40 MPH Heat
August 25, 2008 9:37 PM   Subscribe

Jericho Scott throws a 40mph fastball. Okay, not that fast. But too fast for a nine-year old, apparently. That's why he's been banned from playing little league.
posted by jabberjaw (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Whether the rule is being applied in a reasonable fashion right now, there are reasons why Little League has those rules: it isn't good for a kid that age to throw that hard. He can permanently injure his arm.

There are a bunch of rules like that in Little League whose sole purpose is to make sure that the game stays fun and doesn't become a life-consuming obsession. For instance, it's against the rules for anyone to pitch a full game. That, too, is for fear that too much pitching isn't good for a kid who is still developing skeletally.

By the time you reach Babe Ruth (i.e. 14 year olds) most of those rules fall by-the-by because they're no longer needed.
posted by Class Goat at 9:46 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's still time for him to learn a real sport.
posted by pompomtom at 9:54 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Whether the rule is being applied in a reasonable fashion right now, there are reasons why Little League has those rules: it isn't good for a kid that age to throw that hard. He can permanently injure his arm.

That doesn't explain why league official are suggesting he pitch against older kids.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:01 PM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is bs. It is the PC police making sure all the little leaguers feel good about playing rather than letting someone with actual talent pitch and do well. So well that it bothers the other players. Instead of shielding their kids from a talent that is superior and yes a little scary, parents should teach their children that fair is not equal that there are going to be people who are better at whatever they do and that defeat or striking out is not all bad.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:08 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't see any indication in the article that this Youth Baseball League of Little Haven is affiliated with Little League.
posted by Bokononist at 10:14 PM on August 25, 2008


Sounds like this is just some bitchy politics. Given what his parents say about life's purpose, they may well be assholes. I doubt this story.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:16 PM on August 25, 2008


“He’s never hurt any one,” Vidro said. “He’s on target all the time. How can you punish a kid for being too good?”

Before you put your 9 year old in front of a someone who can throw a 40MPH fastball, try to throw one yourself. Most adult males can barely throw a baseball this fast. Would you throw a hardball at your kid as hard as you could? I wouldn't and I've got pretty good control... until I try to throw that slider. I never know where that pitch is going to go.
posted by three blind mice at 10:21 PM on August 25, 2008


After hashing this story out on at least three other blogs. I'll point out the following.

1. 40 MPH is averagish for his age. An MLB scout suggests he's probably pitching effectively because of natural movement on the pitch.

2. The kid decided not to play on the team of the reigning champions, who are connected to the League office.
posted by nulledge at 10:23 PM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


three blind mice: Ever been to a batting cage? What's the lowest setting? 40 MPH right? That's what kids 5-10 years old are hitting against in practice. Also just about any couch potato can crack 40. Go find a radar right now, I'll bet after you warm up a bit you'll sit between 50 and 60.
posted by nulledge at 10:25 PM on August 25, 2008


It is the PC police

*fap* *fap* *fap*

I'm pretty sure I couldn't break 35.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:27 PM on August 25, 2008


The article doesn't say he was banned, just that he was asked either to play at a higher (older) level or a different position. That said, it seems ridiculous that the other team walked off the field rather than bat against him.
posted by zippy at 10:28 PM on August 25, 2008


nulledge: Actually, the first pitching machine I found on google said it ranges from 25mph to a top speed of 60mph.

It's a beginners league, 8-10 years old. If the kid's that good, then, as officials are suggesting, he can join a league for kids who are playing seriously. If he just wants to play with his friends, then he can play without pitching. Easy decision.
posted by jacalata at 10:33 PM on August 25, 2008


jacalata: Lowest setting probably wasn't the best phrasing for what I was trying to get across. At commercial batting cages, 40 mph is usually the slowest cage.

Of course a google for machine pitch little leagues turns up that the 6-7 year old teams set their pitching machines to 36-38 mph.
posted by nulledge at 10:40 PM on August 25, 2008


It's a shame we're past the trading deadline. The White Sox could really use this kid.
posted by felix betachat at 10:41 PM on August 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Keep in mind that 40mph pitch is not coming from 60 feet 6 inches.
posted by billyliberty at 10:45 PM on August 25, 2008


No, it should coming from... I want to say 46 ft for that age level... I may be wrong though. Then again, neither is the 38 mph pitch those 6 year olds get to hack at.
posted by nulledge at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2008


you can lessen the effect of one star player in little league very easily. establish a rule that limits pitchers to 2 innings per game. or teach the other team's players to bunt -- a useful and underdeveloped skill. if the pitcher is that good he faces 6 batters minimum. the other team's whole lineup doesn't get humiliated.

if he is that good -- unhittable by anyone -- and he is starting the game with the 2 inning limit in effect, the opposing coach should revise the batting order to put the worst hitting 6 players as 1-6 in the order then in the third inning they have their best hitters coming up vs the 'normal' pitcher.

