Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly, if not the laziest man in America, certainly the guy with the easiest job, cues up the violins :

In a nine- and 10-year-old PONY league championship game in Bountiful, Utah, the Yankees lead the Red Sox by one run. The Sox are up in the bottom of the last inning, two outs, a runner on third. At the plate is the Sox’ best hitter, a kid named Jordan. On deck is the Sox’ worst hitter, a kid named Romney Oaks (above). He’s a scrawny cancer survivor who has to take human growth hormone and has a shunt in his brain.

So, you’re the coach: Do you intentionally walk the star hitter so you can face the kid who can barely swing?

Wait! Before you answer…. This is a league where everybody gets to bat, there’s a four-runs-per-inning max, and no stealing until the ball crosses the plate. On the other hand, the stands are packed and it is the title game.

So … do you pitch to the star or do you lay it all on the kid who’s been through hell already?

Yanks coach Bob Farley decided to walk the star.

And, sadly, the young cancer survivor whiffed. Not only does Reilly collect quotes from those predictably outraged, but MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann (above) gave Romney’s dad, Marlo Oaks , plenty of face-time on last night’s “Countdown” (it wasn’t exactly a slow news day, either) to deliver the obligatory moan & groan about the opposing coach being a competitive jerkface, etc.

Without in any way diminishing what this kid has been through, striking out with the bases loaded is, y’know, part of the game. As Olbermann should know all too well. If that’s an unfair burden to put on a 9-year old brain cancer survivor, perhaps his own parents ought to think about their own role in this.

I know this sounds heartless, but I don’t think you can have it both ways. If you want to include Romney in a game where the score is unimportant (insomuch as any Little League result could be deemed important) and everybody’s-a-winner, Al Leiter can probably find room for him in the White House’s Challenger Division. In the meantime, he’s learned a handful of valuable life lessons ,

a) in the real world, the weak are routinely vicitimized
b) the older you get, the worse those polyester pants are gonna look,
c) the only thing lamer than parents living vicariously through the athletic exploits of their kids is adults using children to work out their own anxieties on TV.

The gentlemen coaching the winning team, Bob Farely and Shaun Carr, have little to be proud of. They took full advantage of a feeble boy and used that opportunity to win something terribly insignificant. But I’m not sure how they are so different than Reilly, Olbermann or MSNBC’s Bob Cook, none of whom seem to find anything exploitive about using this kid as a prop for their own self-righteousness