Little League Baseball just released its public-service announcements for 2011. Clever messaging in this one. It begins:
"There's only one Little League where the kids of summer take over the world. The Little League Baseball World Series. Televised worldwide. To be part of this, join a real Little League. Sign up today."
True, only kids playing in youth leagues affiliated with Little League Baseball have a chance to play in the LLWS.
Also true that the chance is nearly the same as digging up uranium in your backyard. About 2.4 million kids play Little League, most in the 10-12 division that holds its championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Fewer than 400 make it to that series each year.
It all points to the intense competition for youth players. The number of kids playing baseball in organized leagues is flat, even shrinking. The number of organizations trying to sign up those players - Little League, Cal Ripken, Dixie, travel leagues - expands every year.