Sunday, August 26, 2007
Champions of the World
(Warner Robins, GA) About 15 people went absolutely nuts in my den tonight when Dalton Carriker hit a shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning to make our Warner Robins team the Little League World Series Champions. And I know the same thing happened in dens throughout Warner Robins tonight. And I have a feeling the same thing happened in many dens throughout the United States tonight.
I have been fortunate to experience many special moments in sports in my lifetime. I will put the accomplishment of this Warner Robins team up there with any of them. It was a team effort and they won with class and great sportsmanship.
The scene after the game tonight fully illustrates the class I’m talking about. The Japanese team was devastated and most were weeping as most 12 year old boys would after giving such a monumental effort and coming up short. The Warner Robins boys were hugging them and consoling them and congratulating them. Our boys realized that either team could have won that game and both teams were great to even be playing in it.
I felt the same way after the Lubbock TX game. I realize that Lubbock fully expected to win that game and I felt sorry for the kids that lost. They were 18 -0 in post season play going into the US Finals and they had tremendous talent up and down that lineup. They are truly champions.
But make no mistake about it – Ed Thorne, the Lubbock manager, is not a champion. In fact he is a jerk and the kids of that team and their families deserve better.
I began to realize just how much of a jerk he was when I heard a comment he made in the dugout after an inside pitch by a Warner Robins pitcher. I heard the word “payback.” The television announcer immediately said, “Did he just say what I think he said?” The pitch was a hanging curve ball and the batter turned the wrong way on the ball. There was no way it was intentional and the announcer said the same. Taking the high road the announcers never mentioned his comment again. Later in the game, Thorne came out to the mound when our pitcher was batting and was overheard telling the pitcher that this guy is the one who came inside on you. It was obvious the kid didn’t know what he was talking about. But the manager thought it was time for payback. I guess I need to remind you these are 11-12 year old kids he is talking about payback– not major leaguers.
And then when I read his comments after the game where he commented that his Texas team was better than Warner Robins (after losing 5-2) I couldn’t believe it. He went on to say that he saw better pitching in the regionals. And when asked to predict who would win the game between Georgia and the Japanese his answer was and I quote, “Japan will win that ballgame.”
Maybe his team is better than the Georgia team but they were not better that day. And maybe he saw better pitching in his regional tournaments but he didn’t lose to those pitchers but he did to ours. All he had to say is that his team came up a little short and they played a very good Georgia team and they wish them the best in the game against Japan and will be pulling for them. But he showed absolutely no class with his comments and I hope the parents of the great kids of Lubbock Texas noticed.
So when Dalton Carriker hit the game winning homerun tonight to beat a very great Japanese team after two extra innings of play, I jumped and yelled for two reasons. The first was because I was pulling for our team and I couldn’t believe they had won it all. They deserve all the yelling and screaming that was going on in our den and throughout our state tonight.
But the other reason I was jumping and yelling was because the boys of Warner Robins had proven the Lubbock manager wrong.
Make no mistake about it - the Japanese boys are winners and the Lubbock boys are winners. But the Lubbock Manager is a loser. And a sore one at that.
And whether Ed Thorne likes it or not, the boys of summer from Warner Robins Georgia are champions of the world. And this town will most definitely go crazy when they get home.
(photos from macon.com)