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The [Thursday] Papers

"Ultimately, the rules took down Jackie Robinson West," John Kass writes for the Tribune, once he's done complaining that some people insist on seeing everything through the prism of race.

And by some people, he means blacks, not whites.

Even though it's whites who have been so fanatical about race that not long ago we had separate drinking fountains, separate entrances to schools and separate seats on buses so as not to mix icky germs and such. White people did that. They saw everything through race. But I, like Kass, digress.

Kass writes:

Ultimately, the rules took down Jackie Robinson West.

And a particular kind of rule that Chicago's rulers know all too well, a residency violation; and a suspect, perhaps cynical map, drawn up to allow certain players to be on the team even if they didn't rightfully belong.

If Chicago knows anything, it's about residency and maps.

Residency rules cannot be violated, and residency maps must be respected, or you can't be a Little Leaguer. We know this now.

But you can still become a mayor. Or you can be elected congressman of a convoluted district, with a cynical map that can snake for miles down one lane of highway to grab some voters and cut out others.

If you're a powerful politician, your friends draw the maps, or you have lawyers interpret the rules.

For example, Rahm Emanuel was living and working in Washington, D.C, as President Obama's chief of staff. But outgoing Mayor Richard Daley wanted a caretaker.

And even though Rahm lived in Washington - and the rules were clear that you had to be a resident of Chicago to run for mayor - an amazing thing happened.

The courts ruled that Rahm was actually a resident of Chicago even though he lived in Washington. There was a wedding dress in a crawl space of the Emanuel home in Chicago.

But that's politics.

Interestingly, many of the finger waggers didn't wag their fingers in outrage over Rahm's residency. But it's a good thing he wanted to be mayor, and not a Little Leaguer.

But rules, like laws, are to be enforced against the little people and bent to the will of the powerful.

*

I'm not condoning what those who organized the Jackie Robinson West team did, but I do find it interesting in the same way Kass does. The media very much wanted Rahm to be on the ballot four years ago. Here's why he shouldn't have been allowed the privilege.

Then there's Bruce Rauner. He shifted his residency to and fro - among other strategies - in order to get his daughter into Payton Prep (and to illegally claim two homestead exemptions). And he repeatedly lied about it. Now he's governor.

Or, say, Deb Mell. She had the good fortune to grow up in a household with a very good address - her father's - in order to inherit a city council seat. And she still had to be forgiven for not meeting a residency requirement.

Maybe the Jackie Robinson kids should have just gotten a residency waiver - like CPS chief administrative officer Tim Cawley, who, to my knowledge, has still not moved into the city despite pledging to do so. Then again, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett still claims residency in Cleveland.

Also, Byrd-Bennett was just caught telling the latest in a series of tall tales to which she has never been held to account.

Dishonesty is nothing new to our mayor, who hasn't even made it an art because he's so blatant about it, but he knows a thing or two about maps as well. Take the way he and his boys drew Ald. Bob Fioretti's ward out of existence, replacing it with this atrocity.

I'm not excusing what Jackie Robinson West did. I'm just asking that we direct our outrage properly. It's Rauner and Rahm and a few others who should be stripped of their positions first. Instead, our political culture admires their ability to win by deception. For some reason, the Jackie Robinson folks don't get the same admiration.

*

Our sports culture, too, is about bending rules, not adhering to them. Athletes are worshipped for a pathological competitiveness that drives them to do "anything" to win.

Cheating is encouraged. If you can step on a guy's ankle while the ref isn't looking, do it. If you can pretend you caught that ball that really hit the ground first, do it. Anything to gain an edge.

Even getting caught isn't a deterrent.

It isn't much different in business. Don't even get me started about Wall Street.

There's a real mix of messages out there right now. The kids shouldn't be punished for the adults' bad behavior. Rules are rules. Everybody cheats. Sour grapes. I really can't keep it straight. Meanwhile, there's a mayoral campaign going on that, sorry, is far more important, and doesn't seem to draw the same outrage and moralizing; our mayor is held to lower standards than a Little League coach. In fact, so is our governor and the woman who oversees the education of Chicago's schoolchildren.

Are we getting mad about the right things? Is the media? We have stone-cold liars in our midst - objectively, provably - and we keep rewarding them for their deceptions. If Jackie Robinson West was the mayor, they'd be applauded for its deft manipulation of the maps at hand. If Jackie Robinson West was the governor, we'd just shrug and say everybody does it - and we'd do it too if we could. If Jackie Robinson West's father was an alderman, we'd say Jackie Robinson West ought to be an alderman too. If Jackie Robinson West was Wall Street, they could have indebted the entire Little League and come out richer than ever for it.

The organizers of Jackie Robinson West shouldn't have cheated. But you can kind of see where they got the idea from.

