For a ninth straight year we watched some of the best, mainly 12-year old baseball players, in the world flash some leather for seven days over the eight-day period.
I congratulate all the players who made up this year's field and a special congrats to the team from Japan, which came in and took care of business the entire series. They were purely a joy to watch.
During the week though, there were a couple occasions that came in earshot of me that just rubbed me the wrong way.
My entire baseball/softball life as a youth competitor or adult coach has been and still is revolved around Little League, the program that provides the sport in Havre de Grace and now also to some degree in Fallston.
Twice last week I heard Little League referred to as "bush league" and "that other league" by persons affiliated with either Ripken Baseball or Babe Ruth League. I remained silent on both accounts.
The driving force behind both comments was geared to the difference between the game we see played in Aberdeen and that which is played currently in Williamsport, Pa.
For those who don't understand the difference, it's quite simple. Ripken's World Seres in Aberdeen is played with basepath distance of 70 feet and pitching distance of 50 feet. In Williamsport, it's the traditional distances of 60 foot basepaths and 46-foot pitching distances.
There is no doubt that Ripken's change a few years ago to this size and dimension is a great game. It allows for leadoffs, pitcher stretches and dropped third strikes. It's exciting, but it's still youth baseball played by 12-year-olds.
The first few years Ripken's name was tagged with the series, it was the 46- and 60-foot issues that some believe are out-dated. I disagree.
It still requires pitchers to throw strikes, batters to hit balls and fielders to make plays. The last I looked, Ripken still has a 46-60 World Series played and this year it was in Visalia, Calif. I'd bet the teams that played there were just as happy to be competing in a world series as those in Aberdeen and Williamsport.
Now, if you want to talk about 'bush league,' here's some fodder. Being that I did not cover Kentucky during pool play and the first two games of championship play, I was a bit shocked at what I saw in Sunday's title game.
As Japan took warmups after batting in the first inning, all nine Kentucky starters came out of the dugout and along the sideline with bats, timing the Japanese pitcher. Sorry folks, that's bush league.
I was also a bit shocked when the game was over and I heard the post game awards for the standout players, the Ron Tellefsen Player of the Game Award, being announced. The presenters were granddaughters of Tellefsen and while I'm sure that was a thrilling honor for those two young ladies, I believe those awards and any others bestowed on the two teams should have had a Ripken touch.
I know Cal meets with each team during the week and signs many items, but this is his series and his appearance on the field when it's over is needed. Cal's got 51 weeks before it all comes around again. Hope to see him on the turf in 2012.
Today (Wednesday) is Cal's birthday, so Happy Birthday to Cal. Happy Birthday also to my pals Ray Orf and Tom Phelan, who along with myself, celebrate another year on Friday.