Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘pony league

Your youth baseball brawl roundup

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It’s playoff season for youth baseball, which means managers, parents and players who act only a little crazy when they get a bug up their butt about something during the regular season now have the stakes raised high enough that the same bug will cause them to go ballistic.

Here are a few highlights:

DODGEVILLE, Wisc., July 26 — The winners of the losers’ bracket in the Ohio Valley Regional is going to the Babe Ruth Senior World Series because of a game-ending brawl between the two teams in the first game of the best-of-three championship.

About the only detail not being argued is that Noblesville (Ind.) came back from three runs down in the sixth inning to lead the Hammond (Ind.) Chiefs, 11-10.  Oh, the only other detail not being argued is that Babe Ruth headquarters in Trenton, N.J., ruled both 16-18-year-old teams out of the tournament. In between, it gets messy.

According to the Noblesville coach, talking to the near-hometown Indianapolis Star, all three Hammond coach freaked the fuck out when the game-leading run was scored on an obstruction call against the Chiefs, and all three got ejected. With no adults left to coach Hammond, the umpires declared Noblesville the winner. The Noblesville coach said the teams lined up to shake hands, and while his team was “excited,” the Hammond team was in a rage, the flames being fanned by one of their coaches. A Chiefs player jumped one of the Noblesville players, and the brawl was on.

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What happened in Dodgeville with the Chiefs, as re-enacted on ice. (NSFW language)

The Hammond coach copped to nothing, and in fact said he was trying to keep the peace and separate players, according to his interview with the near-hometown Northwest Indiana Times in Munster, Ind.

Meanwhile, the Dodgeville police said they arrested one fan on disorderly conduct charges, allegedly because he punched a Noblesville coach.

So congratulations to Cross Plains (Wisc.), which advances to the Babe Ruth Senior World Series for not punching anybody.

VALLEJO, Calif., July 21 — Vallejo Babe Ruth coach David Davis was booked in the local hoosegow on a charge of battery against a sports official. He allegedly punched a first-base umpire during the state 15-and-under championship tournament. Davis was arrested at the local police station as he was filling out an assault report — against the umpire, David Abbitt, a 26-year veteran.

Abbitt said Davis sucker-punched him — knocking him out and requiring him to be taken by ambulance to a hospital — as he argued a close call against the Vallejo team at first base. Davis, meanwhile, citing scratches on his arm he said were made by Abbitt, said he was only defending himself, and that the knockout punch never happened. Davis told the San Jose Mercury News:

[After the umpire kicked him out] Davis then describes a highly emotional situation between the two men, with alleged spitting, swearing, racial epithets and self defense.

“I thought it was a make-up call, so I went down to my knees and came up and he said ‘You’re outta here,'” Davis said, claiming that the knockout punch never happened. “All I did was defend myself. I just put my hands up as a reaction. Guy falls down, looks at me from the ground and puts on a tirade like he was hurt. It was weak and it was fake.”

Apparently there were no police or security at the July 18 game because of cutbacks by the city of Vallejo. After the Davis-Abbitt incident, somehow, some way, security was found for the tournament.

GURNEE, Ill., July 17 — Unlike the other two incidents, this was not a playoff game. But it doesn’t have to be one for tempers to get out of hand.

According to the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., police were called after a fight broke out a 15- to 18-year-old Colt (Pony League) game. Two opposing players wrestled at the plate — a runner trying to score, and the catcher who tried to block him (without the ball in his hand) during the last out of the game. The umpires did not get involved, and player tempers cooled.

However, parents started screaming and fighting with each other. That’s when police were called. But no arrests were made. The presence of the authorities inspired a lovefest, according to the Herald:

[Gurnee Police Commander Jay] Patrick said the players on both sides hugged as the three cops left the field. The teams were not named.

“It could have really gone south,” Jacobs said. “But when (police) got there, everybody started to calm down quite a bit.”

For an incident like this, that counts as a happy ending.

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Written by rkcookjr

July 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Pitchers and catchers report, youth baseball edition

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Gameface is ready.

This week was the managers’ meeting for those of us managing at the Shetland level of Oak Lawn (Ill.) Baseball. Shetland is 6- to 8-year-olds, which include my son (above). Like his last year of T-ball, and my first year of managing him, we are the Phillies. My wife’s reaction when I came home with the roster: a facepalm and “It’s not that time of year already, is it?”

I don’t know if this is universal, but in my little universe, spring sports season is the craziest. It’s not just my son playing baseball and me managing; my 10-year-old daughter plays softball, too. Two kids in an outdoor game that requires no rain, stone-dry fields and temperatures above 50 degrees means night after night of being on edge: is there practice? Is there not practice? Is there a game? Is there not a game? Should we show up and see if everybody’s there? Do I call the other manager and cancel? Damnit, now we have seven straight nights of games. Thank you, Chicago weather!

It makes me thankful my 12-year-old son has already retired from baseball, and that my 4-year-old daughter doesn’t play (yet).

For major-league managers, the onset of spring is getting into warm, cushy spring training digs and going over the assembled roster, much of which they already know. For me, the onset of spring is introducing myself to young kids and their parents, and begging them to be the one who brings the snack every game, or makes the team banner for our league’s annual parade, or handles the candy sale, or gets them to coach, or nicely informs them that if they don’t fulfill their volunteer commitment, it’s $300 out of their pocket next year.

It gets hectic quickly, and it turns into night after night of quick dinners and/or fast food.

