Thoughts on Jackie Robinson West

Bayley Sherman The city held their breath as Jackie Robinson West, Chicago’s Washington Height’s little league team, defeated the previously undefeated Las Vegas Mountain Ridge Little League 7-5. The team scored three straight home runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning to seal a win. But now, nearly six months later this win no longer means anything. On February 11th the Little League International organization stripped Jackie Robinson West of their U.S. Championship title, Great Lakes regional title, and all other wins from the World Series tournament.  This announcement comes after the organization originally stated its confidence that such a resolution would not be necessary. The title was lost because of violations in geographical restrictions. In other words, there were claims that some players on the team are actually from Chicago-land suburbs that already have a team.  Now the league has reason to believe that these claims are true after they came together to discuss “new information” the morning of February 10th. This news is not only devastating to the players and their families but much of America too. The Jackie Robinson West team is the first all African-American team to win the U.S. title and was a fan favorite throughout the series. In addition to support throughout their World Series run, their homecoming was one of celebrities. Thousands of people lined the street as the team took part in a parade in their honor. Pierce Jones, No. 23, said of the parade, “We did not think that many people were going to show up just to see us”. Chicago is notorious for being a crime-ridden city, famous for having more murders from 2003-2012 than the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan to this day during Operation Enduring Freedom.   Even though comparatively speaking Illinois has a strict gun law, those laws have not cut down gun violence as much as one would think. With the prestige and honor that this team brought to the city of Chicago and more specifically the more rough neighborhoods of this city, how will revoking the title impact the outlook on the city and the team itself? The message that the general public needs to understand comes down to this; these 27 young kids did not know that they were playing apart of a team that was violating rules. These kids are victims of the decisions that their coaches and manager made. Not only are they victims of their coach but of other coaches and adults too. The first reports of illegal recruiting were brought to the Little League International organization from a coach of a Chicago suburban team. As the organization continued to investigate The Las Vegas Mountain Ridge’s coach, Ashton Cave, also voiced his concern. If you ask me, these two coaches sound like soar losers.  While Cave has refused to say anything bad about the Jackie Robinson West players he was adamant about what he thought the Little League’s decision should be before the decision was made.  He even went as far as to compare this example of cheating to Lance Armstrong’s doping allegations.  He believes that Chicago cannot “use 12 and 13-year-old kids as pawns to generate income on society”, but I question his intentions. He claims that he won’t refer to his team as Champions because in reality they didn’t win regardless of the recruitment violations of the Chicago team. But on the Mountain Ridge website it says differently. On their website it reads, “We are very proud of our Champions and their Little League Historical Performance”, and that is not the only interesting thing on the home page of their website. When scrolling down on the “Welcome” page in big blue letters with asterisks surrounding the type it read, “Little League Boundaries”. Maybe after their opposing United States Championship team was caught violating boundaries they decided it would be a good idea to be very clear of where they lie on their boundaries. While it is too soon to say what impact this revocation will have on the players and the impact they made, it is undoubtedly being looked at as another case of Chicago corruption. To associate these players with this corruption is denying the talent that each and every one of them has regardless of these violations. The players are victims of a violation that is not their own but rather the adults who represent the team.  I mean, come on, they are young children and they are playing little league! What ever happened to the fun and low key Saturday morning games that used to be associated with Little League baseball?]]>