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Walking the slugger to get to the nine-year-old cancer survivor

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Walking the slugger to get to the nine-year-old cancer survivor

Old 08-11-06, 12:48 PM
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Walking the slugger to get to the nine-year-old cancer survivor

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...814/index.html

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."

Romney's mom, Elaine, thinks Farr knew. "Romney's cancer was in the paper when he met with President Bush," she says. That was thanks to the Make-A-Wish people. "And [Farr] coached Romney in basketball. I tell all his coaches about his condition."

She has to. Because of his radiation treatments, Romney's body may not produce enough of a stress-responding hormone if he is seriously injured, so he has to quickly get a cortisone shot or it could be life-threatening. That's why he wears a helmet even in centerfield. Farr didn't notice?

The sports editor for the local Davis Clipper, Ben De Voe, ripped the Yankees' decision. "Hopefully these coaches enjoy the trophy on their mantle," De Voe wrote, "right next to their dunce caps."

Well, that turned Bountiful into Rancorful. The town was split -- with some people calling for De Voe's firing and describing Farr and Farley as "great men," while others called the coaches "pathetic human beings." They "should be tarred and feathered," one man wrote to De Voe. Blogs and letters pages howled. A state house candidate called it "shameful."

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.

What the Yankees' coaches did was make it about them, not the kids. It became their medal to pin on their pecs and show off at their barbecues. And if a fragile kid got stomped on the way, well, that's baseball. We see it all over the country -- the overcaffeinated coach who watches too much SportsCenter and needs to win far more than the kids, who will forget about it two Dove bars later.

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."
Old 08-11-06, 12:50 PM
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they need new team names
Old 08-11-06, 01:02 PM
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If you're going to walk the best hitter, the least they could have done was walk the cancer survivor also. I love how the coach is trying to defend his actions by saying it was good baseball strategy. They're nine and ten years old...n a non-competitive league...give me a fucking break.
It's bad enough most of these parents live vicariously through their children, now even most of the coaches act like it's the MLB playoffs and their job's on the line.
Old 08-11-06, 01:09 PM
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Pitch to the slugger. You shouldn't intentionally walk players in a game with 9 and 10 year olds for fucksake. Esecially not in that situation.

Sports are taken way to seriously by youth league coaches. The point is for the kids to learn to love the game, learn sportsmanship, and to have fun. Not being that strategic to try to win.
Old 08-11-06, 01:13 PM
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I have to side with the coach on this one. It's called strategy. The tying run is on 3rd and the winning run happens to be the best player on the other team. Knowing that the weakest player on the other team is on deck, it makes perfect sense to walk him and get the chance to get the 3rd out with the weakest kid.
Old 08-11-06, 01:15 PM
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I think that's it. The coach is some guy who wasn't very good at playing baseball as a kid and now is super-competitive to make up for it.
Old 08-11-06, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by zekeburger1979
I have to side with the coach on this one. It's called strategy. The tying run is on 3rd and the winning run happens to be the best player on the other team. Knowing that the weakest player on the other team is on deck, it makes perfect sense to walk him and get the chance to get the 3rd out with the weakest kid.
Sure, if it was a meaningful game, not a game involving 9 and 10 year olds where the focus should not be on winning at all costs.
Old 08-11-06, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by zekeburger1979
I have to side with the coach on this one. It's called strategy. The tying run is on 3rd and the winning run happens to be the best player on the other team. Knowing that the weakest player on the other team is on deck, it makes perfect sense to walk him and get the chance to get the 3rd out with the weakest kid.
Bullshit. The purpose of leagues like this where everyone hits is to have fun. Winning should take a backseat to sportsmanship at that age and in this type of league. The coach is a dick.
Old 08-11-06, 01:20 PM
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Adults take little league baseball way too seriously. Granted, I love watching the LLWS but that's simply because the kids have such a passion for the game.

BTW, I don't remember anyone getting intentionally walked in the 3 years I played LL.
Old 08-11-06, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by cdollaz
Bullshit. The purpose of leagues like this where everyone hits is to have fun. Winning should take a backseat to sportsmanship at that age and in this type of league. The coach is a dick.
Old 08-11-06, 01:25 PM
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At that age, I don't remember even giving a crap about winning. We mostly wanted to just screw around in the dugout and drink Gatorade. At that age, the team takes on the personality of the coach and fortunately all of mine were cool and just wanted us to have fun and learn how to play fundamentally.
Old 08-11-06, 01:26 PM
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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.
That's why he wears a helmet even in centerfield. Farr didn't notice?
Uh, I guess not.
Old 08-11-06, 01:27 PM
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It's strategy, sure. In the World Series, i'd go for it.
But you can play tough--fair--ball and still be a decent human being, which these guys did not.
Yes, Romney is playing ball, and should play by the rules if he is physically able to do so [which he did]. But that does not mean you should take advantage of his infirmity.
When my boy and I play games, if he wins, he's like "I won!" I say, "Yes, you did, but the point was we had fun, right? I'll have to try harder next time."
I sure as hell wouldn't call Farley/Farr 'great men'. They might be great coaches, but they are not great men, and I devoutly hope they don't have kids themselves.
How often do teams intentionally walk players in that league? If it's once or twice a game, then, I can maybe give them benefit of the doubt, for using an accepted strategy. But if it's never, or once or twice a season, they're assholes.

