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There's no crying in baseball

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Sound baseball tactic or growing uncivility in our society or even hyprocrisy by Romney's own parents?

Here's the setup: The two best teams in Bountiful's 10-and-under Mueller Park Mustang League - the Yankees and Red Sox - met in a championship game, played the last Friday night in June. The undefeated Yanks were in the field, up by one run in the bottom of the last inning. With the tying run on third, two outs in the books, and the Red Sox' best hitter, Jordan Bleak, coming to the plate, Yankees coaches huddled and decided to do something they hadn't done all season: They told their pitcher to intentionally walk a hitter. An absolute anomaly in a low-key recreational league in which regular-season games were governed by competitive limitations, such as a maximum of four runs allowed in an inning. Those limits had been suspended for the championship game.

Bleak already had nailed a three-run homer and a triple.

"It was a baseball move," says Shaun Farr, one of the Yankees' coaches.

"These kids wanted to win."

Romney was the only thing that stood in their way.

The undersized youngster, who had been diagnosed with the brain tumor five years earlier, who had battled valiantly through a mighty survivor's fight via traditional treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy, had been restricted, thereafter, in his baseball skills. When manning his position in center field, he wore a batter's helmet as a precaution to guard the shunt in his head. When he swung the bat, it looked like a drag bunt.

Red Sox coach Keith Gulbransen, who was coaching first base, says he overheard the Yankees coaches discussing their strategy: "They said, '. . . This is the kid who hit it out. And look who's up next.' They knew who was on-deck. It was heartbreaking. It was sound baseball strategy. But, at this level, was it fair? Romney knew what was going on."

After two strikes, Romney already had tears in his eyes. It was merely a matter of seconds before the kid who wanted to be regular became a special K. After the third whiff, the plumbing fully clogged and backed up, spilling down his face.

There may ordinarily be no crying in baseball, but, on this night, there was.

Anger, too.

Gulbransen heatedly demanded an apology from Yankees coaches Bob Farley and Farr: "Apologize," he said. "Romney didn't deserve that."

"This wasn't about Romney," says Farr. "It wasn't about picking on a cancer survivor. It was about taking the bat out of their best hitter's hands in order to win. Our kids had worked hard. We played within the rules. We were trying to win."

Farr says he and Farley had no clue Romney Oaks had battled cancer, a remarkable assertion, considering Farr had coached Romney two years earlier in a basketball league.

"He was my third-best player, an aggressive athlete, out of seven or eight guys on my team," Farr says. "I love that kid. He was normal, athletic, completely into sports. He played a lot in the games. I had no idea he had cancer. I didn't know he was weak. But, in the championship baseball game, I could see that he wasn't swinging the bat much. And we didn't want to get beat by their best hitter, so we went to the next guy in the lineup, period."

Gulbransen's complaint focused on the move's age-level appropriateness in a chummy little rec league.

"I told Bob [Farley], 'Your move was strategically brilliant, but, at this level, inappropriate,' " Gulbransen says. "He asked back, 'When does it become appropriate?' That's the issue. What are we trying to teach these kids? At age 9, they are out there counting dandelions. They're herding cats. I guess the answer would be, when the kids are really in it for themselves to play the game. I wouldn't have done what those coaches did at this level. At higher levels, at comp level, it's appropriate. This is just for fun."

Says Farley: "I treat baseball as fun. I'm positive because I've seen too much negative through the years. I teach the kids basic skills. I'm not in it to win at all costs. But, when it comes down to a championship game, a coach has an obligation to his players to give them the best chance of winning. Everyone wanted to win that game."

Still, Farley says had he known Romney's health history, he would have rearranged his strategy at game's end.

"I would have told our pitcher to go ahead and pitch to their best hitter, but to give every pitch everything he had, and not worry about walking him," he says. "I would have tried to save Romney's feelings."
post #2 of 13
Yankees coaches displayed IMO the behavior that has ruined youth sports. It is a game fer cryin' out loud. These kids are 10-year-olds! Rick Reilly wrote about this same game in Sports Illustrated this week. A couple weeks ago he similarly lambasted sports parents while writing about youth lacrosse. Let the kids play the game. It is supposed to be fun, not life-or-death.
post #3 of 13
Sad story, but I don't have a problem with the Yankee's decision to walk the batter hitting before Romney. If Romney "wanted to be regular" and play on a competitive team, he should expect to be treated like everyone else, particularly in a championship game. If the kid wasn't a cancer survivor, this would be a non-story. period.
post #4 of 13
Classic case of trying to have your cake and eat it too. If its all in fun, why is there a 'Championship Game'? Why score runs? Why not just have everyone stay at the plate until they manage to make contact, make sure they're 'safe', and just rotate innings automatically every three batters?
post #5 of 13
They should have taken on the batter. Its a sorry way to win. No honor in what he did. How humiliating to hold the trophy after that "tactical decision"!
post #6 of 13
I wouldn't have a problem, as you say Stax, if this were high school kids. These are 10-year-olds. Life is a big enough bitch without introducing the "must-win" ultimatim before one grows public hair.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota rube
I wouldn't have a problem, as you say Stax, if this were high school kids. These are 10-year-olds. Life is a big enough bitch without introducing the "must-win" ultimatim before one grows public hair.

you do make a good point.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stax
you do make a good point.
Ding ding ding.....!!!!!!!!

I believe this is a first for me!
post #9 of 13
The intentional walk in general should be grounds for an ass kicking, IMO.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by j
The intentional walk in general should be grounds for an ass kicking, IMO.
even when you have money riding on the pitcher's team to win the game? in competitive leagues, it's smart baseball, especially in a chapionship game. besides, it's not risk free. its fun when an opposing pitcher walks your clean up man and the next batter RBI's him. This season, someone on the Florida Marlins hit an intentional ball to score an extra inning run. Also, the intentional walk is not always used to get past a good batter. Sometimes it is used to set up a double play ball.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stax
even when you have money riding on the pitcher's team to win the game? in competitive leagues, it's smart baseball, especially in a chapionship game. besides, it's not risk free. its fun when an opposing pitcher walks your clean up man and the next batter RBI's him. This season, someone on the Florida Marlins hit an intentional ball to score an extra inning run. Also, the intentional walk is not always used to get past a good batter. Sometimes it is used to set up a double play ball.
I know, but I still think it's a cheap move and the batter should get to poke the catcher in the gut with the small end of the bat for doing it.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by j
I know, but I still think it's a cheap move and the batter should get to poke the catcher in the gut with the small end of the bat for doing it.

I'm ok with that rule. randomly placed land mines in the outfield would be cool too.
post #13 of 13
one more point about this topic and then I'm done. I hope nobody thinks that a lineup featuring the disabled kid immediately behind the team's best batter was a coincidence. smart baseball.
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