Over the Top

By Brian Gotta

I stumbled upon an article in a small community newspaper that was headlined, “Youth Baseball Game Unfairly Umpired.” It was written by the grandmother of a player whose team lost after umpires ended the game due to a time limit having been reached. Dozens of people chimed in with online comments and reading them makes me wonder about these folks.

Here’s a sampling in italics below. I’m withholding the names of the teams/cities so no one is embarrassed. By the way, these kids are 7 and 8:

Actually it states in the rules that the drop dead rule is in effect during pool play games only….this game was an elimination game not a pool play game. They did not flip a coin to see was home like it says in pool play games nor would the game be able to end in a tie…..because then nobody would be playing in the Championship game. The rules were not clearly stated anywhere……so shame on all involved… The coach from the losing team for not clarifying the rules… FYB and Pony baseball for not stated the rules clearly…..overall it was a great game and it should have ended in a different way….With a win and loss by both teams in a game played to the end.

Did I mention the kids are 7 and 8?

The brackets were changed after the 2nd day of the tourney….. These two teams shouldn’t have even played……but it really didn’t matter because either one of these teams were gonna get beat by the (home team) in the Championship game!!!

Then someone made a suggestion about the rules.

Nice rule suggestion, but all coaches were made aware of the rules prior to the start of the tournament. Don’t complain about it when you are on the short end of the rule. A little “Johnny come lately” don’t you think?

The suggester responds.

First of all, I never said I was “on the short end of the rule”, did I? You know nothing about me. And, I heard parents from BOTH teams who were very disappointed that the boys didn’t get to play a complete game. My rule recommendation was merely a suggestion for implementing a more fair system the NEXT TIME. Think about it, though—honestly, wouldn’t YOU feel cheated if you ended up on the short end of that rule????

And from proud fan…

The brackets were changed after the 2nd day of the tourney….. These two teams shouldn’t have even played……but it really didn’t matter because either one of these teams were gonna get beat by the (home team) in the Championship game!!!

And, again, we’re talking about 7 and 8 year-olds.

Not only did the (home team) move on to the Regional Championship in (city)…..the two teams met again in a elimination game and the Spartans won 13-9 The Spartans now have advanced and will be the #1 seed out of (city) for the Pony Baseball World Series Super Region this weekend!

And finally, in the comments, some perspective:

Well new year new bunch of whiners will come in soon and blah blah. My son played in the tournaments last season. He ran around and got dirty. He jumped over a fence in foul territory trying to catch a foul ball. He thought it was awfully cool that they said his name over the loud speaker. At the end he said he had a great time, but that it was time to move on and play some hoops. He was just told he’ll be back again this year. Let’s remember why we are there.

I didn’t tell him about the coaches, from the league he plays in no less, that cornered the pregnant women to badger her to change the schedule of the games on the second day to favor his team the next morning. “Believe me this doesn’t help me, I am just doing what is best for the kids.” I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it. Hopefully, that women has her hands full with her baby and won’t have to deal with any grown up infants this year. There are a ton of rules at these things. There should be one added in bold. No more than 5 grown ups with uniforms on from any league, per division. You have your team, you know the start time, play ball. To have endless “discussions” with the umps in games with kids this age is deplorable. Our league will sent a huge contingent again this year and will be in the mix come title time again. I remember every play of ever game I ever played as a kid. I remember every coach that was there for themselves and who was there with the kids best interests at heart. Do the right thing guys and let ’em get dirty and then head off to the snack bar after the game. The kids know who is a good guy and who is a jerk that is there for their own agenda. Be a good guy!! They all give it their best shots each game. We all had our chances to play when we were little. Let ’em play!

They are a bunch of kids, let ’em play the game. A lot less pot bellied gray hairs running around with jerseys on and more kids hitting it when they pitch it and catching it when they hit it.

Amen.

This article was written in 2011 which means now, all of these kids are 12 and 13. I wonder how many are still playing baseball. Statistically, not that many. And for those who aren’t I wonder if this kind of pressure and intensity at such a tender age was really fun. Or if maybe it has something to do with why they’re no longer on the field.

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

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