Robert Perea and Jim Vallet, the Fernley Reporter
For the past two seasons, Jim and I have subjected ourselves to the risk of ridicule and embarrassment just for the self-indulgent exercise of trying to pick a few winners in college football (where I focus mostly) and the NFL, where Jim pays his considerable attention while he’s most often trying to dull the pain of the latest Detroit Lions’ loss.
The picks are our genuine efforts to get on the right side, and are usually accompanied by some of Jim’s wry observations of the sports world.
With only college games on the schedule this week, Jim will join the fray for the opening of the NFL season next week. But, he spent quite a bit of time absorbing the Little League World Series the past couple of weeks, and being a former middle school teacher, he was happy to see middle school-aged kids taking center stage.
Lines as of Thursday night from Reno Peppermill. (I hope it wasn’t an omen that William Hill’s mobile app was experiencing technical difficulties as I was trying to place my wagers.)
Louisville (-4 ½) at Syracuse: Louisville QB has been a running and throwing dynamo for the past couple of seasons, and word is he’s improved since last year, when he was very good. Syracuse QB Garrett Schrader doesn’t throw very often, or very well when he does try, which is why he didn’t stick at Mississippi St. This is head coach Scott Satterfield’s fourth year at Louisville, and if he’s going to come close to accomplishing what he did at Appalachian St., he needs a handy win in the opener to get the season started right.
Florida Atlantic (-4 ½) at Ohio: Hype has followed everywhere Willie Taggert has gone, mainly because he brings in highly rated recruiting classes. But wins and losses have never lived up to the hype. But his Florida Atlantic team looked very good offensively in their Week 0 opener last week, and Ohio head coach Tim Albin had a rough debut season at 3-9 last year. The better, more athletic team with a game under their belt has a definite advantage here.
East Carolina (+ 11 ½) over North Carolina St.: NC State beat Clemson last year, has a highly regarded quarterback returning, and is a popular pick to be in the ACC championship game. East Carolina was one of the most improved teams in the country last year and they have one of the most raucous home crowds in the country, that will be in a frenzy for a shot at one of the in-state big boys. Senior QB Holton Ahlers is the kind of steady veteran leader an underdog team needs, and he has excellent weapons at wide receiver and running back.
Houston (-4) at Texas-San Antonio: I don’t think UTSA’s 10-2 record last year was a one-hit wonder, but it is likely to be a loftier height than they can climb back to for an encore. Houston is the most likely team to rise to the top of the American Athletic Conference if Cincinnati shows any drop off, and has an explosive offense that I don’t believe UTSA can match.
In Willaimsport, You’re Not “Too” Anything
It’s an answer 12-year olds are very familiar with: “You’re too young.”
There are dozens of questions that elicit that answer like, “Can I go to the boy-girl party?” “Can I stay up late tonight?” “Can I drive over to my friend’s house?” ‘Can I have a sip of your beer?” “Can I go to the high school dance?” And on and on.
Unfairly, when you’re 12, there are also several actions that get the opposite response, “You’re too old for that”. Like when you cry when you get cut from the team. Or when you forget your homework. Or when you want to sit on your mom’s lap. Or when you giggle uncontrollably during class.
Then, there’s situations where you just can’t win, like when you have to pay adult prices at the movies, but can’t get into adult movies.
When you’re 12, it seems you are always too young, too old, too goofy, too gross, too loud. They even invented a new school – middle school – to stick you because they can’t think where you really belong.
Unless you’re a baseball player at the 11-12 year old Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. A lot of people don’t know this, but Little League has international world series tournaments for boys and girls in the 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 as well as the 11-12 year old tournament in Williamsport. For once, the other tournaments do not overshadow the 11-12 year olds; in fact, all of them take a back seat. You may see the championship game in some of these tournaments on TV, but you will not see the 8-hour per day marathon coverage given to the 11 and 12-year olds. It is called the Little League World Series, but it’s really only one of six international world series tournaments Little League puts on every year. So why give the lion’s share of attention to the age group that clearly gets gypped in every other facet of life?
It’s because of the kids. Oh, these kids are good, even great baseball players, there’s no doubt about that. Do not saunter over to your local field and expect to see the caliber of play routinely displayed during this tournament, because you’ll be sorely disappointed. But, instead of baseball, ESPN/ABC has wisely chosen to highlight the very traits many people find disgusting about 12-year olds. Stuffing as many pieces of gum in your mouth as you can. Burping. Farting. Making funny faces. Celebrating like the pros. Crying. Pouting. Blaming others. Brutal honesty without any filter. Sometimes being totally illogical. Sportsmanship. The constantly changing highs and lows that we all remember as being a part of being 12, and how these players react while trying to play a very difficult game. That’s why I, and lots of other people, chose to watch the Little League World Series instead of a Major League game on another channel.
So, if I can give some unsolicited advice to Williamsport players and parents, it’s enjoy this. Little League treats players like royalty. The kids get to stay in dormitories with kids from 19 other teams from all over the world. You get great food. All you do is play baseball and mess around, and you get to do it on national TV! The parents get into the games for free!
I say enjoy it because next week, you’ll be ordinary 12-year olds again. Burping and farting will be discouraged, if not punished. Stuffing as much gum in your mouth as you can will not be cool. Making funny faces usually will not be considered funny.
You’ll have to go back to a “middle” school because educators still won’t know what to do with you. Even though you were on national TV, you still will be too young to go to mixed parties or take the family car out for a spin. And, you’ll still be reminded to “act your age” when you want to do just that.
No, life is generally not fair for a 12-year old. But if you’re lucky and good enough to get there, being a 12-year old in Williamsport, PA is two weeks of 12-year old heaven.