Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson is into LLWS, Brent Musburger says
Brent Musburger isn't trying to hide his affection for the Billings, Mont., Little League team that will play Ocean View of Huntington Beach in Saturday's Little League World Series U.S. division championship game.
Musburger grew up in Billings and his father founded the Little League program there.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this to be happening," Musburger said Friday. Musburger is on the ESPN/ABC broadcast team that will call Saturday's U.S. title game and the International division championship game between Mexico and Japan, as well as Sunday's championship.
Musburger said the entire state of Montana is buzzing about the state's first representative in the LLWS. He said his brother, Todd, even got a text message from former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who has a home in Montana. "He texted my brother during the game when Montana beat Ocean View," Musburger said.
Musburger said his father coached the first Montana team that won a state championship. "They went to Richland, Washington, for the regionals," Musburger said, "and lost to a team from Santa Monica. That was the first of 21 times that Montana was knocked out of regional play."
When he's on television Saturday, he said, "I'm not going to hide from the fact I'm from Billings. I'm amazed at what's happening but I don't have a stake in the outcome. Whatever happens happens and now it's just frosting on the cake.
"I think California should be favored. They're going to come back with that pitcher [Nick] Pratto who dominated Montana until he left the game. The Montana team goes about its business and if you make a mistake, Montana takes advantage. I think California will press hard and try to score early because as long as you let an underdog stay close, in any sport, the better off it is for the underdog."
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Fans cheer for the Billings, Mont., Little League team during a 1-0 victory over Ocean View of Huntington Beach on Thursday. Credit: Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press