Ahead in the Count

Stop the Insanity

I am extremely distressed about some the developments in youth baseball pitching rules.  When I was playing in New York City’s Harlem-West Side Little League in the late 1980s, pitchers in the 12 and under age group were not permitted to throw more than seven innings in a week.  Without getting into too deep a discussion, suffice it to say that this rule was, at least, reasonable.  While it is certainly a good thing that our consciousness of the need to protect and build young arms has increased, these new concerns now manifest themselves in rules that not only fail to protect our young athletes, but frequently INCREASE the risk of injury.

Example: The 16U Headfirst Gamers team entered a tournament in Rockville, Maryland last summer.  The pitching rules:

1. No pitcher may throw more than four innings in one day. 

[No more rules]

This rule required that pitchers be removed after pitching four innings (regardless of pitch count), but permitted pitchers to throw multiple innings on consecutive days.  Whitey, Teddy, B Sul and Springer:  please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here…. but it seems to me that risk of injury is much higher for a sixteen year old who throws four innings on back to back days as opposed to throwing six innings in a single outing, and then resting the following day.

Our team did not have any pitchers throw multiple innings on consecutive days – but I noted with concern and disdain for this rule that several other teams did so.  To me, this rule is simply the result of innovation for innovation’s sake without considering the actual outcome.   In other words, some administrators without any baseball expertise decided to flex their rulemaking muscles.  The idea that kids will likely get hurt as a result is sad.

I will be very curious to read the rules for this year’s tournament and see whether sanity has prevailed in Rockville…

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January 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments