Image by jasmined via Flickr
This was a busy week! Here was my schedule:
Tuesday: League Championship Series Loss
Wednesday: Minor Tournament Game
Thursday: League Champions Victory
Friday: Tournament of Champions Practice
Saturday 10AM: Tournament of Champions Practice
Saturday Noon: Minor Tournament Game Umpire
Saturday 6PM: Tournament of Champions Practice
Sunday: Rays vs. White Sox Game
Monday: First Tournament of Champions Game
We are Ready
Our girls could not be more ready. They catch every fly ball , field every grounder, and throw accurately. We have done all we can do. Now, it’s time to execute. You never know who will show up, but I am pretty sure they want it, that means they will be focused. They certainly acted like it today at their third practice in less than 24 hours.
Proud to Have Been Part of Their Life
Either way, I am so proud of how far they have come I can’t stop beaming. This is the culmination of years of working with this group of girls. They are 12 now, and this is our year. This is what we have worked for, they know it, they want it, they have heart. They can do it, win or lose they are a success and I am proud to have been a small part of their life.
As we practiced for our tournament of champions tonight our team had that swagger back. A parent in the stands remarked, "they look good tonight, they are playing with a lot of confidence ". How crucial is that in our sport? Essential! It doesn’t guarantee victory, but it assures a chance at it. If you lack confidence in softball , you might as well stay home, you are done.
We practice twice tomorrow. I wonder if they can maintain this passion? I think they will, they are really starting to gel. A third of the team is sleeping over one of the girls houses, this is great. They all showed up tonight after a long game last night with smiles on their faces, smiles go a long way! Hopefully we will do the same.
First, I would like to thank our opponent and congratulate them on being such a formidable opponent. We play a five game series to determine who will represent our league in a district-wide Tournament of Champions (TOC) and it took five games to determine a winner! They were truly a worthy opponent. Young too, they will be VERY good next year.
Girls Showed Up
Tonight our girls decided they were going to play as good as they are truly capable of. It was an awesome spectacle to watch. While we had struggled holding it together in prior games, tonight they were clicking on all cylinders. Our pitcher was on all night, and we made all the routine plays we are supposed to make. Our hitting rarely fails us, and tonight that was the case again, so we hit well and scored 10 runs.
It was fun to sit back and watch the confidence they played with tonight. I hope they take that confidence into the TOC next week. Do you have a story of confidence? Please share it.
Image by dareneilert via Flickr
Biggest Geek in the World
I am the biggest geek on the planet! I actually look forward to the release of the new rule book each year so I can read it cover to cover! Baseball and Softball btw. So I have little patience for people who try to throw the rules around and make rulings that have an impact on the game.
Don’t Impact the Game
My basic rule of thumb, if it is going impact the game and you are unsure, don’t impact the game! That said, an official really should know all the rules, but I know that when you have volunteers you can’t expect this. In that situation, you need to make sure to take the time to get it right.
Great Job Girl!
Tonight, we had a young girl umpire who did just that. When she had something wrong, or when in doubt, she took the time to get it right! This was wonderful! I only wish the other team knew the rules so that it was never an issue in the first place, but again, they are volunteers, so it isn’t that big of a deal. Coaches just try to bring rules from other leagues into Little League , and that’s not good. Little League almost always sides on leniency. We should learn from that.
18 Years Straight of Reading the Book
I heard my wife say it best in the stands as we were debating this, "why do they argue with him about the rules?". I don’t know them all, don’t always get them right, but I bet I am 99% right 1/2 the time! (Yogi would be proud). I have read every word of each rulebook and the operators manual for 18 years straight. Yes, I am the biggest nerd you will ever know! But at least I know the rules.
What are the most common rules violations you see? Let us know.
Image by Podknox via Flickr
I have written the prior few days about how we will see things we haven’t seen all year over the next few weeks. This was true tonight. A first baseman that ate up every throw in the dirt, girls that hit the ball that hadn’t all year. It will only get better! I can’t wait!
That Time of the Year
It is that time of the year! Wrapping up the seasons, cramming games into the end of the year and praying for no rain! (Though we really could use rain here, how about only rain after 10PM?). Every league is pretty much the same this time of the year and things really start to get fun.
Sit Back and Enjoy
This is the time where a coach gets to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labors. I told a couple of people the other day that "you will see things you didn’t think possible over the next couple of weeks". The middle of the season starts to drag a bit, and the kids drop off here and there, but introduce tournaments, top teams, championships, and trophies and suddenly they focus! Not only do they focus, they actually implement what you have been teaching them all year! That’s the fun part!
The Inevitable Upset
Inevitably a team that hasn’t won very many games knocks someone off, a kid that hasn’t hit all year gets in a game winning situation and succeeds! A pitcher that a manager is forced into using strikes out a home run king. I kid that has never caught a fly ball in his life makes a diving catch. These times is fun!!!!!!!
Here is my schedule, I am sure you can relate:
Tuesday: Top Team Tournament Game
Wednesday: Minor Tournament Game
Thursday: Top Team Tournament Game
Saturday: 2 Practices
Monday: Potential Minor Tournament Game/Potential Tournament of Champions Game
Tuesday: Potential Minor Tournament Game/Potential Tournament of Champions Game
Wednesday: Potential Minor Tournament Game/Potential Tournament of Champions Game
Thursday: Potential Minor Tournament Game/Potential Tournament of Champions Game
It doesn’t stop there, I am just not sure where it goes!
