It's been two weeks since I tapped out a few words that found their way onto this page as my column, but that doesn't mean I haven't been in touch with sports both local and not.
It was during my first week off that the whole Riley Cooper racial slur issue took over the sports programming on every channel I could find. The young Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver certainly put both feet in his mouth, but he and the organization quickly tried to cover up, smooth over or totally dismiss the sensitive statement.
This wasn't the first racially motivated comment by a professional athlete and unfortunately it won't likely be the last. Will we know how to deal with it when it happens again? Unfortunately, we've had a handful of times in somewhat recent years to deal with this, but it seems like something new each time it occurs.
The other news that grabbed the sports headlines was of course, Major League Baseball's ongoing issue with performance enhancing drugs. Can I say, in a word, ridiculous? I'm just glad there were no players tied to the mess that I kind of like. There are no George Bretts in the league for me at this point, but there are a few players I like to see play.
So, with all the negativity circling around the world of sports, what better way for us in Harford County to welcome in young baseball players and fans from all over the world? Seriously, what better timing for the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen?
Because of my vacation, this is the first time in Aberdeen series history that I can recall missing the opening night ceremonies. I also missed the first full day of pool play on Saturday, but was quickly brought up to speed on my return Sunday.
So, like I said, what better time for the series to be back in Aberdeen? We have kids from all over the United States and others from six other countries.
Language barriers are always a bit of an issue, but not as much as one might figure. The game of baseball is played pretty much the same way by each and every team that has ever been here. I mean, good pitching usually trumps good hitting and solid defense generally leads to winning.
At this point (Tuesday morning) I'm not sure who to put at the top of the rankings. Internationally speaking, Japan and Mexico look to be the teams to beat. Those two were to play Tuesday night.
As for the U.S. teams, I have heard that Piedmont, Del., has a couple of stud pitchers. The way we break down the coverage here at the paper has the Piedmont club in the opposite division of my coverage. That means I've been focused on the American Division and Piedmont is in the National. Also in the National is West Raleigh, N.C. Piedmont and West Raleigh are scheduled to play today (Wednesday). Both will likely be part of Friday's United States semifinals.
You know, also part of that National pool is our own Harford County team, the Hickory Hornets. I have to be totally honest here: I never thought I'd read about the local kid winning the home run derby, but Trent Gast-Woodard proved me wrong. I also never thought I'd hear or see our host team beat the Ohio Valley champions, which has always been a team from Southeast Lexington, Ky. Well, they shocked me again Monday night and Hickory beat Southeast Lexington, 8-6, in extra innings.
Congratulations to the Hickory Hornets program and to Gast-Woodard. You have represented Harford County in a positive and classy way.
Now, as for the American Division. Elk Grove, Calif., is locked into Friday's semifinals and my bet is New Milford, Conn., will join them.
We've seen some good and exciting baseball, but I believe the best baseball is yet to come. See ya at the park.