Like what you see on this site? Help us keep it going. Donate the amount you feel it was worth to you via PayPal.
Board of Directors
The Little League Mom
After hosting the Florida State Championships, there is no doubt in my mind that the Little League International tournament is the Granddaddy of them all. I know there are a number of other organizations out there, but none equal the Little League tournament. Let’s take a look at the other options.
First, there are other league options out there. I won’t list them by name, but we all know of another organization that offers children an option to play. They also have international tournaments of sorts, but nothing on the scale of the Little League tournament. However, the one thing that makes them less genuine than the Little League tournament is that there is no need to win to advance.
Teams that do not win their local tournaments are allowed to advance in other organizations. Hardly a reason to win any more is there? In Little League you have to win your District, then your Section, then your State, then your Region and THEN you are in the World Series! You have to perform to advance, not simply do “good enough.”
Ironic, that many call Little League “feel good” or “league ball.” First, you have to make the All-Star team in your LOCAL and WELL DEFINED AND ENFORCED league boundaries, and then you have to win to advance! While tournament organizations may offer better teams to compete against and I encourage everyone wishing to improve their game to play these tournaments, they are simply about the money, plain and simple, pay and you can play.
Want to make it to a state tournament in a tournament organization? Pay the fee, you are in. There is one organization that holds numerous state championships in the great state of Florida. Huh? Isn’t there supposed to be only one state champion? And the World Series? Same teams that compete in the local and state championships and every team has numerous “guest” players on their roster.
Again, I think you should play in these, but still no requirement to actually earn you way into them or win to advance. In fact, the same thing that these organizations say about Little League how it is “feel good” is practiced in these organizations as they have multiple levels of state champions! Good for us, for sure, we usually are in the silver bracket, but certainly nothing compared to the “win or go home” that exists at EVERY level of the Little League tournament.
Anybody can get a bunch of great players together and go win a tournament, not a real challenge there. But let’s see you accomplish the things our leagues have done here. In our league, we have only 300 kids yet we have 3 district champions, 1 runner up, and 2 sectional runner ups. Our neighboring league had 2 sectional champions AND a state championship runner up, they have about 120 kids or so. Now that is an accomplishment!
Meanwhile, next week we will all sit down to watch the ONLY true World Series Championship tournament on the planet. We can watch with confidence knowing EVERY team from 8 regions in the United States and 8 regions in the rest of the world will come from 1 local league, have won their district, section, state, and region, and will have worked to earn their position in the Little League World Series!
Now there is a true international tournament!
Junior, Senior & Big League Baseball (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The results are in and it is official! There will now be an official 50/70
Little League division with a World Series Champion! However, they set it up w/ an odd age breakdown of 11-13. This creates challenges across the board. Before I get to that, here are the rule changes for the league found at this link:
1. Implementation of a new division in baseball, the 50/70 division.
2. Junior Softball division to pitch from 43′
3. Senior All-Star teams can have 16 players and Big League All-Star teams 17.
4. Tournament team names can be released June 15th or 2 weeks before first scheduled game, whichever is sooner.
5. Players who do not meet the 60% minimum play for tournament teams because of illness or injury can be eligible with doctor’s excuse.
6. Tryouts and practices for tournament teams can be held starting June 15th or two weeks prior to the first scheduled game.
None of these rules are really all that significant other than the grandaddy of them all, the 50-70 rule! This creates a dilemma for all leagues. How to structure your league? My first thought is this way:
Senior Division 13-16
Junior Division 13-14
50/70 Division 11-13
Major Division 9-12
Minor Division 7-11
But this creates a conundrum for smaller leagues. Smaller leagues don’t have enough players for a 50/70 AND a major’s division. It is also my believe that Little League wants the major’s division to go away and be replaced w/ the 50/70 division. The 13yo stud can move up to the seniors, but smaller leagues like the one I am part of would essentially have to do away w/ the juniors division at this point if they want a 50/70 division. Would this cause many of the 13yo’s to leave and go play in leagues that allow 13′s to play on 90′ bases? I don’t know.
My next question is, must a league still charter a
Major League division IF they are chartering 50/70 divisions? I don’t know. As of now you MUST have a major’s team chartered or have a waiver. I presume you do not. So where does this leave the 12 year old’s at this point come tournament time?
