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Published:September 7th, 2009 16:50 EST
2009 Little League World Series: What Happened in the Finals?

2009 Little League World Series: What Happened in the Finals?

By Ron G Anselm

  The game of baseball has been around a long time. The game itself has evolved from being a game played in beat up old lots and parks using a stick to hit the ball and having totally different rules back then compared to now, to a game where young kids dream about playing in Yankee Stadium someday where their heroes have set the standards for Little League baseball players of this generation.

     The game is really a kid`s game. Major League players today play the game for money. With big name free agents making astronomical amounts of money and earning millions in endorsements, it`s no wonder every kid`s dream is to be a professional baseball player.

     Lots of kids start out playing baseball before they can even walk. They can hit a ball before they can say Da Da when they are just learning to talk. One of the greatest resources for kids to learn the game of baseball and to learn to play the game as a member of a team is Little League. Little League is really where a kid starts to learn the fundamentals of the game of baseball.

     There is a lot more to what most people think of how the game is played. Learning to keep your eye on the ball when hitting and to watch the rotation of the baseball`s threads when it is speeding towards the catcher`s glove like a comet at 90 miles per hour is a skill that has to be practiced over and over again to finally learn it has a habit of just being able to react and hit the ball. A batter normally only has about less than a second to make a decision on swinging at the pitch or not before the pitch reaches the plate.

     To be able to hit and become a good hitter takes strategic thinking by the batter. When the count is three balls and two strikes on the hitter, the hitter has to be able to guess the next pitch. More than likely if there is a fast-ball throwing pitcher on the mound; the next pitch will be a fast-ball. The pitcher goes into his wind-up and delivers the pitch. The batter catches the rotation of the ball by looking at the baseball`s threads as the pitch is heading towards the plate at 90 or more miles per hour. The rotation of the threads are in a backwards motion which means the pitcher just fired a fast-ball to the plate. The batter shifts his weight from his back leg to his front leg while keeping his eye on the ball he takes a level swing and connects with the pitch on the barrel of the bat. There is the sweet sound of a crack with the wood of the bat connecting with the baseball. The ball soars high and deep towards the left field bleachers.

     The left fielder takes two steps backwards to get a fix on where the fly ball is heading then he realizes the ball is heading towards the bleachers. The left fielder has to run down the ball before it goes over his head or in the bleachers for a home run. He jump kicks his speed to the next level trying to run down the ball. The ball keeps soaring towards the bleachers and finally the left fielder runs out of room at the warning track and watches the ball make its way into the left field seats for a home run.

     This is not only the excitement of baseball but is what kids learn when playing in Little League and organized baseball. Learning to field a ground ball, catching a fly ball, pitching, stealing a base or just running out a ground ball to first base is something that kids learn as fundamentals in Little League play.

     One of the most highlighted ceremonies in Little League baseball and has been since 1947 is the Little League World Series. The Little League World Series is held in August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. When the tournament was first organized it was only for Little League teams from the United States. The tournament has since evolved into a worldwide tournament and now features teams from other countries.

     The great aspect of the Little League World Series is it is really a media event. Just like the Major League World Series the popularity among baseball fans share the same passion for the Little Leaguers and the tournament. The tournament normally is broadcast on ESPN and has been broadcast in the past on ABC.  

     The tournament features kids from the age group of 11 to 13 years old, 13 years old being the maximum age a kid can play in the tournament. The Little League World Series is one of eight tournaments sponsored by Little League International (Wikipedia, Little League World Series, 2009). Each of the tournaments that make-up the Little League World Series brings baseball teams made-up of All-Star players from around the world into one tournament.

     During baseball season in the summer, the Little League players select the best players or All-Stars from their league. The players that are selected form a separate All-Star team that competes in either district, sectional, regional, or divisional tournaments which is like the Major League baseball playoffs or NLCS (National League Championship Series) or the ALCS (American League Championship Series) where the professional teams compete in a series in this case the Little Leaguers would compete in tournaments and the winner in the Major Leagues would advance to the World Series just like the winning team from the Little Leaguers will advance to the Little League World Series.

     Normally, in the Major League Championship Series or playoffs, the professional baseball teams play a seven game series which whatever team wins four games advances to the World Series. The Little League district, sectional, regional, or divisional tournament games vary in the number of games the Little Leaguers will play. Some of those tournaments will use a double-elimination format; some may use a single-elimination format and so on.

     The type of elimination tournaments vary from state to state depending on where the Little League teams are from and where the tournaments are played. The Little League All-Star teams compete in the inner-state tournaments and the overall winner of the tournament is crowned the state champion and goes on to play and represent that state in one of the eight regional tournaments. Some larger states have exceptions where California, Texas, North Dakota, and South Dakota are the larger states and send two teams from each of those states to represent the state and play in the regional tournament instead of just one team from that state.

     Depending on the state and its location or geographical location to either the West Coast, East Coast, Mid-west, Southwest, will depend on what tournaments the teams from that state will play in. An example is the teams from California will first play in the West Coast Regional Tournaments; the teams from Texas will play in the Southwest Regional Tournaments and so on. Each of the winning teams from each region of the regional tournaments will then advance to the Little League World Series.  The Little League teams from other countries have their own unique way of crowning their championship team that makes its way to the Little League World Series.

