I really mulled long and hard about running this letter that I received via e-mail late last week, but I finally decided to go ahead and do it. Why? Because it’s a free country and I wanted to see what you guys thought about the letter.
I want to make this crystal clear: these are not my feelings, but those of a parent of a player on one of the teams that played the other night.
UPDATE 2:45 P.M. TUESDAY: I did make one mistake here; I should’ve left the youngsters mentioned in here out of the letter. I have made that correction and I apologize for leaving their names in there.
UPDATE 2:45 P.M. WEDNESDAY: I have had several calls about a lady you guys were “guessing” it was; it’s not her and I really think an apology is in order. I have killed all references to her name from the comments, because she’s really going through a tough time in her life right now (her brother died).
Let the ranting begin –
For some reason I failed to see the score of the North Lenoir-Kinston Junior Legion game from Monday night (June 23). Maybe there was not a sports correspondent from the Free Press at the game at all. To tell the truth, I wasn’t there either–but I heard about it.
However, I did attend the game tonight between North Lenoir and Kinston (on Wednesday) and found it very disturbing. First, that I witnessed not only some of the poorest umpiring (which is intolerable because they actually get paid), but some of the poorest coaching also. You see, the Kinston coach, Jason Wade, who you praised so much in your article about the Kinston-Snow Hill game, is, well…….a punk. Not just a punk, but the kind of coach that has no business on a baseball field, softball field, an air field, or a wheat field. He complained about EVERYTHING!!! He complained that the North Lenoir batters were out of the batter’s box (which is weird because there was no batters box drawn–go figure!!!), he appealled a tag play, that ended up winning the game, that even a blind umpire (and there have been a few this year) could have seen. He totally got under the skin of the ball players, and I haven’t even talked about the North Lenoir players. Not only that, but his players had the same attitude he did. The losing pitcher slammed his glove in disgust when the winning run was scored. His “star player” tried to take first base after the ball hit the end of bat, then got upset because he was told to return the the batter’s box (which still wasn’t drawn).
Which brings me to the North Lenoir players. First, there are way too many of them, especially rising Freshmen. There is not one rising Freshman on that team has any business playing against rising Sophomores and Juniors. There was one poor rising Freshman playing third base and he still hasn’t seen a ball that went past him. The other problem with these kids is that up until this summer they have never seen a fastball or breaking ball thrown by a 15- or 16-year old. They are just overmatched and overpowered.
The next problem with the North Lenoir team is the coach, Donell Garriss. He may have played baseball in college but he is turning into what I call a “Mini-Montague”. He seems to have no idea what he is doing and even less that Jason Wade. He doesn’t “coach” the game. He doesn’t seem to understand how to manufacture a run or even know how to position his defense.
Which brings me to the my next point, he doesn’t play the kids who have experience playing at this level and puts in a Designated Hitter for kids who aren’t, as he says, “producing at the plate.” Well coach, no one on your team is producing at the plate and that is why you had to win the game tonight on a sacrifice fly. Yup, the winning run tonight was scored on a sacrifice fly. I understand that is part of baseball, but at least make sure of the run by putting in a kid a little faster than the only kid on the team that has played every inning of every game this year (and to me, he is not “producing at the plate”).
A few months ago a reader wrote to you that they were upset that a parade was planned for the Kinston High basketball team because they won the State Championship, but no parade was planned for the North Lenoir baseball team when they won the State Championship. I understand the in most minds, nothing outside of the Kinston city limits matters in this county, but other good things happen in Lenoir County. In my mind, I don’t think that a parade should have been planned for the North Lenoir baseball team. If they want a parade let La Grange do it since that is where North Lenoir is located. Even with that I don’t think that any fanfare should be given to North Lenoir’s baseball team. The coach, Jim Montague, is a conniving, manipulative human being that puts winning in front of what is most important in sports–having fun. For some reason he is seen as an oracle and a disciple from the baseball gods. I wonder if a lot of people know he tried to “recruit” a baseball player from a rival high school so that another State Championship would be somewhat guaranteed. He runs his program with an iron fist and demands perfection from his players. Maybe this is why Garriss runs his team the way he does (not to mention Garriss is an assistant coach on the Varsity team under Montague). It is often said that children will mimic the actions of their parents.
Another problem with baseball at North Lenoir is that the Junior Varsity team means nothing to Montague. They have to compete wearing jerseys that have been at the school for over 10 years. They have a coach that is a basketball coach by trade while there are 3 assistant coaches on the Varsity team. They are treated like second class citizens by Montague and his coaching staff, but he and his staff are revered by the same people he oppresses.
In closing, maybe something needs to be done about baseball in Lenoir County. Maybe more press coverage would be a good thing. Maybe making sure fun is a priority might make it better. Maybe an influx of new blood is needed. Heck, maybe we need to look at what is right with the game in Lenoir County and then we will see what is wrong with the game.
Signed,Anonymous Baseball Fan