Welcome Little League to the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)! I really do love watching sports and it is one of the things that I miss the most here. Well, maybe the better way to put it is.. after watching live sports again, I realize how much I miss watching sports.
This regional tournament is being held to decide which teams move forward in the Little League, advancing towards the World Series. I have always know that Taiwan’s Little League is a force to be reckoned with, but apparently so is CNMI’s! (well, at least CNMI does well in this Asian Pacific and Middle-East tournament). Just like when the Olympics come around, my ethnic and cultural background swells with a little bit of pride. Actually, I have a great granduncle who represented Taiwan in the Olympics before and won a bronze medal in a track event. (No, I did not get his genes!)
The Little League is divided into actually three age segments — I had no idea! Apparently I have not watched enough Little League. I guess I expected 13 year olds — which are the kids who make up the Junior Little League. The Senior Little League is for 15-16 year olds and the Big Little League group is for the 17-18 year olds. (I think) So, there are plenty of games going on during this tournament, and lots of opportunities for me to cheer on the Taiwan and CNMI team.
The team representing CNMI beat out the local competition including competition from Tinian. I’m sure the team representing Taiwan is the same — or maybe hand picked from various parts of Taiwan. I hope to get to know a little more about them as the week pushes on. The tournament lasts from June 26th thru July 4th. I’m sure other tournaments (which have in the past taken place in the Philippines, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc) have been MUCH better attended and quite rowdier than the games here. Here, we play on one of the few formal baseball fields we have on island and reportedly the ‘infield’ has been quite a difficult one! I’m just guessing that we have difficulty keeping it up to par.
I got some friends together and headed out on Saturday for an afternoon in the stands and to me, it felt like summer had arrived. The crack of the bat just was so nice to hear.
The first teams I watched were Chinese Taipei (what Taiwan’s team is known as in international competitions) versus Hong Kong. This junior little league game was a blow out. The final score was 23-3 I think and there’s a ‘mercy’ rule so they ended it after the 5th inning since Chinese Taipei was up more than 10 points.
The next game was Philippines versus Hong Kong in the big little league division. This game was a little more of an even match up but Philippines still pulled ahead early and kept their lead until the end. There are many Filipino nationals here in Saipan (they make up most of the local Asian population of Saipan) so it really did feel like the Philippines had a home team on their side.
Here’s one of the Chinese Taipei Big little league players coming into the stands to watch their junior little league colleagues.
The backs of the Big little league Taiwan team. As you can see, we don’t have rows and rows of stands. And.. they are mostly filled with other teammates, family members of the players, and some locals like me!
Here’s the Taiwan team at the end of the game shaking hands with the Hong Kong team and bowing to the field, the umps, and the crowd.
(It gets dark here quickly, it wasn’t actually that much later) but here you see the Philippines team up at bat with the Hong Kong team on the field.
So, more baseball to come in my near future. I’ve got my baseball cap cleaned and .. now just to find something that has a Taiwan flag on it!
In other news, some extra shots from my morning run because it was just too beautiful!