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The Team that Knocked Taney Out of the LLWS Has Been Stripped of Title

Jim Adair - February 11, 2015

Pictured: Mo'ne Davis and the players of Jackie Robinson West, hailing from the greater Chicago area, lower Wisconsin, southwestern Michigan and  western Indiana, Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Pictured: Mo’ne Davis and the players of Jackie Robinson West, hailing from the greater Chicago area, Hoffman Estates, lower Wisconsin, southwestern Michigan and most of the rest of the Great Lakes region and the Midwest, Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Just yesterday we found out that the Jackie Robinson West team that knocked the Taney Dragons out of the Little League World Series and went on to win the U.S. Championship was being looked at for rules violations. Stuff like this happens all the time, I figured, so we’ll hear about an investigation and they’ll make a little show of it and nothing will happen. Wrong. Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of its title, its coach has been suspended, and its 2014 LLWS wins have been vacated. As a result, the United States LLWS Championship has been awarded to the college-aged men of Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.

So what did Jackie Robinson West do wrong? ESPN says they were found to have used a “falsified boundary map,” and that “team officials met with neighboring Little League districts in Illinois to claim players and build what amounts to a superteam.”

Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement:

This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome.

As our Little League operations staff learned of the many issues and actions that occurred over the course of 2014 and prior, as painful as this is, we feel it a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program. No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries …

Little League takes these matters very seriously and has spent countless hours gathering information about the many issues facing Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4,” Keener said. “During our review, it became clear that both Jackie Robinson West officials and District Administrator, Mike Kelly signed documents to make players eligible who should not have been.

Where does that leave Taney? Nowhere. The team obviously got the most publicity out of the tourney and Mo’ne Davis is playing in the NBA All-Star Celebrity game (really), but that fame will fade. The rest of the kids on that team will be (and have already been) forgotten. They were robbed. And it’s not even surprising.

So if anyone ever asks you what it’s like to be a Philly sports fan, just remind them that in addition to all the painful, legitimate losses in recent years, the city’s Little League team’s quest for a title came to a halt at the hands of a bunch of cheaters, the pro baseball team lost the 2009 World Series thanks in large part to two clutch hits from perhaps the most prolific and notorious PED user in sports history, Villanova lost to National Champion North Carolina in the 2005 Sweet 16 thanks to a bogus traveling call, and the Eagles lost the Super Bowl to a team that was likely filming their practices and perhaps using a ball that had the structural integrity of a shuttlecock. Maybe it’s time our teams start skirting the rules. Wait… what’s that? The 1993 Phillies were loaded up with more steroids than Victor Conte’s storage unit, the Flyers fought and intimidated their way to two Stanley Cups, and the defending National League champs Phils’ feared lineup started regressing in 2010 once they stopped stealing signs? Oh, well, carry on. Nothing to see here.

Mo’Ne Davis’ Jersey will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Jim Adair - September 23, 2014

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Taney Dragons may all be back to focusing on homework, but the honors haven’t finished coming in. According to the Associated Press, Mo’Ne Davis’ jersey from her LLWS-opening shutout will be donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Dragons will then play an exhibition game at Doubleday Field.

With that shutout, Davis became the LLWS’ first female pitcher to achieve that goal, and though the Dragons did not win the tourney, they captured the attention of baseball fans across the country (and in our own city). My bet is more people will take pictures with her jersey than the will with the combined no-no ball.

Yes, the Taney Kids Deserved a Parade

Jim Adair - August 28, 2014

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Yesterday, a spotty yet rambunctious group of a couple thousand fans watched an undersea-themed float, a Statue of Liberty-themed float, and a Delta Queen-themed float carry a bunch of children (and the Mayor) down Broad Street. The Taney Dragons Little League Team (and family and supporters) started their parade at 20th and Market and ended it at FDR Park with Mayor Nutter declaring yesterday Taney Dragons Day in Philadelphia. Afterwards, they were honored at Citizens Bank Park.

