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Philadelphia baseball excellence: Taney Dragons

There is a winning baseball team in Philadelphia - a bunch of 12- and 13-year olds from the city. They've taken the state championship and are going to regionals. If they win there, it's Little League World Series time!

Little League World Series, 2013.
Little League World Series, 2013.
Rob Carr

As the pre-colon title would suggest, I'm not talking about the Phillies here.  Instead, I'm taking a short break from coverage of whether the Phillies are going to trade the rights to Mike Schmidt's presence at alumni events for all of the prospects in the Royals minor league system to draw your attention to a feel-good story of true baseball excellence that's happening right here in Philadelphia.

We have, in our midst here in the city of Philadelphia, the state Little League champs.  The Taney Dragons have beaten all of the suburban powerhouses in the state of Pennsylvania to win the championship for the 12 and under division (the main little league division).

The Inquirer profiled the team this morning, and you should read the article here.  It's a feel good story if there ever was one.

The team is a great microcosm of what city baseball should be.  Scratch that, a microcosm of what all baseball should be.  The team is made up of a multi-racial group of kids from different parts of the city and different walks of city life.  Add in that they have a girl who is their pitcher, the only team in the state's top 8 teams to have a girl.  This is what baseball should be everywhere:

Taney mirrors much of the city. African American, white, four of mixed race, including a son of a Vietnamese immigrant, tall (6-foot-1), not so tall (a breath over five feet), from all over, top students at eight different schools, public, charter, parochial, and private, most on generous scholarships. Plus the singular Mo'ne.

Rice told Mayor Nutter when he phoned postgame from France: "I can't wait for you to meet our boys - and girl."

Because of this, they've suffered harassment from others since their state win.  It seems that some people just can't deal with the fact that a team like Taney's can do good in the world:

But being different isn't easy. There have been ugly racial taunts online since Taney made the district playoffs.

After Sunday's triumph, posts on the players' Instagram accounts, several apparently from members and friends of the losing team, were brutal. Comments about players being from New Jersey or the Dominican Republic - nonsense, Taney is entirely Philadelphian - and the bitter hashtag #taneycheats.

And this: "They're just putting them to Bristol cuz 3/4 there team is black and a girl is on their team so no one cared about a regular team."

Of course, here in Philly, this team is as regular as it gets.  And that's what makes this story so awesome.

They're headed to Bristol, Connecticut tomorrow morning for the 10-day regional tournament.  If they emerge victorious from that, they'll head to Williamsport for the fabled Little League World Series.

Some good baseball news out of Philadelphia that we can all celebrate . . . for a very welcome change.

If you're interested in helping out, the team needs donations to cover the costs associated with travel.  "The cost for travel, meals, and board (players lodge free) is considerable, about $20,000, and Taney can't afford all that."

You can donate here.

That money you were going to spend on the Phillies in the remaining months and give to the billionaire owners of the Phils, with their Comcast deal newly signed this year and yet still without a clue how to run a team in the 2010s?  Send it to Taney.  They need it more.  Any small amount helps!

PS. I have no affiliation with the team, but I do have a son who plays in a lower level of Taney Little League, though not in any of the summer tournaments.