Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Too legit, so quit

It wasn't long ago that I wrote about a town voting to cancel it's Little League All-Star game because it excluded kids who weren't, well, All-Stars.

And now, in another fine example of discouraging kids from meeting challenges, a Little League team in New Haven, Connecticut has banned a nine year old boy for being too good.

The Youth Baseball League of New Haven, CT, has banned nine year old Jericho Scott because he throws too hard, with fastballs topping out at 40 mph. Before you laugh, thinking, "I could crush a 40 mph pitch!", remember two things: the mound is far closer to home plate that the standard 60 feet six inches... and the fact that he's nine.

The league plans to disband Scott's team and redistribute the players. Says Scott, "I feel sad. I feel like it's my fault nobody could play."

After the ban, Scott started a game at second base, only to return to the mound in the following game. And what did the opposing coach do?

He forfeited.

Wow. Look, I get the concern over the possibility of an eight year old getting hurt facing that kind of relative heat. And I do understand that baseball at that low of a level is intended to be instructional and developmental. But quitting because something is too hard? What a joke.

I remember facing one kid in particular in Little League who threw exceptionally hard, and I still remember his name (I'll withhold it, though. Not that it's someone you'd know anyway). He threw incredibly hard. So what'd our team do when we faced him? We swung away. Granted, it was with eyes closed and knees buckling, but we still stepped into the batter's box for our three pitches.

Why do coaches and parents think this sort of behaviour is a good idea? What if they did this at all levels of baseball? Can you imagine the Rockies storming off the field every time the Diamondbacks and starter Brandon Webb come to town? When Mariano Rivera enters a game in the 9th, should the opposing team just leave?

And what sort of lesson does this teach young Jericho Scott? That if you're too good in life, if you reach too high, or have too much success, people will only try to knock you down? (OK, so that's probably true, but nine years old is too early to learn that lesson) Should he settle for mediocrity? He can't simply move to a higher level, because at the next age division up they likely play on larger fields, which would destroy a nine year old arm.

Scott feels sad that kids can't play because of him. I feel sad that kids today apparently can't face a challenge.

In other Bad Baseball news from Monday night...

Only one bad game, and a couple of bad performances within it, to report on. The Cubs routed the Pirates, 12-3. Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens - he of the near perfect game a month ago - allowed five runs on six hits in three innings of work. Reliever Jason Davis just piled on, allowing five more runs on five hits in just two innings.

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