*

To those who say that the kids shouldn't be punished, I get it. But I can only think of the kids on those other teams hearing this news. How do you think they feel knowing they had to compete against a team full of ringers? There are other kids involved, too. Do they not count? What lesson would they be learning if JRW was allowed to keep its championship?

I liken it to Rauner clouting his daughter into Payton: What about the kid who didn't get in?

*

When you need a patsy, Michael Sneed is always willing to comply.

*

Exclusive! Sources Tell Sneed Rahm Loves Mom And Apple Pie; Will Fight To Keep Both Safe.

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"Sneed has learned that Emanuel has personally gone to bat to reverse Little League International's decision to strip the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars baseball team of their 2014 national championship.

"Sneed is told Emanuel pulled out his battering ram during a 10-minute conversation Wednesday with Little League International President and CEO Stephen Keener in hopes he would rescind the league's decision based on findings the team falsified boundaries to field ineligible players.

"The mayor, a huge JRW fan, said: 'Every home run was real. Every great catch was real. The passion they brought from Chicago to Williamsport was real. And the character they showed on and off the field was real.'"

First, Rahm could easily find the source of this leak - it must have been someone in the room at the time of the phone call.

Second, every home run and catch may have been real, but the players making them were ineligible. So that's not a real compelling argument.

*

"As someone who covered a high school that won a city title and then lost all of their wins in a week's span last winter, I'm not surprised something like this happened," ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg writes. "If you cover competitive amateur sports, from Little League to college, you shouldn't be surprised by anything.

"Me, I'm pragmatic about a certain amount of chicanery in amateur sports. It doesn't make it right, but we all know it happens. My baseline for outrage might differ from yours."

I've never understood this line of thinking. The fact that cheating happens a lot should make us more angry, not less.

*

Also, it turns out this wasn't Chicago's team, because the ineligible players were from the suburbs.

*

I mean, forged maps, c'mon.

*

"I know folks want to throw race into the mix, but many of the black Little League teams around town have complained about JRW for years," Evan F. Moore writes for RedEye.

Also: "Some of you may not know this, but Evergreen Park and JRW have butted heads for years."

Evergreen Park is where the complaint arose from.

*

Um, apparently the Sun-Times's Rick Morrissey was still an innocent. And now that's been obliterated.

Is it 1951?

*

This is, as Bob Dylan might say, a little overcooked.

"What's left to believe in?" Morrissey asks.

Um, puppy dog tails and smiles?

"There have been few stories that have captured the country's imagination the way JRW did last summer."

Ever? In history?

"Whatever deep racial divisions there might be in the United States, most people, regardless of skin color, could agree that this was awesome. We all believed. We believed in something more than a baseball team. We ached for the possibility of more."

Somehow, like Kass, Morrissey believes that JRW healed racial divisions. I don't see how. It's easy to root for a bunch of black kids playing baseball while still hating on their parents. Besides, those doing the rooting probably weren't racially troubled to begin with. I don't understand this. It almost makes me think that Kass and Morrissey are saying, "Here are some black folk I like!"

*

"Shame on all of us who swallowed the tale bait hook, line and sinker because of the innocence and excellence it represented at a time we yearned for both," the Tribune's David Haugh writes.

The same David Haugh who just wrote that no conditions were too demanding in Chicago's quest to host the NFL draft here. Do whatever it takes, he said.

*

Also: So much yearning from these guys. They must have terrible lives.

*

"I want you to be proud of what you accomplished on the field! Championships are kept in the heart and mind, not on a shelf," Jon Lester tweeted, according to Haugh.

"Earlier in the day, White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams echoed the support many felt necessary to express to the kids caught up in the poor judgment of adults.

"'They're still champs in my mind,' Williams said."

I get trying to support the kids, but I don't get the message: Be proud that you won with ineligible players!

To me, the message ought to be different: It wasn't your fault, but the adults cheated and it wasn't fair to the other teams. So we can no longer claim this championship.

As the Trib's Steve Rosenbloom writes: "Why Are So Many People Afraid To Tell JRW Kids The Truth?"

*

LATE MORNING ADDITION: Likewise, I've just been directed to this Rex Huppke column in the Trib, which makes the same point.

*

Finally, to all those repeating over and over that it's the adults who are to blame, I don't know who thinks otherwise. I would also say, look around. There are adults all around you. Behaving badly. Right now. In your workplace, on the campaign trail, in the White House. Have you spoken up lately?

-

BeachBook
* The Government Can Read Your E-Mails Once They Are Six Months Old.

Just for the record, I don't blame the children for this. I blame the adults.

* Why Was Brian Williams In Iraq In The First Place?

He was an adult behaving badly. He was rewarded - immensely - for it.

* Chicago-Based Restaurant.com Criticized Elsewhere Besides Great Falls.

* Weather Channel Accused Of Pro-Weather Bias.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Talk about the end of innocence . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Still the champion.



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Posted on February 12, 2015


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