ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Kid Danny (2014)

Directed by Andrew Cohn

Mo’ne Davis was quite the sensation this year at the Little League World Series. If you don’t follow little league baseball, she was quite the dominant pitcher among her male teammates and competitors. Hailing from Philadelphia, she was often compared to Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon in her pitching mechanics. her fastball was dominant, and the whole story impressive. Equally impressive was the story of Danny Almonte and the Bronx little leaguers that stormed the country back in the early 2000s. Almonte was also the sensation of the tournament, tossing the first perfect game of the tournament since the 1950s. His fastball, changeup and curveball were all equally unhittable by the 12 year old competitors. Of course, some of that may have had to do with the fact that Danny Almonte was not a 12 year old. He was two years older than the batters he was consistently sticking out.

The controversy was not focused on Almonte necessarily, it wasn’t his fault. Instead the parents and coaches were thrown under the bus. But what does that kind of media attention and scrutiny do to even a 14 year old. He may have been more mature than 12, but at what age is that kind of negative publicity able to be swallowed? Almonte has since been all but forgotten, left behind as that one controversy a decade ago. What Cohn does with his film is investigates who Almonte is today, and what he went through then. Taking a step back, I realize how harsh the world can be, and how immediate, especially in this day and age, criticism can come. I thought about the impact my words and expressions may have on anyone for that matter, not just kids. How can we so quickly judge as a media society without all the pertinent facts?

Almonte may have known he was older, but he was doing what he was told by his father and his coach. Whose fault is it really? He was a kid. How was his future affected by such a controversy? How much did the greed of the parent and coach play into the decision? These are all things that were constantly on my mind as I sat watching the film unfold. Danny went to college where he pitched and received his degree. He has come a long way from a Dominican kid in the Bronx who could hardly speak English. He has made a life for himself. Youth sports exist to not only give kids something to do to stay active, but also as a way to teach them things like teamwork and perseverance. When the parents stay out of it, and the coaches are in it for the right reasons, these lessons can be communicated and enjoyed by everyone involved. They really can enrich a childhood. But when greed and politics get involved, as with many other things, it can be ruined.

**1/2 – Average

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