Archive for July 2010
It’s playoff season for youth baseball, which means managers, parents and players who act only a little crazy when they get a bug up their butt about something during the regular season now have the stakes raised high enough that the same bug will cause them to go ballistic.
Here are a few highlights:
DODGEVILLE, Wisc., July 26 — The winners of the losers’ bracket in the Ohio Valley Regional is going to the Babe Ruth Senior World Series because of a game-ending brawl between the two teams in the first game of the best-of-three championship.
About the only detail not being argued is that Noblesville (Ind.) came back from three runs down in the sixth inning to lead the Hammond (Ind.) Chiefs, 11-10. Oh, the only other detail not being argued is that Babe Ruth headquarters in Trenton, N.J., ruled both 16-18-year-old teams out of the tournament. In between, it gets messy.
According to the Noblesville coach, talking to the near-hometown Indianapolis Star, all three Hammond coach freaked the fuck out when the game-leading run was scored on an obstruction call against the Chiefs, and all three got ejected. With no adults left to coach Hammond, the umpires declared Noblesville the winner. The Noblesville coach said the teams lined up to shake hands, and while his team was “excited,” the Hammond team was in a rage, the flames being fanned by one of their coaches. A Chiefs player jumped one of the Noblesville players, and the brawl was on.
What happened in Dodgeville with the Chiefs, as re-enacted on ice. (NSFW language)
The Hammond coach copped to nothing, and in fact said he was trying to keep the peace and separate players, according to his interview with the near-hometown Northwest Indiana Times in Munster, Ind.
Meanwhile, the Dodgeville police said they arrested one fan on disorderly conduct charges, allegedly because he punched a Noblesville coach.
So congratulations to Cross Plains (Wisc.), which advances to the Babe Ruth Senior World Series for not punching anybody.
VALLEJO, Calif., July 21 — Vallejo Babe Ruth coach David Davis was booked in the local hoosegow on a charge of battery against a sports official. He allegedly punched a first-base umpire during the state 15-and-under championship tournament. Davis was arrested at the local police station as he was filling out an assault report — against the umpire, David Abbitt, a 26-year veteran.
Abbitt said Davis sucker-punched him — knocking him out and requiring him to be taken by ambulance to a hospital — as he argued a close call against the Vallejo team at first base. Davis, meanwhile, citing scratches on his arm he said were made by Abbitt, said he was only defending himself, and that the knockout punch never happened. Davis told the San Jose Mercury News:
[After the umpire kicked him out] Davis then describes a highly emotional situation between the two men, with alleged spitting, swearing, racial epithets and self defense.
“I thought it was a make-up call, so I went down to my knees and came up and he said ‘You’re outta here,'” Davis said, claiming that the knockout punch never happened. “All I did was defend myself. I just put my hands up as a reaction. Guy falls down, looks at me from the ground and puts on a tirade like he was hurt. It was weak and it was fake.”
Apparently there were no police or security at the July 18 game because of cutbacks by the city of Vallejo. After the Davis-Abbitt incident, somehow, some way, security was found for the tournament.
GURNEE, Ill., July 17 — Unlike the other two incidents, this was not a playoff game. But it doesn’t have to be one for tempers to get out of hand.
According to the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., police were called after a fight broke out a 15- to 18-year-old Colt (Pony League) game. Two opposing players wrestled at the plate — a runner trying to score, and the catcher who tried to block him (without the ball in his hand) during the last out of the game. The umpires did not get involved, and player tempers cooled.
However, parents started screaming and fighting with each other. That’s when police were called. But no arrests were made. The presence of the authorities inspired a lovefest, according to the Herald:
[Gurnee Police Commander Jay] Patrick said the players on both sides hugged as the three cops left the field. The teams were not named.
“It could have really gone south,” Jacobs said. “But when (police) got there, everybody started to calm down quite a bit.”
For an incident like this, that counts as a happy ending.
You might have noticed that, after a long time without a post, I suddenly have a zillion of them. That’s because I’m importing my posts from True/Slant. There are some glitches, like the video not showing up, that I may or may not fix.
Anyway, True/Slant is going through some changes because of its acquisition by Forbes. It looks like Your Kid’s Not Going Pro will survive in some form. I’ll have more details later, when I know them.
Snoop Dogg — is there nothing he can do wrong? (Or at least not get away with?)
