At the Little League World Series, we get to remember what sports are all about—or at least we get to wax poetic about what they ideally should be all about.
Sports are not about money or fame, licensing deals or television contracts. They're not about scandals or the off-the-field lives of players or spectacles that last two weeks before the game is even played and feel like a grand tribute to capitalism, not the two teams trying to win a trophy.
No, at the LLWS you get to see kids playing for the sake of playing. They play because they love the game, because it's fun and because they enjoy competing against their peers. Sportsmanship still matters and bubble gum hasn't been replaced by chewing tobacco yet.
There's something comforting in that innocence, even if we all know it can't last forever. But once a year, for one week, we get to remember why we all loved sports in the first place.
In case you don't want to miss a minute of that trip down Nostalgia Lane, you can find the full schedule for this year's LLWS below, along with a few predictions for Thursday's action and an overview of the storylines involving the eight teams that will open the tournament.
|Date||Time (ET)||Game||Matchup||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Thu., Aug. 14||1 p.m.||1||Czech Republic vs. South Korea||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thu., Aug. 14||3 pm.||2||Illinois vs. Washington||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thu., Aug. 14||5 p.m.||3||Australia vs. Puerto Rico||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Thu., Aug. 14||7 p.m.||4||Nevada vs. South Dakota||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||1 p.m.||5||British Columbia vs. Mexico||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||3 p.m.||6||Pennsylvania vs. Tennessee||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||5 p.m.||7||Venezuela vs. Japan||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Fri., Aug. 15||8 p.m.||8||Texas vs. Rhode Island||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||12 p.m.||9||Game 1 Loser vs. Game 3 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||2 p.m.||10||Game 2 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||5 p.m.||11||Game 5 Loser vs. Game 7 Loser||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 16||7 p.m.||12||Game 6 Loser vs. Game 8 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||12 p.m.||13||Game 1 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||2 p.m.||14||Game 2 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||5 p.m.||15||Game 5 Winner vs. Game 7 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 17||7 p.m.||16||Game 6 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Mon., Aug. 18||11 a.m.||17||Game 9 Loser vs. Game 10 Loser||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Mon., Aug. 18||1 p.m.||18||Game 15 Loser vs. Game 9 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Mon., Aug. 18||3 p.m.||19||Game 16 Loser vs. Game 10 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Mon., Aug. 18||6 p.m.||20||Game 13 Loser vs. Game 11 Winner||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Mon., Aug. 18||8 p.m.||21||Game 14 Loser vs. Game 12 Winner||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Tues., Aug. 19||12 p.m.||22||Game 11 Loser vs. Game 12 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Tues., Aug. 19||3 p.m.||23||Game 17 Winner vs. Game 19 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Tues., Aug. 19||7:30 p.m.||24||Game 18 Winner vs. Game 20 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Weds., Aug. 20||3 p.m.||25||Game 13 Winner vs. Game 15 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Weds., Aug. 20||7:30 p.m.||26||Game 14 Winner vs. Game 16 Winner||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thurs., Aug. 21||3 p.m.||27||Game 21 Winner vs. Game 23 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thurs., Aug. 21||7:30 p.m.||28||Game 22 Winner vs. Game 24 Loser||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 23||12:30 p.m.||29||International Championship||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Sat., Aug. 23||3:30 p.m.||30||U.S. Championship||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 24||10 a.m.||31||3rd-Place Game||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Sun., Aug. 24||3 p.m.||32||World Series Championship||ABC||WatchESPN|
|Team 1||Score Prediction||Team 2|
|Czech Republic||2-4||South Korea|
A year ago, the All-Stars from Jackie Robinson West in Chicago were this close to advancing to the Little League World Series, finishing one game short of making the trip to Williamsport.
This year it looked as though the journey east would be prevented again, as they found themselves down 5-0 after two innings in this year's regional final.
But this time they were able to fight past the adversity, rallying to win. Now, a team from Lynnwood, Washington, awaits them.
Jackie Robinson West is not to be taken lightly. They won all of their regional games, and according to the Chicago Tribune, outscored opponents 61-19. They're a dangerous side.
Of course, their opponents, Pacific, are no slouches. After they advanced to the LLWS, manager Robley Corsi talked about what the achievement meant, via Landon Negri of The Seattle Times:
I don’t think these guys realize what they’ve done or what everyone back home is doing and saying and how excited they are. It’s huge. This hasn’t been done in 22 years in our area. This is a big moment, not only for us but for Pacific Little League, and also for Edmonds, Lynnwood and Lynndale Park.
It should be a heck of a contest.
Mountain Ridge Little League out of Nevada, meanwhile, should be quite the team to deal with. As Ray Brewer of the Las Vegas Sun wrote, the team was not only dominant but also made history in the regionals:
Mountain Ridge, a team of players ages 11-13, won all six of its regional games. It only trailed once. They’ll begin play Thursday at the World Series, which is televised by the ESPN family of networks.
The World Series has been played every August since the late 1940s. And, for the first time, a Nevada team will take part in the youth baseball’s most grand event.
In this particular case, what happens in Las Vegas travels to Williamsport.
And then there's the representatives from Australia, the first team to arrive in Williamsport and the one that traveled 35 hours by air to attend the annual tournament. Their reward for making the trip is a matchup against Humacao, the team from Puerto Rico that came out of the tough Caribbean region.
Thankfully for the Australian team, they'll have had about five days to adjust to the 12-hour time difference.
And finally, in the day's first game, the team from the Czech Republic will face the South Korean representatives. It is just the third time a team from South Korea has reached the event, and the first time in the past six years that the winner of the Asia-Pacific Region didn't hail from Chinese Taipei.
Escaping from one of the toughest regions in the world is no small task, so the Seoul team will be tough to beat. Of course, for the second year in a row, a team hailing from Brno in the Czech Republic will be represented, so the opening matchup of the 2014 LLWS should be quite a dandy.