It’s no secret to those that have been following me for an extended period of time that I’m no fan of the Little League World Series. No it’s not because I’m a hardo (although I totally am), and no this isn’t a ‘get off my lawn’ moment. As someone who’s been playing ball from 6 years old through college, and then being in the media game since then, I think i’ve got some valid opinions here. Also, this list won’t include bashing 12 year old kids for things they have no control over. Let’s stick to the game as a whole, and its coverage this time of year.
Little League is far from the best 12 year old baseball in America.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the Little League World Series. Most people outside the baseball world assume (and understandably so) that these are the best 12 year old baseball teams in America. Of course, that’s not possible considering all of these kids are from the same town. Also, most of the best youth ball players by the age of 12 are playing what I’ll keep simple & refer to as “travel ball”. Sure, that’s not to say there aren’t some really really good players sprinkled throughout the tournament. Because there definitely are. They stick out like a sore thumb. But whereas a team in Williamsport might have 1-2 of those guys that visibly stand above the rest, the top travel tournament teams might have more like 5-6 of those guys.
The dimensions are too small for the talent
The bases are so short, they can’t even allow lead-offs. Kids are blasting 375 foot home runs…
The next Hammerin' Hank. Peachtree City little leaguer Jayce Blalock clobbers 375 foot homer! pic.twitter.com/uFDsRGfo6g
— Berndt Petersen (@BPetersenWSB) August 8, 2017
On a 200 foot fence, which is the minimum requirement for Little League (225 in Williamsport), a 375 foot home run is 1.875 times the distance of the fence. Adjusted for a Major League park that’s 330 down the line, that would be equivalent to a 618 foot HR. Overall, more action happens when we move the fences back, and allow for more doubles, triples, and require better defense. Also, from a 46 foot mound, kids are throwing the reaction-time equivalent of like 106mph fastballs. Come on. Those other 12 year olds I was telling you about? 50 foot mounds and 70 foot bases.
Lights, camera, action. Listen, I get it. Millions of people viewing changes everything. But I just can’t watch pitchers hug a batter after hitting him in the ass with a 55 mph baseball. I can’t watch a second baseman high five a batter that just took HIS pitcher YARD. Not a “look at me” statement here, but if one of my teammates, even at 12, ever dapped up a batter who just tanked me, our whole team would dunk him in a toilet. And I’m not naive enough to think that isn’t inspired by the cameras, but it’s still awful to watch. A move like that is more disrespectful to your own pitcher than it is good sportsmanship…
Too many rules
I just feel like if I’m watching a baseball game, I shouldn’t have to have rules explained to me every 3 innings. Not to mention new rules added every year, including replay? Replay seems like a bit much for 12 year old baseball, although some of these umpires can surely use camera help…but more on that later. Pitch count rules are like a calculus equation trying to figure out which of your pitchers are available and when. I’m all for watching a kid’s pitch count, but with such little scientific data on what’s right & wrong, I hate the idea of the rules on pitch counts and days of rest. I realize that’s a battle I’d probably lose so I’m willing to concede. I will go to war saying the “everyone has to play” rule is garbage. If you want that to be a regular season rule, fine. These boys are out here playing for world titles and you’re telling me Johnny Whiffs-Alot needs to get an AB in every game? Bananas.
This one is especially brutal to watch, and even the average viewer has to notice it. I love the compilation videos of umpires ringing up Little Leaguers on pitches 28 inches off the corner.
— Kyle Vander Ark (@KVark27) August 11, 2017
— ThePoLiCy32 (@JoeyUva32) August 21, 2017
These videos are not hard to find either. I searched “little league umpire” on twitter and both of these are less than two weeks old. I understand the umpires are volunteers…but maybe let’s start paying real umpires.
Baseball is a kids’ game. It always has been, it always will be. And it should be. A trip to Williamsport has got to be the trip of a lifetime for a 12 year old. These kids know nothing other than what’s in front of them. Again, they’re not to blame for any of this. Some of these kids are super talented. That’s why we always see the stories of Little Leaguers that end up in the big leagues. But the product as a whole, at least for me, is brutal. Borderline unwatchable. I’ll watch when we get closer to the finals, and definitely watch the final game. Mostly because I’ll watch anything that’s USA vs World. Other than that, I’m out on Little League.