Friday, August 22, 2014

Hey, look, it's the future of baseball

You hear it all day from the doomsayers, who love to slouch around the landscape spreadin' sour the way John Chapman spread apple orchards, and who get especially revved up when the topic is Baseball And Why It's No Longer The National Pastime.

Baseball in America, they say, has gone the way of Betamax and the eight-track. Kids, especially inner city kids, don't play it anymore. They're all about hoops and football and sometimes soccer, but mostly hoops, because the vast AAU mafia gets its hooks in them early and lures them with treacherous fairy tales about how they, too, can be the next LeBron or KD.

Consider today a rebuttal to all that.

Consider Williamsport, Pa. and the two most intriguing storylines in the Little League World Series. On the one side are the joyous, irrepressible kids from the Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago, who are fast and fun and will run all day on you. On the other is the Taney team out of Philadelphia, whom you know about because their best pitcher is a girl, Mo'ne Davis, who has a snapping 70-mph fastball and an unearthly poise that have made her the story of the summer.

Inevitably, no doubt, she'll be forced to give up throwing overhand and gravitate to softball, if she so chooses, because that's what we do with baseball-playing girls once they get to high school. But forget that lapse in imagination for a moment.

For now, allow it to run riot as Mo'ne 'n' them play the Jackie Robinson bunch in an elimination game today. Allow yourself to marvel at American kids still head-over-heels in love with the American game, and to believe, for six sweet innings, that there is a future for baseball in this country, and that these kids are it.

They may not be, as nature takes its inevitable course with them. But for now ... man, how great is this?         

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