A seat at the ballpark or a spot in press row aren't what they used to be.
It wasn't that long ago that I preferred being at just about anything live over anything on TV. A good local high school game in person was always a better experience than a great pro broadcast.
But 55-inch flat screen sets with their 1080i hi-def resolution make the living room couch the best place to watch a sporting event nowadays. No binoculars are needed from the top of a crowded football stadium to see if No. 22 or No. 32 made the tackle, not when slo-mo replays show it was actually No 54.
No long concession stand lines for a cold $4 hot dog. No traffic hassles. No parking rates higher than an hourly wage.
Just about the only exception anymore is the Little League World Series, which starts today. Sure, you can get your fill of daylong broadcast coverage on ESPN channels, but you'll have to endure endless scroll updates on Tom Brady's knee health and what it means for Tim Tebow's playing time.
And while ESPN can take you places you can't go at Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums, from miking the coaches to clocking the pitchers, it's still better to be there in person. You can go places they can't always work into their broadcast.
The prices can't be beat. The best available seats for today's game at Yankee Stadium sold for about $300 on the team's web site. The best available seats for today's games at Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums are free, provided you get in line early enough.
Get the Yankee starting third baseman's autograph today, and you may want to chuck it into the Hudson River. (It is Alex Rodriguez, after all). Get the Australian starting third baseman's autograph today and you've got a small piece of history. This is the first appearance by an Australian team here, with Perth Metro LL opening against a Mexican team from Tijuana later this afternoon.
Visit Yankee Stadium, buy a beverage and get loose change back from a $10 bill, and it's easily apparent why the fans boo A-Rod when they think about where that money goes. Visit Lamade Stadium, and get enough back on that $10 from a hot dog, fries, and beverage and there are enough dollar bills in change for something else. Can't boo that.
Watch today's games on ESPN, and you will see all the bright faces and shiny uniforms with South Williamsport as a backdrop. Or, you can go there and see the same things, plus get up close and watch Little League mascot Dugout race a 4-year-old around the bases between innings.
Dugout's record in these races mirrors Tiger Woods' recent record in majors, but Tiger's actually trying to win those. I'm not so sure about Dugout, though the only thing anyone cares about is a standing ovation for the winning preschooler.
There's also the annual fun of sliding down the outfield hill at Lamade Stadium on cardboard - the fastest I've seen is about 9 seconds on dry ground and about 5 on mud - and trading pins commemorating everything from leagues and teams to candy and laundry sponsors past and present, and enough variety in chants and cheers from nations around the globe that could probably rival a day of World Cup soccer.
With all that, who needs a TV? Anyone need to rent mine for a couple weeks?
Brigandi is sports editor at The Sun-Gazette. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.