I don’t have any stats or empirical data to prove this, but after watching dozens of hours of regional and Williamsport Little Leagues games this summer, I must confess that I’ve come to the startling conclusion that LL Baseball suddenly isn’t as compelling as it has been in recent years.
Why? Because this was the first year in a long, long time that I didn’t see any super-sized 6 foot, 200 lb sluggers or fireballers dominate the action. Instead, for the most part, all I saw were normal-sized pre-teens playing baseball, and not all that well. Lots of passed balls. Lots of errors. Very few gas-throwers. Very few HR’s.
Instead – and perhaps this is refreshing — these were just normal-sized kids with normal talents playing ball. I certainly salute those kids, but I do wonder where the “big kids” have gone.
On my show this AM, I suggested that it seems that many of the big studs have now left LL programs and have migrated to AAU travel baseball. As a result, LL Baseball is now regressing in terms of its showcased talent.
Joe Heinzmann from Ridgefield, CT – a long-time LL supporter – called and suggested that mandatory playing rules for kids in the majors are now pushing the older and better kids towards AAU ball. Whatever the reason, and that seems like a very likely cause, it was evident that the kids playing on ESPN are just regular kids.
Let’s see what happens next year. Perhaps this year represents a sea change in terms of the level of talent when it comes to LL baseball. Only time will tell.