Imagine this scenario which was my first instinct on this one:
Senior 13-16 (Only stud 13′s allowed to move up)
In this scenario you would have the following potential all-star teams:
Seniors, Juniors, 50/70, Minors
Anyone who played seniors would be eligible for the Seniors and Juniors team. However, ONLY those who played 50/70 are eligible for the 50/70 all-star team. So presume that the all-star team is comprised of all 13′s, now where do the 12′s play? The 11′s can move down the the 10/11 team, but the 12′s are left w/o a team, even though that had been the marquee age for Little League for all of eternity!
Why Little League allowed the 13′s to play down is beyond me, but a league that doesn’t have their 13′s on the 50/70 team does not stand a chance against a team of all 13′s they are destined to encounter in tournament play. This forces the board to either create a team that will never have a chance or create a major’s division as well! A substantial challenge for any organization large or small.
So, at this point, I really don’t know how I would recommend structuring a league that offered a 50/70 program. Do any of you have any suggestions? Certainly together we can figure this out. What do you think? How would you, or how are you planning to structure your programs? I would love to know.
So, I am sitting in the parking lot after practice tonight and up pulls a kid in a little white car. I hear, “is that Mr. McBride”. After confirming my presence, a proud voice announces, “thought you would like to know that a DeBary Little League Alum just got an offer for a scholarship today”. Upon further investigation, I learned that the scholarship was from a quality mid-major school in South Florida and the scout had seen him play this last weekend in a tournament game.
He went on to tell me that he chose not to play high school baseball this year because he felt he had a better opportunity playing on a showcase tournament team than on a high school team. I don’t know, don’t really care either way, that is an argument for another time not fit for an article really, but more a four-hour debate at Mickey Finns.
What did I take from this interaction? First, the kid sought me out because he was PROUD of what he had accomplished. Second, the kid was only a junior! Third, he carved out his own path. He has no idea if he will accept this offer or if he will pursue other offers, but he knows whatever he does, it will be done on his terms, not on anyone else’s! We should all learn a life lesson from this young man!
Every day I hear “you have to do this to get on the high school team” or “you have to do that to get into college” or “you have to play on this team to get onto high school” or “if you don’t play on that team you don’t have a chance to do this or that or the other”. Know what they all are? EXCUSES!
Ever hear from someone who didn’t make a team? Those with egos that don’t allow them to be responsible for their own failures usually say something along the lines of “you have to be friends with him or her to get on the team” or “you have to have played on this team to be on that team”. All wrong. Hell, there are people in our league who say the only way to get on the DeBary Little League All-Star team is to play on the DeBary Dynamite, our tournament team! Nonsense! You really think that the coaches of the all-star, high school, or college team care who or where you played before? They want the nine best players they can get! Period! End of story!
Now, you don’t have to agree with their choices. That is the great armchair debate, but don’t tell me you have to play somewhere to end up on a particular team. That is nonsense! All-star coaches aren’t even paid, so you are going to tell me that a paid high school or college coach cares about anything other than your skills? Their job is on the line! You think they are not going to teach you how to play the game the way they want the game played? One thing any good coach knows is give him an athlete and he will teach him how to play the game. So pick a coach you think will teach you the most where you enjoy playing and stick with that team!
If you want to play high school, play high school. If you want to play tournaments, play tournaments. If you want to play college, figure out how to get in front of the coaches. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, do what you want! Nobody can be responsible for you but YOU! Why be miserable somewhere else when you can have fun playing where you want to and STILL get to where you want to go!
So from now on, don’t tell me you have to take a certain path to success. Figure out where you want to go, figure out how you will get there, then execute your plan flawlessly! Don’t let others intimidate or bully you, do it YOUR WAY. As
Frank Sinatra said, “I did it mmmmmyyyyyyyy wayyyyyyyyy”.
I will admit it! With my son making his first all-star team and my girls playing again on the Junior Softball All-Star team practices every night from 6PM to 10PM have completely exhausted me! I was ready for it to be over. I sat in my favorite watering hole last night and could barely hold my eyes open much less think of answers to the challenging trivia questions being posed!
Then came today. 100 degrees in the shade and I am in full umpire’s gear umping a Little League Division Softball All-Star game. The first of the international tournament that ends in late August with the crowning of the Champion of the World! You would think I was miserable wouldn’t you? Completely exhausted, nothing left, practice after grueling practice, but no! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Time to get fired up! Reinvigorated! This is what we work so hard all year for! So to every Little League team out there, GOOD LUCK! All your hard work has paid off and it is time to show your stuff! And to every Little League volunteer out there who thanklessly give of themselves so our children can enjoy this experience, THANK YOU!
