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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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No Mention of Kelly Leak?
2006-08-09 10:05
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

The most shocking thing to me about this Rick Reilly column on SI is that it doesn't mention The Bad News Bears:

This actually happened. Your job is to decide whether it should have.

In a nine- and 10-year-old PONY league championship game in Bountiful, Utah, the Yankees lead the Red Sox by one run. The Sox are up in the bottom of the last inning, two outs, a runner on third. At the plate is the Sox' best hitter, a kid named Jordan. On deck is the Sox' worst hitter, a kid named Romney. He's a scrawny cancer survivor who has to take human growth hormone and has a shunt in his brain.

So, you're the coach: Do you intentionally walk the star hitter so you can face the kid who can barely swing?

Reilly makes it seem obvious that you don't walk Jordan, and I don't disagree, but I think Reilly places a lot more shame on being the batter after an intentional walk than I would. If the league atmosphere is supposed to be so relaxed, why is there such importance attached to what Romney would do at the plate? The beauty is that he's playing, period.

I understand Romney taking the strikeout hard, but if Jordan had gotten an unintentional, full-count walk, would that have made him feel better? Or is the hope/assumption that Jordan would get a hit and the strikeout wouldn't matter?

I don't think Jordan should have been walked, but I also don't think that anyone did Romney any favors by making a big deal out of it, or what happened next. The best thing people could have done would be to just treat the at-bats like any other.

But I still can't believe there was no mention of the final inning of The Bad News Bears.

Comments
2006-08-09 11:26:33
1.   Steve
Farr thinks the Sox coach is a hypocrite. He points out that all coaches put their worst fielder in rightfield and try to steal on the weakest catchers. "Isn't that strategy?" he asks. "Isn't that trying to win? Do we let the kid feel like he's a winner by having the whole league play easy on him? This isn't the Special Olympics. He's not retarded."

Stay classy, Bountiful. I always wondered what happened to the guy with all the beer cans in his apartment.

2006-08-09 12:05:32
2.   deadteddy8
Good call on Kelly Leak. The problem with Reilly's assessment is that he seems to think the activity is non-competitive. Well, if it were, there wouldn't be playoffs or a championship game. If the league is competitive, with keeping score and everything, if steals are allowed at all, then you play to win. Of course, I'd want to win with dignity, so I question what the cancer survivor's coach was doing putting the kid in that position. Why was he batting behind his team's best hitter in the late innings? In my competitive youth leagues, everyone had to play, but we substituted so that the weakest players would get real playing time and also wouldn't be up with the game on the line. Also, what kind of league keeps score and has a four runs per inning max? At that point, just ditch keeping score, go to coach-pitch, and go through the entire lineup each inning.
2006-08-09 12:42:14
3.   Paul Scott
"I'm going to work on my batting," he told his dad. "Then maybe someday I'll be the one they walk."

Romney seems to be the only one with a clue.

2006-08-09 13:00:09
4.   Xeifrank
it's too bad that this is a national story, let alone a story at all. The kid is a cancer "survivor" and should be treated like any other kid. I am happy that the kid struck out... I am happy that he is alive to experience striking out. Thus I have no problem with the intentional walk. The boy, parents and coach have all moved on, but unfortunately the national media won't let go.
vr, Xei
2006-08-09 13:32:25
5.   Eric L
2 I'm not sure how the standing league rules are in the league that Reilly wrote about, but the local league that I've quite a bit of umpiring with does similar things.

Most leagues go with continuous line-ups now rather than having to worry about re-entry rules and the like.

As for run limits, I believe that in the mustang division (the 9-10 year old age group) PONY has a 5 run limit in the rule book. You get quite a few walk-a-thons with the kids still learning to pitch at this age group. You also get some very unbalanced teams, so a 5 run rule (or 4 run in this case) serves a couple of purposes. It keeps the game rolling along and also keeps crappy teams from really getting slaughtered.

2006-08-09 14:08:23
6.   Zak
I think everyone is overlooking the most important question in all of this. What is the Sox manager doing having his best hitter protected by his worst hitter. What is he pulling line-ups out of a hat? I'm just kidding about the importance of this, but honestly, why would you put Romney in that situation? Shouldn't he be more towards the bottom of the line up?
2006-08-10 08:22:49
7.   Schmo
Three points to this story:

1) This league appears to non-competitive based on the run limits and having to bat everyone. The league should have a rule not allowing intentional walks (a competitive maneuver). A pitcher could still walk a good hitter under instruction from their manager but they would at least have to throw it fairly close.

2) I disagree with what the winning coaches did. In a competitive travel ball type league I would not have a problem (even with a cancer survivor on deck) but these coaches are short sighted about what they are suppose to be teaching these kids based on their league format.

3) This is a great lesson for the cancer survivor kid and all of us for that matter. This is real life. In real life some people that are strong take advantage of those that are weak people. It's sad but true and it's repeated in many different facets of life. Just think of Kenneth Lay and Enron versus the folks who had lost their entire life savings.

Of course the big twist to this story would have been what would have happened if the cancer survivor kid hit a game winning double.

When I was that age I was the worst kid on my team with just a few hits all year. On my last at bat of the year the pitcher managed to hit the sweet spot on my bat and I hit a ball further than I ever thought possible. It still only landed for a ground rule double. What a memory though.

Hopefully this kid will keep with it and he will have moments like that. He will then forget about his strike out.

2006-08-10 17:49:27
8.   Jay Howells Pine Tar
If the story's true, I would've walked the slugger. First, I question if it really was the best hitter followed by the worst. If that's true, then the coach who filled out the lineup card needs his head examined.

Second, if you pitch to the talent, and he beats you, how can you tell your team that you legitimately put them in the best position to win? Doesn't your team deserve the best chance to win?

Third, if you try and be sympathetic to the cancer kid- do you instruct your pitcher to lob up a fat one? No way.

Last, you don't really do the kid any favors by coddling him. He said as much when he said he wanted to work on his hitting to get better.competition teaches kids to work harder, get better, and come out on top the next time.

no matter how you label it, th league is competitive. They keep score, they keep records, they hold championship games. That's competitve. If you don't want competitive- go play soccer.

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