There they go again, sort of.
Another Little League baseball team from the area is on the verge of qualifying for the Little League World Series.
(I realize there will be a few superstitious sports fans who will cringe at my public declaration, worried I may jinx the team. There are others who would say I’m getting ahead of myself given the final qualifying tournament hasn’t even started as of press time. Let’s hope I’m not the bringer of bad luck.)
The Sweetwater Valley League team this weekend starts play in the West Region tournament, the games before The Games.
If the team from Bonita manages to win the week’s worth of games they will be whisked away to play in the international tournament.
The last time a team from South County made it to the Little League World Series was five years ago. That team, also from Sweetwater Valley Little League, did not fare as well as their predecessors from Eastlake who in 2013 won the national title but lost the international title to a team from Japan.
The Eastlake team was preceded in 2009 by a team from Park View Little League. That year the team did win both national and international titles and so far has been the only team from Chula Vista or National City to win it all.
No doubt it’s a long road from Little League opening day to the Little League World Series and the final step is playing in the regional round of games that determines who will represent the West in the kid’s version of an international championship.
So this week the team from Bonita, their parents, friends and supporters will check in periodically (most of the games from San Bernardino will be streamed over the internet, though a couple will be broadcast on TV). If — and as of now that is a Green Monster-sized if — the Sweetwater Valley players win it all and move on to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for the series, they will find their base of supporters grows exponentially as fans from around San Diego County rally around the boys from Bonita.
Their parents will scramble to find money in the household budget to afford an unplanned family trip back East and juggle work schedules to arrange for time off to attend the once- in-a-lifetime experience.
Media will ask for interviews from friends, classmates, teachers, coaches and previous World Series attendees. And the Sweetwater Little League team will, at a young age, experience something that only a select few have gone through.
And if the boys don’t win it’s not the end of the world. The boys and we will carry on with our lives. But in the meantime the anticipation builds and the hope grows. It’s a good summertime feeling to have year after year, series or no series.