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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Zion Spearman’s Nickname Is Almost Cooler than His Name

Kyle Scott - August 19, 2014

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Mo’ne is, rightfully, getting most of the attention at the Little League World Series, but her teammates deserve some love, too. Jared Sprague-Lott is a stud, Kai Cummings speaks better than most professional athletes*, and Erik Lipson never stops grinning in much the same way that neighborhood kid who used to always whoop you on the Power Pad never stopped grinning. And then there’s masher ZION SPEARMAN, who goes by the nickname “The Preacher.”

Sarah Baicker wrote about him today:

The player nicknamed “The Preacher” has improved dramatically even over the past year, his coaches say. The reason, Spearman noted, is the intense effort he’s put into three areas of his game.

“My mechanics, my fielding and my batting,” he said.

Rice can’t underscore enough just how hard Spearman has worked to improve himself. Comparing him physically to a “mini Bo Jackson,” the manager said Spearman is a regular at Philly’s batting cages, doing all he can to perfect his form and make complete use of his 168-pound frame.

I weigh exactly 168 pounds, too, so either he’s way strong for his age or I’m a noodle. Whatever. Anyway, why The Preacher?

As for that nickname, “The Preacher?”

“He does our team prayer before we go out,” Rice said. “It’s not like a gospel thing where he gets into it, but it’s a very beautiful little prayer he says for us.

“And so far, it’s worked.”

Keep prechin’, ZION. Keep preachin’.

*Actual thing Kai said after the game the other night: “I was reading something that said luck is a combination of opportunity meeting preparation. So I think we prepared hard enough and we had the opportunity to get where we are.” Whoa.