The Feel-Bad Story of the Year
As we all know, Friday is Become Pessimistic About The Fate of Humanity Day. What better tale to start it off than this one, a sordid narrative about a Little League coach offering one of his players $25 to drill a teammate before a playoff game, the better to keep the weaker player off the field?
This would be sad and pathetic at any level of baseball, no matter what. It’s the details that make what Mark R. Downs Jr. is accused of doing all the more jaw-dropping. To wit:
* The kid who Coach Downs wanted plunked and injured was mentally disabled. Already, we’re approaching James Bond adversary level villainy.
* Keith Reese, the eight-year-old who says his coach offered him the payoff, testified that as instructed, he nailed his teammate with a throw to the groin — but the blow wasn’t hard enough, and Downs instructed him to hit him again, this time in the head.
* Downs allegedly admitted what he’d done to Reese’s father. Of course, the lawyer is disputing that. Coach’s cover stoy: The parent must have been confused from the time Downs offered a $25 bounty if anyone tagged an umpire. What? That’s your defense? He has this confused with another bounty?
Apparently, the coach had tried other strategies to keep the mentally challenged boy from playing, too, like telling his parents that certain games were cancelled. All of these are just allegations at this point, but Downs has been arraigned and will stand trial. The younger Reese’s account seems to paint a pretty damning picture.
Stupefyingly, the kid testified that Downs stiffed his little hit man! Sign up for fall league, and I’ll pay you then, ol’ Rifle Arm says the coach told him. No wonder the kid flipped on him.
Kicking down that 25 bucks might have saved him 25 years. If this story is accurate, even wearing David Byrne’s suit from the “Stop Making Sense” video, as he appears to be in the linked picture, isn’t going to generate enough sympathy to save him.
The coup de grace (or is that coup dis-grace?) comes in the last paragraph: “League organizers have said Downs won’t be allowed to coach again if he is convicted of criminal charges … Downs is not suspended and remains a coach in the league.”
Dave Bliss is probably still the most loathsome coach of the last 10 years, but if half of these allegations are true, this guy’s number two with a bullet.