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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
Local little leaguers taste the bitter tang of failure 
Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 | 12:27 pm [baseball, hagerstown]
Well, they gave it their best shot, but our local Federal All-Stars team was eliminated after the first round of the Little League World Series.  They won two of their first round games, and lost one, and didn't qualify for the semi-finals.  Still, they went out on a high note, defeating the previously unbeaten team from Lake Charles, Louisiana 6-4.  They made it farther than any team of 11-12 year-old ballplayers from this county has in forty years, and they're still the goddamn Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions, so they're all winners in my book.

They are also, of course, a bunch of fucking losers.  But that's okay.  I'm not knocking them, just pointing out one of the great lessons baseball can teach children about the trying, miserable lives they will all struggle to lead in a vast and indifferent world.  Even when you're one of the best there is at what you do, you're going to lose most of the time.  This was a great team.  Undefeated through the playoffs until their second game of the Little League World Series.  That's a hell of an accomplishment.  That's a hell of a ballclub.  They weren't good enough to advance.  The Little League World Series is a tough competition where only the very, very best (or very lucky) are able to reach the pinnacle of success.

Know what else is like that?

Most major sports, but that's not what I'm getting at.  Life.  Life is a lot like that.  I understand the instincts behind wanting to shelter children from failure, wanting to tell them that they are all winners just for showing up, that to truly lose is not to try.  I love that philosophy.  We should definitely teach that to kids.  But when it leads to children's baseball leagues instituting rules that end lopsided games early so as not to humiliate the losers, I have to stand up and give it the finger.

Sometimes you show up, you try your heart out, you give it everything you've got, and you still lose.  And it's not even a close one.  It's not a nail-biter that goes all the way to the bottom of the ninth before it's settled.  It's a blowout.  You get your ass kicked.  That's life, kids.  If we protect kids playing little league from being humiliated by losing a game, say, 27-3 or some such embarassing score, we're not doing them any favors.  If you can't learn to deal with getting your balls cut off in a baseball game when you're eleven years old, how are you ever going to learn to cope with all the dignity-stripping debasement real life has in store for you?

The kids whose little league clubs are spared those one-sided shit-kickings are the ones who will fall apart the first time they get fired from a job, or when the girl they ask to the prom laughs in their stupid face — as if!  They'll be going off to college as business majors to prepare for their careers as anonymous cubicle jockeys, while the battle-hardened veterans of the Federal All-Stars, their hard-fought defeat always in the back of their minds driving them onward, will be the ones landing on Mars, curing cancer, and maybe even hitting a few out of the park in the big leagues — all because they learned early how to take being a loser.

Does that sound like total horseshit?  Because I just made all of that up as I was writing it.

I never played baseball as a child.  I loved the game, but was too much of a socially awkward pussy to go out for little league.  So I really do admire the kids who are able to play and excel on those miniature diamonds.  Plus, the little league fields are great for the egos of grown men like me, who could never even come close to hitting a home run out of a full-size ballpark, but can wallop 'em over the little league fence left and right and feel like a real big fucking man.

So they got paid a possibly illegal $10,000 from the county commissioners to go up there to Williamsport, PA, and they wound up coming home after the first round.  They still good, and gave us here in Hagerstown something baseball-related to be proud of.

Winning that thing sure would have been nice, though.  Then maybe we'd be "Hagerstown: Home of the Little League World Champions!" instead of "Hagerstown: The City that Called Willie Mays a Nigger in His First Pro Game!"

Maybe next year.
Thursday, August 21st, 2008 | 12:03 am (UTC)
Personally, I'd still rather the ten grand have gone to a plaque in front of Memorial Stadium recognizing the place where Willie Mays played his first professional baseball game. Of course they wont do that because, well, he is black and they pretty much acted like total dick heads to him when he played here.
Thursday, August 21st, 2008 | 01:28 am (UTC)
Yeah, a plaque would be a nice start. A nice bronze statue of a young Willie would be even better, though I'm sure the city's shame for how he was treated during that first game, combined with the likelihood of vandalism at the hands of local rednecks, will prevent such a thing from ever materializing.
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