No one is perfect. We can all agree on that.

Mistakes happen. People can misunderstand or misinterpret things other people say, or things they have read, or things that are heard.

Right? Yes.

But, how far can the term ‘misunderstanding’ go?

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

After looking, listening, and talking with people connected with the recent allegations surrounding the University Little League baseball team, one thing is clear as mud — where there is smoke, there is fire.

Little League rules are meant to give teams, coaches, and administrators a guide to follow, not become a strict code of conduct that ranks right up with the Ten Commandments.

Can a district All-Star team be the same team that plays in select baseball tournaments before the district tournament under another name? Apparently so, as the University Little League is the Fort Worth Drillers, who played in USSSA tournaments the last week of May and the second week of June, according to www.usssa.org.

Does that make it right, since All-Star teams are not supposed to practice together until June 15?

That is just the tip of the iceburg on the allegations facing University.

Terry Reynolds, a Weatherford resident for the past 38 years, remembers two years ago his son, Trooper, and stepson, Jansen, trying out for a baseball team. In an email submitted to Williamsport, Penn., Reynolds stated after he was informed that his sons made the team, a meeting would be held. At that meeting, Mike Dry, the current University District team coach, was introduced as the coach of that team.

The e-mail states “His purpose was, when these boys are 12 years old he expected no less than to see them in Williamsport. He explained that they would not play Little League at age 11 but would come back as 12-year-olds.” It also stated the boys who had made the team came from all areas of the Metroplex.

Allegations ranging from recruiting players for a Little League team, to playing with players that live outside of the Little League boundary for that particular league, to having residences inside the University Little League boundary set up only to become ghost properties owned by the University coach, have all been mentioned to Charles Buckner, the District 7 Administrator, but after investigating those allegations, no truth to the allegations could be found and no one can come up with enough “rock solid” evidence to prove their case.

One distrubing allegation surrounding University is the residence allegation, where it has been alleged that families were furnished residences inside University Little League boundaries by Dry.

“That was one of the allegations,” Buckner said. “As far as investigating it, what I did was went on to the Tarrant Appraisal District Web site, and we looked up each individual address. It showed who the current owner is, which all matched the parents’ names. Then we went back to previous owners. None of the property had been previously owned by Mike Dry. That was one of the many allegations.”

It appears now, despite the allegations, the current University team, which did win Friday night in their sectional opener in Fort Worth, may be completely legal now. Buckner made that statement Thursday night after the meeting of parents and players held in Weatherford. Weatherford Little League could not find any other evidence before the first pitch was thrown Friday night, so Weatherford is now officially eliminated.

“We have looked into it pretty good, but I don’t know how much else we could do,” Tim Johnson, the head coach of the Weatherford Major League District All-Star team, said. “If something fell into our lap, we definitely would let Charles Buckner know.”

Here is the big question. How can Little League Baseball not take a firm stance on the possibility of cheating and dishonesty? In the last six years, the Little League reputation, both locally and nationally, has been tarnished by instances of politics and rule bending.

No one should forget Danny Almonte in 2001 and the team from the Bronx that nearly cheated their way to a Little League World Series championship. The same year, the Khovrino Little League of Moscow, Russia was banned from the tournament for a year because the Russian team had played with players who lived outside of the Moscow league’s boundaries.

More and more communities have gotten tired of dealing with the ongoing politics and the apparent lack of progression for their kids and have moved their children to select baseball, like the Cal Ripkin league as just one example.

Did University Little League do anything wrong? Yes. That was proven when the University team had four players and a parent coach removed from the district squad by the Little League Tournament Committee after White Settlement filed a protest. In light of recent history, you would think Little League Baseball would take a firmer stance on possible cheating. One player may be an oversight, but it is hard to believe four players were an oversight. Combined with the fact that an assistant coach was also removed because his son was one of the four removed after the White Settlement protest. All four were removed because they were found to be ineligible for the district tournament.

Does everyone make a mess of things at some point in life? Yes. There was only one person who lived the perfect life. We all make mistakes. Should we forgive others of their mistakes? Yes, but that does not mean that the consequences of those mistakes should not be enforced.

“Even if this team — and I have seen a lot of Little League teams and this team won’t make it to the World Series — if they do, it will surprise me,” Buckner said. “Even if it did make it to the World Series, there is still going to be repercussions in the end. The sad part is that all these kids are 12 and the repercussions will affect the kids below them because these are not coming back. You have to put some kind of sanctions on the league to let them know they cannot do all this stuff.”

Good luck University. Hope it is worth it.

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