It wasn't a good night for the local kids, as the gargantuan and talented boys from Mountain Ridge (Las Vegas, NV) pinned a loss on Mo'ne Davis and her Taney Dragons team, 8-1, in a six-inning game that lasted over two and a half hours. (Of note: New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was there to behold how the last 20 years of endless Red Sox-Yankees games have now ruined Little League as well. I dun tole you: Shock Collars will fix this!) The game was closer than the score might indicate, as Mountain Ridge struck for five of its eight runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach after Taney's offense failed to score after promising situations in the fourth and fifth innings. Clearly, the Taney t-shirt that hung in the Phillies dugout yesterday opened a strange vortex into non-productive outs.
Davis didn't appear to have her signature command, and Mountain Ridge was able to drive up her pitch count early. She wasn't helped by some bloop hits and an erratic home plate umpire, but a far bigger factor was her inability to throw inside consistently to tie up the powerful hitters from Nevada.
If you care to, you can replay it all here. If you don't have two and a half hours today, just watch the first few minutes of ESPN2's coverage last night, and you will behold what may be (especially if Taney loses tonight), the apex of the Mo'ne Davis hype machine. I felt uncomfortable watching it, not only for her Taney teammates, but for the Mountain Ridge team, which is stocked with some wonderful players, one of whom is 6'2" at age 13. Remarkable in and of itself, but as a 6'2" myself, I wouldn't have called myself coordinated and 6'2" until my mid-20s. And that's open for some debate. Mountain Ridge's Austin Kryszczuk in particular was outstanding both at the plate and on the mound, and the armchair prospectologist in me took note to try my best to remember that kid's name in drafts between 2020 and 2022, most likely.
If anything, the intro brought to mind the description of barnstorming Satchel Paige in this wonderful book, and how everyone else on the diamond was just window dressing.
Perhaps it's all for the best. Of course, there was a lot of chatter last night about the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. And during the game on Twitter, for the strong-stomached out there, was @FanSince09 retweeting the dregs of the Internet. To spare your eyeballs, I summed it up thusly:
@Hegelbon @FanSince09 a lot of people have been terribly wronged by the hype machine and so bravely take it out on a 13-y/o on Twitter.— Wet Luzinski (@Wet_Luzinski) August 21, 2014
No matter. They play tonight in the loser's bracket, against Jackie Robinson West, for a chance at a rematch with Mountain Ridge for the U.S. Championship on Saturday. It'll take some heavy lifting, as Mo'ne Davis will not be available to pitch.
Here's a little bit about Jackie Robinson West, Taney's opponent tonight. Their claim to fame, to mix with Taney's multi-culti gender-bending, is that they are and all-African American team. This team is from the south side of Chicago, which is the baddest part of town, and they are pretty fun to watch. Like Mountain Ridge, they can hit!
Let's hope Taney can pull out a little of its own #Illadelph Let's go let's go.