Jackie Robinson West is the 2014 US Little League Baseball Champions. The team from Morgan Park got revenge on Saturday defeating Las Vegas in a dramatic comeback, and played admirably on Sunday in the Little League Championship Game against South Korea. Eventually the team from South Korea were too much as they erupted in the 6th-inning taking a 8-1 lead that proved to be more than enough. Chicago did score three in the bottom half of the inning, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Chicago will have a parade in the honor of JRW that’ll start on the South Side and end in Millennium Park downtown. The kids from Jackie Robinson West deserve all the credit in the world as they showed a ton of class and respect throughout the tournament. JRW did nothing but shed light as to how great this city of ours is despite the commentators constantly talking about the violent place that they came from. Chicago needs to show these kids the love and support they deserve because they beat a lot of good teams on their way to winning the US Title.
The meaning of this run to a title needs to have more cause and effect then just a parade in these kids’ honor. The city needs to start churning out more baseball prospects than it has. Curtis Granderson and Kirby Puckett are two products from Chicago, but the talent that this city possesses on the basketball courts could easily be transferred to the diamond, and maybe this national showcase could help in that effort.
I’ve been preaching this a lot to the youth of the inner city. In basketball there’s only five people on the court at all times and usually just twelve people on a roster. In baseball there’s nine people on the field and a 25-man roster. The sheer numbers of opportunities to play should create a want to play this game. Understandably a lot of the great players in baseball are hispanic and come from Latin America and the Caribbean, however there are some very good players who are not only American but come from the inner city. A good example is Curtis Granderson, a great example is Andrew McCutchen who’s the reigning NL MVP and is widely considered a top-5 talent in the game.
The inner city youth of Chicago also needs to know that baseball is a non-contact sport that can have longevity much more so than basketball and especially football. Baseball isn’t as glamorous but the league average in baseball is much higher than in football. Clayton Kershaw makes $30 Million a season which is the highest of any athlete in America behind Floyd Mayweather. Baseball also has guaranteed contracts which again is something that’s very important when deciding on what sport to choose to excel at as a child. The city has some of the best athletes in the country in it, and if this run at the Little League World Series can in any way help turn kids on to baseball then the JRW team will have transformed a city, not just given it two weeks of thrills.