Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kids baseball on TV? Check your local listings

Sure, I took off the entire month of July. Didn't everyone?

MLB Network just announced that August is Youth Baseball Month, by which it means that it has beefed up coverage of youth games over the next 30 days. MLB Network has coverage of the RBI World Series, National Youth Baseball Championship and the Ripken World Series. Twelve games in all including two from Cal Ripken's kids' baseball campus just up the road from me in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Over on ABC/ESPN, it's Extreme Youth Baseball Month, a game a night and sometimes two or three. As always, the sister networks have all 30-something games live from the Little League World Series. And, as in recent years, they'll also present games from U.S. regionals so we can watch teams as they punch their tickets to Williamsport.

All told, that's roughly 75 youth baseball games on national TV this month.

So I'm wondering. Why baseball? What about this sport as played by boys still waiting for their Bar Mitzvahs (well, a few may be) draws us to our televisions, La-Z-Boys, microwave popcorn? The thought of any network - ESPN, Versus, the Food Network, Home Shopping Club - making time for 75 youth football games is preposterous. It wouldn't happen. Same for basketball, soccer, every single other kids sport you can name. Yet among cable sports nets there seems to be an insatiable appetite for crackerjack 11 and 12-year-olds playing baseball.

It's not only the sport. There's also something magical about the age. ESPN aired the finals of the Big League World Series this week, Little League's 16-to-18 division. Did you watch it? Read about it? Know about it?

What's different about 12 years olds? About baseball?

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