With so much going on the past few weeks I’ve been a little bit busy, which means there’s plenty rattling around in my head to ramble on about, but the first thing that comes to mind is Little League baseball.
After umpiring for several years I was unable to continue calling games when I returned to work here at the Times-Tribune back in August of last year.
The fact I was going to miss seeing some of the kids I had watched grow over the past few years in Corbin’s league was a bummer. When the season started I thought I would surely get over to Rotary Park a few times a week, or at least once a week, to watch the kids play.
As time passed and work kept me busy I eventually missed out on the entire regular season, but I was fortunate enough to be able to cover the league tournament this past week.
The best part of last week was the fact that I got to see what I feel like is baseball in its purest form. At this level its not about money or endorsement deals and it’s not even about who gets the biggest trophy when the tournament is over.
What it comes down to at this point of the season is a group of kids playing as much baseball as they possibly can with a group of friends as they try to beat another group of friends.
Maybe it’s about bragging rights over the kid that sat next to you in homeroom the previous school year. Maybe it was about striking out the kid that sat across from you at the lunch table and argued that the Cincinnati Reds were better than the St. Louis Cardinals.
Either way, Little League baseball is about a group of kids having fun playing a game they love to play and wanting to play that game as deep into the summer as they can.
Obviously I missed seeing the kids that I had watched grow from T-ball on up through the Little League (11-12 years old) level. I also missed watching the kids that were new to the league or to the sport develop as the season progressed.
I also missed being able to talk baseball with some of the coaches and parents that knew what they were talking about. You’d be surprised what you can learn at a Little League game.
What I didn’t miss was the parent that sits right behind home plate to try and figure out the umpire’s strike zone. Whether it’s to go over and let the coach know he’s calling wide, inside, high or low, I don’t agree with it.
Not just because I was an umpire, but mainly because it makes that particular parent look desperate.
A good baseball player can hit a strike no matter where it is. If the pitch is away, reach out and send it to the opposite field. If the ball is inside, turn on it and try to leg out a double down the line. Hit the high ones hard and long and lay off the low balls because they lead to a lot of double plays.
I also didn’t miss the coaches that hang out on the first and third base fences shouting instructions (usually the wrong instructions) to their kid in the field or at the plate.
If you wanted to coach, you should have put that on your application when you signed your kid up to play. If you did put that on your application and you’re still on the fence screaming, there’s probably a reason you’re not coaching.
The thing I didn’t miss the most are the coaches that treat Little League like it’s a stepping stone for their career.
I can almost guarantee that there are no Major League or NCAA scouts that are willing to come to Corbin’s Rotary Park in attempt to find the next coach of any college or pro team.
With that said, enough with the stall tactics and attempts to manipulate Little League rules so that they work in your favor, while kicking and screaming when that same rule has an adverse effect on your team.
The fact of the matter is that Little League baseball is fun to play, watch, coach and even umpire when each of those four go unobstructed.
A lot of leagues have signs hanging that say the following — Players play, coaches coach and parents cheer.
If everyone followed those guidelines the kids’ experience would be a lot more fun. Good luck to all of our local Little League All-Star teams as they get ready to compete in area and district tournaments across the Tri-County.
I will say this about the upcoming tournaments – we have some really talented athletes in the Tri-County and if you want to see the future of local sports, go to a game and check it out.