BTW: little league rules are pitch count related. 7-8 year olds are limited to 50 pitches per day (new in 2008), no back to back days pitching, rest days determined by # of pitches thrown. 9-10 year olds can throw 75 pitches (new in 2007). 75 pitches is more than enough for a 6 inning game if the kid is as good as they say. that is why the 2 inning limit must be used to minimize his impact.

sources:
http://www.littleleague.org/Learn_More/rules/0612rules_06dec.htm
http://www.littleleague.org/media/newsarchive/02_2007
posted by rjc3000 at 10:56 PM on August 25, 2008


I don't see a problem though with the kid playing with his peers. It's been a while, but I recall this kid on my team in Little League who was already shaving. He was devastating as a pitcher if only because his 6 foot long body, enhanced by heaps of intimidating hair, happened to cover a significant part of the distance between the mound and home plate.

That said, he didn't hurt anyone. I know that's anecdotal, but it seems as if I can remember the sounds of the ambulance visiting our fields every Saturday during the season. Whether it was some kid taking an ill-advised practice swing in a crowded dugout, a player using his fingers as a barrier between ball and bat during a bunt attempt, or a hustling head first dive into one of the poorly devised concrete walls in the outfield, the diamonds were covered in tears and screams. Nothing too serious ever occurred. I even still have a scar underneath my lower lip from a ground ball which bounced errantly off the hastily groomed meeting of grass and dirt. That was all twenty years ago!

If anything, these were just lessons that we all learned quickly and prevented these things from being repeated. You can be sure we all paid attention when coach explained to us what not to do. Let him play.
posted by billyliberty at 11:01 PM on August 25, 2008


There was this team in our Little League, the Pirates. Naturally, their color was black. They were all a foot taller than the rest of the teams. They whomped whomever they played, including us, oh yes. We were OK, but not good enough to beat those guys. I dunno, somehow they always managed to get those types of players, the early bloomers, the biggest and the oldest, as well as the bully types - even the coach was an asshole. Anyway, their pitchers were devastating. I remember the feeling of dread leading up to those games. I was a pretty good infield batter, but the pitcher always threw so fast that I never even figured out it was coming, and they had several like that who rotated. You couldn't really get a break, no matter where you were in the lineup. I could sometimes bunt it, but they were also much faster runners, almost always tagging out on first, and the score always ended up really lopsided. I want to say one time we came close to beating them, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering that right ...

Well, point being, the entire Pirates team ridiculously outmatched all their opponents by size alone, and we all just got crushed by them, over and over, inevitably, several times a season. They were like the Harlem Globetrotters, and we all took turns being the Washington Generals. It was obviously unfair, but looking back it was a pretty good lesson, that life really isn't fair, and there are the pushy jerks who usually get what they want by bullying those around them, but life is too short to let that stop you.

Also, by the time you got to the older league, there was still a great team that dominated (who also had black uniforms), but they weren't so big anymore, as we'd all sort of evened out by that point.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:32 PM on August 25, 2008


Also, by the time you got to the older league, there was still a great team that dominated...

Like the damned Yankees (grumble)...
posted by Class Goat at 12:00 AM on August 26, 2008


Well, there is actually an affiliated Little League in New Haven, so if he wanted to play, he could. And it sounds like the actual Little League has more rules in place to deal with a particularly good kid, unlike this 3 year old neighbourhood league of 8 teams.

If I were in the New Haven Little League, I'd be personally inviting the kid to play for my team.

I find it odd though, the disbanding of the team - I imagine that would have come after a series of warnings or discussions, surely?
posted by jacalata at 12:06 AM on August 26, 2008


They use age as a predictor of skill level -- when you hit a certain age, you are assumed to be too good to play at one level and you have to move up to the next -- so there's nothing wrong with using actual skill level (measured pitching speed, overwhelming strike out success rate, etc.) to determine which level you should play on. If you pitch like a man in a league for little boys, it's time to give another kid your age a chance to pitch while you move to another position (learn how to catch? learn how to coach?) or move up to the next league level. Also move the best batters up.
posted by pracowity at 12:08 AM on August 26, 2008


According to this article, the Youth Baseball League of New Haven is not affiliated with Little League Baseball.
posted by longsleeves at 12:26 AM on August 26, 2008


All I know is, when I was a kid and went out for little league, my team had a coach who put his kid in as the pitcher. Always. Every inning, every game. I couldn't field worth a damn, but I could pitch; nevertheless, no matter what, the couch would never put me in, or anyone else, just his own kid. It wasn't like the coach tried to help any of us get better, or rotate us around to learn the different positions; it was just always his son pitching, and striking kids out, and on the off-chance a ball got hit it went past whatever fielder (who wasn't getting any help from the coach on learning, you know, how to field) was in the way.

