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Bernstein: JRW Adults Learn The Hard Way

By Dan Bernstein- senior columnist

(CBS) Actions have consequences, and the adults who have tarnished the Jackie Robinson West baseball program keep getting chances to learn that the hard way.

If you are following the sad dissolution of one of the nicest sports stories any of us can remember, the timeline looks like this: The inspiring kids from a tough part of the city win the national Little League title and are widely celebrated, only to have the championship stripped when it's revealed that coaches recruited ringers from well outside the legal geographical boundaries -- a cardinal no-no. Instead of owning up to the cheating, the coach drops out of sight while Jesse Jackson leads a misguided grandstanding campaign to cry racism, abetted by an embarrassment of pandering politicans and other civic voices in trying to avoid confronting anything close to the truth.

They even hired lawyers to pursue potential actions against Little League International, trying to assume the role of victim. Early Wednesday, even, one of their attorneys had the gall to threaten the governing body by announcing publicly that JRW didn't like the way the news of their cheating and the punishment was announced on national television, and they may play in another league instead.

The response came Wednesday afternoon, when DNAInfo Chicago reported that Little League International made the decision for them, disbanding JRW's entire district. They finally had enough of the childish kicking and screaming from JRW organizers and preferred to be done with them entirely.

It's a lesson for the kids that tantrums don't get rewarded. Especially not when you've been in the wrong the whole time and still refuse to admit it.

There has never been a hint of regret expressed by coach Darold Butler, nor an apology to anyone. Butler has never had the guts to answer a question about any of it, content to let the race-baiters and vote-seekers speak for him, with nothing approaching "I'm sorry."

Or as the leader of a similarly disqualified Georgia team said in August, "It's on me. I own that."

And then there's the dodgy issue of all the money. Per the DNAInfo story, officials in sister leagues near JRW believe a move of the team into Cal Ripken or Babe Ruth baseball programs is primarily an attempt by ousted leader Bill Haley to retain control of the more than $200,000 in donations that poured in during the happy head-rush over the summer.

The best move for the kids in that program right now is independent oversight of those donations, which were made in good faith by well-meaning people on both the individual and corporate level. Those now in control of the funds have by their behavior put their motives into enough question that there should be steps taken to ensure actual benefit for those children.

We have no good reason to trust them, after they have set all kinds of bad examples. Cheat to win, try to cover your tracks before you get caught, point fingers after you get busted and pretend it didn't happen, hold press conferences with kids as props while oily spokespeople blame unnammed racists despite having no proof, hire lawyers to rattle sabers, then threaten to take your ball and go home.

If any of that $200,000 were my money, I'd want it back. Or I'd at least want assurance that it would really end up helping more kids have the resources to play baseball.

The way the adults around them have acted to this point, all we know for sure is how intensely they want to protect themselves.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score's "Boers and Bernstein Show" in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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