21
Jul
11

Do you think cheating will ever end in Little League? not me…read and learn why

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1 Response to “Do you think cheating will ever end in Little League? not me…read and learn why”


  1. July 21, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Copyright 2011 The San Diego Union-Tribune
    The San Diego Union-Tribune

    July 18, 2011 Monday

    SECTION: Local; Pg. B-1

    HEADLINE: LEAGUE HAD TALENT, LACKED THE SCRUPLES TO BE CHAMPS

    BYLINE: Logan Jenkins

    Last week, I watched a Little League playoff game in Santee. Norman Rockwell would have pulled out his sketch pad..

    Seed-chewing spectators sitting on lawn chairs in the beds of pickups backed up to the right-field fence. The setting sun casting a golden light show on this exquisite stage of American play.

    I’d driven out to see the Rancho San Diego Dawgs. Last year, this group won the state 10- and 11-year-old championship, prompting World Series dreams among coaches and parents. Could Rancho San Diego be the Chula Vista of 2011? They were loaded. But to go all the way, did the future 11-12 team need more pitching? More bats? You can’t have too much. Look at the Yankees.

    When the Dawgs took off their hats Tuesday for the anthem, a slight shock: Each boy had peroxided his hair. On the backstop hung dog bones, one for each player. These kids meant business.

    In an earlier game in the District 41 playoffs, Rancho San Diego mugged Rios Canyon 20-0 in four innings (thank God for mercy rules). Shortly thereafter, a protest was filed with Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pa. Two Rancho San Diego players — the three and four hitters — were banished. Officials “determined that these players did not establish a residence of bona fide continuous habitation.” Moreover, “these players attempted to established (sic) residence for the sole purpose of participating in the Rancho San Diego Little League International Tournament.”

    Williamsport also decreed the forfeiture of the victory over Rios Canyon. The Dawgs, however, would retain their earlier tournament wins. They were still alive in the double-elimination tournament. But Little League reserved “the right to take further action concerning the eligibility of the entire Rancho San Diego 11-12-year-old tournament team if additional information is presented.”

    Let’s go back nearly six months.

    On Jan. 21, an anonymous letter was sent to the western region Little League director alleging a conspiracy to stack Rancho San Diego’s all-star team with “stud” players from outside the team’s boundaries. The letter, which went to local Little League officials as well as the media, warned of three terrific players on the San Diego Stars — a traveling team that has developed major leaguers like Adrian Gonzales and Troy Glaus — registering to play Little League in Rancho San Diego. As possible ringers with phony addresses within the league’s boundaries, these Stars loomed as large as Big Ben.

    “As much as I would love to see another local team make it to the Little League World Series,” the unidentified parent wrote in January, “I hereby request that Little League Baseball promptly begin a full, in-depth investigation. … It is just not fair to kids with the RSDLL league, and other leagues that must face RSDLL in tournament play. … Remember the bad taste left by the Danny Almonte scandal? This would make that look pale in comparison.”

    The whistle-blower, who appears to have been ignored, proved largely prophetic. Two of the players he named wound up as the three and four hitters of the all-star Dawgs.

    As I watched Rancho San Diego defeat Rios Canyon for the second time Tuesday night, I found myself pulling for the 11 remaining Dawgs.

    They’re kids who love to play. You can see it in the way they dig in at the plate. The quick fielding. They’re in heaven, especially the shortstop, the son of the manager, whose swing is built for line drives.

    “You should have seen them with their three and four hitters,” said a fellow whose son plays on a traveling team with some Rancho San Diego players.

    I wish I had. For the pure baseball thrill.

    But the evidence points at cheating in the league and, possibly, the district. (Officials for Rancho San Diego and District 41 failed to return calls and emails.)

    It was with an odd surge of sadness that I learned the Dawgs lost to Santana National Wednesday night in the district championship. The transplanted heart of their lineup had been cut out. It was them against the world. And the world won.

    It’s not easy being the Black Sox, no matter how blond the locks.

    Ah, well. The boys will turn 13. Their voices will deepen. No one will care about them so much. One or two might be drafted some day. Their lives should not be permanently stained.

    But the parents who appear to have conspired to fix the World Series?

    That’s another story.

    logan.jenkins@uniontrib.com


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