THE SEC REPORT

The SEC Report:  A&M wins close, Alabama loses Tua and Florida pulls out a win

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

LAST WEEKEND

Wow, last weekend was crazy right? Texas A&M was only up three coming into the fourth, Missouri and Vandy were tied into the fourth, and South Carolina led against Florida at the top of the fourth; it was a tense weekend. A&M pulled it out obviously to get their season over .500, Vanderbilt went on to win, as did Florida in a really good fourth quarter. Georgia finally got all that bad football out of their system and after being shut out in the first half, scored 21 points in the second half against Kentucky. Here's the real news though, Tua Tagovailoa had a high ankle sprain on the opposite ankle as last year and is now going to miss time to let the ankle heal from surgery. Last year he missed zero games but there was 20 plus days off between his injury in the SEC championship and the first round of the playoffs, it's difficult to gauge how many games he'll miss this time in the middle of a season that now faces actual adversity for Saban's seemingly automatically in the playoffs, usually undefeated, Alabama.

THREE STARS OF LAST WEEKEND

Joe Burrow, Quarterback of LSU, I'm sure by now you know but he was a massive underdog to win the Heisman before the start of the season and is now currently the front runner. That's because he had another great game - 327 yards and another four touchdowns through the air. He's been incredible this season.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, running back of Vanderbilt, had two of Vandy's three touchdowns, one rushing along with 96 yards and one receiving with 80 yards on 4 catches. Vaughn is the engine that drove Vanderbilt to victory this week.

Kyle Trask, Quarterback of Florida who was efficient with only 200 yards but 4 touchdowns to pull out the come behind win over South Carolina who was stalking another upset.

THIS WEEKEND

My how things have changed in just one week. Last week Missouri was protecting first place in their division and Florida and Georgia were both reeling, now unranked Missouri is going to Kentucky to try and save their season while both the Gators and Bulldogs are ahead of them and off. All the eyes of the SEC and College Football will be on Arkansas at Alabama, to see how Saban's team handles this very real crisis of Quarterback. Also No. 9 Auburn travels to No. 2 LSU, if LSU wins big again and Alabama wins close against an inferior team, does LSU leapfrog them?

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Joe Burrow, quarterback of LSU, for the reasons above. If they have a big game and Burrows continues his Heisman worthy campaign then maybe Alabama falls to No. 2 in both the national rankings and in their own conference.

Mac Jones, quarterback of Alabma, this almost feels unfair but it's such an important game for this kid. Alabama needs him to step up and play, as he is likely to be the guy starting against LSU on Nov. 9, a scant 19 days away.

Bo Nix, Quarterback of Auburn, this is the big showdown this weekend and he needs to recapture some of that early season magic. Auburn is back in the Top Ten and nothing is out of reach now with Tua's injury and LSU on the schedule for Auburn this week and then Alabama playing LSU next week. Winning here and LSU then beating a weakened Alabama makes Auburn and in turn Nix, look amazing.

Feel free to check out my brand new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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Mattress Mack and the Astros host Pearland Little League at Wednesday night's game. Photo by LittleLeague.org

Sure, it’s impressive that the Astros have made four World Series appearances in recent years, but they’re not alone. There’s another baseball team around here that’s also headed to its fourth World Series since 2010.

Pearland defeated Oklahoma, 9-4, on Tuesday to win the Southwest Regional and qualify for the Little League World Series starting Aug. 17 in South Williamsport, PA.

Most fans and media say the Little League World Series is held in Williamsport, but it’s South Williamsport, just a 5-minute stroll across a bridge over the Susquehanna River in north central Pennsylvania.

Pearland is on a torrid 13-game winning streak that swept through district, sectional, state and regional tournaments to earn the Little League World Series bid.

Here’s how difficult the road to the Little League World Series is. There are 15 teams in MLB’s American League. If the Astros finish with one of the two best records, they’ll have to win two playoff series to play in the World Series.

