aforementioned ubiquitous individual batting and pitching coaches - we estimate that one legitimate guy here in the SF Bay area makes somewhere around $200-300k from his hitting and pitching instruction, extra from his travel programs and even more from coaching pros - and all adds up to something that defies logic.

    That said, at its best, travel baseball is the game played at the highest level by some very young players. We started with a U10 group and by the time they were in the midst of their U11 season, it was rare to have a fielder make an error on a routine play. By U12, our team, which was built on defense and pitching versus teams that have line-ups of stocky cage monkeys all swinging the most expensive bats, was routinely playing in low scoring one run games that featured one or two errors on tough plays at most. And as DB, notes, they got to play on bigger diamonds than the U12 LL small field.

    Asking kids and coaches who have tasted that experience to go back and play on a team where about half the roster ranges from kids who are athletic but don't know the game to those who just don't have the motor function to field a routine ground ball or pop-fly, let alone hit a straight fastball is just tough. Some kids welcome being a big fish in a small pond of course but those who really love the sport strongly prefer travel baseball.

    The problem for LL is that, at least on the small field, they need these players as they showcase the program. We purposely skipped the travel season during our kids last season on the small field so they could get their shot at all-stars and the LLWS but as DB points out, others don't do this. At some point, LL needs to figure out how to retain these kids or else leagues may die off, especially with the other issues we've discussed upthread.

    Again, LL and the LLWS is awesome. The former gives kids who aren't baseball junkies an entry into the sport while the latter shows people how good relatively young kids can get at the sport. Unfortunately, both are under threat from a variety of forces that may render them irrelevant in the not too distant future.
     
  17. LoweTek

    LoweTek Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    1,214
    Agreed DBMH. I look forward to watching as many LLWS games as I can. In addition, I will dutifully show up Saturday and assess players for my 10U Red Sox team and again on Sunday to draft them and probably next Tuesday for a first practice or parents meeting. I'm not giving up. Yet.
     
  18. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    21,691
    Michigan with the first walk off win, coming back from down three in the bottom of the sixth to beat Idaho.
     
  19. Hendu for Kutch

    Hendu for Kutch Member SoSH Member

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    5,304
    Anyone else watching this Georgia-Hawaii game? Flipped it on as a scoreless tie in the 6th after the Sox game was over, figured I'd see how it ended. We're currently still scoreless in the 10th.

    Hawaii had a bases-loaded, 1 out opportunity in the 8th with a new pitcher brought in. Kid calmly fielded a hard comebacker and started a 1-2-3 double play to get out of it.
     
  20. jmcc5400

    jmcc5400 Member SoSH Member

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    2,372
    Yep. Been accidentally riveted to the last two games
     
  21. Bigpupp

    Bigpupp Member SoSH Member

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    1,606
  22. Bigpupp

    Bigpupp Member SoSH Member

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    1,606
    This game got me thinking though: now that there is a pitch count in little league, what would happen if a team runs out of pitchers? Do they forfeit?
     
  23. DeJesus Built My Hotrod

    DeJesus Built My Hotrod Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    21,691
    Bigpupp, I tried to look it up because LL has rules for just about everything (the Green Book is the bible and is dense with rules that have been amended and updated just about every year) but I couldn't find anything.

    That said, most of these teams carry 12 or 13 players and roughly half of those guys would have been their team's best pitchers as well as position players - and most of the balance would have pitched at least some during their regular season. So at 85 pitches a player, they would have to burn through quite a few arms before they would run out. The catcher cannot pitch if they catch four innings or more per game and a pitcher cannot catch if they throw more than 40 pitches so the managers need to make sure they don't run into problems there (I would argue that a catcher that can block in LL is, perhaps, the most important fielder on the diamond at any given time).

    You also have to factor in that were a game to go deep into extras and late into the evening, there is a curfew which would render the game suspended.

    The biggest problem from a really extended game that burns a lot of arms is that the winner would be at a material disadvantage going forward in terms of available arms. The reality is that most of these teams have two or three dominant arms and then enough depth behind them because they wouldn't have made it this far otherwise. I know the announcers allude to this on occasion but these teams have been playing since late June - its a grind to get all the way here and its really difficult to do without good pitching depth.
     

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