SHOOTIN' THE BREEZE - It was another exciting, fun summer locally

SHOOTIN' THE BREEZE - It was another exciting, fun summer locally

It never gets old.

Watching local boys and girls growing up, honing their sport talents and competing at the highest levels never gets tiring to me.

Although those of us involved in youth sports generally have an idea about what teams could be successful when all-star tournaments begin, we never really know. There are just too many variables.

This summer, it was a group of young girls from Cumberland and a group of boys from Lincoln who provided the bulk of the thrills.

The Cumberland Little League Majors softball team not only won the District IV and state championships, but proved themselves in Bristol, Conn., by beating the only undefeated New England team and claiming the New England championship. They were defeated by a Mid Atlantic representative, eliminating them from the tournament.

And the Lincoln Little League Majors all-star team won the District IV and Rhode Island state championships and advanced to the New England title game against Connecticut before losing a heartbreaking 1-0 contest on Saturday night in one of the best games you could ever hope to see on any level.

They were one good timely swing of the bat away from realizing the dream of earning a trip to the Little League World Series, which began this week.

We pulled out the maps and developed a route to take to Williamsport, Pa., just in case. We had already been to the World Series three times, twice with Lincoln teams and once with a Cumberland team two years ago.

If you're a baseball fan, Williamsport is everything that you've heard about. There's two gorgeous stadiums where eight teams from the United States and eight teams from other countries around the world play all of their games.

There's ample free parking, delicious and reasonably priced food, displays, a pin trading tent, media center, and a baseball atmosphere that can't be replicated anywhere else.

One of the beauties of the community is that the entire event is staffed by volunteers. It's become a tradition for folks in Pennsylvania to step up and showcase their small community, and they're as friendly and helpful as they can be.

Like a lot of people in Lincoln, I wish we were going back, but this time it just wasn't meant to be.

Congratulations to all of the boys and girls who built a lifetime of memories during this exciting summer.

Thanks to all the league officials, coaches and managers who put in countless hours to benefit children, and thanks, too, to the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and friends who supported the teams, and did it in a respectful, classy manner.

Here 'N There

* If their exhibition opener is any indication, it looks as though the New England Patriots offense will be in high gear once again.

There was concern that with the loss of several key receivers, most notably Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, that the Patriots air attack would dwindle.

Guess not as long as Tom Brady is calling signals. Even at age 37, he is one of the best quarterbacks in all of football, and keeps proving it.

Now if coach Bill Belichick can come up with a good defense, it will be an interesting season.

* It's that time of year again when transitioning will take place between baseball/softball and football, soccer and other sports.

All of the state's high school teams will be getting out for their first practice sessions on Monday, Aug. 19, in accordance to Rhode Island Interscholastic League rules.

Of course, there have been some captains "gatherings" in advance of that, but coaches were prohibited from attending. Nothing wrong with a group of friends getting together to toss a football around, is there?

* Wonder how long it will be before the Boston Red Sox call up phenom Xander Bogaerts. At 20, he is the youngest player in the International League while playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

He is still growing into his body, with a lean 185 pounds covering a 6-foot, 3-inch frame, and he already has plenty of pop in that bat.

He's hitting over .280 for Pawtucket, quite a bit better than any third baseman the Red Sox have used this season. Something tells me once he gets to the big club, he'll be there for a long time.

* Why is it that John Lackey always pitches just well enough to lose? He's got one of the team's best earned run averages, but seems snake bitten when it comes to recording "W's."