On Saturday morning, the Warwick PAL versus Coventry Connie Mack baseball game was called off in the bottom of the seventh inning after the umpires handed out warnings regarding taunting in the previous inning.
I swung by the game to cover it, expecting the typical low-key summer ball game. It was anything but and turned out to be one of the most bizarre sporting events in my 11 years of covering local athletics.
Let me start off by saying this. Although each team could have handled the situation better, this was clearly a Coventry problem. Sure, I am a Warwick-based reporter, so you can call me a homer … that is your right, but it is also my right to say what I saw.
From the opening pitch, the Coventry bench was chirping. Whether it was insults, taunts, or even just being loud and distracting, the bench was rowdy to say the least. Not only in the dugout either, in the field, at the plate, it was incessant from the get-go and never ceased.
At least from my perspective, the kids from Coventry did not really say anything egregious, but the amount of chatter was ridiculous. I’m all for cheering your team on, I’m even for the occasional back and forths with the opponent. This on the other hand was obnoxious, no other way to put it.
PAL coach Ed Covin had enough of it in the fifth inning. After pleading to the Coventry coaching staff and to the umpires in the earlier innings to put an end to the nonsense, he was very vocal that Coventry’s extracurriculars had gone too far. Then in the sixth, it continued to boil over and the umps had no choice but to issue warnings. In the sixth, they told each dugout that another word out of line from either team would result in a forfeiture for each side.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, a Coventry player couldn’t help himself as he squealed another taunt, this time directly at the umpire, which caused him to throw his arms up and walk off the field.
It only gets crazier from there.
As the umpires walked off the field and teams reported to their benches, Coventry parents were outraged. One father walked alongside the umpires to their cars and shouted the entire way, saying that the umpires did the kids wrong. He even got chest to chest at one point and had to be physically restrained.
Then the two coaching staffs met at home plate and also exchanged pleasantries. Coventry’s staff made it clear that they felt that Warwick’s staff overreacted to the chatter, while Warwick’s staff maintained that they allowed the kids to act classless.
A few more Coventry parents would shout from the Warwick dugout, looking to chew out the PAL staff, claiming that they were out of line and overreacted as well. I didn’t hear the PAL coaches say anything to the Coventry players, but a few of the parents from Coventry were enraged that the PAL coaches supposedly shouted at their kids directly. Mickey Stevens is a big facility, so I can’t confirm or deny those allegations.
I’m sure your head is spinning reading this, as my head is spinning writing it.
Ultimately, I put the blame on both the Coventry coaches and parents.
Again, the players did not say anything horrible, but we all know the difference between friendly banter and being rude, being just flat out annoying. The fact that the Coventry coaching staff allowed it to continue after tensions rose, after the umpires handed out warnings, showed a total lack of professionalism. The coaches wanted to prove the point that kids should be allowed to speak freely, but took it way too far.
Then as far as the parents go, their conduct was disgusting. Shouting, cursing, being threatening both physically and verbally. Other parents were pulling their phones out, debating whether or not to call the police.
Where could PAL have improved? I think they probably could have ignored the noise better to a degree. It did get hard to brush it off as the game wore on though. Overall, their anger did not help de-escalate the situation. As frustrating as it was, allowing emotions to rise the way they did was probably avoidable at the end of the day.
Using percentages to divvy out blame is simplistic, but that’s where I’m going. I’d say the blame was 80 percent Coventry, 20 percent PAL. Everything stemmed from Coventry and got out of hand because of Coventry. PAL did not help the situation during the in-between.
In terms of the standings, it looks like it is going to go down as a no contest for each team. Not a win or loss. It’s a shame too, because it was actually a pretty good game.
Coventry led 4-2 heading into the final inning and PAL had a chance to tie things up when the tying run was at the plate with just one out. Coventry got a stellar pitching performance and PAL showed some grit clawing its way back after falling behind 3-0 early.
In terms of the off the field aftermath, we’ll see, but I’m sure things will just blow over. Stuff happens in sports, and to be brutally honest, Connie Mack is just a summer league. I don’t think either team would want to see action taken beyond the game going down as a no decision.
In my opinion though, the Coventry parents need to be addressed. The coaching staff lost control of its team, but maybe losing out on a win will be enough to send the necessary message.
As for the parents though, I really don’t know how they can be allowed to another game after nearly causing multiple physical altercations. I can say, without question, it was the worst parental behavior I’ve ever witnessed at a game. I’ve seen players fight, coaches go at it, but never the parents entering the field and walking umpires to their cars, shouting like lunatics. It went beyond disgusting, it was actually a little disturbing.
My ultimate point is this … local sports should never see situations like this take place. What a shame for everyone involved, it really was. I understand that we are all human, I certainly have lost my cool for things I shouldn’t have … we all have.
This should be a learning experience for everyone involved that sometimes, proving a point one way or the other is simply not worth it.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here