Spin it any way you want, it’s still cheating

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun Times, has asked Stephen Keener, the president and CEO of Little League International to reverse the decision on Jackie Robinson West Little League because “Every home run was real. Every great catch was real. The passion they brought from Chicago to Williamsport was real. And the character they showed on and off the field was real.”

In an Associated Press story, “We are asking a law group to look into this, to investigate, because we are hearing from folks all over the country that the (boundary) standards that Jackie Robinson West is being held to is not being held to by other teams across the United States,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent activist and Catholic priest on the city’s South Side.

So, is this keeping up with the Jonses?

Because this is a diffferent form of cheating than finding a Danny Almonte, are the adults trying to find that loophole. You know, the thing that adults seemingly seek the most when trying to skirt rules.

The Jackie Robinson West Little League team that won the U.S. Little League championship has become the third team in Little League 68-year history to be stripped of a championship.

According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, “Little League officials had said in December they reviewed the roster and found no violation, but met and reversed course Tuesday in Williamsport, Pa., deciding Jackie Robinson West knowingly used “a falsified boundary map” to include players who lived outside their allowable borders. The U.S. title was awarded to Las Vegas-based Mountain Ridge.

People have to understand this has nothing to do with kids.

It has everything to do with adults.

Do you really think the regular Little League mom actually knows the exact boundaries of a Little League in Anywhere, U.S.A.?

Sneed the wrote, “While the mayor agreed that someone should be punished, it should be the adults – not the children. Instead, the league could have considered alternatives, such as banning the team from playing for a certain number of years.”

So, the adults cheated, but the kids should keep the trophy?

That’s a great answer for any adult across the country.

Look folks, let’s not be surprised by any of this.

After all, go to many Little Leagues around this nation and there is a tale of recruitment going on when the local coach asks the local dad to be an assistant coach because his kid is “really good.”

Let’s go to the back room dealings when adults are trying to finagle.

No, it’s not the finagling of having senior citizens part with their cash, but it’s a way of trying to stack a team.

And, please, don’t tell me this doesn’t go on.

I know the 2-14 team of last year gets the No. 1 pick in the draft, but …

Jesse Jackson got into the act in an Associated Press article,”Is this about boundaries or race?” Jackson asked.

The other two teams stripped of its titles were the 2001 The Rolando Paulino Little League team from the Bronx and pitcher Danny Almonte and the 1992 team from the Philippines as some players did not meet age or residency requirements.

I am guessing those two teams stripped of their titles weren’t all-white teams.

This is about cheating. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It’s about adults bending and breaking the rules.

Now, according to another Associated Press article, “A high-profile Chicago attorney says he’s working with local Little League officials to investigate the international governing body’s decision to strip the Chicago team of its national title.

Attorney Victor Henderson said during a news conference Thursday that he’ll look into Little League International’s ruling that local officials knowingly added ineligible players to the Jackie Robinson West team.

Henderson also wants to know if other teams do the same thing.”

Um, yes.

And, to think otherwise is being an ostrich.

They just don’t make it to Williamsport, win the U.S. championship and play for the World title.

Does every Little League organization do it?

Not a chance.

But, it goes on.

Adults are manipulative in many ways and trying to get the best kids in their dugout happens.

A lot.

At least Henderson said this Thursday, “We aren’t raising the race card.”

Manager Darold Butler was suspended and the team was suspended “from Little League tournament play until the local league’s president and treasurer have been replaced. A district official who is believed to have helped change the boundaries was also removed.”

“I’m super proud of the boys and what they did,” Butler told the Chicago Sun-Times. “They always will be champions in my eyes, and they’ll always be champions in a lot of people’s eyes. They did it on the field in between the lines, and I’m the proudest coach in the world to be a part of a group of 13 boys like that.

“I’m still upbeat and happy like always. I’m still proud. That will never change.”

What was missing from the statement?

“We didn’t cheat. We didn’t falsify boundaries. We did nothing wrong.”

If you are innocent, and Butler did not take any questions after his statement, don’t you shout it from the mountain tops?

If you are innocent, isn’t that the first line in your statement?

This is not about race, creed or anything else than adults cheating.

At least White House spokesman Josh Earnest got it right in an AP article, “The fact is, you know, some dirty dealing by some adults doesn’t take anything away from the accomplishments of those young men.”

Finally, from an AP article:

Behind the scenes, Keener said, the investigation was creating a different story after a coach from a nearby suburb alleged that Jackie Robinson West had violated rules by poaching top suburban players.

The investigation, which was first reported by DNAinfo.com, appeared to end in December when the national organization said it had uncovered no violations. Officials said they would reopen the inquiry if new information surfaced. About that time, the organization learned of questions about boundary maps involving multiple leagues. The investigation resumed.

In an interview, Keener said Jackie Robinson West officials expanded the boundaries of their league at the expense of three neighboring leagues, so that the boundaries included the homes of several players on the team who would not otherwise have been eligible.

The investigation found that at least one district official who had helped redraw the map went to the other teams to ask that they go along with what the team had done, Keener said.

“They (said) ‘We know we took your territory. We shouldn’t have done it, but will you give it to us’ to essentially legitimize it,” Keener said.

The other leagues refused, he said.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com, followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike and is on the radio weekday mornings from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with Joey Klepack and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturdays on WEIR-AM)