Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn.
We all know the feeling.
“It should be me.”
Your boss picked the wrong employee to promote, your love interest picked the wrong person or your coach picked the wrong pitcher to throw the ninth inning. Envy runs rampant in sports, like it does everywhere.
It is even present in Little League Baseball. At the 2019 Little League Baseball Florida Intermediate (ages 11-13) and Senior (13-16) All-Stars tournaments, held July 5-7 at the Braden River Little League fields, Jacob Brooks was trying his best not to embrace envy.
Brooks, 12, played first base for Braden River’s intermediate team. That team was Braden River’s last team in contention, and beat Manatee West’s intermediate team 6-2 on June 25 to win the District 26 title. Unfortunately, Braden River would lose 16-6 to Haines City Little League on June 29. The team’s run ended before it could play in front of its hometown fans.
Still, Brooks was at the state tournament on July 6, watching the team that eliminated Braden River attempt to advance with his father, Darrell Brooks, who was a Braden River assistant coach. Jacob Brooks said it was hard to watch Haines City without thinking about what could have been. Well, he laughed, looked at the field, then looked to the ground before answering. The loss clearly still stung.
So why even come? It was scorching hot, a great day to hit the water or anywhere not covered in dirt.
Brooks’ answer was simple. He lived close by, he said, and it was a chance to see the best players in the state go head-to-head, and maybe pick up a few tips to remember for next summer.
“Communication,” Brooks said. “They (state tournament teams) are really good at talking to each other on the field. That’s a big thing.”
Brooks said his intermediate team had many players on the young end of the spectrum. Next season, with a year of experience playing together, Braden River should develop better chemistry and be ready to advance to the state tournament. Watching the tournament also helped him understand what a big deal the pitch count rules can be. Each team needs multiple pitchers they can trust, not just one or two people, he said.
The tournament, by the way, was run to perfection. League president Ken Machol personally made sure the fields were dry despite some July 5 rainstorms, parking was a breeze and the hot dogs, from local vendor K-Dog Barbecue, were tastily charred without being burnt. It all made for a great weekend of baseball. Congrats to everyone on throwing a great event.
Along with the tips came a helping of revenge. Brooks said he was rooting against Haines City, while Darrell Brooks was hoping they would advance. The younger Brooks got what he wanted: Haines City lost 15-8 to Parkland Little League.
It might seem small, but watching the state tournament shows a level of commitment from Brooks that is impressive. With a wound that fresh, I don’t think I would have been able to watch the tournament, if it was me. I would have gotten caught up in “It should be me.”
Brooks has his mind set on “It will be me,” and he’s using his team’s defeat to better his chances in the future.