POST OAK LITTLE LEAGUE

Ken Hoffman: Post Oak Little League team poised for World Series history

After a convincing tournament in Waco, the Post Oak Little League could soon make history. Photo courtesy of David Rook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

District: done. Sectional: done. State: done. Regional: done. 

That’s four tournaments down for the Post Oak Little League All-Star team, which will represent the Southwest Region in the most prized celebration of youth sports — the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

“We told our players at the start that we had six goals, now there are two goals left: win the U.S. championship and the Little League World Series championship,” says Post Oak manager David Rook.

“On the first day of each tournament, they gave pins to the players. It was an honor, and we were happy to get those pins. But we told the players they were only participation trophies. That’s not what we’re playing for. We’re playing for 19 wins and no losses, and if we do that, we will achieve our ultimate goal, the Little League World Series championship banner. We’ve got 14 wins. Five more wins to go.”

Tournament play has been a long, hot, dusty Texas road for the Post Oak team this summer. But when you play Little League in Houston, the road starts with a chilly weekend in January.

“Tryouts were in January and our season started after Presidents Day in February,” Rook says. “We had a couple of scrimmages and our season was 16 games, plus the league playoffs. Some of our guys played three or four games in the playoffs. We had three weeks of practice, and 14 games so far in the tournament. It’s been a total commitment for our players and their families. Everybody has bought into this. The boys have kept fighting and working their butts off.”

A cyclone in Waco
Post Oak punched its airline ticket to South Williamsport with an 8-0 whitewash over Oklahoma August 8 in Waco. The Regional was a show of force by Post Oak, beating Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma (twice) by a combined 43-5 score.

No wonder Rook and the Post Oak boys will be confident boarding a 7:30 am flight to South Williamsport on August 11. Eight teams from the U.S. and eight international teams will play a double elimination format. Post Oak’s first game is August 16 against the New England Region team. The game will be televised at 6 pm on ESPN2.

Five more wins...

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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