What can I say? I love the Series
Let's be honest. Newspapers, good ones at least, should regularly be home to rational discussion, well-reasoned opinions and balanced news stories.
That said, this column ain't the place for any of those.
Instead, I'll use today's patch of black, white and gray for a good ol' dose of shameless boosterism, flag-waving and - by god if I can make it fit into my day and this column - apple-pie eating.
What am I talking about, you who may not have read the headline to this column might ask? I am talking about my support of, my admiration for and my flat-out fondness directed at the Little League Softball World Series.
The Series, which wrapped up its 13th straight year at Alpenrose yesterday after the Valley Times' press deadline, is exactly what it should be. It is exactly what amateur sports - especially amateur sports for 11 and 12-year-old girls - should be but aren't often enough. And it is truly the highlight of the local summer sports season.
By now, I hope, I've made it perfectly clear that I love going to the World Series. But why, you who have never gone, may ask? Why?
Let me count the ways.
I love the Series because it's free. It's free to park and it's free to go watch, no matter which game you want to see.
That in itself makes it a family-friendly venue that you can take the kids to, and, if they get tired or cranky, you can just take them back home without worrying if you got your money's worth or not.
And for the parents and supporters of teams in the Series, my goodness, they've already sacrificed enough in time, travel cost and equipment expenses. It just wouldn't be right to make them pay to see their own kids play.
I love it because there's great and ample seating for the fans, and because even the worst of those free parking spots is only five minutes walk to either of Alpenrose's two fields.
I love the Series because of the extreme level of care that Alpenrose provides to its tournament facilities, this year going so far as completely re-sodding the stadium field and repainting its gorgeous green outfield wall to boot.
Add to that the professional grounds crews that shape the field to perfection before every game, then do it again between the third and fourth innings - a touch every player in this event will remember for years to come.
I love it because everything about it, despite the whole 'World Series' title attached to it, is so darned friendly and unpretentious.
There's the polite folks that aim you to the best parking spots and direct you back onto Shattuck Road in your way out.
There's the smiling faces in the concession stand selling Americana in the form of hot dogs, ice cream and cotton candy.
And there's even the nice guys who fly in from across the country and around the world to umpire the Series, yet never hesitate to join in the third-inning Chicken Dance or occasional Twist.
Oh yeah. There's one more thing yet to love about Series, too. There's also the absolute top-notch level of play that adds to the Series' not-to-be-missed reputation, a level matched only the consistent quality of sportsmanship on the field.
We've got a jewel right here in our own back yards, folks, and while I'd love to guarantee that the Series will continue indefinitely at Alpenrose, I can't - all the more reason to get out there next year when you can.