A vile display of sportsmanship

The house league page on Richmond Hill Phoenix Baseball Club’s website reads “House League is a recreational level of baseball for players of all skill levels and experiences… The focus at this level is to promote sportsmanship, fun and greater enjoyment of baseball.”

Well as the song says two out of three aint bad.

Over the weekend I witnessed one of the vilest displays of sportsmanship, courtesy of the League and the convenor of the peewee division & Secretary of the League, Olympia Pappas-O’Brien.

Team Orange showed up on Phoenix Day – the last day of the season – expecting to be playing in the final. After all, they went 8-0 in the regular season and 3-1 in the playoff round. The boys dominated the five other teams all season long and capped off their season with an exciting walk off win a couple of weeks ago against Team Blue. But when they arrived at the field, they learned that this was only a consolation game (3 vs. 4) and not the final. In spite of their near perfect season, somehow Team Blue was playing in the final versus Team Grey. How could they happen? (Read: WTF?)

Team Orange coaches tracked down the convenor, Olympia Pappas-O’Brien, on another field to get an explanation. She was seated in the bleachers to watch her son’s game. Did I mention that the Olympia Pappas-O’Brien’s son is on Team Blue?

The kids and coaches learned that Team Blue protested their loss to Team Orange a few weeks ago. A clandestine meeting was held by the league and Olympia Pappas-O’Brien where they overturned Orange’s victory over Blue. Team Blue argued that the final two runs which Orange scored crossed the plate 2 minutes after the 8:30 pm curfew time, so they didn’t count and therefore they reverted to the score of the earlier inning, when Blue was leading. This decision to reverse the win was done without any evidence and without anyone from Team Orange present at the meeting. It also reversed the decision of the umpire on the field. It was facilitated by the mother of the child whose team benefited from the change and a league executive.

In hindsight, a lot about that game and the dirty tricks Blue’s coach was using makes sense: In the final inning, they changed their pitcher twice, took their time sending a new one out and kids to the on deck circle, etc. They were hoping time would run out. But the irony is their tactics failed. Orange scored the winning run before 8:30 anyway. We knew it and the umpire knew it – who would have called the game if time had expired. (When you’ve been sitting in the cold for two hours watching a game, you watch the clock quite a bit, because although we love our kids, we really do want to get home.)

And in the end rather than deciding who wins and who loses on the playing field, in an entertaining and well fought contest, Olympia Pappas-O’Brien held a meeting and decided for herself. All the boys knew this was wrong and smelled the BS. My own son told me that if I had been the convenor and had done that, he would have hated me for it. Because even a 12-year knows the difference between right and wrong. (I wonder if Olympia Pappas-O’Brien’s son hates her?)

This event reminded me of the pledge which I took when I graduated from business school: “I will, to the best of my ability, act honourably and ethically in all my dealings, in the belief and knowledge that doing so will lead to a greater good; I will endeavor to act with moral clarity, grace and nobility; Above all, I will aspire to make a positive contribution to my society.”

This is how I conduct myself and my dealings. This is how most people conduct themselves with the exception of the leadership of Richmond Hill Phoenix Baseball Club.

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