The great thing about this time of year, the kids know what they are doing today. Playing ball! Tomorrow? Playing ball!, the next day? Playing ball! They tend to stay very focused.
10 Minutes of Mourning
To all out there who are entering your busy time, good luck! But remember to look over at your kids 10 minutes after you lose or are eliminated, what are they doing? Running around playing w/ the other team w/ smiles on their faces of course!!!!
How busy is your schedule? Let’s hear it!
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Image by lbgll via Flickr
Incessant Hum of the Cheer
Softball is wrought with an incessant hum of the cheer . It is at times enlightening, at times motivational, at times informative, and at times funny. But, it should NEVER be unsportsmanlike.
Some cheers are naturally unsportsmanlike. I don’t know if coaches don’t recognize this or don’t care. Either way, they are unacceptable. Rule 4.06(2) states that "no manager, coach or player, shall at any time, whether from the bench or the playing field or elsewhere, use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, manager, coach, an umpire, or spectators."
This rule effectively eliminated the "chatter" we used to do as kids. Remember, "hey batter , batter, batter, batter, hey batter, batter, batter, batter, SWING!". This was a motivational thing the coaches used to keep their kids focused more than a tactic to distract the batter. But, our PC world will not tolerate such actions, so it has been banned.
The cheers I hear coming out of some softball dugouts are in blatant violation of this rule. Some that come to mind?
"3 and 0 now, whatcha gonna do now, walk her, walk her"
"We’re #1, we’re never #2, we’re gonna beat the woopsies out of you, the woopsies out of you"
And the worst of all:
"We stole on you, yeah we stole on you, while you were picking your nose, yeah, we stole on you"
Those are the three I can think of off the top of my head, there are plenty more that are obviously in violation of this rule and definitely unsportsmanlike.
Essentially, any cheer that is derogatory to the other team is unsportsmanlike. Why would you want to taunt a team you were beating, or awaken a team that you have under control? Regardless of the situation, cheers should not berate the other team.
All for Positive Cheers
Now I am all for cheers! Love them! Love the team spirit, love the comraddery, love the way they bring the team together. But ALL cheers should be just that, positive cheers FOR your team, or player, and YOUR team or player only. I don’t care if Little League had that rule or not, this should be a common courtesy and respect between teams, I shouldn’t have to mention it here. But, I do.
Respect your opponent, treat them with dignity, and, win or lose, always conduct yourself with pride.
Do you know a disrespectful cheer? Let’s get a list going!
Everyone needs a bit of R&R, not sure this is what we had here, but a night of putt-putt and a steak at Ruby Tuesdays is not a bad evening!
Our normal night? A ball game and Burger King! So this is luxury for us!
How do you rest and relax on off days? Let us know!
The Good ‘Ole Days
Gone are the days in Little League where you could dominate a tournament with 2 pitchers. You might get away w/ 2, 3 or 4 in the district double elimination rounds where you only play one game a day, but you don’t have a shot in the sectionals or states w/ 2 games in the same day.
Let’s assume that you make it to the states. When we hosted them a few years back, they played two divisions of four teams w/ a three game round robin . Then the top 2 went to a single elimination tournament. This all happened in 4 days! You need to have all pitchers on your team!
Here is how it set up:
Day 1: 2 Games/Team
Day 2: 1 Game/Team
Day 3: Semis
Day 4: Championship
Stack Your Team w/ Pitchers
You absolutely have to have 6 pitchers minimum, and preferably 8. I don’t know how the Regionals work but I imagine they are the same format as the states. At least once you get to the World Series you only play 1 game a day I think. You might play 2 in the round robins. It really doesn’t matter, you have to have lots of pitchers!
This really changes the entire dynamic of the tournament. It puts things on even ground, but it greatly favors the teams that can hit and the leagues that can develop pitchers. In addition, it puts more emphasis on defense as more balls will be put in play than normal.
Less Strike Outs
My oldest son used to say he didn’t like watching the Little League World Series because it was just one strike out after another. He was right. The other change they made last year that had a major effect was moving the fences back to 225′. Home runs turned into routine outs. It will be very interesting to watch this year.
Will ESPN Learn the New Rules?
I wonder how much the announcers will butcher it this year? They really have no clue about how the pitching works or the substitution rules. It is frustrating to hear them make comments that you KNOW are wrong! Very misleading to the layman. My dad always loved watching the Little League World Series, but I had to point out things that they covered wrong so he knew what was going on.
Father’s Love of the Game
Speaking of my dad, he used to come w/ me every night to watch tournament games when he was in town. Those times were very fun. I don’t know why he went, I think he just loved watching a game. Whenever we traveled we always had to visit the local stadium for a game, but who wants to watch other people’s kids? The answer? Me, and I guess him too.
I am sure other’s share this love. The new pitching rules will certainly change the game, but I think for the better. It will go from 18 strike outs to hitting, fielding, and throwing. As it should be.
Do you have any great All-Star stories? Please share them.Next Page »