Category Archives: Baseball

Mandatory and play do not go together, Little League

The Little League World Series began Thursday and continues through next Sunday.

I refuse to watch, unless it happens to be on at a sports bar, where I don’t have control of the televisions. But usually I have enough to distract me, including trivia and other sporting events.

I refuse to watch for one primary reason.

Mandatory play.

In most levels governed by Little League International, including the 12-year old level, which is the age group for teams in the LLWS, everyone who is listed on a lineup card must get into the game for meaningful action.

If a team has 13 or more players on its lineup card, every player must (a) bat at least once, or (b) play three consecutive outs on defense. And three consecutive outs means just that; a fielder can drop three fly balls or let three balls go through his legs, but he has to stay out there until three outs are recorded.

If a team has fewer than 13 players on its roster, then everyone must either bat once or play SIX consecutive outs.

A coach who violates this rule is subjected to severe penalties, and the player(s) who did not get into that game must start the team’s next game.

It happened in a regional game in Connecticut this summer. The coach of the New Hampshire state champion refused to insert the one player on his team who had yet to play. The commissioner of the New England region ruled if the coach violated the rule, he would be suspended for his team’s next two games.

What made this ridiculous is New Hampshire trailed 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth–the last inning–with runners on the corners.

The coach refused.

Good for him.

Let me see: I’m going to bat someone who has yet to play just to satisfy a stupid rule when he represents the winning run. Okay then.

The mandatory play rule is asinine. I don’t care if the kids are 12 years old.

It’s a fact of life some kids are just not as talented as the others. It may be some kids hit their growth spurt earlier, it may be a kid is just not naturally talented, whatever.

If the greatest heartbreak in a kid’s life is not getting into a Litlte League game, then that kid has a great life.

How many Little League players are going to make their high school varsity? I would say less than one third.

How many of those who make their high school varsity are going to play in college? Less than five percent.

And how many players in college (or high school) are going to play professionally (and by professionally, I mean the minor leagues)? Less than one percent. And very, very, VERY few are going to make it all the way to Major League Baseball.

Starting in high school, NOBODY has a right to play. NOBODY. There are tens of thousands of high school varsity players across the United States who see little or no action in their careers. It’s not anything against them. It’s a fact of life.

Mandatory play in Little League is another symptom of the participation trophy culture of the United States. Just like parents complaining their son or daughter didn’t play.

I think mandatory play should be abolished, period. But if Little Leasgue insists on keepig it, it should be outlawed for use in state, regional and World Series play. Teams should be able to use their best players at all times when their seasons are on the line. And coaches who refuse to abide by it need to be applauded, not punished, for upholding the spirit of the National Pastime.

I wasn’t good enough to play baseball when I was very young. I tried, but it was futile. I gave it up. It’s not good to quit, but I knew I wasn’t coordinated enough. It’s simply a fact of life I deal with.

No kid should be discouraged if he doesn’t play. It’s all about the team.

Kansas doesn’t have to worry about it anyway. No team from the Sunflower State has ever played in the LLWS. The only area with teams sanctioned by LIttle League are in the southeast corner, and those are grossly overmatched in the Midwest regoinal.

Week of weird

It has been one of those weeks. Nothing bad, just some unusual happenings.

I’m leaving my house in half an hour to go to Russell High School for the Russell Relays track and field meet, which gets underway at 3 p.m. The intense severe weather is not forecast to arrive until tomorrow, but Russell High is not taking any chances, opting to cancel preliminary heats in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and high hurdles, and scrub finals for five of the seven field events in order to move the meet along. This will be the last meet on the current track at Russell’s Shaffer Field; a new eight-lane track will be ready for 2016.

Tomorrow is supposed to be really nasty. Russell is on the eastern edge for a moderate risk of strong tornadoes. And I’m alone.

Yesterday was another one of those days. It started off innocently enough, with my 9 a.m. appointment in Hays with Crista Geyer. There were some painful things I brought up with her, but otherwise, it was another very productive session.

I dozed off and almost missed the 1 p.m. start time for Victoria’s track and field meet. I got there right at the starting time, and I stayed for two and a half hours. I had to run to Hays really quick after, then made the trip back to Russell for the Broncos’ baseball and softball games vs. Southeast of Saline. I started at softball, then left after the fourth for baseball.

The rain arrived at 5:40, just as the first game of the baseball doubleheader ended. It was a bad day for the hometown team; softball lost 13-2 in five innings, and baseball fell 2-1.

The second game of the softball doubleheader was canceled and will not be made up. Southeast wrapped up the North Central Activities Association championship in game one. The Trojans will likely have a bye in the first round of the Class 3A regional hosted by Beloit May 18-19. Russell is in that regional and likely will be seeded sixth or seventh (last).

The second game of the baseball doubleheader has to be played. Russell/Victoria can win the NCAA championship outright with a win, or Southeast can force a tie if it wins. That game will begin at 4:30 this afternoon. Russell/Victoria wanted to play the game later, but Southeast said no. The Trojans aren’t used to night games, since their field in Gypsum lacks lights.

My parents departed for New Orleans and their 10-day visit Wednesday morning just after 6. I got up way too early to see them off, and I paid the price. I dozed off three times in my office chair while I was working on articles for this week’s Russell County News. At 1:30, Elaine Mercer had to send me a Facebook message to get on the ball. I did. Thankfully she got on me about it.

I stayed up way too late watching Shark Tank reruns which I recorded. I almost missed my appointment with Crista. By time I woke up, it was 8:07. Fortunately for me, I can get ready quickly, and I will admit I took liberties with the speed limit. I made it from my garage door to the parking lot at High Plains Mental Health in 27 minutes.

Tuesday I was speeding along I-70 from the opposite direction. Elaine wanted me to go out to the Russell baseball and softball games vs. Beloit. Problem was, I was in Kansas City, and I was trying to wrap up my work for the week. I had so much track agate typing to do it ate up the clock. I didn’t leave the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs until 1:30, and even then, I had to go to the Chick-Fil-A on Barry Road just east of I-29 to use their Wi-Fi and get everything done. I didn’t leave Kansas City until 3:15, after I fueled the car and got snacks at the QuikTrip on Barry Road near Zona Rosa.

I only stopped for a frappucino at Starbucks in Junction City. I got back to Russell just after 6:30, and when I tuned in to the radio broadcast of the softball game, it was the bottom of the sixth of the second game. Even though the game was tied, it appeared the umpires were going to end the game after six innings and declare a tie if neither team scored. Sure enough, neither Beloit nor Russell scored.

However, the coaches prevailed upon the umpires to play the seventh. Good thing for me, because I got there just in time to take a few pictures in the bottom of the seventh. Better thing for Russell, which scored to win 4-3 and end an 11-game losing streak.

I went over to baseball and took some pictures, but due to the overcast and light rain falling, I had little to no light. I got what I could and went home.

Now I have to pray the house and I stay upright tomorrow. The weather looks much better starting Sunday.