Baseball in the summer. Is there anything better? Okay, even if you're not a big fan (no worries), there is something magically summery about the game of baseball. Its slow, relaxed pace and need for large groups of players is the perfect way for friends to spend these hazy, lazy days.
And we're not just talking about the pros here. Little League baseball is anything but a small deal. For proof, you only need to look at the Little League World Series, which is happening as we speak in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 16 of the world's best teams of players aged 11 to 13 compete in a showdown to crown a champion. That's right—young athletes your age, showing the world all that they can do.
Pretty awesome, right?
United States versus the world
So how does this tournament work?
There are two divisions or brackets. One is from the United States, still the most baseball-crazy country on the planet. The other is made up of teams from around the world.
The United States bracket features teams of eight regions around the country: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Great Lakes, Southwest, Midwest, West, and Northwest. Meanwhile, the International bracket has eight regions: Canada, Japan, Latin America, Mexico, Caribbean, Australia, Europe-Africa, and Asia-Pacific. These two brackets face off against one another until the best team in each one—a United States team and an International team—play for the Little League World Series title!
Mind you, even getting to the World Series is a real achievement for any of these teams. To represent each region, thousands of Little League teams around the globe compete in regional tournaments. This means that each team isn't an all-star team from the region, but instead a group of players from a single town.
For example, the Canadian team this year is the White Rock-South Surrey Little League team from White Rock, British Columbia. We love this idea because it really keeps the homegrown, small town vibe of youth baseball alive. Last year's champions, Maine-Endwell from New York State, came from a town of only 11,000 people!
Getting down to the wire
Right now, there are only six teams left in the hunt for the championship, including that Canadian team from White Rock. They play Mexico today at 3:00pm EST for the right to face Japan in the International bracket final. If Canada wins though, they'll have their work cut out for them. They already played Japan yesterday afternoon and lost 10–0.
In fact, in three games, Japan has only surrendered one run, while scoring 22!
Meanwhile on the American bracket, the Southwest and New England region teams will play each other to face the Southeast team. Southeast is just like Japan, giving away just one run in three games while scoring 24. (They even pitched two no-hitters in their first two games—they're opponents didn't even get a single hit!)
So while Sunday's championship match looks like it will be Japan versus the Southeast, you never know. Maybe Canada can surprise these two powerhouses and win it all. Either way, it should be a lot of fun to watch.
If you want catch any of the remaining games in the Little League World Series, ESPN is showing a bunch of them, while ABC has games all weekend long. Play ball, kids!