There was a lot of grumbling beforehand, talk saying the Taney kids didn’t deserve a parade because they didn’t win the whole thing. That, of course, didn’t stop a lengthly line from forming to get Erik Lipson’s autograph.

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That also didn’t stop an off-duty Ben Franklin from cycling on over to scope it out:

Casual B. Franks supports Taney Baseball

Casual B. Franks supports Taney Baseball

The Taney team made it to the U.S. Semifinal, the first area team to make it that far since the team from Newtown Square finished in 3rd place in 1967 (a year where the U.S. title was also won by a team from Chicago). They were the first team from the city of Philadelphia to ever make the tournament, and along the way captured the enthusiasm of fans whose efforts were wasted on the Phillies. Sports fans and people who don’t care at all were wrapped up in the story of a multi-racial, inner-city team with a girl pitcher who threw the ball 70 m.p.h. Mo’ne Davis was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was called a “national treasure.” SportsCenter broke down the science of her delivery.

Note the police officer walking alongside the float, there solely to protect the Mayor

Note the police officer walking alongside the float, there solely to protect the Mayor

Davis and her teammates (including Kyle’s favorite, ZION SPEARMAN, holding a small child above) captured the attention of an entire city in the sports vacuum of late summer. In stretches, the parade was a total mob scene. At the first stopping point, in front of the Kimmel Center, it was nearly impossible to navigate the sidewalk and difficult to hear the Mayor speaking from the podium that was about twenty feet away. The chanting and cheering was nearly constant. At one point, summing up the whole parade, an accented woman asked no one in particular “What’s this for?” A passerby answered in her general direction, without ever slowing down, “LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES,” leaving the accented woman to ask to herself, “Statue of Liberty?”

No, they didn’t win. But if we throw parades for millionaires who aren’t from here when they win championships (and we definitely should), then we can throw a damn parade for a bunch of born and bred Philly kids, playing for the love of the game, who became the coolest story in sports. The Taney Dragons are Philadelphia, and they deserved to be honored.

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Taney Parade Will March Down Broad Street Tomorrow

Jim Adair - August 26, 2014

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The details for tomorrow’s Taney parade have been announced, and it all starts at 20th & Market at 2 p.m. tomorrow. From there, “The parade route will travel east on Market Street, go around the southwest corner of City Hall, and travel south on Broad Street down to FDR Park at Broad and Pattison Streets.” Along the way, the parade will make stops at the Kimmel Center — where the Philly POPS! will play — and at Broad & Washington — where some Mummers will perform. Once the parade hits FDR Park (at approximately 4 p.m.) there will be a rally and some speeches, all before they team heads into Citizens Bank Park to be honored. Tickets are still available for the Phillies game tomorrow night (because of course they are) and $6 of your ticket purchased here goes towards Taney Little League and you get a Taney T-shirt.

Video: Taney Dragons on the Today Show

Jim Adair - August 25, 2014

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This morning, still dressed in their Mid-Atlantic gear, the Taney Dragons sat down with Matt Lauer to talk about the whirlwind ride that was their past few months. It was fairly run-of-the-mill stuff, but begins to mark the transition of these kids back into just kids, who have to go to school and do homework and not be on TV.

This past week, while Taney was on most of their run, I was away from Crossing Broad but never away from the TV while the Dragons were playing. Well, except for their walk-off round two win over Texas, when I was going from one place to another, hoping I wouldn’t miss anything. It was Joe Blanton’s World Series home run all over again for me.

And while the kids from Taney didn’t win the whole thing, they did a huge service for sports fans across the country, giving them a story in the midst of the usually plot-free LLWS in Mo’ne Davis. But for local fans, it was something different. Yes, we got Mo’ne, but we also got good baseball and something to watch during this dead time that actually had some stakes. It was a hell of a run, and football starts very soon, so we don’t have to come back down to relying on the Phillies for our entertainment. That wouldn’t work out so well.

Video after the jump.

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