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Shop Now for Official Star Trek XI Action Figures
I received a letter today from Anthony Gonzalez, the Acting City Manager of the City of DeBary. The letter is welcoming me to the “DeBary Strategic Planning Steering Committee”. As a member of the committee we will help the city council and mayor determine their strategic planning for the city. The first meeting will be held Saturday the 20th, at 9AM. I guess I am about to get an education in local politics!
From the Little League’s perspective, the number one priority in my mind is making sure that the new parking lot gets built at Sullivan Park. Do you have any ideas for what direction the city should be steered into? I would love to hear about it.
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Let Ricky Martin tell your sister that she is the best! Visit Post Cards From The Stars Today!
I was reading an article the other day on a girls fast-pitch website that was discussing the options for a player, boy or girl, once the
Little League spring season was over. The article, titled That Time of Year, told the plight of a parent who was looking for options once the spring season of Little League ended. He went on to tell about finding a fall program that was less than stellar and then discovering the hyper-competitive, and VERY expensive travel ball. Unfortunately, he says, there is no “middle ground”.
I have discussed this with many friends on a regular basis, and he (Dave) is dead on here. There are no middle options. Don’t get me wrong, travel programs have their place, and as kids get older and are serious about their careers showcase teams are a must, but for everyone 12 and under, why do they have to end their life for the game?
My 9 year old son this year kept a schedule that every week included 2 Little League games, one Little League practice, one pitcher-catcher practice, one travel ball practice, and a travel ball double header on Sunday. And our travel team wasn’t really all that active compared to the others!
Why do we do this? Because we want more than Little League and travel ball is the only option. Don’t get me wrong, I bleed red and blue of Little League. My son had way more fun playing against his friends in Little League than against strangers in travel ball. Even though the talent level was much less.
But how about creating a middle ground? I hear about parents not wanting to leave on Friday night for a tournament and return Sunday evening every weekend. Little League is uniquely positioned to offer a solution that suits the middle ground kids.
Face it, the extreme kids that love the game and are potential college or professional players are going to play extreme level travel ball, as they should. But in any Little League, those kids comprise less than 1% of the players at most. Little League cannot meet their needs, if they play, that is a bonus, but there is no way to offer a solution to them, they are where they want and need to be.
But, what about the stars that don’t want to play baseball or softball 7 days a week and twice on Sunday? Where do they turn? Right now, the answer really is nowhere, that’s where Little League comes in. Little League can fix this problem!
Currently for 12 and unders, Little League offers their competitive program, Majors, an instructional program, Minors, and a t-ball program. After the season ends, most District managers hold some version of a Tournament of Champions, and then on June 15th All-Stars are announced and begin practicing.
Why not add one more division? Call it “elite”. In my Little League hometown of
Sterling, VA, where I cut my teeth, they have one of the best softball programs in the country. But it is Pony League. Or at least it was when I lived there over 10 years ago. They actually host the Pony National Tournament and World Series there, or they did then.
The structure of their league is a majors/minors equivalent, with a travel program as well. The top players in the league play on one team and travel and play against other teams in the area, while the rest of the kids play in the local version of the league. Additionally, the travel players are spread amongst the local teams and play there as well. Bingo, problem solved!
What positions Little League uniquely to accomplish this, and better than any other program in the world, is their District alignment setup. They already have hundreds, if not thousands, of districts set up all over the world that include 10 or so teams in them. It is the first level of play during the all-stars.
Why not have each league put together an “elite” team that plays against all the other league’s “elite” teams during the season? This provides the league structure that travel programs lack, the ability to still play with all your friends, a truly competitive environment, and a commitment that doesn’t cost you $10,000 a year or your entire life!
Little League could impliment this next year if they wanted. They have the structures in place and the lines of communication from Williamsport to the local leagues are impecable.
So what do you say Little League International? How about an “Elite” division for the spring of 2010?
In our area an umpire’s “association” has popped to serve the local Little Leagues in the area. Now if this association were formed with the kids in mind, as Little League is, then they would simply organize the best staffs, perform the proper background checks, provide training and equipment, and distribute the talent where needed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As with any organization, profit is the motive.
The Little League guidelines specifically prohibit paying umpires. Umpires that want to get paid can join associations that provide officials to high schools, travel programs, and various leagues that are not volunteer community based. Or basically, anything that isn’t Little League!
