Rooting For Mo'ne Davis To Dominate, Now And In The Future
Mo'ne Davis pitches on Wednesday. As reporters, we are not in the business of cheering for people or teams. Heroes-turned-cheaters like Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones will take the fan out of you pretty quickly.
But I want to make an exception for Davis.
As my colleague Adena Andrews pointed out, Davis has a story that offers some hope at a very difficult moment. She and her team from Philadelphia don't have the money and support that more affluent Little League teams do, but they made it to the Little League World Series anyway, and now Davis is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
The Taney Little League story seems to reinforce the American dream, the idea that hard work can get you anywhere you want to go, no matter where you came from. It does this even as the photos and news from Ferguson, Missouri, cast that mythical narrative into deep doubt. As Davis prepares to pitch, the Ferguson school district has canceled classes in the wake of protests against the killing of an unarmed man by a police officer.
Davis has no control over the news cycle she has pitched her way into. She is not an antidote to the disturbing realities that Ferguson has revealed -- that would be too simplistic. Still, her success matters. Her victories may be symbolic in one sense, but that doesn't diminish them. In each game or interview, she has shown that she is capable of handling this moment.
What a kid.
I could watch her pitch until the actual World Series. The Little League tournament will conclude, and then what happens to this bright light of an ace? She grows up, most likely without the baseball scouts checking her progress, without college baseball in her future.
I want Mo'ne to have a dream worthy of her uniqueness, one that isn't tied to being a girl or a boy. She came in to the LLWS saying she wants to play basketball, and that is awesome, but I wonder how well she can multitask.
Here's how I see it: In the movie of her life story, Davis leads her high school baseball and girls' basketball teams to state championships, is drafted by the Yankees and the Liberty, and wins three Cy Young awards, two WNBA titles and five MVPs. After that, she becomes the first black female president and flies a spaceship that diverts the path of a comet bound directly for Earth.
The truth is that the money she could earn playing for the WNBA -- maybe $50,000 a year? -- would be a pittance compared with the signing bonus she would get if an MLB team drafted her out of high school. The economics of women's sports, unless she picks up a tennis racket, just don't match up.
Those are grown-up worries, and they will fade away as Davis takes the mound at 7:30 ET Wednesday night. For as many as six innings, reality disappears, and it will be Mo'ne Davis and her confident eye staring down batter after batter.
Maybe it's not impartial, but I want to see her pitch lights-out.
Other things I'm thinking about this week:
Some people have groused that the #ALSIceBucketChallenge is as mindlessly social as lemmings going off a cliff. Whatever. In this one, Caroline Wozniacki mistakes her role as water dumper for Connecticut Open tournament director Anne Worcester and turns the challenge into a water fight with Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep. The Connecticut Open is happening in New Haven all week, a very accessible local lead-up to the US Open.
The NFL responded to the Raiderettes' lawsuit. Basically, the NFL says that it's the wrong entity to sue because the team, not the league, employed the cheerleaders.
In the wake of flipping off the Washington bench, Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is up for a potential $11,025 NFL fine. Congratulations on your first fine, Johnny! It's a big moment in any player's career.
More and more broadcasters are choosing not to use the Washington NFL team's nickname when they call or discuss games. Remember, this is something everyone can do.
Ronda Rousey is in "Expendables 3." Despite being called a flop by some critics, you have to hand it to the UFC fighter: She is finding creative ways to manage a career without a roadmap. More Rousey, less Stallone. Yeah, I said it!