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May 28 2013

Will's Twelfth Baseball Game

576-baseball-ready-position

Will had his twelfth baseball game today. He started out in left field where, as any good player known, the lower your ready position the better. Also, the coach has totally switched to handing out gum pre rather than post-game.

577-baseball-batting-stance

Will showing off his great batting stance. I worked with Will to really open up his stance so that he would hit the ball to the third base side of the field which, at this level, would guaranty a base hit. Will got up there and took the perfect open batting stance ready to hit between the third baseman and the shortstop. The third base coach immediately stopped the action, walked down to home plate and reoriented Will's feet so they were perfectly lined up with the pitcher...

578-hitting-baseball-off-tee

...Will smacked the ball off the tee...right to the first baseman who, even after bobbling it, had plenty of time to step on first for an easy out. Will did exactly as he should have, he listened to his coach. Still...so frustrating.

579-fielding-ground-ball

Next inning, Will played shortstop and got to see a lot of action. Getting a grounder coming his way.

580-throwing-baseball

Throwing the ball to the pitcher.

581-play-at-shortstop

In the middle of the action, picking up a ground ball.

582-throwing-baseball

Throwing the ball home to halt the advancing runners.

583-fielding-ground-ball

Another grounder to the shortstop.

584-baseball-play

Will first looks the runner back to second and...

585-throwing-baseball

...then throws the ball home to get the runner trying to score.

586-shy-boy

This picture really show Will's amazing personality. He has always been our sweet smiling child, he has the most loving and kind spirit. I hope he never grows out of it.

587-smiling-baseball-player

Will loves to play baseball and, when not being serious on the field, there are plenty of smiles in the dugout.

588-batter-hitting-pop-up-fly-ball

Next at bat, Will hit a coach-pitched pop fly which the other team did a nice job catching.

589-baseball-player-looking-at-camera

A rare look at the cameraman who is usually ignored. The boys wound up losing 10 to 18 but that wasn't the whole story. Click on "continue reading" to hear me vent.

The other team only had 8 players (a foreshadowing of things to come in a future meet up) and would have had to have taken an out every time the missing ninth player came up in the batting order. Our coach, a classy guy and good sport, said he'd wouldn't enforce the rule on the other team. The first sign of what was to come was that the umpire even let this arrangement take place. Oh well, at least we could expect some good sportsmanship from the other team in return for our favor. Ha!

Where do I begin. USSSA Rule 11.17 states: "Umpires shall call 'Time' after every play and declare the ball dead. 'Time' shall be called as soon as the lead runner is not attempting to advance." We've had trouble with this rule all year. At this age, you can almost send a kid around the bases, all the way home, on every hit with only a small chance of ever being thrown out. In this context the rule is necessary and makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, this umpire appeared completely ignorant of the rule and the opposing coaches took full advantage of this fact. The other team sent their players running on more dead balls than I've ever seen before, only a few of which were called back by the umpire. A typical scenario was a runner hits the ball to the right fielder who fields the ball and the runner stops at first. He "is not attempting to advance" and, therefore, time should be called. The fielder attempts to throw the ball into the pitcher but it's not the best throw and gets past him. The first base coach improperly sends the runner to second. The pitcher gets the ball and throws it to second where the runner slides. The ball gets away and skips into center field. The runner stands up and, again he "is not attempting to advance." The third base coach is screaming and yelling for the runner to go to third. The runner finally hears the coach and takes off for third. You can guess where this is going...runner reaches third, makes no attempt to advance, ball gets away, coach yells, umpire is ignorant, runner scores. This literally happened in full or in part a dozen times. Some were so egregious as sending the first base runner who had just hit the ball and was just standing there to second after the ball was in our coaches mitt who was doing the coach pitch. One or two of these were so ridiculous, the umpire called the kid back. But, one time, they got away with it. It was so bizarre, our fielder throws the ball to the coach who was pitching and the first base coach sends his kid running. What was our coach supposed to due, throw to second base? Go tag him? It was insane!

590-defensive-coach-violation

Other violations were just as flagrant. The other team illegally put a coach behind their catcher when their team was on defense. He would point out to the catcher where the ball was during a play if he had difficulty find it. The umpire was, again, either ignorant or complicit in violation of USSSA Rule 9.08: "Defensive coaches shall not be allowed on the field of play and shall coach from the dugout." The picture above shows from left to right, the other team's defensive coach, the umpire, the catcher and our batter swinging at a ball.

There were still other violations. Our fielder threw a ball that hit the first base coach and deflected away from our first baseman. Instead of fessing up that he had interfered with the play, he pretended that nothing happened. The umpire either didn't see it (don't know how he missed it, it wasn't like it was a play away from the ball) or didn't care. Another time the other teams runner was going from second to third and kicked the batted ball. Again, no call. Granted each of these have technical scenarios where a no call may have been proper but I can assure you, the umpire was not operating at that level whereby he saw and analyzed the play and made the judgment call in accordance with all the applicable rules. I'll eat my camera strap if that was the case.

There was also a play where there was some confusion by the other team's coaches whether the batter had hit the ball past the 20 foot fair ball arc. Our boys in the field were not the least bit confused. Our pitcher picked up the ball after it passed the arc and threw it to first. Simply enough, batter out. Oh no, since the other team was confused and the batter didn't know what to do with his coaches yelling at him to do all sorts of contradictory things, the umpire called...wait for it...wait for it...a do over!

Finally, our games are supposed to go 1:15 minutes. Spring 2013 BYB Rule 4 states: "No dead stop time limit...2 ½ innings will constitute a complete game if the home team is ahead, or 3 complete innings if the visiting team is ahead." Now with over an hour on the clock but shy of 1:15, the umpire with whooping it up with great enthusiasm, "Let's play ball!" Another inning would be played. Oddly, after the first half inning, with the visitors up by 8 and our boys about to come up to bat for the bottom of the inning, the umpire called the game citing an completely imaginary, make up, fake, bogus, "rule" that because the home team was down by more than 7 (the most allowed to be scored in an inning) and, therefore, mathematically couldn't win the game, that they would not be allowed to bat and the game would be over. One problem. That fine little bit of reasoning doesn't appear anywhere in the rules. These are six and seven year old children playing in a "recreational" league. Finishing the inning, and letting the kids play, is more important than mathematical elimination. There is no, you suck so you can't play rule. The interesting thing was that the umpire who, just a few minutes earlier, was yelling and jumping up and down excited about letting the boys play more ball, all of a sudden made a manic-depressive swing and was telling everyone the game was over...with the enthusiastic agreement of the opposing coaches who were telling their kids to "line up" just seconds after the last out. I literally couldn't make sense of the situation until I realized later that standings in post season might turn on runs scored/allowed if two teams had the same win/loss record during the regular season. But, that would be such an absurd reason for such behavior especially given the quality umpiring and outstanding sportsmanship exhibited by the other team during...oh wait...never mind.

Posted by Don |

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