This week’s “Tripple Overtime” column title translates loosely to “Only the one who does not fear the dragon’s breathe will walk the trail of fire,” or something else like that that you’re probably very likely hear Matt Damon say in “The Great Wall” whenever it’s, for whatever reason, supposed to premiere and whenever he, for whatever reason, is supposed to star in it.
What Matt Damon is not starring in, however, is the Little League World Series in Roxana, which I have spent the better part of the last 72 hours covering out at the Pyle Center.
Teams from all over the world have made their way through airport terminals and low iPhone battery percentages and, eventually, endless cornfields, to “the House that Bruce Built,” in order to soak up some Sussex County and go for a world title.
One of those teams is actually from the Great Wall-area — who, if I spoke Chinese, I would ask if they were going to see Damon in the movie when it premieres or no.
By the way, what this title actually translates to, according to Google Translate, is “The best things about the Little League World Series so far,” which you’re probably very likely hear me talk about if you keep reading this week’s “Tripple Overtime,” which, for whatever reason, I star in whenever it hits newsstands (Thursdays), and which goes like this:
The press box
The pyramids of Giza. The Great Wall of China. The press box at Bruce Layton Field.
As far as I’m concerned, those are the wonders of the world. After missing out on last year’s World Series with a broken collarbone (I was placed on the DL), I also missed out on one of my favorite places to be during one of my favorite times to be there.
On the surface, there’s not anything too special about the press box. It’s more or less an empty wooden rectangle with one of those fold-up tables and a couple of those fold-up chairs.
But what’s so great about it is, when the sun starts to go and gets all Jackson Pollock-y color-wise and you’re sitting up there watching some of the greatest teams from around the world and America’s greatest pastime; there’s definitely something romantic about drifting out to the cornfields while the sky fades away, and every once in a while a bat goes “crack” and brings you back down to the field.
Plus, there was a motorized fan up there this year, so…
The concession stand
What I forgot to mention about the press box is that it’s only, like, 20 or so yards away from the concession stand. Like, if the press box is homeplate, then the concession stand is first base… or third base… or the pitcher’s mound (whichever one, really — it’s not some kind of metaphor or anything — I’m just trying to paint a non-Jackson Pollock-y picture here).
The first day, I probably dropped a good 30 bucks on nachos and hotdogs alone, all under the justification that not eating any vegetables for three days is OK because (A) I was at a ball game and (B) The proceeds go back to the ballpark.
I didn’t count the dog total, but by the end of it, it’s safe to assume that it was at least on the brink of hitting Kobayashi-type numbers.
Always the best part about being a journalist is getting to know people and their stories, with the actual writing being the part most difficult, and fact-checking being the part most lame.
But that’s also the best part of the Little League World Series, where you get to talk to coaches and players from around the country and the world, hear about how they got here, what they think of Delaware and whether they’ll be going to see that new Matt Damon movie or no.
The coolest story I heard all week was about how two teams got to know each other one rainy Sussex County afternoon while waiting for the fields to dry, which U.S. East manager John Kutz was kind enough to share in an anecdote that explains it all better than I ever could:
“We came over on the bus with them. It was kind of quiet and somber at first,” Kutz recalled of when his squad from Saegerstown, Pa., first met the team from the Philippines.
“It was neat, because our girls, being more in the U.S. at home, opened up to the other young ladies, and they got to singing songs. We controlled most of it with our songs, but then they started joining in and started voicing some of their songs from their country. It was almost like a party with relatives you haven’t seen for a long time and then you finally get close to them.”
That’s just one story, but it kind of sums up what this whole thing is all about, and why everyone puts so much work into it year in and year out to make it all possible.
While not everyone speaks the same language, it’s a pretty neat thing, I think, that for one week out of the year, somewhere along the cornfields in Roxana, amongst the World Wonder press boxes and the Jackson Pollock skies, in the House that Bruce Built, for that one week, everyone speaks softball.