So, here it is, one of the final weeks of August, and we all know what that means: The start of school is imminent.

Yes, the start of school, youngsters starting the first years of elementary school, pre-teens making that move to middle school, teenagers sliding into high school and young adults beginning the next step of the education process, college.

Before all that gets underway though, for 10 years now we in Harford County have had a front row seat for the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen.

For myself, the series brings an end to summer as I knew it, because it's time consuming to cover it right. That said, I enjoy it, even when it taxes my nerves with rain delays. They make a long day extremely long.


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I think I dealt with just one delay this series, which isn't all that bad.

The series was pretty good, though it missed some of what I've seen in past years. As a whole, the teams from across the United States weren't as good as we've seen. Maybe that's because none of them seemed to have a dominant thrower on the mound.

To be honest, the foreign teams didn't have that ace either. There were some nice pitchers, but if there was one who could flat out close the door, I missed him.

In fact, for me, the best arm I saw during pool play, pitched just one inning in my presence after starting the game at catcher. As it turned out, Hiroki Matsumoto, of Japan, was a very versatile athlete. We saw that Sunday, as he came in to finish off Japan's championship game win, with two innings of one-hit baseball, striking out two.

I think it was fairly clear early, Japan was a step above the other competing teams, both foreign and domestic.

Couple of things that stuck out for me were how weak the Mexico team seemed to be, and it was nice to see Republic of Korea a bit stronger. It's been a number of years, since we saw a team from Korea play this well. Before the series moved to Aberdeen, Korea was dominant in the international action.

It was also nice to see a Maryland team play so well. Those guys were good and were very deserving United States champions.

OK, so as I said earlier, the start of school is quickly approaching and it will be full steam ahead in the sports department. High school games will get going hot and heavy starting Aug. 31 and for the next two and a half months, action will be constant.

There will be plenty of activity to get out and see and some of it's free. The Friday night football games are the highlight for many during the week, but there are a whole lot of other games and athletes that are just deserving.

Whatever your preference, support the kids and the schools in a positive way.