I stuck it out for several games, then finally asked to be given a shot at pitching. He asked to see me pitch, I threw several for him (all on the money, as I recall) and he just watched, then walked away without a word. Then, true to form, he put his own kid in for the whole game. I quit the team after that game was over, never looked back.

Looking back, I don't remember being bitter. On the contrary, I remember feeling vindicated, that there was nothing I could do to change his mind, and so the problem was his rather than mine. I probably was bitter, though. I do remember thinking that he was an asshole.

Now that I'm a father, looking forward to things like this with my kids, I realize it was a pretty good life lesson, in a way. Personally, though, I'd just rather have had a couple of baseball lessons. And when the time comes, you're damn right I'm going to do some coaching, the good kind, where you teach kids that it's hard, and sometimes they're going to suck, and sometimes they're going to kick ass, and the important thing is that they try whether they pass or fail.

Or at least I'll make sure every kid plays every position. Seems like the least I can do.
posted by davejay at 12:47 AM on August 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Only in baseball. Seriously, did somebody notice the kid was a good pitcher and decide to bring in a radar gun or something? I can't imagine a kid being disqualified from football for being too fast or strong or large, or soccer for kicking the ball too far... christ. I will never understand.
posted by tehloki at 1:00 AM on August 26, 2008


Back in my day, I could throw a baseball over those yonder mountains.
posted by clearly at 1:12 AM on August 26, 2008


I am about a decade removed from Little League, but 40 mph seems weak. In our league, and I am assuming many others, we had to go through farm league using pitching machines before we were allowed into the league with actual pitchers. They cranked up the pitching machine to at least 40 mph in farm league, to simply get it over the plate in a non arcing floater fashion.

If they wanted it to be fun, they would let the kid play and not leave the game up to a coach's ridiculous decision to forfeit.

What a horrible message to send to the other kids.
Well, thats it kids, he is too good for you, and we are going to quit. Let this be a lesson to you.
posted by clearly at 1:22 AM on August 26, 2008


I can't imagine a kid being disqualified from football for being too fast or strong or large, or soccer for kicking the ball too far... christ.

Football is a contact sport. When I was a kid, they divided us up into lightweight and heavyweight. Soccer isn't a contact sport. Big kids have no advantage.

Baseball is also not a contact sport, but if you've ever been plunked with that hardball by that big kid with the wild fastball it's kinda hard to see that.
posted by three blind mice at 1:26 AM on August 26, 2008


I can't imagine a kid being disqualified from football for being too fast or strong or large

How many OTHER kids have you seen disqualified from baseball? A couple at most? So you're basing this inferiority of baseball on a couple guys.
posted by ORthey at 1:35 AM on August 26, 2008


I'm basing my opinion of baseball on my experience of baseball. This is just something that, from what I know of baseball, seems to fit with baseball.

Baseball.
posted by tehloki at 1:44 AM on August 26, 2008


What the article failed to mention is that every other player on the opposing team was named Casey.
posted by chillmost at 3:42 AM on August 26, 2008


It is the PC police making sure all the little leaguers feel good about playing rather than letting someone with actual talent pitch and do well.

Damn straight! These kids have to learn that winning is the only thing that matters, fun be damned!
posted by DU at 4:09 AM on August 26, 2008


I actually see some fun in the noble effort of trying and failing rather than quitting. YMMV.

Even if the pitcher is average, most batters fail 7 out of 10 times at least anyway.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:23 AM on August 26, 2008


I'm not sure I understand why people have a problem with this decision. These kids are just one year past hitting the ball off of a tee. This isn't little league, so these kids might even be in the 7-9 year old age range.

When I played baseball at 9 years old, I don't even think that the teams kept score. The whole point was for us to have fun and get some exercise. If no one could hit the baseball, it would kind of defeat the purpose.
posted by Frankieist at 5:13 AM on August 26, 2008


Only in baseball Little League.

Parents have an amazing capacity to make baseball suck.


My little league had two divisions based on age. 7 to 9 in the "minors" and 10 to 12 in the "majors." 40 mph + were the norm for the major division.

