Friday, May 02, 2008

For Balance - Updated

So after kvetching about whining bloggers in my previous post, here comes one of those feel-good stories that remind us how good people — regardless of political affiliation — can really be: (H/T: Mrs. Woody)

It's one of those magical moments in a young athlete's life. Sara Tucholsky came to the plate near the end of the second game in a college softball doubleheader. At stake was the opportunity to move on to post-season play and a shot at the championship. Sara had never hit a home run in her collegiate career, but she connected with "the sweet spot," as she puts it, and put one over the fence. It was a three run homer. It was also the game winner.

As she rounded first she apparently missed touching the bag. (She was catching a glimpse of her hit as it disappeared behind the fence.) Athletes tend to have quick reflexes, and hers was probably a quick slam of the brakes in order to touch the bag and then continue. Her cleat stopped. Her knee didn't.

As the first base coach urged her to crawl back to first base, the umps were consulted. Rules state that a designated runner can be used, but she forfeits the home run and is credited with only a single. Her teammates cannot help her or they forfeit the run. Then comes the surprise.

Opposing first baseman Mallory Holtman approaches the homeplate ump and asks if there's any rule against the opposing team assisting her around the bases. Apparently not. (Probably whoever wrote the rules never figured on the opposing team wanting to help lose a game.) Holtman and her shortstop teammate Liz Wallace trot out to first, pick up the increduluous Tucholsky and carry her around the bases, allowing her foot to touch each bag along the way.

The girls involved in this heroic show of sportsmanship are a little bewildered at all the fuss. Tucholsky may have had a career-ending injury. "What a way to go out, though," she says. Holtman says they were doing what they assumed anyone in their position would do: putting the needs of another player above those of the game itself.

Unfortunately, according to this USA Today report, not everyone's reaction is positive. One idiot grouses about Holtman's "selfish act" that cost her team the game. Those who deal with Little League parents (and it's certainly not limited to baseball) will understand. Some people just don't understand the "game" part of sports.

For the rest of us, this ranks among those moments that, as parents, make us proud to have kids. Had I been in attendance at that game, even as a Washington supporter, I would have screamed myself hoarse in support of those girls. I hope those who were there did just that.

Sports is all about excellence. These girls — Tucholsky, Holtman and Wallace — are excellent.

UPDATE: Guys, who have a pathological need to be masters of all sports whether they play them or not ("fantasy" leagues, anyone?), have pointed out that the umps messed up. The rules do in fact allow for a pinch runner in this particular situation. (The headline cracks me up: "It was a nice gesture, but...") C'mon, guys. It was a classy move by those girls, and all the deep analysis in the world isn't going to take that away from them. Get over it.

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