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Updated: August 29, 2010, 11:41 PM ET

Baseball simpler through a child's eyes

Ravech By Karl Ravech
ESPN
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The Little League team from Washington needed only one more out, and its coach, Kai Nahaku, had a decision to make at the Little League World Series. Whom should he bring in to pitch? All the players on the mound said Robbie Wilson. The two outfielders standing beside Wilson in the outfield hid behind him and pointed at Wilson. Wilson stood there hiding his face behind his glove.

Democracy won. The kids won. In came Robbie Wilson, running from center field with a big smile on his face. Of course, he got the ground-ball out to end the game and give Washington a win over Connecticut. But the out wasn't the fun part. Watching a bunch of kids and a coach make a decision, now that was the signature moment of the Little League World Series. It illustrated what separates the game the kids play and the game being played by adults who get paid to play. It was what makes the Little League World Series fun.

[+] EnlargeKahoea Akau
AP Photo/Matt SlocumLittle Leaguers show just how much fun baseball can be.

Seriously, imagine Tony La Russa or Bobby Cox or Ozzie Guillen walking out to the mound and calling in his entire infield and saying "All right boys, who should we bring to get the last out?" But that's what happens at the Little League World Series.

What else do you learn when you look at baseball through the eyes of a bunch of 12-year-olds for a couple weeks, like I did?

• Using replay isn't a complex issue. It's a simple one. These kids looked at me like I had three heads when we talked about replay and I asked about it being used in the majors. They couldn't understand. To them, it was simple -- "Don't you just want to get it right?" And that's true. It's not about showing what a bad call an ump made, it's about getting it right and about making life a little easier on umpires. Cameras give you four different angles; an umpire gets to see one. And sometimes from that one angle it's practically impossible to guarantee the right call was made.

• They'd rather watch Little League baseball than Major League Baseball. To them, the Little League version is fun. It's hard for them to see major leaguers and see them having fun. The professionals look as though they're doing a job. And it wasn't just American kids saying this. It was kids from all over the world. No, don't get them wrong. Ask them if they want to play in the majors, it's pretty unanimous -- of course they do. They just aren't sure if the pros are having fun. When they were asked who their favorite players were, none of them said the stars. In basketball, you'd get a lot of kids saying LeBron or Kobe because they're the best players. With baseball, these kids picked players from their favorite teams. It was about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

• A kid's view of steroids is pretty simple -- "Why would you do that?" That's the beautiful part of seeing things that way; it's so easy. Steroids are cheating and kids wonder why somebody would cheat. They don't see Barry Bonds as the home run king. To them, it's Hank Aaron. Even better was that one kid kept calling them "asteroids" instead of steroids. How great is that?

• Baseball at this stage is a lot about fathers and sons. A lot of the kids in this tournament were coached by their fathers, and even their grandfathers. Sure, they want to play in the majors, but the Little League World Series was a dream, the end of a dream, because now it's time to move on to other things. But this was a special time for them and their families.

Baseball is about to enter crunch time, with wild-card races and division races and September call-ups and the sprint to the finish. But a little break, to watch the Little League World Series, to see the entire sport through a 12-year-old's eyes, really opens your own eyes.

Karl Ravech is a host for "Baseball Tonight."

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