Little League is a little bigger than MLB. Little League is the largest youth sports organization in the world, with 2.5 million kids playing for 180,000 teams in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Pearland, representing East Texas, had to defeat All-Star teams from West Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arkansas and Colorado to win the Southwest Regional. The Little League World Series will host 20 teams - 10 from the U.S. and 10 from international regions.

If you have children that play Little League, or you’re just a fan, attending the Little League World Series should be high on your baseball bucket list.

I covered the Little League World Series in 2010 when Pearland made its first appearance and made it all the way to the U.S. championship game. It may have been my most fun assignment ever.

The Little League World Series is played by 11 and 12-year-olds in Little League’s major division. When ESPN and ABC air these games, they’ll present the players as innocent little kids, like Beaver and Wally or Tom and Huck. They’ll show the kids playing Simon Says with the Little League mascot called Dugout. They’ll ask the kids who’s their favorite big leaguer.

I was a Little League coach. I followed Little League All-Stars across Texas all the way to South Williamsport. These kids are absolute baseball maniacs with $400 gloves, $500 bats and Oakley sunglasses. I thought the Astros might call and ask where they got their super neat equipment.

Especially in Texas, these kids are built tough with long ball power and play year-round travel baseball with high-priced private coaches. This isn’t a choose-up game in the park where kids play in their school clothes, one kid brings a baseball and the players share bats. I looked at some of the Little Leaguers and wondered if they drove to the stadium.

I half-expected, when ABC asked who their baseball idol was, they’d answer “me!”

Here’s how seriously good these kids can play the game. Justin Verlander throws a 97-mph fastball. That’s pretty fast. It’s not rare anymore for a Little League pitcher to reach 70-mph on a fastball. The Little League mound is 46 feet from home plate. A 70-mph pitch in Little League gets to home plate in the same time as a 91-mph pitch from 60 feet 6 inches in MLB.

In 2015, a pitcher named Alex Edmonson fired an 83-mph heater at the Little League World Series. The reaction time a Little League batter had against Alex’s pitch was equal to a Major Leaguer trying to hit a 108-mph fastball. Good luck with that. Alex pitched a no-hitter and struck out 15 batters in six innings at the Little League World Series. Now 20, Alex is a relief pitcher for Clemson.

The Little League World Series is a trip. The easiest way to get there is to fly into Philadelphia and drive to South Williamsport. I sat next to CC Sebathia’s mother on the plane.

Admission to all Little League World Series games is free and snack bar prices are reasonable. A hot dog is $3. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited.

The first Little League World Series was held in 1947. Only 58 players have played in the Little League World Series and later played in MLB. The most famous are Cody Bellinger and Jason Varitek. Only two players from the Houston area made the leap: Brady Rodgers and Randal Grichuk both played on the 2003 team from Richmond, about 30 miles from Houston in Fort Bend County.

While you’re in South Williamsport, you should visit the Little League museum and Hall of Excellence. Among the inductees: Presidents Joe Biden and George W. Bush, Astros manager Dusty Baker, Kevin Costner, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dick Vitale, Rob Manfred and someone who’d later play stadiums in a different way, Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of Springsteen, I shattered a record at the 2010 Little League World Series. The record was Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. I was talking to a Little League executive while teams were warming up on the field. Born in the U.S.A. came over the stadium loudspeakers.

I told the executive, I’m a big fan but maybe this isn’t the best song you should be playing. The executive asked why not? Well, you might want to listen to the words. Born in the U.S.A. is a depressing song about a U.S. soldier who is sent to Vietnam and can’t find a job when he gets back home. It’s not exactly Yankee Doodle Dandy. You have teams from Asia here (Japan won the tournament that year). The executive said, please tell me you’re kidding. Here’s one verse:

Got in a little hometown jam

So they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

To go and kill the (what is considered a slur for Asians).

Later I got an email from the president of Little League International.

“Quite honestly, I've never listened closely to the words of Born in the USA. I see clearly how it is offensive to our Little League friends from Asian nations. I have directed our folks who coordinate the stadium music to discontinue playing it in the future.”

Play Centerfield by John Fogerty instead. The message of that song is, “put me in coach.” Little League couldn’t say it any better.

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