Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Baseball League Follow Up

For whatever reason, my post about Andrew’s Little League baseball game rules seemed to have hit a nerve. Orbusmax picked it up. Sytman and Boze of KTTH mentioned it on air. It was posted on

So for those who were wondering… the age range is 6-8. Most of the kids seem to be in 1st grade. Now I started playing baseball when I was no older than 8. We did not have tee ball or coach pitch or any of that stuff. 6 inning games, 3 outs per side, 3 strikes, 4 balls, all the rules applied. One of the only exceptions was a 6 run limit per inning.

The first day of practice, the coach asked how many of the kids had played before. Most of the hands went up. I knew that might not be the case though when a number of those same kids needed to be told which hand the mitt goes on. Somewhere along the line I was roped into helping coach. It has been fun watching the improvement and it has been substantial. But the reality is some of these kids are really, really bad and will never ever be anything other than really bad. I am not sure what the point is in encouraging a kid who simply lacks the basic skills to play the game.

My non insane brother in law emailed me the other day saying his 4 year old was starting tee ball this week. Now I can see these rules applied to 4 and 5 year olds, maybe even 6 year olds but once you start reaching 7 and above, some of them seem a little much. Letting all the kids bat, OK, fine. Coach pitch, sure I have to be at work the next morning. Having them hit off of a tee? Not so much. If anything isn’t that going to make the kid stand out as the loser kid who had to hit the ball off of the tee? Not counting outs? The chance that the team in the field is going to successfully catch a pop fly or throw the runner out at first, 3 times in an inning… Einstein could not calculate those odds. Why not reward the team that can accomplish that?

This last fall I was an assistant coach for Andrew’s 7 and under coed soccer team. Now since I know almost nothing about soccer, my official responsibility was to remind the kids which goal was ours. One game day, I got to the field and our head coach, Dan, walks up to me before the game and with a big smile on his face and says “The other team looks really small”. Sure enough, our mostly 6 and 7 year olds were obviously older than the other team. Now just like in baseball, nobody officially keeps score in U7 soccer except for all of the kids and the Dads, Mom’s, maybe not. About 2 minutes into the game, we had a sizable lead and you could tell our kids were pulling back and passing the ball around when they could have walked right in for another score. After the “game” I asked Coach Dan what he thought the final score was. We both agreed that it was 40 something to maybe 4. Two weeks later we are playing a team that must have missed the coed description of the league and I later learned had been together the previous 2 years. We ended up losing a close game right at the end. Later that day I was getting my haircut. The lady that cuts my hair is very nice, does a quality job but is typical Seattle liberal. I was telling her about the two games and she said I am sure the kids appreciated the more competitive game a lot more. I explained to her no, it was clear that they all seemed to enjoy winning and scoring lots and lots of goals substantially more. It reminded me of an old saying, “While you may learn more from losing, I do not want to be the smartest person in the world”.

First game is Thursday evening. I will make sure to post the unofficial score.


Anonymous said...

"But the reality is some of these kids are really, really bad and will never ever be anything other than really bad. I am not sure what the point is in encouraging a kid who simply lacks the basic skills to play the game."

Uh, that's what coaches do - they teach the game. Perhaps these kids still might enjoy learning the game, or even playing just for fun.

Please, don't 'help out' anymore if that's your attitude.

Anonymous said...

some kids are bad and the kids that are good are held back by the bad players

Anonymous said...

The kids all know who won and lost as do most of the parents. I coach Baseball, Basketball, and Football. (you can keep that commie soccer game for yourself) We have not kept score in any of them yet. I don't know why not in Football and Basketball. Baseball with 5 and 6 year olds would go forever if you waited for three real outs, heck the game clock may run out before the other team ever even made it up to bat. Baseball is much harder to play then basketball and Football. Thats all. I have never had it put to me that our league does not keep score to keep the kids from feeling bad. And yes you are right the kids love to thump another team even when we don't keep score. And they also know when they were thumped. Our job is to teach them respect winning or loosing.

I'm always looking out for ways the world is trying to dumb down our kids and beat up on all things about being a tough manly man. This is not one of them. Now banning dodge ball, tag, musical chairs, that is.

But even after saying that there is another side. One of my children is very disabled. My wife and I would never try to keep a school from playing dodge ball because our child can't. We would rather find things our child can compete in rather then stop other children from competing. It breaks my heart to see my child fall behind a pack of kids running to do something, our child can't play musical chairs unless of course we made everyone else handicap themselves. That is not what not keeping score is about in Baseball at least.