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I just got in fight with a fellow football coach! (I must) alert the media!

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Recently I wrote a piece warning coaches that your outbursts are likely to be recorded for posterity, and worldwide Internet humiliation. I did not consider that there are coaches who are incapable of being humiliated, who in fact are MORE than happy to spread the video of their stupidity themselves to air their stupid fights for what they assume is worldwide Internet vindication, but really is worldwide Internet humiliation. Stupid.

One such coach is Rick Day. He is a 41-year-old real estate from Racine, Wisc., who got in a bit of a tete-a-tete with oppising youth football coach Kelly Weddel after a game at Kenosha, Wisc.’s Christian Youth Center league. (Religion of peace, my ass!)  The story in Racine’s Journal Times included a video of the fight, and copious quotes from Day about why it happened, and why he was so wronged. Weddel was not to be found.

And why was that? Well, if this commenter on the Journal Times story is indeed who he says he is, there was a massive media strike executed by none other than Rick Day himself, who I’m sure is still very much available for comment.

(All misspellings and typos are Day’s. The note is time-stamped 12:49 a.m. — not a good time to type with a clear head, or clear grammar.)

Dear bsmile, A.L., movin1981, and to all the others who will respond to the artical and video by calling me a idiot, moron, ect. I knew that was coming when I called the reporter offering up the video and interview. Heck, I feared what my best friends wife would say! I probably deserve some of your anger as I am not proud of the event. The reason I offered this to the JT, Kenosha News, Fox 6 news, and TMJ4 is that there has been a injustice. The man in red who battered myself and one of my players mother and insited a riot got off without being charged with the two counts of battery and or insiting the riot. He received the same ticket as I and a lessor citation than the father that kicked him for hurting his wife!!! I knew putting the video out would bring ridicule on myself. The police wont pursue the assult and battery charges and the DA’s office wont allow me to file a formal complaint without jumping through alot of hoops. Then they will only consider action. I have made a sincer apology to the kids and there parents. I also accept the band from the CYC from coaching. My hope is for justice and to also to prevent the other coach who has had other “run-ins” in the past from coaching again! You have my word that there will never be an incident with my name in it again!~ Rick Day

Day and Weddel (as well a parent who got involved in the fight) were fined for the incident, and the two were fired as coaches. So I guess not having access to the field will make it easier that there will never be an incident with Rick Day’s name on it again. If only he would stop saying words about the incident that already happened.

Written by rkcookjr

October 15, 2010 at 4:14 pm

When keeping the rules real goes wrong, part two

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Already this youth baseball postseason, we’ve had one controversial, game-winning home run that was overturned on dubious technical grounds, leading to defeat snatched by an umpire from the jaws of victory as the benefiting team sits on its hands instead of doing the right thing and telling Blue to back off. That couldn’t happen again, could it?

It could.

From the Charleston (W. Va.) Daily Mail:

Bridgeport, the District 5 [10- and 11-year-old Little League] champion, thought it had taken a 7-5 lead in the top of the sixth inning on a two-out, two-run home run over the left-center field fence by Elijah Drummond.

It was the boy’s first homer ever … .

Instead, Drummond was called out after the ball went over the fence. A base umpire declared there had been a case of “assisting the runner” and the homer was nullified. …

“Our kids said that when Elijah ran to first, he and (teammate Tanner Furbee) in the coach’s box did a double high-five and then Elijah continued around the bases,” [Bridgeport manager] Robert Marra said. “When he finished rounding the bases, the first base umpire ran in and said because the first base coach hugged the batter, he was going to be out.”

You can guess what happened next:

The game remained at 5-5 through the regulation six innings, and after Bridgeport scored twice in the top of the seventh, South Charleston scored three in the bottom of the inning for an 8-7 victory.

And thus, I am forced again to run the Baseball Bunch’s re-enactment of the George Brett Pine Tar home run from a 1983 Kansas City-New York game, which I will do until youth league game-winning home runs are hit without issues.

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In the first instance of keeping the rules real going wrong, earlier in July young Hunter Cowers was called out on his game-winning home run because in all the excitement, he didn’t touch home plate until his coaches redirected him back there, thus assisting him. His South Lake team, instead of winning, lost in extra innings. However, a national Dixie Youth Baseball director overturned the umpire’s decision and South Lake’s loss, allowing the team to advance in an 11- and 12-year-old state tournament. Basically, in a decision upheld by a judge when winner/not winner Spring Hill sued, the Dixie Youth national director determined that the South Lake team wasn’t given the right of appeal that night and thus was wrongly wronged.