The sad thing is that these ball players are being denied the chance to learn a little bit faster pitching than they're used to. I recall when I was 12 in All-Stars, we played a team with a guy that pitched in the 70's. Rather than being intimidated, we all wanted our chance to see if we could hit off the guy. Apparently, these little leaguers are being taught that if a challenge arises, simply walk away.
posted by Atreides at 5:41 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


We've morphed into a nation of namby-pamby, all-inclusive, everyone-wins, grab-yer-juicebox fatties with helicoptering mommies who make sure that we get playing time and never lose. Even when we do. We suck.
posted by VicNebulous at 6:22 AM on August 26, 2008


It's been a while, but I recall this kid on my team in Little League who was already shaving.

I'll do ya one better. On my minor league team (pre-little league..you cold play from 10 to 14, Little League was 12 to 14) we had two guys who at 12 were gigantic. Like, destined to be volunteer firemen in junior high. Every time they came up they hit homers. We destroyed everyone and one the championship that year and then they moved on to Little League. I don't recall anyone ever griping. Most teams had some freak like this. The fact we had two gave us the edge. Such is life.
posted by spicynuts at 6:24 AM on August 26, 2008


Why does this kid (or his parents) want to play in this league?

Having been on over 30 co-ed soccer teams I've run into guys with really high-level skills playing on other teams. I always wonder what their problem is. Is that really fun for them? Wouldn't they rather play in a league where their skill levels matched the other players better? It's not like the winner maks a lot of money or anything. I see a parallel here.
posted by cccorlew at 6:36 AM on August 26, 2008


It could have been handled better but it isn't really surprising. In around grade 5 school I thought that I was weaker than everybody else so I started working out. By grade 8 I was benching a little over 300 pounds (but still thought I was weaker than other people). We played football most recesses in the fall, and this being the late 70s in Canada nobody really cared that we played tackle football.

As I became stronger the obvious play quickly became "hand off the ball to substrate" and I'd run to the other end of the field. At first this was a pretty successful play, then it became very successful and finally a sure thing. The playground rules, without any involvement from teachers, principals or any other form of adult added a new rule "You can't hand off the ball to substrate".

It kind of sucked for me because I had to at least learn how to catch a football now but made it more fun for everybody else.
posted by substrate at 6:44 AM on August 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Parents have an amazing capacity to make baseball suck.

Parents have an amazing capacity to make all youth sports suck. And it gets better as they get older and the stakes are greater. I had a front-row seat as two fathers of 18 year-old girls/women got into a fist fight at a soccer game. Best of all -- they were from the same team.
posted by VicNebulous at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2008


What's wrong with this country today? Grumble grumble. When I was a kid we played full contact baseball. Yeah. That's right. Full contact baseball.

First it's one youth league being stupid. Next thing you know, all sports will be outlawed. And without sports, how can we teach our kids about aggression healthy competition, so they can make good soldiers and capitalists one day?
posted by gauchodaspampas at 8:12 AM on August 26, 2008


Wouldn't they rather play in a league where their skill levels matched the other players better?

Perhaps they don't have friends that match their skill level and are playing for the social aspect of being on a team with people they like. Moving to a higher level means being able to find a team that needs a person. Not always easy.
posted by spicynuts at 8:25 AM on August 26, 2008


Yeah. That's right. Full contact baseball.

We called this "Rugby Baseball". We pretty much attached the word "Rugby" to the front of any sport that we wanted to turn into a no-holds barred ass kicking fest.
posted by spicynuts at 8:28 AM on August 26, 2008


This is bs. It is the PC police making sure all the little leaguers feel good about playing rather than letting someone with actual talent pitch and do well.

I've been called a greasy thug, too. It never stops hurting.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2008


Parents have an amazing capacity to make all youth sports suck

Tell me about it. Some things in life that are taken as fact just turn out to be exaggerated urban myths. In my experience, however, every stereotype of the crazy Little League parent have turned out to be true and worse. It reached a boiling point for me during the championship game of my 12-year-old stepkid's Little League team a few months ago, when the mother of my stepkid's coach was openly heckling the opposing team's pitcher. When you reach the point, as a 40-year-old adult, where you are aggressively taunting a minor, it is time for some serious self-reflection.