Cal Ripken Jr. sold his name to an existing baseball league and has done plenty to promote it, but the rapper-Katy Perry sidekick has built a successful youth football league from the ground up, and has done so in the inner city, where most leagues usually go to die.
Now Chicago kids are going to learn what it’s like to play in a Snooper Bowl. He came to Chicago on July 23 for a football clinic as a precursor to expanding his Snoop Youth Football League to the city. The low-cost league will be geared toward kids in public housing in a city where the violent crime rate is double that of New York or the birthplace of the Snoop league, Los Angeles. From NBC Chicago:
“I’m bringing football out here so they can take their energy, their anger and their attitude and put it in the right source of environment, which is the football field,” he said. …
Snoop Dogg, a former high school quarterback, started the program in 2005 with a $1 million investment. He’s coached his son’s youth and high school football teams.
The league, which will offer a lower cost to participate, is still looking for funding. But the rapper said recent violence in the city shows how much Chicago kids need alternatives like his league.
“I just feel like Chicago needs me right now. And I need Chicago,” he said.
In an interview with Time Out Chicago, Snoop Dogg said he started an assistant coach for his son, became his head coach, and decided to start his own league because he didn’t like all he saw with organized football, particularly expenses that froze out those from poorer neighborhoods. He also said a league like his might have prevented him from his long path of trouble, though on the other hand without it he wouldn’t have had the career and the money to fund a league keeping other kids out of trouble.
Snoop Youth Football teaches kids to go 1-8-7 on tha undercover cop only in their minds. However, a safety can go 1-8-7 on a receiver across the middle. (NSFW lyrics)
Snoop Dogg just received a VH1 Do Something award for his football league. He also should receive some sort of award for trying to decrease football head injuries by getting his kids state-of-the-art helmets and training them on avoiding head injuries, which is a hell of a lot more than just about anyone else inside the sport is doing. So if the money he gets for slumming on “California Gurls” is going toward this, then who’s to care if he hooks up with Ke$ha or Miley Cyrus later? If it’s Snoop, it must be worthwhile.
Because it appears he’s going to be OK, we have license to say that 9-year-old Ryan Palmer of Marion, Ill., caught a lucky break in his baseball game the other day.
Lucky in that Ryan’s broken leg, suffered during a collision in the field in his local Pinto (Pony League) World Series, led to the discovery of a cyst. Ryan is a cancer survivor, so he’s had worse. Actually, his cancer had something to do with the broken leg, which helped in finding of the cyst.
Palmer, a cancer survivor, was rushed to a local hospital where Mt. Vernon physicians discovered a growing cyst near the fracture. The boy was then taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, where he had surgery Tuesday morning [July 20].
“They got some really good news. The cyst came back benign,” said B.W. Bruce, coach of the Marion team on which Palmer plays. …
Bruce said Palmer has a strong disposition due to what he has already endured.
“He’s a tough kid. He’s been through a lot,” he said. “It was a situation where you know that he’s not going to complain or whine about anything unless it’s serious, which it was. The kid turned pale white and grabbed his knee. He knew exactly where it hurt. It was right above the knee where he broke the femur.” …
If the fracture had not occurred, the remaining cyst may have remained hidden, possibly causing future problems.
“It turned out that the break really happened because there was a cyst growing near that part of the bone,” said Bruce. “The chemotherapy that he went through a few years ago helped to weaken the bone.”
Ryan Palmer — you are made of tougher stuff than the rest of us, no matter how brittle your bones.
That’s not me saying cheerleading isn’t a sport, even if I did type that headline my ownself.
That’s a Connecticut judge, ruling whether Quinnipiac University could count competitive cheerleading as a sport in order to meet requirements under Title IX, the federal law that prevents gender discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funding. U.S. District Judge Steven Underhill, sitting in Bridgeport, ruled in favor of the school’s former women’s volleyball team, which sued after the school announced it would chop (as well as men’s golf and men’s outdoor track) in favor of competitive cheerleading for 2009-10, a lawsuit that Underhill later expanded to a class-action case.
