Tthe championship game of the Little League Baseball World Series – rather the Little League Baseball World Series presented by Dick & # 39; s Sporting Goods – will be the 231st and last Little League baseball or softball game that will be broadcasted on television by ESPN this year.
According to ESPN, those 231 games are a record and they are blowing the old road of 140 games released last summer. The record set in 2017 has reversed the previous character of 137 games, which takes place in 2016. In 2000 only 18 matches and a derby with a home run were broadcast on ESPN and ABC.
These are the dog days of the American sports schedule, too early for MLB's pennant races and the NFL colossus. Occasionally there is scandal, Little League is a sweet summer tradition, where the best and hardest working team gets the biggest trophy. The schedule is full of not only World Series games, but also regional playoff games. And there is a company sponsor.
Regarding New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier, there can not be enough Little League matches on television. Twenty years ago, this month, Frazier drove an all-star team from Toms River, New Jersey, to the Little League World Series title. When asked whether he thought that 231 games were pure overkill, Frazier said, "I do not think so, at all, there are more teams and more opportunities for children to thrive, and it gives children something to play for. young age, I think, is even better, it can even help children more. "
Frazier is now 32 and an MLB veteran, but he still keeps track of what is going on in Williamsport. He had a home match to play Wednesday against San Francisco when the Guardian spoke to him, but he knew that teams from Hawaii and Staten Island had a big game.
Frazier said his Little League experience benefited him in his professional career. "I learned a lot about pressure," he said. "For large crowds, for example, for media messages that answer questions in the right way, enjoy them as much as possible." It is the day. "Okay, where are we going now? Well, we do not want to go home. "That kind of appointment, that kind of pressure can only make you stronger."
There is – quite often, actually – written that 12-year-old baseball players should not have to deal with such a pressure. Frazier says that children tend to process mistakes more quickly and that Little League does an excellent job, as he said about attention, "keeping us all away from that stuff."
Mets-outfielder Michael Conforto, who played in the 2004 Little League World Series as an 11-year-old, said "the whole process" turned out to be a valuable experience.
"Not only the Little League World Series," said Conforto, whose team lost two of the three games in Williamsport. "The whole journey is coming, just fighting through the losing bracket in a few tournaments and continuing to play and rallying with your teammates, depending on each other." It was really a very, very nice process, to make it there after so hard. have worked, there are lessons that you learn along the way.
"And then, when you get there, you play on TV and for all those people in the stands, as you've seen other people do for you, you've reached a goal, I think it's doing wonders at that age for that For me it was like: & # 39; I want to keep doing this? What is the next big tournament I can go to? "It grew my love for the game."
Conforto said about the players: "They just sit in. Sometimes you see a child making a mistake or something, but even then, if you have the right coaches and players around you, if you have a strong team, classes are drawn from making those mistakes, even on that big stage, and if you go further away from that, you can get everything. "
Even now, Frazier and Conforto never had the feeling that they were cute props for television shows when they were Little League players. Conforto, now 25 and in his fourth full big-league season, said he feels anxious for a big game, as he did then, and the fear faded as soon as the game began, as then.
"The biggest thing I had to do was an interview," said Conforto, whose mother Tracie was a threefold Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, said about the 2004 Little League World Series. "Just talking, answering questions It was just me and a reporter I remember how scared I was But then, advancing in my life, I would look back and say," I did this. "It was scary. I'm still there, so I can do this. & # 39; "
On Sunday, Frazier and Conforto played for the Mets in the second annual Little League Classic, a regular season game against the Philadelphia Phillies at BB & T Ballpark on Historic Bowman Field, the 2,300-seat Williamsport Crosscutters, a minor league team.
The Mets made the trip to and from Williamsport in one day, and it was largely filled with events to promote the link between baseball and MLB youth. Conforto said he wished he had enough time to buy a hot dog and catch a match at Lamade Stadium. But he noticed during the match against the Phillies how quiet it was in the small baseball field, how the only sounds he could really pick up, the sounds of children in the stands, excitedly chatted. It was a nice break from a long season for the entire Mets team, he said.
Frazier said: & # 39; They should do that every year. I wish they had been thinking about it for a long time, because it intertwined young children and their dreams. It's just like in the tip of their tongue now, understanding that, "Hey, I could be there someday."
"So you tell them to dream big, dream big, and if you want to become a baseball player, just work your ass to get there, have fun, work your ass, learn as much as you can and enjoy it."
Frazier and Conforto have made it all, two in a million. Maybe they would have won the big leagues without playing as Williams in Williamsport. Most of their teammates did it. But they both believe that early exposure propelled them, and if children can get a little more stimulus by playing on television or in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 people, that's a good thing.
& # 39; They treat you like rock stars, man, & # 39; said Frazier. "That's the best for these kids, so get exposed early so they can understand what it's like to play for so many people."