Dyslexia and wearing glasses are the same thing as having cancer and a shunt in your head? Yeah, whatever. But even so--I've seen pitchers pitch to a batter's head, to make them duck or whatever. You shouldn't do that to someone with glasses.

Oh, and isn't his 'he's not retarded' comment offensive?
Old 08-11-06, 01:28 PM
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Total bullshit move for all the reasons stated already.
Old 08-11-06, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dtcarson
Oh, and isn't his 'he's not retarded' comment offensive?
Depends. Did he mean "Rain Man" retarded or "Paris Hilton" retarded?
Old 08-11-06, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by dtcarson
Oh, and isn't his 'he's not retarded' comment offensive?
Yeah, I couldn't believe that was in there. He's a douchebag.
Old 08-11-06, 01:34 PM
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Wow, that coach is just burying himself more by lobbing out "he's not retarded"

He can spout all the strategy talk he wants, but all he did was single out a little kid to take the fall. Big man. These kid leagues - and I've coached a bunch - are not set up to accomodate "strategies". All of the built-in rules (like the no steal until the ball crosses the plate) pretty much eliminate that, and those rules are there to keep the games somewhat even so one rogue coach doesn't over do it. The leagues are about learning fundamentals and having a good time.

If he pitches to the "star" hitter (another 10 year old ) and loses, he's in a position to teach his team more about sportmanship and fucking human dignity that any meaningless title might mean.

I hope Farley and Farr are happy they sent a kid who's already been through hell to bed sobbing....

Last edited by Pointyskull; 08-11-06 at 01:48 PM.
Old 08-11-06, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by dtcarson

Oh, and isn't his 'he's not retarded' comment offensive?
Nah, I love those goofy little bastards.
Old 08-11-06, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 12thmonkey
I hope Farley and Farr are happy they sent a kid who's already been through hell to bed sobbing....
They talked about this the other day on the Dan Patrick Show. They mentioned that the pitcher who was forced by the coaches to walk him was really upset about having to do so.

It's pretty sad when a nine year old has a better understanding of decency than the coaches he plays for. These guys should forever be known in town as the coaching duo of Fuckhead & Douchebag.
Old 08-11-06, 02:27 PM
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The article didn't come out and say it but ... I'm assumed the cancer-survivor struck out? There's not much to argue -- horrible move for a "fun" league for 9-10 year olds. Though I hope his regular spot in the lineup wasn't always hitting behind the star slugger -- that seems to be setting him up to be crushed.

I still remember a class-less act by one coach in a league I was in as a kid (though nowhere near in the same ballpark). There was this one really little kid who was completely hopeless at the plate. Everyone had to get at least one at bat, and his would almost always end in strikeouts (though sometimes he'd make contact, and even get a cheap hit now and then which for this kid made him feel like he hit a game-winning home run). The coach decided the best strategy for winning was this: he told the kid to get into an exagerated crouch. Think Ricky Henderson, but even lower -- practically sitting on the ground. The kid was then told to NEVER EVER take a swing, and try to draw a walk. The control of child pitchers being was it is, they could rarely hit that strike zone, and this kid would end drawing walks about 80% of the time now. If he did take a swing the coach would yell at him -- though it was practically impossible to swing the bat with the crouch. So strategically, it was a move that helped the team -- instead of 0.100 hitter, you have a guy with a 0.800 OBP. But it was a low-class move, which even most of the other kids on our team didn't like seeing.
Old 08-11-06, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
The article didn't come out and say it but ... I'm assumed the cancer-survivor struck out?
Yes, he did.

From http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=415320
Then the other team intentionally walked the power hitter on Romney's team. Romney said he was shocked. Romney got up to bat and struck out. His team ended up losing by one run.
Old 08-11-06, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
The article didn't come out and say it but ... I'm assumed the cancer-survivor struck out?
The article explicitly states that the kid struck out.

and yeah, weak move.
Old 08-11-06, 02:34 PM
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Since this is a non-competitive league, the guy is a douche.
Old 08-11-06, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
The article didn't come out and say it but ... I'm assumed the cancer-survivor struck out?
i assume you mean the OP didnt BOLD it?

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.
Old 08-11-06, 02:39 PM
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If the purposes were to walk the slugger to get the kid an AB in a meaningless game, that's fine.

But, this is wrong.

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