Little League Gets a Bum Rush

Little league gets short shrift.

One of the things about coaching baseball, sooner or later you hear it. Someone says it. Mostly other coaches. Sometimes, parents, even an umpire once. Heck I say it from time to time.

This ain't little league!

People yell it to mean that something and more often someone is not playing up to their expectations. It is said with great criticism, condemnation and judgement all at once. It is the ultimate baseball snark.

It is also off base, and wrong headed. Sure little league has its features but so does every other level of sport. The thing is that most people forget that little league aims to include as many people as possible. It aims to instill a love of baseball in everyone who plays. It often falls short, but the goal remains. If you want to play (and your parents can behave), you can play.

I get why people yell, “this ain't little league”. Its a powerful way of telling someone they don't belong here, with the BIG boys. But thats the trouble with competitive baseball. It is also the great tragedy of the sport I love. After little league, the sport is all about cutting people out, and down.

Baseball becomes a game of exclusion. Rodney Davis once told me, “The sport will pick you.” Unless it is little league, then you get to pick.

As the 2014 All Star tournament begins, I can't help but think I am glad it is little league.

Go Tempe South!!


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