No luck for the Truckers!
The Island Luck Truckers were left out of the national softball championships, and two days later, they are still fuming about the way it was done.
Being eliminated the old fashioned way in a hard fought game on the field is one thing… but falling victim to an apparent plot is certainly another, according to Team Manager Perry Seymour. The Truckers are under the impression that the U.S. Gold Panthers, out of Grand Bahama, and the AGCO Big Tuna, out of Eleuthera, came together to devise a plan of action to keep the Truckers out of the national championship. All three teams finished tied with identical 4-1 win/loss records at the Bahamas Softball Federation’s (BSF) National Round-Robin Tournament this past weekend, but Grand Bahama and Eleuthera advanced based on the number of runs surrendered between the three foes.
Going into Sunday night’s finale at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex, Grand Bahama knew it needed to lose the game against Eleuthera but not yield more than five runs, and also have Eleuthera win but not yield more than one run, for those two squads to make the national championship. Coincidence or not, that is exactly the way it played out.
“It was a disgrace. That was a real embarrassment to softball,” said Seymour yesterday. “I actually saw those guys (managers from Grand Bahama and Eleuthera) sit down and talk. They were actually planning this stuff right in the front of me when Burkett (BSF President Burkett Dorsette) explained to us what the situation would be in the event of a three-team tie. Because of that, my team was expecting that to happen but we just didn’t expect them to be so blatantly obvious. It was so obvious where the fans started to leave the ballpark. I can’t see how the officials couldn’t take action for them making a mockery of the game. These guys were actually laughing and playing around on the field.”
As a result, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera will battle it out in the best-of-five national championship series this coming weekend in Nicholls Town, Andros. Normally, a situation like the one Sunday night would seem kind of far-fetched, but there was little doubt that some of the proceedings in that featured game seemed out of character. A Grand Bahamian player was pulled from the game after hitting a home run, a runner was tagged out at third base after inexplicably reaching half-way between third base and home plate and then deciding to go back to third, and Grand Bahama ace pitcher Alcott Forbes was less than impressive, to say the least.
“It was real pitiful,” said Seymour. “These guys knew exactly what they needed the score to be in order for the Truckers not to advance. Why would you as a manager take a player out of the game after hitting a home run? To me, that don’t make any sense. A player was about to score and the coach told him ‘no’. He went back to third and was tagged out. If they want to win in that fashion, that’s fine with the Truckers because we really don’t have much to prove. We know we’re the best team in the country – we just happened to lose one game.
“I’m not upset with us being knocked out – whenever you leave your destiny in someone’s hands anything can happen. I’m just disappointed with how it happened. It was bad for the fans. A number of them came to the park expecting a good game for the third night in a row and they left disappointed because two teams decided to be ‘in cahoots’ to keep us out of the national championship. Even the Freeport fans were saying that they didn’t like how those teams decided to throw the game.”
Speaking on the issue, BSF President Burkett Dorsette said he’s not trying to decipher whether or not the game was “thrown”, but added that it was in the hands of the officials who made no ruling on the matter.
“The umpires didn’t see a mockery being made of the game, and on top of that, the Truckers didn’t file an official protest. All it is talk around the ballpark,” said Dorsette. “We heard all the talk around the park, but as far as we are concerned, there were five games played and the top two teams advanced to the championship. Appeals are made on the field and I’m not aware of any appeal that was made by the Truckers. Had a protest been filed, the protest committee along with the umpires would have looked into it and acted accordingly, but no protest was filed.”
Seymour said that they have no intention of filing a protest, but would rather sit back and see what the federation does about the matter.
“The one protest we had filed about Eleuthera having illegal players on their roster, that didn’t come through so we feel like there’s nothing that we could do,” said Seymour.
“If the federation takes a stance now, I think it will limit the chances of something like that happening again. It’s not too late to do something – I hope they do something. At the end of the day, people want to see the best play the best and Freeport and Eleuthera prevented that from happening.”
All three managers – New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera – attended a meeting on Sunday in which they were briefed on the tie-breaking procedure in the event of a three-way tie. They were told that the top two teams would be decided based on number of runs surrendered in the three games between the three teams. Going into Sunday’s finale, the Truckers had yielded six runs, AGCO out of Eleuthera had yielded four runs and the Panthers out of Grand Bahama had yielded just one run. Therefore, both AGCO and the Panthers knew what they needed to do Sunday night in order to keep the Truckers out of the national championship.
“They were all in agreement after the meeting and that’s the tie-breaking procedure that was used,” said BSF President Dorsette. “What you are hearing now is just talk around the ballpark. That’s their opinion and you certainly can’t blame them for their opinion… but we have no proof that that (intentionally losing the game) was done. If that is the case, there are rules against making a mockery of the game but the umpires didn’t see it that way and none of that came to our attention.”
According to Dorsette, if a team or players on a team are found to be “making a mockery” of the game, those players could be thrown out of the game and that team could suffer a loss by forfeiture. Needless to say, those disciplinary procedures are meaningless to the Truckers right now. Ironically, they are simply asking for something that they have been criticized for having a lack of for years – fair play.