But nothing, NOTHING, could have prepared me for the parents in Pop Warner football. The only reason there is no universal archetype of the crazy Pop Warner parent is because fewer kids play tackle football than do LL baseball so less people are aware. But trust me, it bring forth the worst kind of living vicariously threw your kid, false machismo nonsense ever.
posted by The Gooch at 9:08 AM on August 26, 2008


Jericho Scott is a great name. Makes him sound like a sherriff in the old west.
posted by bayliss at 9:15 AM on August 26, 2008


I think we're all missing the real story here. A talented kid spurns the defending champions (who's sponsor employs league officials) to play for another team in the league. Other team begins to win. Star player deemed to pitch too fast (which is bunkum*). Player pitches anyway, and the team is disbanded just prior to the playoffs.

* Kids in little league are hitting off of tee's until 6, then from coach or machine pitches until at least 9, and sometimes all the way to 12. These coaches and pitching machines are throwing about the same speed and from the same distance as Scott.
posted by nulledge at 10:04 AM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


We called this "Rugby Baseball". We pretty much attached the word "Rugby" to the front of any sport that we wanted to turn into a no-holds barred ass kicking fest.

Ya, I've been thinking about the rules for Rugby Curling for years :) Instead of one team sitting around while the other throws, the guys on the 'inactive' team get to try and stop/divert the incoming rock. But, the guys with the brooms become rock defenders.

I know what you're thinking.. Yes! Of course they all get to keep the brooms.
posted by Chuckles at 10:10 AM on August 26, 2008


I played in my local Little League from ages 8 until 14 when I went to play for my high school. There were always kids like this, hard throwers, big hitters. The issue isn't if the kid is too good.

The real issue, a thing I will try to avoid teaching my kids, is the thought that competitive sports should be all-inclusive love fests. There are winners and losers in baseball and in life. Some games you go 0-4. Sometimes you get the big hit. You don't quit nor do you admit you were outplayed. You simply learn from it and "get them next time". That teaches a more valuable lesson; rise above, get better, improve even if the odds are against you.
posted by extraheavymarcellus at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2008


JohnnyGunn writes "This is bs. It is the PC police making sure all the little leaguers feel good about playing rather than letting someone with actual talent pitch and do well. So well that it bothers the other players. Instead of shielding their kids from a talent that is superior and yes a little scary, parents should teach their children that fair is not equal that there are going to be people who are better at whatever they do and that defeat or striking out is not all bad."

Sure, but where is the fun in that? If it's practically pre-ordained that one will lose a competitive endeavour why bother playing in the first place? Just show up, shake on a good game and go home.

You see this in 40K a bit. Guys claiming 60-8-3 (or better {worse?}) records with a list so cheezy it should come with wine and crackers. However people who like a fun game are flabbergasted that they manage to get past 20-2-1. Who wants to play against something like that on a regular basis unless you're getting paid?
posted by Mitheral at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2008


Nevermind all of that. Who names a kid "Jericho"? Awful.
posted by Zambrano at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2008


Ya, I've been thinking about the rules for Rugby Curling for years :) Instead of one team sitting around while the other throws, the guys on the 'inactive' team get to try and stop/divert the incoming rock. But, the guys with the brooms become rock defenders.

Is it just me, or did you re-invent hockey?
posted by explosion at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2008


This isn't about political correctness, its just about politics. If the kid had accepted the invitation to be on the team sponsored by the league board member, then there is no way he gets banned from pitching. We have some major sour grapes going on here. The problem is the people who had the sour grapes were in a position to do something about it.
posted by mach at 12:46 PM on August 26, 2008


If I can switch the paradigm to soccer for a moment, when my team was city league champs in 1983 (9 years old) I had a kid named Brad on my team. I was normal sized and fast, but Brad was about 6 inches taller and huge. You learned to not stand in the way of his free kicks in practice, our opponents did the same in games.
I learned that if you're faster than the biggest kid, you're mostly OK. Just dodge the bigger kids and go score, that's life. If you're slower, then you take up baseball or golf or chess. that's just how it goes. I still hate some of those teams we faced ( Roadrunners and Banditos.. assholes) but I'm not scarred by facing competition. These kids will be looking for a way out when they get dunked on, scored on, or don't get into their college of choice. You're supposed to find the right sized pond and do the best you can in it. The parents handled this all wrong.
posted by so_articulate at 8:11 PM on August 26, 2008


You're supposed to find the right sized pond and do the best you can in it. The parents handled this all wrong.

So, 90% of kids in the league who apparently don't want to play against Jericho should go find a different size pond where they can play? I don't think that's the way it should work.
posted by jacalata at 8:37 PM on August 26, 2008


We pretty much attached the word "Rugby" to the front of any sport that we wanted to turn into a no-holds barred ass kicking fest.
YES! Rugby Chess! Rugby Canasta! Rugby Scrabulous! BRING. IT. ON!!!!!
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:37 PM on August 27, 2008


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