Darrell Moody: Thoughts on Little League
The annual District 1 Little League all-star tournament wrapped up on Saturday, and there was some exciting baseball and not-so exciting baseball played over the 10-day run.
Congratulations to all the champions who will go on to Las Vegas later this month for the state tournament.
Here are some of my thoughts about the tournament and Little League in general.
The event is simply too long for my taste. If I had my druthers, my first choice for a format change would be to go to a straight double-elimination format instead of the current double-elimination plus consolation format.
When I bring the length of the tournament up to people involved, they tell me how hard the kids work and they deserve to play more than two games.
There is some validity to that, but it’s a long regular season, and the further you go into summer, the further you cut into travel ball (which most of the good players play), family vacations and getting ready for Pop Warner or Sierra Youth Football League.
My second choice for a format change would be to revert back to pool play with the top two finishers in each pool advancing to single-elimination play. That would guarantee every team three games.
Little League Baseball Inc. adopted a pitch-count rule many years ago. The rule was put into place for one reason — parent/coaches who want to win at all costs and don’t know how to teach proper pitching mechanics and care of the arms of their pitchers. My issue with the pitch count is that it doesn’t take into account that some players mature quicker than others. I’d like to see pitch counts be a little higher — 75 for 9-year-olds, 85 for 10-year-olds, 90 for 11-year-olds and 100 for 12-year-olds. It’s mind-boggling that a 9-year-old is eligible to throw within 10 pitches of what a 12-year-old can throw under the current system. The pitch count, especially at the 12-year-old level, effectively takes away the ability of a pitcher to throw waste pitches very often when they get up 0-2.
Have a bigger field. I’d like to see the fences at Governors Field extended to 225 or even 250 feet. I think the fields are way too small for many of these kids. One person connected with the local Little League fan thinks 50-70 should be proper distances in the Major Division. Pitching from 50 feet and bases 70 feet apart instead of 46 and 60. Not a bad idea.
I wish Little League would go to paid umpires, OR that more local high school umpires would donate their time to help out. There are some really good Little League umpires like Bob Allen, Matt Teixeira and Mike Petersen and others donating their time. I wish there were more like them.
I did a lot of 3-man mechanics in high school and college, but Little League doesn’t use the same 3-person mechanics that are used in high school and college, and that’s wrong. One umpire told me that the reason the third-base umpire is over by shortstop with a runner on first is in case of an overthrow. If there is an overthrow at second say on a steal or force play, the home plate umpire should be able to get up to third. I mean it’s only 60 feet. From that position, there is NO way an umpire by the shortstop can really see a steal if the runner slides to the outside of second base. That’s why in high school and college baseball, the third-base umpire with a runner on first is to the right of second base just for that reason. I’d love to see the mechanics changed in Little League, or get enough volunteers to have four umpires on every game.
Eliminate the mandatory play rule in the 11-12 division. Let’s face it folks, all stars is really all about winning and not participation. Regular season is about participation and postseason is about winning.
On any local all-star team, you are going to have kids that would be rated a 9 or 10 and others would be rated a 4 or 5. Coaches should only have to play players who give him the best chance to win on any given day.