Is the Little League World Series exploitative of kids? Is ESPN’s coverage of the LLWS immoral because they like to show kids crying on TV? Most of you would say, “No, of course not. What kind of stupid question is that?” But apparently some goober who writes fro the Chicago Sun Times named Rick Telander thinks it is. Here’s some of the gobbledy-gook he wrote in his most recent column:
It’s too bad the Jackie Robinson West Little League team was roughed up 13-2 by a powerful Las Vegas team Sunday in a game halted after four innings by the mercy rule. It’s not over for the Chicago kids, but they’re now in the losers’ bracket and have to win out to make it to the Little League World Series championship game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Alright, so right away we can see where this guy is REALLY coming from. He’s butthurt because the hometown team got facialized by a bunch of superior children from Vegas.
Then he wrote this:
But some of what I have seen so far in this tournament seems to rub up next to exploitation, almost like low-level child abuse.
Ummmm….child abuse? Really? I always envisioned child abuse involving actual abuse, not a bunch of 12 year olds having the time of their lives playing a baseball game. But let’s see why he thinks that:
These are, after all, 11- and 12-year-old boys (and girls), with a handful of 13-year-olds whose birthdays came after May 1. In other words, they’re kids. But we subtly and gleefully have turned them into symbols, things they clearly have been given no control over. ESPN is there with more cameras than we see at many major-league games, with lenses that zoom in on these kids until their eyelashes are the size of telephone cables. And the cameras linger there, pandering, quivering, praying for even a single tear drop.
My question is, when did a kid crying become this catastrophic event? Because last I checked crying irrationally is what makes a kid a kid. That’s literally all newborn babies do. Then they learn that they don’t have to cry to communicate, and they only cry when they don’t get what they want. Then they realize that crying isn’t an appropriate way to handle not get your way. Then they cry in situations like this. Then they learn not to. It’s all part of the learning process. It’s not some terrible thing when a kid cries. He or she will get over it, and then we’ll all go out for milkshakes.
Thirty or 40 years ago, any rational parent would have said this is too much for kids, too big an invasion of privacy, too close up for unformed pre-adolescents. But that was before reality shows became routine, before glorified slatterns such as Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton could make careers out of little more than arrogance and sex tapes, before TV demanded everything from everyone it focused on.
Wait, wait, wait. Is this dingbat really comparing the LLWS to Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton’s sex tapes? LOL, yea that’s not a stretch at all. Newsflash – 30 or 40 years ago parents would’ve gladly signed their kids up for this if ESPN covered the LLWS like this. And that was way before we all saw Paris Hilton getting steamrolled.
The Chicago kids got smoked by a long-armed pitcher who stands 6-2 and weighs 168 pounds. He was throwing 76 mph pitches from 45 feet away, the equivalent of 100 mph on a major-league diamond. How the South Side kids even put their bats on the ball, I don’t know.
Translation: It’s not fair!!!
So the other team’s kid was bigger than your kids and made them look silly. Get over it. Those kids from Chicago have been beating everyone their entire lives just to get to this point. Now they get to Williamsport and they found out there’s a bigger kid on the block. Welcome to life.
Then he threw this gem in there:
Las Vegas has a kid named Payton Brooks, who is 4-9 and 75 pounds. When he came to bat, he looked like a large puppet. Teammate Austin Kryszczuk, who hit a home run of nearly 300 feet and has seven homers in his last eight games, was interviewed as though he were Mike Trout, and you could see the budding mustache on his upper lip in the Pennsylvania sunlight.
Finally he left us with this:
“These kids from Chicago were the feel-good story of the tournament. and ABC seemingly televised the game with the expectation that the Chicago kids would continue the dominance they showed in the opener. The world wanted it.”
Yea, ya see the world didn’t give a shit if Chicago won that game over Las Vegas. The world just wants to see gigantic twelve year olds who they will never hear about again, smash 250 foot home runs. That and black girls from Philly who strike everyone out and Korean kids who pimp bat flips like you read about.
You may recall in 2002 that Worcester’s own Jesse Burkett Little League made it all the way to the championship game of the LLWS. After beating Harlem in the semifinals they lost to a powerhouse team from Louisville, Kentucky that had two freak shows on it. One was Zach Osborne, who pitched the shutout in the championship game against Worcester and went on to play shortstop for the University of Tennessee
and now plays in the Colorado Rockies farm system
He still owns a LLWS record for most strikeouts in a game (19), in a 2-1 win over Fort Worth Texas in their 2-1 semifinal win, in which he hit the game winning home run. He also hit the game winning home run in their 4-0 win over Worcester, and then pitched a shutout to beat Japan in the international finals. And look what he made the Japanese kids do:
And guess what? All of those Japanese kids are fine today. They probably own the factory where your car was made and have better health care than you do too. Defeat was certainly shameful when it happened in 2002, but it taught them to hate losing. And people who hate losing always turn out to be winners in the end.
Don’t forget, Worcester didn’t get to the finals without crushing dreams too. Ryan Griffin hit a game winning home run in the semifinals to beat Harlem, and left them with this sad face:
Because in life there are losers, and there are winners
It’s important to learn what it feels like to be both. The LLWS teaches kids this invaluable life lesson. Most of these kids don’t grow up to be Zach Osborne. He’s the only one on that Louisville team that isn’t doing construction or selling used cars. But it’s what they will remember for the rest of their lives – win or lose. Aaron Alvey never played in college. As a matter of fact he never even played in high school. He has however worked relentlessly on his selfie game:
and he’s still got the home run pose:
So for kids like Aaron Alvey the LLWS is all they will ever have. He recently passed that home run ball from the Worcester game onto some other kid from Louisville:
It’s funny with all this talk of “child abuse” Aaron Alvey had some wise words about this topic:
Ya got that? They won because they practice 12 hours a day. You might call that abuse, but they are champions for life. So all the people whining about having to watch kids cry can go back and live in their fantasy world where there are no losers, and defeat doesn’t sting so much. The rest of us will learn what it tastes like to lose, and never, ever wanna lose again. Because all of those kids from Worcester got over this happening
and they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.
P.S. Aaron Alvey was rumored to be in Worcester on the day that the Jesse Burkett team was honored with a parade in downtown Worcester. Some think it might be a 20 year old man who happened to look exactly like him and did an entire interview on the WB News pretending to be Aaron Alvey. We are currently looking to find the video and it should feature in a follow up blog.