Seven reasons to watch the 2014 Caribbean Little League Region Tournament

by: Buster Laing

For the most part, the Caribbean baseball fans donâ t pay attention to Little League Baseball until July. That is when the Caribbean Little League Regional Tournament begins. It starts with 12 teams, but only one will reach the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania; the one time every year that the world comes to Pennsylvania for some serious competition.

This year the Caribbean baseball world will descend on the Emera Caribbean Baseball Park in the beautiful Grand Bahama Island July 18-27, 2014 for the Caribbean Little League Regional Tournament (11-13 year olds).

Here are seven reasons you should take some time and watch the CLLRT:

1. New Park

The Emera Caribbean Baseball Park has replaced the old Grand Bahama Baseball Park. It is shiny and looks new with three baseball fields and brand-new scoreboards.

2. Cinderella stories

In basketball, Cinderella teams make runs but donâ t win the tournament. Thatâ s not the case in baseball. In 2004, Willemstad, Curacao was a big underdog to even reach the Little League World Series. Once they got there, they defeated Thousand Oaks, California 5-2 to take the title. Anything can happen in Little League Baseball.

How far will Team Bahamas go in the tournament? They are the heavy crowd favorites, playing in front of the home crowd. The last time they competed in the tournament was in 2006 with Freedom Farm Baseball League.

3. Future stars

Most people donâ t know anything about Major League Baseball stars until they appear on a big league roster. But many great players come from the Caribbean and have participated in this tournament.

You may be watching the dawn of a future Albert Pujols right in front of you get those cameras ready.

4. Curacao: Boys of Summer

It's no secret that the Caribbean is home to some of baseball's best talent. Players from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have long dominated in the major leagues, and more recently Curacao and other Dutch Antilles islands like Aruba have started to gain international recognition for their outstanding players.

But, in such a small community (the population of Curacao hovers around 150,000), how and where do players find the means to develop major-league skills? Well, just like in the U.S., Little League. In 2010, the documentary Boys of Summer followed the Curacao team as they prepared to attend the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Curacao, at the time of filming, had won the Caribbean regional championship nine times in a row, cementing their status as the team to beat even within the intensely competitive division.

5. This year, the Caribbean Regional brings the world together

Baseball brings everyone together, regardless of skin color, religion or race and this year, as host, Grand Bahama is going all out. It is projected to be one of the most vibrant, culturally inspired baseball tournaments ever.

6.The energy and the emotion.

Nothing comes close to the emotional experience baseball fans have in each inning. From a home-run to a team losing in the last inning on an error, the range of emotions that a fan experiences is difficult to articulate. Fans feed off each otherâ s energy. You would too.

7. Baseball knows no race or color.

From the players to the managers, the ground staff to the fans, you will see every background, nationality, skin color and religion. It is a fair sport that supports people from diverse backgrounds.

Within a mere month, the Caribbean baseball world will have an opportunity to see humans at their lowest and highest; from the oldest kid to the first year player and from the coaches to the ground staff, we will witness a group of heroes and villains. We will be flooded with alternating doses of excitement and disappointment. We will see greatness emerge from humble beginnings and sheer hard work. We will see stars rise and fall. We will see fans scream and cry out of joy and defeat. We will see the greatest of human kindness and the weakest of human companionship. This is the beauty of the Caribbean Regional Baseball Championships.

With that said, Curacao is a favorite to win this year. Puerto Rico and Aruba could battle it out to come in a close second and third.

Little League(r) Baseball and Softball is the worldâ s largest organized youth sports program, with 2.4 million players and one million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and more than 80 other countries. In 2014, Little League is celebrating its 75th Anniversary of developing major league people.

Published  Tuesday, July 15, 2014 

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