Actually, the lawsuit looked at all sorts of questions about roster-size manipulation Quinnipiac, in the judge’s mind, made to comply with Title IX, but the headlines are uniformly about how cheerleading is not a sport. And why not, after Underhill made this statement, reported in the Hartford Courant:
“Competitive cheer may, sometime in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX; today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”
The immediate result of this case is that the Fighting Pollsters have 60 days from the July 21 ruling date to get in compliance with Title IX, and specifically must bring back the women’s volleyball team.
However, while Underhill unequivocally declared that cheerleading is not a sport, no matter how much paralysis it has caused, like the current U.S. Supreme Court he made his ruling narrow enough so that everything isn’t 100 percent settled.
After all, Underhill, by saying “sometime in the future” it could qualify as a sport, ruled that cheerleading isn’t a sport not because it’s doesn’t have a ball or stick. It’s because it’s not organized enough.
So I’m thinking the takeaway for those in the cheerleading community — or the public school community — that want sis-boom-bahing declared as a sport would be: Get organized. Start leagues. Have conference championships. Get to the point where people are playing football on the sidelines to fire up the crowd into rooting harder for the cheerleaders.
The saying is that the two dominant emotions on Wall Street are fear and greed; for parents who trades in the futures of their children, the same can apply.
It’s not just sports. Look at the advertisements in any metro area child-focused magazine, and you’ll see plenty of preschools, camps, tutors, coaches and party clowns who sell, implicitly, the promise that time and (lots of) money spent with them will send your little brat on the primrose path to Harvard. Meanwhile, if you don’t shake out all your loose change to pay for these services — well, let’s not even think about that, though let’s remind you that all of your neighbors’ 3-year-olds are getting their Harvard applications under way while you refuse to spend $2,000 on a party clown that speaks English, French, Farsi and Klingon.
So if you’re planning to scam someone out of thousands of dollars, and you don’t know how to execute a pigeon drop on an old lady, desperate, worried parents are a great target. Such as, parents in South Dakota worried that their kids, what with being in South Dakota, were never going to be found by Major League Baseball scouts.
A group of those parents is claiming they were scammed out tens of thousands of dollars by a man who said he was putting together a select team that, thanks to his major-league connections, would give their kids wide exposure to people who could put them on the fast track to Harvard, er, the major leagues. Media reports put the money lost at anywhere from $25,000 to $33,000, though I suspect that’s a bit low. A baseball camp organizer said he lost $18,500, and individual parents report paying — in cash — up to $6,300 for the travel team that never was.
What’s not low is the sense of betrayal, anger and gullibility shown by these parents, and the waste of time for children who were pulled off of other travel teams for the alleged elite of the elites, Team South Dakota.
The complaints, including a lawsuit filed by the guy running the baseball camp, are against Jason Anderson, the alleged mastermind behind Team South Dakota. Even before the complaints against him started, there were other complaints — namely, that his travel team was gutting well-established summer leagues. But who could argue against a guy who said he was a former minor-league baseball player, in the Angels’ system, and could bring Rickey Henderson to town for a camp?
What is readily apparent is that the parents (and the camp organizer) were so in love with the idea of South Dakota’s own ass-kicking, big-time youth operation that they blindly handed over money without asking who was this guy parachuting into the Black Hills with promise of future baseball stardom. Anderson has not responded to any allegations, including one I’m going to make: That he might not the person he says he is. I base this on the fact I’ve combed the Internet and cannot find a Jason Anderson who played in the Angels’ system. I can find Jason Andersons who have played for other teams, but not a Jason Anderson who played for the Angels. (Inside Dakota Sports reported July 16 that Rapid City, S.D., police have opened a criminal investigation, and that Anderson has warrants out for his arrest in Panama City, Fla., and Monroe, Mich., on fraud and forgery charges. As of now, Anderson is nowhere to be found.)
So what you get are heartbreaking stories about a mom bringing her kid and her family to a park for a tournament, and finding out they were the only ones there.
On the other hand, my heart breaks less because the parents let their fear (of their kids being left behind) and greed (this guy is our ticket to stardom!) overwhelm their good judgment. If you want to spend thousands of dollars for your 9-year-old to play travel baseball, there are plenty of outfits whose only fraud is promising you that they can make your kid a major-leaguer. At least they’ll offer actual practices and tournaments. Best you put your fear and greed in check before draining your bank account for the promise of sports stardom. Otherwise, you may well just hire that multilingual party clown.
(Hat tip to SportsJournalists.com for alerting me to this story.)