Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Baseball Is A Simple Game

Youth baseball is now in full swing (pun intended), and after an extended period of irritatingly cold weather, we've had a stretch of heat that's fired up some thunderstorms that have cancelled some games recently, as sure a sign of summer as anything. 

Here's my problem with baseball: the adults who run kids' leagues.  No, let me try that again.  Here's my problem with baseball: because the action takes place in manic bursts of energy that die away almost as soon as they get started, people watching the games have too much time to think about, pick apart, examine, and analyze the game's minutiae.  And there's a hell of a lot of minutiae--it's the only youth sport that I've coached where it's not just advisable to carry a rulebook in the equipment bag, but where the chances are pretty good that on any particular play, you might have to consult the rule book to get clarification on something. 

Ive always hated when people use knowledge as a weapon to humiliate or intimidate other people, and unfortunately I see that type of behavior on the baseball diamond, particularly with obnoxious coaches and rookie umpires. 

But I'm getting away from what I really wanted to write about, which is the story out of Westfield, MA, about the 12-year-old Little League player who's been told by the league that he can't pitch, because he has too strong of an arm. He's pitching in Westfield Little Leagues "minor" league division, where most of the players are 9- and 10-years old. So the kid may have a good arm, or it may be that he's just got an advantage because he's a couple of years older than most of the other kids he's playing against. The story explains that some parents of opposing players actually heckled this kid while he was pitching. The move has upset the player and his family. The story also states that it's too late in the year for the kid to be moved up to the "majors" division.  It seems that the National Little League policy is to prohibit 12-year-olds from pitching in the minors, but Westfield's local rules permit it. 

That must mean that Westfield coaches have to carry TWO rulebooks in their equipment bags.

Now, I'm sure there are details that Ron Chmelis left out of his story for one reason or another, and that I don't know the full story.  But what I do know is that youth sports is supposed to be about developing in the participants the skills they need to enjoy playing that particular sport. While I'm sure the 12-year-old enjoys pitching against younger kids, I'm not sure that he's going to get much better at baseball playing against lesser competition.  And I'm not sure that the kids who have to bat against him will see much improvement, either.  Seems pretty cut and dry:  let the kids play against kids his own age.  I'm sure if left on their own, the kids would have figured this out themselves weeks ago. 

Stupid adults.

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