     The Little League World Series consists of a total of sixteen teams. Eight teams are from the United States and eight teams are from other various countries. The current format of the Little League World Series was just recently adopted. Prior to 2001 there were a structure of four teams from the United States from the West, East, South, and Central area of the country and four teams from the International pool from Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Prior to 1975, there were only a total of four teams and all from the United States that played in the Little League World Series. In 1976, the International teams and play returned to the Little League World Series as part of the make-up of the structure of the tournament.

     All sixteen teams are divided-up into two different brackets, the United States bracket and the International bracket. After all the teams are divided-up, the teams are then randomly assigned to one of the two pools within their bracket (Wikipedia, Little League World Series, 2009). At the start of the tournament, each team competes in sort of a round robin format within the pool.

     The top two teams of each pool advance to the semifinal of their bracket where the first place team from one pool competes with the second place team from the other bracket (Wikipedia, Little League World Series, 2009). The team that wins the bracket plays advances to the International or United States final. The winning team from the International or United States final advances to play in the Little League World Series Championship.

     The Little League winning teams that are from the pool of the eight regional tournaments can be from any of the following states, the teams from the New England region are from the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut.   

     The teams from the Mid-Atlantic region are from the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, District of Columbia, or Delaware.  The teams from the Midwest region consist of teams from the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, or Missouri.

     The teams from the Great Lakes region are teams from the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. The teams from the Southeast region consist of teams from the states of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.

     The teams from the Southwest region consist of the teams from the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas East and Texas West, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado. The teams from the Northwest region consist of teams from the states of Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The teams from the West region are teams from the states of Arizona, Nevada, Utah Northern California, Southern California, and Hawaii.

     The teams that consist of the eight divisions and that compete in the International Bracket are teams from the countries of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Latin America countries, Japan, from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and the Middle East-Africa.

     The two stadiums that host the Little League World Series are Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium. Little League Volunteer Stadium was newly built in 2001 and took over hosting the tournament when the field expanded to sixteen teams. Prior to that Howard J. Lamade Stadium hosted the tournament since 1959. Before 1959, the tournament was played at the original Little League World Series Stadium in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

     One of the most important aspects to any Little Leaguer is the dimensions of the field they will play on. Any kid playing Little League baseball will picture themselves playing on sort of a professional level field. One of the biggest concerns is how far are the fences, so they can picture themselves taking that Reggie Jackson swing and hitting the ball out of the park every time they are at bat or just dreaming about doing that.

      The dimensions of both of the fields or stadiums the tournament is played on are 225 feet to left and right field with the fences being in a symmetrical shape. This is measured from home plate to each of the positions in the outfield.

     The cost of a ticket to watch the Little League World Series is free for most spectators coming to the games. The admission and seats to the World Championship are now randomly selected from a drawing of all baseball fans that want to attend the games. The current stadium, Howard J. Lamade has had more than 45,000 hot dog carrying fans attend games in the past.

     Some of the more recent Little League players from the past that have taken part in the Little League World Series and have made it to the Major LeagueS or professional baseball level are Boog Powell, Gary Sheffield, Jason Marquis, Lloyd McClendon, Jim Pangovits, Mark Pisciotta, Charlie Hayes, and a ton of others. Some of the former Little League World Series past participants did not go on to professional baseball but went on to play in the NFL or National Football League or even to the NHL or National Hockey League. They were Brian Sipe who was a quarterback in the NFL who played in the 1961 Little League World Series from El Cajon, California and Chris Drury who played in the National Hockey League and was in the 1989 Little League World Series and was named the Little League World Series Most-Valuable Player the same year out of Trumball, Connecticut.    

     The media coverage of the Little League World Series over the years has consisted of the first broadcast televised on ABC in 1963.  It was broadcast on ABC Sports. In the early years of the tournament, the media only broadcast the championship game of the Little League World Series. Now, and since the early 1980s the media has broadcast the games from the United States and International Championship Semifinals which means more games are now being broadcast.

     Throughout the years of the Little League World Series more and more stations were broadcasting the games including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and soon on ESPN360. Other types of coverage will be available in live broadcasts on WRAK 1400AM radio which is operated by Clear Channel and the live radio broadcasts are being streamlined on littleleague.org which is the Little League`s World Series official website.

     The more recent Little League World Series tournament was held this year (2009) in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. There were eight teams both from the United States and from other various countries that played in this year`s tournament.

     The groups of this year`s tournament consisted of pools A, B, C, and D. Pool A and b consisted of the eight teams from the United States, four teams in each pool and Pools C and D consisted from teams from the International countries with four teams in each of those pools as-well.

     The final results of this year`s tournament ended with the United States team from Park View Little League out of Chula Vista, California winning the tournament and the International team who was the runner-up was from Kuei-Shan Little League out of Taoyuan County, Taiwan.

     The Little League World Series has been a highlighted mark for every Little League baseball player throughout the years. It is a way for the young kids that play the game of baseball to have a sort of goal to shoot for to be able to help their team, Little League complex and state along with their country make it to the tournaments of all tournaments, the Little League World Series and hopefully come away with the Little League World Series Championship. 

References

Little League World Series Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (2009)

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_League_World_Series).