But you know what? All the hassle is worth it. It’s nice to get back outside after months burrowing like Punxsutawney Phil in the crappy Chicago winters. It’s fun to watch the kids play. And for me, it’s fun to watch a group of little boys I’m managing improve and become friends over the course of the season. It’s fun to watch my own kids revel when they do well, and forget by the time the postgame snack arrives the times that they didn’t.

Written by rkcookjr

February 18, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Cheering for the enemy, in shorter pants

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The first two years of my oldest son’s brief baseball career were spent playing for a Pony League team called the Cubs. Yes, I’m in Chicago, but I’m on the south side, so many of my fellow parents were apoplectic at the thought their White Sox-indoctrinated child was going to be sullied by a Cubs logo on their little uniform. “Go Cubs!” I remember one day saying at a game. “Oh my god! I never believed I would actually say that!”

Many parents will be put into that position in the next few weeks (if they haven’t already in warm-weather areas) as uniforms are handed out and they realize their child is playing for a team they would usually affiliate with Satan. My son in T-ball is playing for the Phillies, which will arouse no antipathy where I live. But if I were, say, in Queens, it probably would. Same for a Giants fan who see his or her child in a Dodgers uniform, a Cubs fan whose progeny is wearing Cardinals, or a Red Sox fan finding the fruit of his loins sporting Yankees gear.

Here is some advice for you parents who have trouble separating the child for the uniform, or who are suppressing the urge literally to separate the child from the uniform:

1. Remember, you are not being forced to cheer for, say, Derek Jeter, Red Sox fans. They’re just kids in, to borrow a Jerry Seinfeld routine, laundry. Also, if the kid playing shortstop for your Yankees bobbles the ball, resist the temptation to yell “Jeter sucks!” Like old Looney Tunes cartoons, you should yell that into a paper bag, close it, run 10 miles away, then open up the bag and let the scream out.

2. Be sporting when people tease you about your kid playing for the enemy. Please, no punches to the face. Keep it to the shoulders.

3. Do not overcompensate by wearing gear expressing your hatred for the real team upon whose identity your child’s team is based. Unless you really mean you dislike your kid’s team.

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4. Do not fear your child will become a fan of the team you hate just because he or she is wearing that uniform. A few, well-placed, denied meals, withdrawal of affection and forced outdoor sleeping will correct your child in case of any budding interest.

5. Finally, if you want to set that uniform afire at season’s end to get rid of the stink of opposition, it’ll burn easier and quicker if you wait for your child to take if off first.

Fundamentals are for losers

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1391476949_1d14bbe4fdIt’s the universal gripe about pro sports, basketball in particular — how so many players seem to be so clueless about the fundamental skills of their sport. Quarterbacks who can’t look off defensive backs, guards who can’t hit the open man, fielders who don’t get in front the ball, etc. Actually, a lot of the complaining isn’t that specific. “A lack of fundamentals” is meant to encompass a general sense of malaise and distaste for sports at the highest level because they’re full of preening individuals who do everything wrong yet get paid so much.

I would guess a lot of the people who complain about fundamentals, outside of hockey fans in Minnesota and basketball fans in Indiana, don’t even know what fundamentals they find lacking, or even if they’re seeing good fundamental play and don’t know it. (And don’t get me started on the number of fans who find Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs boring despite, or because, they play great fundamental basketball.)

However, the nagging feeling about a lack of fundamentals is not all an illusion or the gripe of the fan ticked he’s stacking auto parts while some lucky member of the gene pool is making millions. From the lowest levels of youth sports on up, coaches are willing to ignore teaching certain players fundamentals, as long as whatever they’re doing works.

Yeah, a shocking revelation. But that message got reinforced to me, anyway, during a recent training session for coaches in my 6-year-old son’s baseball league.

The coaches, from Dwyane Wade High School, did an excellent job presenting fundamentals of baseball and how to teach them to young children. I’m especially appreciative to learn the term “squishing the bug,” a way to explain to little kids how to move your back foot while you swing a bat. But, hey, you say, none of the best major-league hitters squish the bug! Yeah, well, you can explain to someone older about picking up the back foot at the point of contact and squishing the bug only afterward, but it’s the easiest way to explain to a 6-year-old that you shouldn’t keep your back foot planted firmly on the ground.

But this does get me to the idea of when fundamentals are reinforced — and when they’re not.

One of the assistant coaches discussed numerous instances coaching his son’s travel teams (approximately ages 10 to 13, it sounded like) when he just gave up on teaching fundamentals to certain kids. If someone could hit home runs, he didn’t care how they did it. If someone could strike people out, he didn’t care how they did it. He said exactly, “I’ll leave it for the next coach.” He said that happens all the time, even at the high school level, where if something is working but flawed, they’ll leave it for a college or minor-league coach to fix.

That makes logical sense. A coach’s job at the higher levels (and maybe even the travel level, depending on the organization) is predicated on winning, and you’re not going to adjust what someone is doing well because it won’t work at the next level. Why stop winning for the sake of that? As a coach, particularly before the high school level, you have only a year, maybe two, with a kid. Often, that’s not enough time to fix a problem. Sure, you’ll try to do it if a kid is doing something wrong and it’s not working. But if it is, bombs away. That explains, in a nutshell, why so many players flame out at a certain level — if you’ve had a bad habit that works, it’s hard to undo it if you’re at a place where the competition is too talented to let it keep working. (If you see professionals with bad habits, then they were clearly physically gifted or otherwise strong enough as a player to overcome the bad habit.)

It was a strange message to send, given these coaches pounded into us kiddie coaches that it’s so important for us to teach fundamentals because that’s going to make their lives easier when the players get to the high school level. Actually, given the amount of complaints they had about present players who had no clue about fundamentals, I believe the “their lives” the coaches were speaking of were their own.