LL Classic is a game worth seeing
I’ll be honest, baseball’s not really my thing. I much rather watch a four-hour football game than a three-hour baseball game. Pace of play is a problem for me as is not enough action and physicality. But like most people, I enjoy a towering home run and a knee-buckling curveball and of course the competition.
I had the opportunity to cover the MLB Little League Classic on Sunday night when the New York Mets topped the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-2. It was a pretty uneventful game, save for a two-run homer run by Philadelphia’s Carlos Santana, a couple close-call homers by Crosscutters alum Rhys Hoskins and seeing some former Cutters get hits on a field where they belted their first professional hits years ago was pretty cool, like Roman Quinn and Jose Bautista. A six-run win in a game that lacked fireworks doesn’t mean it was an unsuccessful Little League Classic and it didn’t make the event any less enjoyable. Everything off the field made up for a pretty lackluster on-the-field product, although seeing a 97 mph fastball up close was pretty cool as well as seeing batting practice homers reach Park Ave.
Everywhere you looked there was something that would make you smile.
Look out towards centerfield and you saw a couple locals on top of carefully placed scaffolding, just beyond the centerfield fence. And as so perfectly described by ESPN analyst Matt Vasgersian, it was like a King of the Hill episode. Look towards the roof of the Mets dugout down the third base line and you got the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met shooting each other with squirt guns with Dugout trying to play peacemaker.
Look to your left and you saw former 2014 Little League World Series sensation Mo’ne Davis signing autographs for players, whose cleats she was in four years ago. Look behind home plate and you saw Mets pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom teaching the Little Leaguers how to throw Major League-level breaking balls. The list goes on and on.
The fun wasn’t just saved for the fans and Little Leaguers, either. The Phillies and Mets players and coaches’ genuinely enjoyed their day-stay in the birthplace of Little League.
“Seeing those guys out there playing the game, it really reminds you of when you were a little kid and what you played for. I think it hits home a little bit,” said Mets manager Mickey Callaway. “It’s a really fun day and I think these guys did a really good job of interacting with all the kids and asking them questions. It’s been a really fun day for all of us. … This is such a great baseball town and it’s a great event for us to come and be a part of.”
Being in the Major Leagues, the players and managers lose the true meaning of baseball. It’s just a game. Playing last night in front of the 16 Little League teams and getting the opportunity to watch the kids earlier in the day made the adults realize that the Majors is a kids game played by adults.
“I thought the day for me put things into perspective. To go out and watch these Little League guys, have fun and play the game and do it with passion. They’re not worried about anything else other than going out and playing the game,” Callaway said. “The reality that we live in is that there’s results, there’s things that we can’t control and it kind of put things into perspective for me. I think we need to realize that this is still a game. Even though we have to deal with certain circumstances, it’s always going to be a game and we have to go out and play it the right way. I thought that was good for all of us.”
This event won’t be around forever. We’re lucky MLB and Rob Manfred came up with such a great and creative idea to bring Major League Baseball to smaller towns that don’t have Major League teams
So if presented with the opportunity, make your way to Bowman Field or even the dike behind the field next Aug. 19 and see the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Chicago Cubs for the 2019 MLB Little League Classic.
Even if you don’t love baseball, it’s well worth your time.
Bierly is a sports reporter for The Sun-Gazette. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 570-326-1551 (x 3112).