Is there any case at all?
And after $8,000 in legal bills, scores of interviews and three investigations …
Actually, scratch that. Something happened. A minor rules violation for which no disciplinary action will be taken against Montville High School baseball coach Phil Orbe.
Welcome to another cautionary tale about the lengths to which sniveling parents will jab at the core of the games kids play.
The two-minute drill version: A lengthy story in Friday's Norwich Bulletin detailed parent Jeffrey W. Hill's obsession with exposing the Montville baseball program's alleged out-of-season practices. After "investigations" from two law firms, a mini-series worth of he said, she said and they said, rumor, coercion, notarized documents, Freedom of Information requests and the musings of the lunatic fringe, it produced a minor violation from three years ago.
The violation: Montville players worked out in the winter of 2009 at the Mike Turgeon Indoor Baseball School in Norwich, where Orbe has been employed since 2006. Even officials at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state's governing body for high school athletics, admit that Orbe's violation is a "gray area," as one official said Friday.
Orbe, the CIAC official said, was paid more than $2,000, thereby adhering to some, but not all, stipulations of CIAC bylaws about out-of-season coaching.
The rules violation, however, is the appetizer for the far less palatable entrée: parental revenge on the coach who didn't play their son enough.
It's hard to conclude differently, given one family's crusade that necessitated three "investigations" - three! - into a bunch of high school kids taking a few hacks in the cage on some nothing January night.
I love that word.
Like this is Enron.
An "investigation" by assistant superintendent Brian Levesque.
An independent "investigation" by attorney Susan Asselin-Connolly.
Then another from Jessica L. Ritter at Hartford-based Shipman-Goodwin.
What, Alan Dershowitz wasn't available?
And for what?
This is for what: The Hill family's desire to bring down the coach who they believed wronged their son.
Hill's wife, Lynne Quintal-Hill, wrote in an e-mail (obtained by The Day) to Orbe on June 14, 2011: "Just remember, what goes around comes around."
The literary community calls that "foreshadowing."
In April, 2011, she wrote to Orbe: "I wonder that when someone in your position forgets that being fair and giving equal chances is pushed aside for whatever reason, and when you take it upon yourself to deliberately attempt to embarrass someone for the purposes of your own ego to show everyone how right you are, you clearly have lost sight of what is right and wrong."
Here is what I know about Orbe: He takes to losing the way Archie Bunker takes to gay marriage. If Orbe thinks a kid can help his team win, the kid will play. I'd guess most coaches feel that way. I'd guess most coaches would agree with a line Geno Auriemma once uttered about playing time: "I'd play Charles Manson if I thought he could help us win."
Clearly, any sense of perspective around youth sports swirled the bowl long ago. We got two letters Friday about our "deplorable" and "disgraceful" coverage of youth baseball and local American Legion baseball.
Oh, the humanity.
You know what I find "deplorable" and "disgraceful?"
Protecting a sexual predator at Penn State.
Shooting up a movie theater in Colorado.
But then, there I go again with a few stabs at rational thought from here in the demilitarized zone.
As if three investigations and $8,000 in school-system legal fees haven't been enough, Orbe's case is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday by the Board of Education in a closed-door executive session.
Question: What case?
A three-year-old "violation" the state isn't even sure is a violation?
End this now.
Other wronged parents in plenty of other towns need their day in court, too.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro. His column will return Aug. 6.
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