Since the age of Little League World Series pitcher Danny Almonte came into question, I've had trouble sleeping.
Lying awake in bed into the morning hours, I continuously wonder whether Almonte, ace of the Rolando Paulino team from the Bronx, N.Y., is 12 or 14.
Apparently, I'm not the only one losing sleep.
On the road: Sports Illustrated -- revealing its vast resources -- sent a reporter to the Dominican Republic earlier this week to examine birth certificates and to investigate whether Almonte violated Little League rules.
The Associated Press sent a reporter to the Dominican. The New York Times, New York Daily News and New York Post have been investigating, as well.
The story began after a group of distraught parents from Staten Island, N.Y., angered that Almonte silenced their team with his talented left arm, paid a private investigator $10,000 to find out whether the pitcher exceeded the age limit of 12.
Almonte's coach says he's 12. Almonte's father says he's 12. Almonte's mother, who revealed a photocopied birth certificate with Almonte's birth date of April 7, 1989, says he's 12.
Even New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani had an answer, saying the team must be given the benefit of the doubt.
Does anyone have a final answer?
Seeking the truth: Thursday, I counted down the hours until noon, when the truth was to be revealed following -- and I love the sound of this -- a Dominican government investigation.
"Danny Almonte -- 12 or 14? Story at 11."
Unfortunately, the results of the investigation were delayed until sometime today because the president of the registrar's office in Almonte's hometown of Moca never showed up.
Why am I not surprised?
That absence increased the suspense that is building throughout households across the nation.
Will Almonte's age lead to Rolando Paulino being stripped of its third-place World Series finish? What other type of action will Little League Baseball take?
We can only hope high school football public address announcers -- giving fans updates on area games -- will include the Danny Almonte score tonight.
I'm guessing 14-12.
But seriously: The fact that no one is able to determine Almonte's age -- but trying every means possible -- may be humorous. But a deeper look into the matter reveals a sad symbolism about youth sports in today's society.
The Danny Almonte controversy has been a shot against Little League Baseball, but this story bothers me for a number of other reasons:
U That a father would register his son's birth date twice. What is his motive?
U That coaches would actually have the gall to cheat at the Little League level -- or any level, for that matter.
U That other careless coaches might get an idea for their teams.
U That we no longer can appreciate the ability of a youngster -- 12 or 14 years old -- who allows just three hits in three starts, including the first no-hitter in Little League World Series history since 1957.
U That parents would be angered enough after a loss to spend hard-earned money on a private investigator.
U That the day has come when major national publications send reporters to the Dominican Republic to settle a youth sports controversy.
Someone please tell me what is going on.
Oh, but when you do, knock lightly. I might be trying to sleep.
XBrian Richesson is a sports writer for The Vindicator. Write him at email@example.com.