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Winning at all costs

Unless you've been living under a rock, or never had any interest in reading this column before, you know that I'm a huge sports fan.

Hence the fact that I've been the West Fargo sports dude for eight years, going on nine.

Anyway, an incident that occurred in Utah, of all places, made me sick to think that this is what the world of sports has become to some people.

Those of you who are familiar with Sports Illustrated will have heard about this. But stay tuned. I promise this is going somewhere.

It seems that at a 10-year-old PONY league championship game in Bountiful, the Yankees were playing the Red Sox (of course) with the Yanks ahead by a run in the bottom of the last inning. There are two outs and a runner on third.

Up to bat is the Sox's top hitter. A 10-year-old who is one of the best players in the game.

On deck is a scrawny little guy who has beaten cancer, and is taking human growth hormone to remain strong (legally, unlike Barry Bonds) and has a shunt in his brain.

So the Yankee coach is posed with this question, I guess. Do I pitch to the big kid, risk a tie game that could go into extra innings, or worse if he homers, or go for the sure win by pitching to the scrawny kid?

They walked the big kid.

It made the fans sick. Parents on the team told the coach that their kids would never play for him again. Other parents commended him for a shrewd coaching move that won his team the league title. The umpire said he wished he had a way to get out of it.

But the person who matters is little Romney, the kid who struck out. He cried himself to sleep that night.

To me, no trophy is worth that. I think I've made it clear to the kids at West Fargo, and the coaches, for that matter, that a 4.0 GPA is way more impressive to me than a spot on the all-tournament team.

But this winning at all costs mentality has officially gone too far, when 10 YEAR OLDS are subject to this sort of humiliation.

Rick Reilly, the notable columnist for Sports Illustrated hit the nail on the head when he said "It stinks. Strategy is fine against major leaguers, but not against a little kid with a tube in his head. What the Yankees' coaches did was make it about them, not the kids."

He's exactly right. This coach can now tell his buddies that he's the next Joe Torre. He led his team to a championship thanks to a managing decision he made.

What he also did was shatter this little kid's dreams, and make a fool out of himself in the process. Now, half of Bountiful thinks of him as a testosterone driven maniac, so keyed into winning that he would stab his own mother in the back for a piece of plastic mounted on fake marble.

But did he shatter Romney's dreams after all?

To speak to the resilience of kids, little Romney had a comeback for the way he was treated.

He went to the batting cages, telling his dad that next year he wanted to be the kid who was intentionally walked.