In an Omaha Slumpbusters youth baseball tournament that is designed to coincide with the NCAA World Series, 13 year old team winners used an illegal player in order to advance and win the tournament.
The Minnetonka Attack team was slaughtered in their three pool games; 17-5, 15-3 and 9-0. Slaughtered is the term which refers to stopping the game early when a team is badly overmatched.
So the team was seeded 2nd to last in the Silver Bracket.
The Minnetonka team then played Barrington Stampede in their opening game of tournament play, which becomes single elimination. In that game, the team intentionally used their best pitcher beyond his allowed innings.
When the Barrington coaches asked the tournament director to address the use of the pitcher, Triple Crown Sports Director Keri King decided to punish Minnetonka by having the player removed from the game, along with his coach. The rules state:
*If pitching rules are violated and the infraction is detected, the situation will be reviewed and consequences may include elimination of team from the event and suspension for the following year, coach and/or player ejection.
So the leader of Triple Crown removed a player from a game he wasn’t supposed to play in anyway and suspended him from the next game where he was ineligible to play as well.
Explain what the punishment is here?
A team which had gotten their butts kicked badly in every game played to this point decided that it had to cheat to win.
End results? ZERO consequences to the Minnetonka team or their coach. It would make some sense to possibly remove the two during pool play, but cheating in the championship bracket must be taken as seriously as possible. As the cheating was intentional, the consequences should have been more severe.
But the score stood with Minnetonka winning by 2 runs.
So one team of 13 year old baseball players was eliminated from their tournament because an opposing youth baseball team coach felt winning was above ethics. And another team went on to win a tournament on the back of their coach’s lack of integrity.
Would you want your kid to play for this man?
Would you want to lose to this man?
I shared this story with 6 or 8 coaches (as well as several parents) after this incident and later that Saturday evening at the NCAA College World Series game. The emotional response by each coach was identical. Nobody said “That’s too bad” or “That sucks.” The responses I got was outrage. “You spent $1300 to play in this tournament, team parents spent close to $15,000 on hotel rooms plus gas and some airfares to get to Omaha and the tournament director doesn’t have the guts to penalize a team that cheats?”
I am embarrassed for Triple Crown Sports.
Isn’t it ironic that you can divide kids playing baseball into two categories – those who make good decisions and those who don’t?
And we have a sports leader who makes a horrible decision, setting a terrible example by approving a team’s intentional decision to cheat and win.
Triple Crown Sports had tarnished their reputation as an organization that works with kids in sport. The highest standard we can teach our kids is to be honest. They all know who Barry Bonds is, they might have an opinion as to whether he cheated or not. They might not even care about Mr. Bonds.
But two teams of kids at the Omaha Slumpbusters Tournament just learned you can cheat and get away with it.
It would be interesting to interview the winners’ parents and find out how many of them are okay with their coach’s lack of integrity.
Another fascinating conversation might be held within the Minnetonka youth baseball community to find out how this is being addressed.