I also learned a little about the dark side of some people. Not the players. They were kids like me, getting exposure to the kind of competition we would be accustomed to years later.
It was the parents, and specifically, some of the coaches. I will never forget what happened one season.
In Little League we had split seasons. There were two halves. Teams competed to win at least one of the half seasons to assure a spot in the championship. If a team won both halves, there was no championship – that team was declared the winner.
My team lost the first half narrowly to our rivals. In the second half, we were poised to win and face our rivals in the championship.
Then something happened.
Our rivals were set to play a game against another team. My brother, who was on my team, and I went to see the game. We hoped our rivals would beat the other team, which was challenging us for the second half.
We saw our rivals take the field. Some guy who had never pitched the entire season took the mound. He threw pitches in the dirt to a catcher who had barely gotten the equipment on! We tried to find our rivals’ best player, who had clobbered several home runs that season. He was not on the field: he was on the bench.
The other team came to bat. The first hitter grounded a ball toward the second baseman, who started to step toward it. Then he stopped and watched the ball roll by. The next batter popped the ball into the outfield. Two outfielders looked at each other and laughed as the ball dropped.
The game went on like this. My brother and I watched for a while, stunned that no one was stopping it. We went home and told my dad, who called the league commissioner’s office and relayed our account. The commissioner said he would get back to him. He never did.
Who would throw a Little League game?
People who put their self-interest before respect for the rules.
As I grew older, I realized this tactic was quite common. Friends shoplifted. Classmates cheated on tests. Co-workers embezzled money.
And this was small fish, compared to the prizes at stake in our society.
Those who deceive and flaunt rules will always have the advantage. With no concern for ethics, they can achieve their goals using every option available.
So why do we, who are aware of these deceptions, bother to bring them to the attention of others?
Because life is a lot like baseball.
We may hit the ball or we may strike out.
But we won't let someone make a fool of us.
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