The Little League World Series has been around since 1947, when the Williamsport, Pa,. team captured the first title. Back then, it was just an American tournament, but it has since integrated teams from all around the world to create a diverse, exciting month of baseball.
The tournament shares its name with the Major League championship, the World Series. Apart from the fact that they're both baseball competitions, the two series are very different.
One's played by 12-year olds, the other by grown men. One's dominated by the Yankees, the other's not.
You get the picture; and the picture shows why the Little League classic ultimately trumps the "World" Series.
Major League Baseball receives lots of grief from sports fans around the world because its championship only involves American teams.
It's true that these teams have some players from more countries than just the United States, but lately the World Baseball Classic has been telling us that maybe there are some good baseball teams elsewhere. Like Japan. The team fielded by Japan has won the past two tournaments.
It's also true that many major-leaguers return to play for their native countries in the tournament, but come on America. We have Kevin Youkilis, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson and the list goes on.
The only guys we gave back to Japan were Ichiro, Akinori Iwamura, Kosuke Fukudome and Kenji Johjima. I'd pick the first group over the second in any game.
You may say that some of the best American players choose not to participate in the classic, but that just reflects poorly on American baseball.
The LLWS truly does encompass as much of the worldly baseball talent as possible. Some of the biggest winners have been Taiwan, China, Japan, Venezuela and America.
It's much more fun to watch national teams battle it out in the International Final than it is to watch two of the same 30 teams go at it year after year.
For the same reason many Americans prefer NCAA Football over the NFL, the LLWS is more fun than the World Series.
Most players in the LLWS are between 11 and 13, so there aren't any physical disparities that could favor one team. There are players in the majors ranging in age from their teens to their 40s.
Some may argue that even though the age range is large, differences in physical abilities are minimal. That may be true, but there are also huge differences in experience.
It's easy enough for most teams to balance out trusty veterans and promising rookies, but that discrepancy creates uneven matchups too frequently.
The longest any Little Leaguer has been playing is five or six years, and most of the kids in the LLWS are probably in that category, so each player has a fair shot.
You won't hear any booing from the fans at a Little League World Series game, just chants of encouragement and frequent eruptions of excitement.
Most of the fans at LLWS games are in some way connected to individual players on each team, so they are supportive, not rowdy.
Imagine a Yankees vs. Red Sox game with just Derek Jeter's, Jacoby Ellsbury's and the rest of the players' parents in the stands. There wouldn't be any fights or distracting jeers at the players.
That's what fans have become at MLB games—a distraction. Sure, it's nice to have some team spirit, but not to a point where it interferes with the play.
Steroids, corked bats, pine tar, stealing signs. These are all methods of cheating that have marred the image of Major League Baseball. Players and coaches are so eager to gain a competitive edge over their opponents that they'll go to such extremes.
The LLWS is still competitive, but in a healthy way. Teammates urge each other and opponents on by simply stepping up the level of play.
There are plenty of super-intense coaches who are maybe a little bit too into it, but some people love their baseball. Usually, these coaches display integrity and respect the other team, setting a good example for the players.
The players in the LLWS are known for good sportsmanship, often joining together in acts of camaraderie like the one pictured above.
According to CBS Sports, the average salary for a major league baseball player in 2011 is $3.3 million. The average salary for a Little League baseball player in 2011 is $0.
A major league baseball player will usually play for whichever team offers him the biggest contract. A Little League baseball player will always play for his hometown.
A major league baseball player will hire an agent who will try to extract as much money as possible out of a team before the player signs. A little league baseball player will go down to the community center to sign up in hopes of a fun season with his friends.
It is an occupation for the major leaguers, so money should be considered, but is the extra million a year really worth abandoning a franchise and fan base?
In the end, both events are exciting to watch, but there's just a little more passion and love of the game in the Little League World Series, and it shines through every game.