Bad News Bearers
The Del Mar 11 and 12 year old all stars just learned a life lesson the hard way. Life is rarely fair. In a game that was far from over, their chance of continuing a dream season run was cut short.
In the world of little league baseball, Williamsport, Pennsylvania is Mecca. A hallowed ground where only few from around the world earn the right to tread. The Little League World Series embodies all that is good and pure about the American pastime. There are no steroid controversies, no free agent contracts, and no trade deadlines. But in the regional round of this year’s tournament, something was amiss.
The weather forecast the night of the game called for a high possibility of rain. During the second inning, with McAllister up to bat, rain began to fall. The game was not immediately halted. During the rain, McAllister scored 3 runs and the Del Mar starting pitcher was hurt by a line drive. After all this, the game was finally delayed. The game resumed, and in the bottom of the 5th, things finally started going Del Mar’s way. McAllister’s ace pitcher reached his pitch limit and had to come out of the game. Down 6-3, Del Mar had 2 runners on base with one out and the heart of their order coming up to bat. The time was 10:15 p.m.; Rain began to come down again. Quickly, play was suspended and McAllister was never forced to deal with the wet conditions the way Del Mar had. This rain delay lasted longer, all the way until 11 p.m. Little League rules stipulate that for players aged 12 and under, no new inning may start after 11 p.m. If a game is suspended for any reason, only 4 innings need be completed for the game to be considered complete. Because the game was already in the 5th inning, it was ruled that the game was complete and the Del Mar team was eliminated.
As expected, the staff from the Del Mar team wanted to appeal the ruling. Unfortunately, the ruling was correct. The Del Mar Team just happened to be the unlucky bunch this year. But Still, appealing is not out of the ordinary. This is where the story took a dubious turn. The Tournament director claimed that this ruling was un-appealable! Richard Rosas, the president of the Del Mar Little league association, argued that was incorrect. After meeting with the state director, it was agreed that the game would be appealed to little league headquarters. The same night, the Del Mar staff was contacted by the tournament director and told that little league officials ruled that the game was indeed over.
The next morning, Mr. Rosas was contacted again, this time by the state director, who explained that the official ruling had just come in. So why had he been told the night previous by the tournament director that the ruling was already in… because the tournament director never actually called to make the appeal. The problem had evolved from a simple rules appeal to something much more complex.
You know the old saying, “A lack of preparation on your part, does not constitute an emergency on my part,” well in this case the opposite was true. The Del Mar association is not disputing the rules. Even illogical rules are fair as long as everyone has to abide by them (BCS). The problem lies with the shortsighted decisions made by the tournament directors that ultimately lead to Del Mar being eliminated. The directors knew that there was rain in the forecast and previous games had their start times altered in order to avoid any complications. The game started at 8 p.m., leaving only a 3-hour window for a game that was sure to be delayed by rain. Alex Aguilar, Del Mar’s head coach, was especially frustrated with the fact that there was no back up plan in place for this very likely situation. It seems to me, that if you know a scenario is very likely to happen, you would say to yourself, “lets make sure that we’re prepared, so that none of these KIDS are sent home unfairly.” It seems as if the tournament directors saw some need to push this game through no matter the circumstances. Why??? The regional tournament was still a week away, plenty of time for travel arrangements to be made. Nearly every game at the state tournament had been decided in the last 2 innings and the McAllister team told Del Mar coaches they were willing to resume the game in the morning if the rain delay caused the game to run past curfew. So what gives?
At this point it seems like there will be no justice. In light of the fact that the Del Mar little league was lied to, the little league organization is giving the appeal a second consideration. In all likelihood, there is little chance that there will be any change in the ruling. If there is a silver lining, it’s that rule changes could come into effect for next year so that this doesn’t happen again. When asked if the World Series Championship game would be handled in the same manner as this state championship game was, the tourney director answered simply… no. Little league champions can come from anywhere. It seems that in this case, someone has lost sight of that.