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Another Sad Day For Little League Baseball

February 11, 2015
Mountain Ridge Little League - 2014 U.S. Champions

Mountain Ridge Little League – 2014 U.S. Champions

Little League Baseball is a great organization. Young boys and girls go out, play the game, get their uniforms dirty, high-five, fist bump, win games and lose games, but show sportsmanship by acknowledging their opponent after the contest – no matter the result. It’s supposed to be the “age of innocence”.

Leave it to adults to screw it up.

I’m not referring to the moms and dads who take their kids to games and cheer on their child’s team. Nor am I discussing those parents who get over-exuberant when an umpire makes a bad call or get upset if they think their kid isn’t getting enough playing time.

I’m pointing the finger at adults who subscribe to the “win at all costs” attitude when it comes to youth athletics – in particular, Little League Baseball.

On Wednesday, Little League Baseball announced that the Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago, IL has been stripped of their 2014 United States Championship as the team violated the rule that prohibits the use of players from outside the geographic area that the team represents.

The team will, also, vacate victories from the 2014 tourney, including the Great Lakes Regional Tournament. Manager Darold Butler has been suspended from Little League activities. Michael Kelly, the Illinois District 4 administrator, has been fired.

Following the decision, Mountain Ridge Little League, from Las Vegas, NV, was awarded the 2014 United States Championship.

I’m sure the kids from Las Vegas are excited to be the champs but, even at that age, they know they didn’t win the title on the field. They were cheated out of the opportunity by unscrupulous adults. Did the Jackie Robinson West players know that some of their teammates were ineligible to play, based on Little League rules? Perhaps, but it’s not their job to police the roster: that task is the responsibility of local league officials.

This is not a one-time issue for Little League Baseball. For example, the 1992 champions, Zamboanga, Philippines, had their title stripped for using players from outside its district or were older than rules permit. The 2001 third-place team from The Bronx, NY, eventually, forfeited its games after their star pitcher, Danny Almonte, was ruled ineligible for being over-age.

Yes, I was a Little League player back in the 1970’s. My friends and I played to have fun in the sport we loved so much. Our teams didn’t win any championships. Whether we won or lost 10-1 or 5-4, we played hard. We shook hands after the game. If I went 2-3 with three RBI or 0-3 with three strikeouts, I still said “good game” to the opposing pitcher. It was about sportsmanship. Tough losses made wins that much sweeter. We played to win, but respected the game and our opponents. Our coaches, Jack Tetrault and Ed Veloso, taught us that important lesson.

I don’t know if Darold Butler or Michael Kelly played Little League Baseball. If they did, they violated the trust of young players everywhere. If they didn’t play, they, still, violated the trust of young players everywhere.

They know better. They just don’t care. They did it for their own benefit.

The heroic gentleman, for whom the team is named, would not approve.

The kids from Jackie Robinson West will carry the sins of their coaches and administrators forever.

That’s a crime.

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From → Sports

2 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on 98 on the Black and commented:
    Never underestimate the capacity of adults’ ability to ruin youth sports.

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