Of course, where does this association go to get their officials? They dip into and steal the local umpires that are so generously volunteering their time for their community. The kicker is the small stipend they pay for a game. Yet, umpires are shunning their local league and entering other league’s boundaries just for a few dollars. Have we forgotten that every $1 we give, we receive $10 in return? This is truly the case.
I am the first to admit that I accept every paying umpiring job offered to me that is NOT Little League. I have no problem w/ that, those organizations have no desire to be volunteer organizations, nor do they pretend to be. I have umpired USSSA and AAU, but have not had time for High School. This association tried to recruit me as well, I told them, “I will never accept pay for umpiring a Little League game”. It is wrong on so many levels.
Not only is it wrong, I have a couple of issues that must be addressed by the association, though I know they won’t reply in public.
1. If Little League’s are boundary specific, how can umpires cross those boundaries?
2. Every volunteer “in regular contact” with the children MUST have completed a volunteer application. How does the association accomplish this since the local league performs the checks?
3. Am I being asked to put my children on fields w/ umpires who have not been properly screened when we visit other locations? This troubles me as the parent of teenage girls and young boys. Is there any proof of this documentation?
How can I know that my children are safe on the fields, in the parking lots, and in the bathrooms of Little League facilities if proper due diligence is not the norm? Are you as a Board of Directors that pays an association to provide you with umpires willing to accept the personal liability that comes with an incident God forbid? It would be “easy pickin’s” for even the least experienced of attorneys.
What we must do:
1. Terminate any league membership of any umpire that gets paid to umpire a Little League game.
2. Not allow any umpire that gets paid to umpire a Little League game to umpire ANY all-star or special privilege games.
3. Terminate all relationships with any associations as Little Leagues.
4. Recruit and train volunteers within our organizations to be the best they can be. You will be surprised who will say yes if you simply ask them.
5. Inform existing umpires if they leave for pay, their membership in the league will be terminated. This means they will never be able to coach, manage, serve on the board, umpire, vote, or volunteer in any way, shape or form, within the organization.
6. Recognize and embrace those willing to volunteer. Award them, provide them gear, drinks, and a pat on the back.
7. Do not antagonize or constantly criticize their work. They are doing the best they can.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. One of my best friends is our Umpire in Chief, and I hear every day about the struggles he goes through to get our games umpired. I don’t envy his position. But paying umpires is NOT the solution. Besides, we are a small league, but we play more than 10 games a week or so at home. That means $350/week for umps or about $3,500!!! How can you say you are being a proper steward of the people’s money if you are simply taking the easy road?
How do you feel about paid umpires in Little League?
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Not sure of what Life Insurance you need? Get free customized quotes in minutes!
OK rules nerds, here we go! Let me go down into the basement put on my bifocals, pull my shorts up over my belly, and demonstrate my nerdness. Every year I read both the softball and the baseball rulebook cover to cover. And there is a phrase that is used in the rulebook about the potential for umpires needing to “recognize an apparent 4th out” in order to enforce one rule or another.
Sunday night in Dodgers and Diamondbacks game, were I the manager, I would have looked like a genius! (I already do look like a genius in my bifoculs, in the basement, w/ my shorts above my belly, but sometimes genius’ rule! Just look at Bill Gates!) Anyway, I would like to think I would have caught this and would have gotten the apparent 4th out.
Check it out, good reading:
Pretty cool huh? Anyone actually seen 4 outs in a
Little League game for real? I never have in 20 years.
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
POTTY TRAIN YOUR BABY BEFORE 2!
NursesDirect.com – Save $10.00 On Orders Over $75.00. Use Promo Code NW118D10.
Little League sent me the following bulletin regarding bat markings. This will be a big issue come all-star time.
NOTICE TO PARENTS, PLAYERS AND LEAGUES: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING THE PURCHASE OF A NEW COMPOSITE METAL BAT FOR USE IN LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL (Major Division and below), BE SURE THAT THE BAT YOU ARE PURCHASING HAS THIS MARKING: BPF 1.15 ON THE BARREL OR HANDLE OF THE BAT. IF NOT, IT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED FOR PLAY IN LITTLE LEAGUE GAMES.
