Commentary: Back from vacation and ready for world series

For those who pay attention, I'm back after taking last week off to enjoy another family vacation. This vacation, however, was a bit different than several of those over the past seven years.

A trip to Myrtle Beach has been the norm and it was always an awesome time with special people, both family and friends. But this year, we, just family, opted for the mountains, but not just any mountains.

We visited the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, specifically staying in a spacious cabin in Pigeon Forge. For those who have asked me how our trip was I say, "terrible, didn't see one bear."

Seriously, our trip was wonderful, full of lots of exercise and very memorable sights. No, we didn't see any bears, but that would have just been an added bonus.

On the chance you haven't been to that part of the country, check it out. I think you'll like it.

So, with vacation behind me, it's full steam ahead for another Cal Ripken World Series that is set to get under way Friday on the grounds of the Ripken Experience. This marks the 10th year the series has been played in Aberdeen and I can honestly say, the previous nine have been a joy to watch and cover.

Sixteen teams will be converging on the complex, all with one common goal: win a world championship.

A year ago, we watched Japan win its first series title, unseating perennial international power Mexico, which had won the International Championship for eight straight years. Will the boys from Mexico come back with a vengeance, or will Japan make a serious run at a repeat?

Before the series made its move to Aberdeen, three years were played out west. The Republic of Korea was the international's dominant team in those days, but hasn't been able to find much success in Aberdeen. The Dominican Republic has also been close, but just can't seem to get over the top.

The domestic pools comprised of 10 teams from across this great nation have offered some really nice surprises. In general, teams from Hawaii and Florida have done pretty well, winning a handful of series titles between them over the last nine years.

Locally, all eyes will be on the host Forest Hill boys, who will try to make history by qualifying for the single elimination rounds. It's going to happen some day, but we just don't know when that may be.

Regardless of who wins, this is a great week of baseball and sportsmanship where friendships are made for a lifetime. And all the games are free.

So, let the games begin and let's enjoy the great game of baseball. See ya at the ballparks.

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