On Wednesday, an announcement was made that the Little League World Series committee stripped the Jackie Robinson West team (Chicago, Ill.) from their United States Championship. After a discovery was made that the coaches used a false boundary map in order to recruit their players, the team was forced to vacate every one of their victories during the 2014 tournament. As a result, the Mountain Ridge team (Las Vegas, Nev.) was awarded the U.S. title.
During the tournament, Jackie Robinson West dominated, but little did the fans know at the time that they had been conned. The Chicago based team fought all the way to the championship round, where they fell to the South Korean team. However, with all of the recent sanctions taken place, they were forced to forfeit all of their victories. Because of the rules, every win resulted into 6-0 defeats.
Breaking the rules in the Little League World Series is nothing new. Back in 2001, a Bronx team that represented the Mid-Atlantic region had a pitcher named Danny Almonte. During the tournament, Almonte struck out 62 of the 72 batters that he faced. His streak included the first perfect game in the LLWS since 1979. However, it was revealed that Almonte was two years over the age limit. As a result, his team had to forfeit every one of their victories as well.
Darold Butler, the manager of Jackie Robinson West, has been suspended from coaching at the Little League level. Another pink slip was handed out to Michael Kelly, who was the administrator of Illinois’ fourth district. “Quite honestly, we had to do this,” said Little League International President and CEO Stephen D. Keener, “we had no choice. We had to maintain the integrity of the Little League program.”
Little League coaches should preach this lesson to their players. These officials will take strict measures to do whatever is necessary in having a good, clean tournament. In most cases, having integrity is more important than winning games.