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Next time just let the kids play

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POSTED June 24, 2009 2:34 a.m.
Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
My dearly departed father always had a quip about life that at the time more often than not seemed way out in left field, but in hindsight was right over the plate. One of his favorites was, “You never know from where you are sitting what the band is going to play next.” Well, what happened Monday night at Paul Weston Park proved the old man right once again.

As a sports reporter, this is my favorite time of year. The onslaught of spring high school sports is over, football looms on the horizon, and the Little League playoff season is in full swing.

On Monday, I went to Weston Ranch to cover the championship game at the junior (13-year-old) level between the two Spreckels Park teams. This was a real feather in the cap of local youth baseball to have two teams from the same organization beat the best in the area and then meet in the championship game.

When I got there, I noticed both teams on the field taking pictures. I thought this was a strange thing to do before a game, but it is not every day two teams from the same organization play for the championship. Little did I know that no showdown was about to occur.

I sat my camera bag down by the third-base dugout and took my clipboard in search of a scorekeeper so I could get the lineups. Surprisingly not only could I not find a scorekeeper, I could not even found a scorebook. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone with the frolicking occurring on the field and no scorebooks or scorecards to be found.

I made my way to the first-base line where one of my confederates was in place to take pictures when he asked me if I had heard. I told him no and asked him what it is that I was to have heard. He then informed me that the game had been called off because since both of the teams had lost one game in the tournament this one would not be played because that way both teams could be co-champions.

I was absolutely stunned. These kids were 13 years old and would be in high school in a year or two, and as such need to begin finding out that they will soon morph from a caterpillar to a butterfly and the cocoon they have been in must give way to new opportunity.

The safety the cocoon offers will soon be sacrificed for the ability to soar to new heights, but there are risks that come with the possibility of reward and only after taking those risks – and failing once or twice along the way – can one truly appreciate the rewards when they are earned, because in life nobody gives you anything.

I do not blame the kids for this, but I know had I been a parent out there I would have been on the phone to Little League in San Bernardino so fast heads would have spun. My original thought was that Spreckels Park should be banned from post-season competition for a year, but that would punish those who had nothing to do with this. Rather, the co-championship should be stripped from Spreckels Park and if it can’t be determined to whom it should be awarded then there should be no champion.

This may punish the kids who should not be punished, but what of the other kids who fought tooth and nail in the tournament only to have the culmination of said tournament turn into a figurative rendition of “Kum Ba Ya.”

This writing may upset some of my friends, but whoever concocted this idea has done much more harm than good to some, if not most, of those young athletes on that field Monday night. This was to be the last game for some of them, memories were to be made and tears shed on both sides. Instead, all that there is are pictures from a politically correct decision.

I received a phone call from a parent of a player after the game that did not occur, and he was as upset as I was but did not voice his opinion for obvious reasons.

In closing, I realize there are much more significant things to rant about besides this. American soldiers are dying every day in Iraq and people at home are losing their jobs and their homes. And on this page there is adequate juvenile finger pointing on both sides about those tragedies, and I am sure that will continue.

But next time, just let the kids play.
Dave Campbell
Manteca
June 22, 2009
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