The Sammy Sosa League
A few days ago, Little League International issued the following statement:
While Little League International has not received any reports of Little League volunteers or players making alterations to bats designed to increase their performance, it has been an issue in some upper levels of play.
In an effort to ensure this does not become a problem in Little League, this policy statement has been prepared and may be distributed to volunteers, parents and players.
No bat, in any level of Little League Baseball or Softball play, is permitted to be altered. This is of particular concern especially when it is clearly done to enhance performance and violate bat standards. Making such alterations to bats is clearly an inappropriate attempt to gain an unfair advantage, and cheating has no place in our program. Umpires, managers and coaches are instructed to inspect bats before games and practices – as they always should – to determine if bats might have been altered.
This includes using the appropriate Little League Bat Ring. If a bat does not clearly pass through the correct size ring, or if it has a flat spot on it, the bat must not be used. (This may simply indicate the bat has become misshapen with use, and does not necessarily indicate it was purposely altered. Still, the bat must be removed.)
Other signs to look for include contorted or mangled end-caps or knobs on non-wood bats. This could indicate that machinery was used to “shave” the inside of the bat to make it lighter. Bats with evidence of this type of tampering also must not be used.
Little League International wishes to make it clear that tampering with bats (or any other piece of equipment) is dangerous, and the equipment must not be used in any Little League game or practice.
I’ve tried in vain to find some huge story out there that might have precipitated Little League putting out a statement. The closest thing I could find is something that happened last year — so this could be a warning not to pull the stuff that the Kendall, Fla., Little League team allegedly pulled.
The team was booted out of last year’s Little League World Series after being accused of “using illegal bats, improper diamond dimensions and putting together the all-star team too early.”
OK, that might explain the release of a statement on illegal bats. But there must have been some other reports coming in that the wider world hasn’t heard about. Otherwise, Little League International would have put out concurrent statements about diamond size and all-star team configuration.
UPDATE: Mark Hyman at Youth Sports Parents surmises the LL release was a result of accusations of bat-tampering in the NCAA. Hyman found a story in the Birmingham News that discusses the suspicions that the bats (through not the players) are juiced.