California District 37 Little League: CAD 37 News

Friday, July 19


By Greg Jones

 This question has bugged me for a while. Considering all the leagues and districts that participate and the refuge that Little League provides our kids, a closer look at the way that tournaments are run must be taken.

 One of the main tenets of Little League is sportsmanship and fair play. It is even required citing prior to games by the players and coaches. Even the standard Little League sample Constitution that most leagues use states that, in Article II, "The objective of the Local League shall be to implant firmly in the children of the community the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty, courage and respect for authority, so that they may be well adjusted, stringer and happier children and will grow to be good, decent, healthy and trustworthy citizens".

 However, with the recent past rules infractions and dubious decisions made by the brain-trust in Williamsport, one has to question whether sportsmanship and fair play is the real goal here. Or is it more a win at all cost, devil may care attitude and look the other way when rules are broken depending upon where the infraction occurs?

 We are all familiar with the Danny Almonte story. In case you aren't, he was the star pitcher for the Rolando Paulino Little League, who in 2001, tossed the second perfect game, and first since 1957, at the Little League World Series. They reached the U.S. Championship game but lost to the same Florida team he threw the perfecto against. Long story short, he was 15 when he threw that perfect game and thus declared ineligible. The League forfeited all the games they won, his dad, as well as Rolando Paulino, for whom the league was named, were banned for life.

 There was another discrepency involving another league regarding league ages a couple years later that Williamsport looked the other way. Thankfully they did not win any significant games. But the implication is there. Win not matter what.

 Fast forward to this year's tournament involving the Intermediate, or 50-70, program. For the first time it is a full fledged World Series tournament. The program is designed to aide 12 year olds in the transition from 60 foot bases to 90 feet and the progression from a 46 foot pitching distance to 50 feet, instead of going straight to the 60 foot 6 inch distance at the Junior and above levels.

 The team from our own Lennox Little League breezed through District, Sections and the sub-Division III tournys with no paperwork or equipment problems. The Division III Championship was another story. Suddenly 3 players were DQ'd and unable to participate because of "paperwork problems". Even so, the team defeated the host District's representative by scores of 7-4 and 9-0 on the same night.

 The problems would not end there. In their first game at the Western Regionals held today, after jumping out to a 13-0 lead against a team from Carson City, Nevada, the Carson City coach protested an illegal bat in the 3rd inning. The bats had been inspected by the Tournament Director before the game as well as the Umpires, 3 times in fact by the umpires, and all were found to be legal. After a nearly 2 hour delay while Williamsport pondered the protest and sought further information, going to the bat's manufacturer, it was decided that, 1. the bat was indeed illegal, 2. the offending player was ejected (and must sit out the next game as well), 3. the manager of the team was also ejected (and must sit out the next game), and 4. three runs were removed from the teams score!!! Lennox went on to win 13-2 but this ruling was entirely out of left field.

 For an organization that prides itself on "fair play", clearly, Lennox got the shaft. The correct decision should have been to remove the bat from the game and play on. Neither the player or the coach should have been ejected since the bat in question had been cleared several times as legal.

 There is also the question of allowing the host district to enter a team in the ournament, even though they did not have to qualify. I understand the reasoning, no district would consider hosting and this is Little League's way of repaying them, but it leaves the integrity of the games as well as the tournament in doubt. If no one is willing to host a regional tournament without having one of their teams enetered, I suggest that, in this case, Western Regional look into constructing a complex that would allow all divisions to hold their regional games in one location.

 Until Little League looks carefully at its current method of operation and awarding Regional Tournaments to districts, usually the same ones year-in year-out, they will leave themselves open to scrutiny.

 This editorial in no way reflects the position of District 37 or its leagues.