Saturday, August 12, 2006

I would have pitched to the 9 year old cancer survivor.

Culture: Fine, call me a meanie but out of this mountain made out of a molehill, he is the only one with the best attitude. Try to disregard the whole high and mighty Rick Reilly tone.

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? Wait! Before you answer.... This is a league where everybody gets to bat, there's a four-runs-per-inning max, and no stealing until the ball crosses the plate. On the other hand, the stands are packed and it is the title game. So ... do you pitch to the star or do you lay it all on the kid who's been through hell already? Yanks coach Bob Farley decided to walk the star. Parents booed. The umpire, Mike Wright, thought to himself, Low-ball move. In the stands, Romney's eight-year-old sister cried. "They're picking on Romney!" she said. Romney struck out. The Yanks celebrated. The Sox moaned. The two coaching staffs nearly brawled. And Romney? He sobbed himself to sleep that night. "It made me sick," says Romney's dad, Marlo Oaks. "It's going after the weakest chick in the flock." Farley and his assistant coach, Shaun Farr, who recommended the walk, say they didn't know Romney was a cancer survivor. "And even if I had," insists Farr, "I'd have done the same thing. It's just good baseball strategy." ....What the Yankees' coaches did was within the rules. But is it right to put winning over compassion? For that matter, does a kid who yearns to be treated like everybody else want compassion? "What about the boy who is dyslexic -- should he get special treatment?" Blaine and Kris Smith wrote to the Clipper. "The boy who wears glasses -- should he never be struck out? ... NO! They should all play by the rules of the game." The Yankees' coaches insisted that the Sox coach would've done the same thing. "Not only wouldn't I have," says Sox coach Keith Gulbransen, "I didn't. When their best hitter came up, I pitched to him. I especially wouldn't have done it to Romney." 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." Me? I think what the Yanks did stinks. Strategy is fine against major leaguers, but not against a little kid with a tube in his head. Just good baseball strategy? This isn't the pros. This is: Everybody bats, one-hour games. That means it's about fun. Period.
Bull, I hate this hand holding leagues where everyone is a winner and everyone is special nonsense. This is a championship game and you can't tell me that only the coach wanted to win, there had to be players on both teams that thought about winning the game. How come no one is asking why you have the cancer survivor hitting behind your best hitter as if that wasn't a strategic move on that coach's part to make sure team pitch to his best hitter. As I said Romney is the only one with the best attitude.
By the way, the next morning, Romney woke up and decided to do something about what happened to him. "I'm going to work on my batting," he told his dad. "Then maybe someday I'll be the one they walk."
Bravo.

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