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Why We Need Little League

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LITTLE LEAGUE
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I'm from Philadelphia, yo.

My Philly town, known for soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. The Mummers Parade on New Year's Day, the lights of Boathouse Row. Rocky and the Art Museum steps. Grace Kelly. A town that has a love-hate relationship with its sports teams, depending on how they are doing. Lately, it's been mostly hate.

But when a Philly kid shines and the world takes notice, the hearts of Philadelphians swell with pride.

And when this kid is a 13-year-old girl pitching her way into the history books in a field of dreams, we are euphoric.

She is one of ours.

Such is life this week in Philadelphia.

I'm talking, of course, about the wunderkind Mo'ne Davis, starting pitcher for Philadelphia's Taney Dragons, a contender in the Little League World Series taking place right now in Williamsport, Pa. Already gracing this week's Sports Illustrated cover, Mo'ne has secured her place in history, no matter what the outcome of the series. Her pitching prowess is the talk of the sports world.

But it's not just her talent that has everyone abuzz. It's also her demeanor, her cool, focused groundedness under a torrential amount of pressure. How she retains this composure in the spotlight of international scrutiny is beyond comprehension.

She is humble, too. She tries to shift the attention to her team mates. It's not all about me, she insists over and over. For us Philadelphians watching at home, it's been an exciting week. When was the last time we arranged our schedules to be around to watch a baseball game, let alone a Little League game? Oh right -- back in 2008, when the Phillies won the World Series. Which seems a lot longer ago than six years.

Mo'ne and the Taney Dragons have been awesome to watch, and with the story now trending worldwide, it feels good to be talking about something positive and wholesome. It's a story with a happy ending, no matter what the ending is, about a terrific group of kids and a girl with the 70 mph fastball.

In this bleak and violent summer, this couldn't have come at a better time.

The unrest and violence in our streets and around the world, the increasing threat of terrorism, the Israel-Gaza uprising, Michael Brown and James Foley... the bad news is endless. Our feeling of helplessness grows as the problems escalate. And then there is Little League.

Is Little League baseball the answer to life's problems? Of course not. But especially now, when we're badly in need of a reminder that life is good, it's a welcome diversion.

Little League is an example of what is best about America. If you've got talent and work hard, the sky is the limit. A bunch of Philly kids got together to play a game they love and ended up going to the World Series.

Tonight the Taney Dragons play a tough Chicago team, and it's an elimination game. We Philadelphians will be cheering on our team.

No matter what happens, Taney Dragons, you are winners.

And if there's a ticker tape parade down Broad Street, I'll be there.

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