Thursday Jul 03 2008
All-Stars make their pitch
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
Various selection processes aim to take favortism out of Little League
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series on Little League’s All-Star season. See Part I online at auburnjournal.com. No matter how a Little League selects its All-Stars or how fair the selection process might be, some parents whose son or daughter wasn’t chosen will still feel their child got slighted. “There are always one or two kids that a manager, coach or parent could make an argument that their kid could be an All-Star,” said Steve Callahan, president of Auburn Little League’s president. “When you can only take 14 players — and some (managers) only take 12 or 13, which is their choice — some kid’s going to get left off. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s finite numbers.” The hardest part, according to Bear River president John Karas, is hearing the rumors that sometimes get started by a disgruntled parent. “You hear talk around the community if someone gets upset,” Karas said. “Nobody comes directly to the board if their son’s not selected.” Karas wishes more parents would. That way, he said, he could dispel some of the myths about Little League politics that cast the youth baseball and softball organization in a bad light. “If someone came to me to discuss the process, I would discuss it with them,” he said. “You hear rumblings that somebody’s son wasn’t selected for this reason or that reason, but if the (child’s parent) doesn’t come to the board, we don’t go looking for discussions to make.” Some might wonder whether those who pick the All-Star teams actually watch the kids play. Jeff Woodside, the manager of Auburn’s Majors Division (11-and 12-year-old) All-Star team, said his league’s requirement that Majors Division managers umpire lower-division games goes a long way in the player evaluation department. “It’s a good thing to get a look at the kids down below as umpires,” he said. “You can see what’s going on and who’s who.” “Usually the managers all agree” about who the best players are, Callahan said. Another rumor heard frequently is that league board members use their positions to get their children on All-Star teams. However, no local league has more than six board members’ children on All-Star rosters this season. “I’ve heard of no incidents of our board trying to influence (the selection process),” Karas said. An additional misconception that often surfaces is that managers play favorites by choosing players from their regular-season teams. According to two local All-Star team managers, that misconception is simply untrue. In Woodside’s case, his first 10 players were chosen for him by a vote of players, coaches and managers. Woodside could only select his final four players from the remaining pool of players who received the most votes. Woodside, who guided the Majors Division’s Mariners to a co-championship during the regular season, approached managers from opposing teams for input regarding who his final selections should be. “I went through my scorebook to see who played well against my team and went from there,” he said. Only three players from the Mariners were selected to the Majors Division’s All-Star squad, according to one of those players, Eric Taylor. Dave Beghetti, manager of Bear River’s 9- and 10-year-old All-Star squad, said other managers’ input plays a big role in selecting his league’s All-Stars as well. “I’ve been a manager where my own kid didn’t make it, nor did he deserve to,” Beghetti said. “I don’t ever want to hear that my kid made the team because I was the manager. I want to hear that he made it because he earned it and deserved it.” Ultimately, the goal is to put together the teams that will best represent one’s league at the District 11 Tournament, Beghetti said. District 11 includes the Auburn, Bear River, Foresthill, Newcastle and Sierra Foothills Little Leagues, among others. “Little League is a recreational league until it’s tournament time,” Beghetti said. “Then you play to win.” Parents who feel their children deserve to be All-Stars need to respect the fact that those who pick the All-Star teams have tough decisions to make. “You’re not going to please everybody,” Karas said. “When you’ve got 300 players in a league, not every kid can be added to All-Stars. When you’ve only got five teams and each team can only have 12 players, how can everybody make All-Stars?” “Some kids may get left off who should belong,” Woodside admitted. “You’d like to see it go perfect, but it’s not going to go perfect. You try to do the best you can.” Parents may also need to understand that a perceived All-Star snub might matter to them more than it does to their kids. “I think a lot of kids realize before their parents do that they’re not the next Alex Rodriguez,” said Dick Gold, administrator for District 11. “Sometimes parents think their kids are better than they really are,” said Taylor, who earned his first All-Star selection this season. “I could understand why they’d get upset. “Just look forward to next season and forget all about it. It’s kind of, like, life.” Gold wishes more parents would get that message. “Little League uses the game (of baseball) to teach life lessons kids carry with them the rest of their lives,” he said. “In life you’re going to have successful people and not-so-successful people. In school and in other parts of life, there are going to be people who are better than you and worse than you.” Taylor, whose All-Star team is set to begin play on Sunday, simply wishes that any parents who do have hard feelings about their children not being selected could set those feelings aside and support the players who were chosen. “I hope everybody that’s in Auburn will get behind our team,” he said.