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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Principals' Baffling Vote Lacks Principle

May 19, 1999|ERIC SONDHEIMER

Shame on three principals from the Pacific View League who voted to send Rio Mesa High as the league's No. 2 representative in the Southern Section baseball playoffs instead of Oxnard, which had a better league record.

The principals from Rio Mesa, Hueneme and Channel Islands gave no credibility to a forfeit victory for Oxnard (7-5) over Rio Mesa (6-6). That is outrageous.

In a letter to the Southern Section office, league President Tony Diaz wrote: "The basic feeling amongst those principals in favor of Rio Mesa was that the coach of Oxnard, who had prior knowledge of the violation prior to the start of the game, should have mentioned it to the Rio Mesa coach and that on the field, Rio Mesa defeated Oxnard three times."

Rio Mesa forfeited its May 3 game against Oxnard because it apparently didn't know a three-year-old Southern Section rule stipulating that a player who is ejected from a game can't be present at the next game.

It was an innocent oversight, not blatant cheating. But to let the Spartans off the hook so easily sets a terrible precedent.

And to blame Coach Dan Garcia of Oxnard is even more baffling. Garcia insists he was not aware of a violation prior to the game, contradicting Diaz's statement. Yes, he knew the rule, but Garcia said he did not learn about the Rio Mesa player until after the game. But it shouldn't matter. Rio Mesa violated the rule, not Oxnard.

Diaz had the audacity to write in his letter, "This was a very delicate matter and I hope that a positive message is found as a result."

On the contrary, the message being sent from the Pacific View League is that there are no consequences for violating a Southern Section rule.

Other leagues have acted differently. Westlake lost a Marmonte League championship because it broke the same rule. Oak Park forfeited a game to Fillmore on May 5 after turning itself in for the same rule violation. Lancaster had to forfeit 11 baseball games because of an administrative error. Each was an oversight, but the leagues chose to follow the rules.

But nothing happened to Rio Mesa because three principals decided to ignore the forfeit.

As an irate parent of an Oxnard baseball player explained, "This is insane. I can't explain this to my son except that he has to overcome it."

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