As Softball New Zealand attempted to shut down the story about three of their Black Sox opting to play baseball, it became clear that would be no controversy without manager Doug Golightly's now-infamous email.
From an institutional standpoint, Softball New Zealand have no problem with Brad Rona, Pita Rona and Ben Enoka wanting to play the "other" diamond sport. It's only Black Sox management that do.
So down went the shutters yesterday, with Brad Rona deciding not to talk, Black Sox captain Rhys Casley being told he couldn't and just Softball New Zealand board chairman Rex Capil and general manager Dane Dougan available to speak.
Capil felt the issue was becoming emotive, with an ugly anti-baseball sentiment which was at odds with his body's view. Capil and Dougan share a high regard for Baseball New Zealand and have already produced a discussion document about how the two codes can best work alongside each other.
If it weren't for Golightly's email, which categorically stated that no Black Sox could participate in baseball at any level, there would be no issue.
The Ronas, and Enoka, were asked to front Golightly and head coach Eddie Kohlhase on Monday night and explain why they'd been playing club baseball in Auckland. Rather than tearfully admit they'd never do it again, the trio said they'd actually like to play a lot more baseball and would happily miss this month's Black Sox tour to Australia.
But because they've yet to break with any Softball New Zealand protocols, the three players remain in contention for future Black Sox selection should they want it.
"That's why I've taken a lead and said `Hey, before we go too far down the track let's get some facts on the table,"' Capil said.
He's yet to see a copy of Golightly's email, meaning he was unable to indicate if it was definitely at odds with Softball New Zealand policy.
Speaking before Monday night's meeting, Golightly said he'd penned the email at the request of Kohlhase and assistant coach Dave Workman. They were concerned about the players' attention being diverted into other areas, when winning the 2013 world championship should be their only priority.
"The thing is, you can't have five bucks each way, can you?" Golightly said. Only the three players now have which, given another of the manager's previous statements, must put his position into question.
"There was a lot of internal conflict [at the 2009 world champs] and my job was to come in and clean all that up. If I can't clean it up, then I'll probably have to look at my own role," he said.
But until Capil sees the email, and hears more from Enoka and the Ronas, then "I don't want to bag the players" or anyone else.
"I have seen some information today which would indicate that these players are still passionate about the Black Sox and are still passionate about softball and are still very loyal to the people that have gone before and the tradition that typifies the Black Sox brand," Capil said.
- Fairfax Media
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