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And Another Thing

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At last, some real drama

So now drama fatigue sets in, as we ponder As The Yasiel Puig Turns and All My Lawyers (starring Alex Rodriguez, who never disappoints in his capacity to play the villain), and of course that eternal go-to favorite: What Was (Athlete's Name Here) Thinking?

Cheap thrills for the TMZ-and-Twitter gotcha crowd, and of course ample fodder for Skip 'n' Stephen A. 'n' Them Other Debatin' Fools on ESPN. And all of it builds to a critical mass that makes you want to turn the TV off and never turn it on again, except to make sure Skip 'n' Stephen A. haven't actually progressed from flapping their gums to picking out dueling sabers.

And then ...

And then this happens: A kid bawling his eyes out on a baseball field.

He's the pitcher for Chinese Taipei, and his whole world has just ended out there in Williamsport, Pa. Took a 7-4 lead over Panama into the sixth inning of a Little League World Series elimination game, and walked off a few tortured minutes later an 8-7 loser.

Watching it all unravel for him, you were reminded once again that there is a vast difference between cardboard drama and real drama, and that sport delivers the latter like nothing else. And if I've sounded the alarms over the years about the dangers of giving 12-year-olds the full ESPN monty -- the entitlement and warped sense of reality we see in our spoiled millionaire pros starts somewhere, after all -- I'm also as enthralled by it as anyone.

Want to know how it all ended for the pitcher from Chinese Taipei?

With the score tied and the bags juiced ... with two out and the count 0-2 in the pitcher's favor ... the poor kid did a very kid-like thing: He hit the batter with his next pitch. Which drove in the winning run. Which immediately revealed the pitcher, a poker-faced automaton up until that moment, for what he really was.

To wit: A little boy who'd just had his heart broken.

It was wrenching. And all the more so for the fact that, unlike those Little Leaguers whose birth certificates you want to check to make sure they're not 16, he was a Little Leaguer whose birth certificate you wanted to check to make sure he wasn't, say, 8.

God bless that young man. Because, if nothing else, he made realize all over again why I fell in love with the world of games to begin with.

Ben Smith's blog.

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