In West Virginia, the Little League national staff a few days after the July 22 home run/not a home run reprimanded the umpire for an incorrect call (Little League Rule 7.09 — it’s 7.09 in the Dixie rulebook, too — says no one can assist a runner, but a high-five is OK because a home run “is a happy moment and nothing should be done and certainly don’t call the runner out”), and a regional Little League official for telling Marra the call was not protestable and that the game must go on, thus making him wrongly wronged.

So Little League set the game back to where it was, in the top of the final inning after the home run? No. It told Marra and Bridgeport, tough shit.

Again, from the Charleston Daily Mail:

“The umpire was wrong twice, but it’s clear, from the tournament rules every manager signs before (all-star play) begins, that a protest of any playing rule must be resolved before another pitch is thrown,” Little League spokesman Chris Downs said from Williamsport (Pa.). “If the game goes on, the protest isn’t valid.”

In a one-page ruling, the Little League tournament committee/charter committee said that although the out call on the homer was erroneous and the decision that Bridgeport couldn’t protest the call was also a mistake, the tournament rules and guidelines “make it clear that any protest of a playing rule must be resolved before another pitch or play. After such a pitch or play, the manager accepts the decision of the umpire and/or local tournament director, that manager loses the right to continue the protest.”

You have to protest and stop play at that moment, except that Marra was told the call was not protestable. So what was he supposed to do, take his team off the field? I talked to Marra, and he said just leaving was not an option, not with parent tempers running hot on both sides, not with police on the field (a few were called to join the few already there because of tensions following the South Charleston manager being thrown out of a previous tournament game), and certainly not when the game was in South Charleston, not in Bridgeport.

Marra sent me all the supporting documents he sent to Little League to make his case, and it sounds a bit paranoid, actually. The case he made in those documents, as well as in a follow-up email to me, is that it wasn’t just a call gone wrong. From his statement to the national Little League office:

The umpire in question (Mr. [Tommy] Lewis) had officiated numerous games throughout the baseball tournament. Many homeruns [sic] were hit during various games with several exact and/or similar “high-five” and celebratory gestures between runners, coaches and player-coaches. No calls of interference, runner assistance or any other related calls or warnings were made. It was only in this semi-final game, after a significant rally and finally lead change by a team challenging the District 3 representative in the baseball tournament being officiated by District 3 umpires did this issue come into play.

And why not file a lawsuit to get an injunction while waiting for Little League? Marra emailed: “We never went through with the injunction.  … [W]e did not trust the DA from District 3 [South Charleston’s home district] to suspend the tournament until Williamsport ruled on the protest.”

A little paranoid, aren’t we? Then again, given how nutty some people get over youth sports, particularly during a tournament, just because Marra is paranoid does not automatically rule out the possibility people were out to get him.

Marra has been about the only person directly involved talking about this situation, with Lewis and South Charleston’s coaches largely staying away from the media, Charleston Daily Mail sports editor Jack Bogacyzk said during an email exchange I had with him. It’s too bad. I would like to talk to the South Charleston coaches, in particular about what they did when the ump called young Elijah out. Did they tell the ump to back off? Did they tell the ump to make that call? Did they just sit on their hands? According to Marra, all he could see South Charleston doing during the whole contretemps was… nothing. (By the way, South Charleston coaches, feel free to comment below if you’d like to respond.)

And like in the Florida case, herein lies the problem. I understand there’s such a thing as a rule book, and as others have argued, if you don’t follow it to the letter, what good is it? When AL President Lee MacPhail in 1983 overruled the umpires and let George Brett’s infamous Pine Tar homer stand, saying the excessive goop on his bat didn’t violate the “spirit of the rules,” opposing manager Billy Martin of the New York Yankees griped that the rule book was “only good for when you go deer hunting and run out of toilet paper.”

However, there is a time for youth coaches to not be those annoying bastards who, when playing a board game, constantly nags over the rules and finds every loophole for themselves and closes every one for you. In the West Virginia and Florida cases, the adult managers should have told the umps to go pound sand (especially in the West Virginia case, because the ump was flat-out wrong). Yes, some parents would have screamed about the sanctity of the rulebook. Their kids would have been disappointed. But in neither case was anyone trying to pull something. They were tweens getting excited in the moment. The valuable lesson for the kids involved is that while there is a rule book, there is also a time when fairness dictates you just let things go.

Maybe that’s the kind of debate that got people so worked up about Judge Sonia Sontomayor’s “empathy.” Are there such things as activist and strict constructionist umpiring?

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A happy home-run moment that also would have roused the consternation of anal rulebook types.

Written by rkcookjr

July 30, 2009 at 6:42 am