Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price is a front-running American League Cy Young candidate.
But as much as Goodlettsville, Tenn., manager Joey Hale admires Price, he could not attend Thursday's video conference his team and Price shared.
Hale had more pressing needs to address.
"I know what I'm doing. I'm going to Hershey to the amusement park with my family," Hale said following Wednesday's 4-3 winner's bracket final win over San Antonio, Texas. "We're big roller coaster fans so that's what we're doing. They're staying, I'm leaving."
While Hale was excited to hit the coasters, his players were eager to talk with Price. The funny thing is Price might have been even happier to talk with them.
Price grew up
in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a town near Goodlettsville. He has been one of the all-star team's biggest fans during its run to the Little League World Series U.S. championship.
Price constantly has been tweeting during Goodlettsville's games and sent frequent posts during a back-and-forth win Wednesday, the last which read "Great win by Team TN! Keep it rollin!"
A pitcher who has the Rays surging down the playoff stretch and who has helped turn a once-dormant franchise into a perennial playoff contender, Price has became quite the Goodlettsville fanatic. In fact, his last four tweets as of 5 p.m., Thursday concerned Goodlettsville Little League and he even predicted its sixth-inning rally against Texas.
Hale is a fan, but as much as he likes Price he knows he might not have a chance to hit Hersheypark again. And considering his daughter just arrived from home, the last thing he wanted to do was miss out on quality family time.
"Her school principal asked her why she was still in school and not here," Hale said. "He gave her an excused absence to come up."
As laid back a manager as the Series has seen in some time, Hale has struck a perfect balance between hard work and fun. The kid in him came out again Thursday and he is a man simply happy to be where he is, doing what he loves.
Goodlettsville tries to become the first Tennessee team to reach the Series world championship Saturday, but Thursday was about having fun. There was no practice. It simply was a day to let this experience wash over he and his team.
"We'll just see what happens. That's been our approach," Hale said. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. If it isn't, we've had a great ride. We'll just see."