|ESPN.com: 2009||[Print without images]|
And the splashdown goes to ... Henderson, Nev., Little League manager Todd Slusher, a shining beacon for coaches who want to take it way too seriously.
Here's what happened, according to Little League Baseball:
Slusher and his Legacy team were ahead of a team from Arizona, 7–6, in the top of the sixth and final inning. Problem was, Slusher still hadn't played one kid. The rules insist that each kid play at least one inning in the field and bat once. Oops!
So, Slusher, in trying to avoid a two-game suspension, "instructed his players to play poorly so that one run would score" according to Lance Van Auken, Little League's vice president of communications.
Suddenly, Legacy started playing like the 1962 Mets.
The Legacy pitcher walked the first batter, who advanced to third on two straight passed balls. Gee, of all the rotten luck.
But then the Legacy pitcher started throwing strikes, whiffing the next two hitters. So the Legacy catcher took over. He threw back to the pitcher wildly and over his head, but the Arizona runner on third didn't score. So the catcher did it again. This time, the Arizona kid did score, tying the game. Then Legacy got the third out -- lucky! -- allowing Slusher to play his one last kid.
Slusher denies he had his kids tank. "It's not like we never have any passed balls," he said. It's just how things worked out, he said.
Legacy wound up winning the game 12-9 in extra innings, but afterward, Slusher was suspended indefinitely by Little League Baseball.
Funny how things work out.