Little League officials are aware that there are bats for sale in stores, online or that may have already been purchased that are Little League approved, but do not have the required bat performance standard (BPF) markings. In fact, some of the bats on the Little League approved bat list may not carry the required BPF 1.15 marking on the bat, depending on when they were manufactured and licensed. Currently manufacturers are conducting an inventory and re-testing of all approved bats. The results of this study / retesting is to be finished by March 31, 2009. We are building a list of certain bats that are approved, but do not have the BPF marking due to special circumstances. For these bats, we are extending eligibility for play until December 31, 2009. As we are made aware of bats that meet our criteria for this extension, we will add them to the list. Please check this list regularly for updates.
HOWEVER, ONLY BATS WITH THE BPF 1.15 MARKING AND THE BATS ON THIS LIST WILL BE ALLOWED FOR PLAY IN 2009.
Bats with the special exception include the following:
(There is a newer model of this bat, also named the Vanquish and it has copper and black markings. It contains the proper labeling and therefore is not subject to the one-year rule). Adidas Vanquish Blue design
DeMarini - Black Coyote, Rogue, Distance, Rumble, Tengu, Mach 10, Patriot
Easton - LZ-810, LZ-800, Stealth Optiflex LST 1,
Louisville Slugger - YB31
NIKE - Areo
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Huge Savings On Weight Loss Items at Nutrahut.com!
NEW Mountainsmith luggage for 2009 at Backcountry Edge
I am a controversial figure. My entire life has been spent in controversy. I don’t know why, maybe because I speak my mind? Maybe because I think I know everything? Maybe because I can quote the entire rulebook word for word? Maybe because I demand respect from my players and they know it from the glare I give them when they lack it? Maybe because I don’t tolerate mental errors, not paying attention when a coach is talking, or missing signals? Maybe I am really just an ass, that’s entirely possible, but just because someone criticizes you doesn’t mean they hate you.
Those who serve on Little League boards, or any boards for that matter, soon come to understand that anything anyone thinks is wrong w/ the organization quickly becomes your fault. You get blamed for everything. As the information officer of my league, and therefor the public face of the league, I receive and inordinate amount of the criticism for things in disarray, controversial decisions, or accusations from the rumor mill.
But lately I have noticed a trend that I find upsetting. My theory on this is we all communicate way too much. In the good ole days (feeling like grandpa now), you used to go to work, go to a game, and go home. You saw people along the way, said hi, were cordial, but went on about your life. Of course there was plenty of gossip, but it was contained to face-to-face discussions and the occasional telephone conversation. Which included talking to ONLY one person at a time. Everyone else got a busy tone when they tried to call if you were talking to someone else.
Therefore, if you said something like, “I don’t like the way Rick spoke to my daughter tonight”, the other person said what they had to say, and then went home. Well, in today’s world, little comments like that are exaggerated big time!
How many times have you heard a parent talk about all the “drama” going on w/ their kid at school, on the field, or in the local play? It is like gossip on steroids these days. The ability to say something, instantly text it to thousands of people, or post on your facebook account for the world to see is mind boggling! I really don’t know how the teenagers of today cope w/ it. We had it much easier than they do.
That said, just because someone doesn’t agree with you, says something derogatory about you, or gossips about you, doesn’t mean they hate you. Everyone seems to focus on the negative statements because they are more flamboyant. How boring is it to tell your friend that “jane said you are a good coach”. It is much more sensational to say, “Jane said you yell too much, she hates you”. How do those two statements coexist?
Let’s assume that the first part of the comment is correct. “Jane said you yell too much”. Maybe you do yell too much, I think my wife yells too much, does that mean I hate her? Of course not! I love my wife dearly, she is the finest piece of booty on the planet! That doesn’t mean I have to approve of everything she does. So how do we make the connection from the criticism of yelling too much, to the part where hate comes in? There is none to be made.
So, I choose to believe everyone loves me, because deep down inside, how could you not? I am good looking, personable, funny, witty, and a fantastic friend! At least that’s the way I see it!…lol. So no matter how much you criticize, how many stones you throw my way, how much aspersion you cast, you can’t break me down, I am stronger than that, and once you get to know me, you love me unconditionally. I feel the same about you, no matter who you are, I will find good in you.
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd said it best, “all it all it’s just another brick in the wall”.
What keeps you positive in the face of adversity? How do you stay focused?
This post sponsored through the pepperjamNETWORK by:
Buy now and pay later. Get $10 off on orders worth $50 at Auto Parts Warehouse (offer valid for new Bill Me Later Customers).
Take $10 off A Milk & Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Order with Code: STRAW10SAV Next Page »
s="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" class="ie8 wp-toolbar" lang="en-US">
Edit Themes ‹ The Little League Coach — WordPress