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Chris Duffy's Sports Editor's Notebook: The punishment should fit the crime

Union Leader Sports Editor

August 20. 2017 11:12PM
Southern New Hampshire University's Penmen Stadium is scheduled to be christened on Saturday, Oct. 14. (COURTESY)

Catching up on some topics, most notably the fuss involving one very bad decision by a Goffstown Little League baseball coach.

• Little League Baseball needs a tougher penalty to deter coaches from breaking the rules. As it stands, the punishment for a coach who chooses to commit the Little League crime of not using a player in a game is a two-game suspension for the coach — a price Jeff O’Connell was apparently willing to pay.

Had Goffstown rallied to beat South Portland, Maine, and advanced in the New England tournament, and the 13th player still hadn’t played — it’s possible he could have batted if the game had continued past where it ended — the assistant coaches would have taken over for O’Connell. And tournament all-star teams generally have very capable assistant coaches who can manage a game quite nicely.

Remember, the deed in question here is breaking a rule. The Little League pledge, which is recited by players and coaches before the season and before big games, includes the line, “I will play fair.” So the penalty should be harsh.

And if a coach wants to justify not using a player “for the greater good of the team,” or some such malarkey, forget about it. The ends do not justify the means.

Plus, aren’t the adults supposed to be teaching the children to follow rules?

Little League needs a penalty that takes any consideration of rule-breaking out of the equation. How about suspending the entire league from tournament competition the following season? I doubt any coach would risk that.

• Still on the subject ... Didn’t you find that quite uncomfortable when ESPN, otherwise known as the Little League Network, kept its cameras on the Goffstown boy who didn’t play?

There’s a bit of a gray area in the sports media business when it comes to appropriate coverage of kids. Specifically, we’re talking about when a kid makes a big error or strikes out in the crucial situation. Or doesn’t get to play in a game and, through no fault of his, becomes a newsworthy figure.

Any of those situations is “news,” meaning it’s worthy of a mention in a newspaper story. When it comes to LIttle League (mostly 12-year-old boys), though, you may find the player’s name omitted ... because he’s only 12.

For the high school sports? In our paper, anyway, you’ll likely see that player named ... because he/she is probably at least 16. Yes, there’s a different standard.

There’s no hard and fast rule about these kinds of things, however, and every case is different.

But TV? Well, now that ABC/ESPN has decided that sooo many Little League regional and World Series games are worth airing, we’ll see for ourselves the best and worst of everyone. There’s no hiding from the cameras, kids.

• Merrimack’s Mickey Gasper won a Cape Cod Baseball League championship and a huge award along the way. His Brewster Whitecaps claimed the title by beating Bourne in the finals. Gasper, a catcher, finished the summer at .305 (39-for-128) with five home runs and a team-leading 30 RBIs.

Also, the Bryant College senior-to-be earned the CCBL’s John Claffey Award as the top New England prospect. The honor goes to a player who is from New England and/or plays for a New England college or university. A previous winner of the award is Andover, Mass., catcher Ryan Hanigan, formerly of the Red Sox and now with the Colorado Rockies.

Twelve months earlier, Gasper was named the Futures Collegiate Baseball League MVP.

• Southern New Hampshire University’s Penmen Stadium is just about ready. The stadium, which will be the home for the university’s soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams, is scheduled to open on Saturday, Oct. 14 with a tripleheader of field hockey, women’s and men’s soccer, according to Eric Coplin, SNHU’s director of athletic communications.

• Two UNH football games will be live-streamed on CBS Sports Digital, it was announced last week. The games are opening night, Thursday, Aug. 31, against Maine, and Saturday, Nov. 18, at Albany. The games are part of a Colonial Athletic Association’s partnership and will be available for free on College Sports Live online ( and on the College Sports Live mobile app.

• High school sports have arrived. Soccer begins Friday, and we have our eye on the Manchester Central at Bedford boys’ game. The schools’ girls’ teams play Saturday at noon at Gill Stadium.

The Queen City Football Jamboree is Friday, with six scrimmages set for Gill: Trinity’s junior varsity vs. West, 3:30 p.m.; Salem vs. Goffstown, 4:30 p.m.; Nashua North vs. Manchester Memorial, 5:30 p.m.; Timberlane vs. Manchester Central, 6:30 p.m.; Londonderry vs. Bedford, 7:30 p.m.; Souhegan vs. Concord, 8:30 p.m.

Football’s regular season begins Friday, Sept. 1. Strike up the bands.

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