Post by Doug Shortridge on May 25, 2011 20:36:10 GMT -6
Well...it's been an interesting run since I last posted. This is most definitely a controversial subject for exuberant coaches and parents and other miscellaneous types. It seems to have a lot to do with ego and the pride, greed, envy, anger, and gluttony which seems to drive all of us in different ways. At any rate I thought I'd submit something to get this thread back up front. I see it's had a lot of views which says something about the interest. I hope it's helped bring the issue higher on the minds of parents and coaches everywhere. I think it's very important to take care of these kids who are all-around pitchers and players because they end up carrying a huge amount of the load when the pressure is on. When sober and balanced with good parenting and coaching, I'm good with it. When it's out of control and "win at any cost" I'm not good with it. Keeping the travel tournament risk topic alive helps keep the checks and balances in mind.
Post by Doug Shortridge on May 9, 2012 13:09:22 GMT -6
Hi all, OP here. Dusting off my keyboard for some updates to this thread. It's been an interesting year since I last spoke up. It does feel good to me when I notice the numbers for "views" on this thread. Fifth place overall in the category of Youth and High School. That says a lot about this topic and the syndrome of top-pitcher kids and the dangers they are put under in the travel ball venue. Around here there are new developments. One prominent club locally is choosing to play under a tournament company which has not adjusted their limits to better align with the science supporting responsible prevention of overuse injury. Apparently it's not cost-effective for some travel ball tournament companies to do what's right and follow the big player USSSA's lead. Is seems to me it's going to take a class-action suit for the financial pressure to force changes in the rules since financial incentive is obviously why the companies keep the limits relaxed. A lawsuit or two plus widespread embarrassment in the irresponsible coaches and parents. I recall how embarrassed I felt when I realized what I didn't know about the 100% preventable danger I was allowing my son to be placed in by his supposedly "experienced" coaches.
I agree that litigation is the only thing that will get the attention of these tournament organizers. However I believe the litigation will be based upon child abuse with a demonstrable injury. The defense will be that there is not enough solid scientific evidence to create a cause and effect case for negligence.
Two issues come into play. 1. In order to make money, participating teams must play a lot of games in a short period of time. 2. Most teams participating don't have enough pitching depth to play that many games risk free unless they bring in some hired guns to take up that slack. So the issues of overuse are present.
Bring us up to date on how your son is doing and best of luck with your mini crusade.
Post by Doug Shortridge on May 10, 2012 17:08:51 GMT -6
Yeah, some kind of serious lawsuit seems to be the only way to win widespread pitching limits rules change. For my local part, I guess mission accomplished generally speaking. I was in a position, due to all sorts of circumstances in the family and community sense, to take a stand and spread the word on this. This was not only for my son but also for all the other kids whose parents aren't able to speak up because of the risk of having their kid benched or excluded. Basically the whole baseball community in my son's general age group took notice here and I don't think anyone is bucking the trend toward healthier limits. If they do, there is a good chance they will be hearing from me at some point. I can't overstate how done I am with ignorant, ego-driven, dishonest "win at any cost" coaches. This type of coach is the ONLY class of concern to me. The rest understand a lot and many of these people really know their baseball too, so that's good.
My son finished JV Highschool with a couple very good games. One, a complete game two-hit shut out against a very good team. I just found out he is called up to Varsity for playoffs.
No arm problems, all good. They shut him down at, or around 95 pitches (depending on how many fouls the batter can hit) and he rests for several days. Here in California the rules allow 30 outs in a week which starts on Monday. The HS coach is going to lead a travel ball team over summer with some of these same kids so we'll see which tournament companies he chooses. I hope its USSSA which has reasonable, if not perfect, pitch limits in their rules. Gotta support the ones doing things better and quit sending money the direction of the ones who refuse to change!
Sounds like you are making headway. One statement has me a bit confused though. You were talking about his pitch counts at around 95 and then commented, "(depending on how many fouls the batter can hit)"
Post by Doug Shortridge on May 13, 2012 12:04:26 GMT -6
Your question about "depending on how many foul balls" is a good one for this thread. It opens up the issue of the dilemma of having Little League style pitch count rules with sanctions such as "manager-ejection-next-game-if-one-pitch-too-many-is-made". I get why there is resistance to that kind of thing at the HS level and beyond. I also understand how difficult enforcement would be in the travelball tournament situations.
How the coaches at my son's school handle it is they go with the Cal HS rules of 30 outs per week for obvious reasons. In addition, they track the pitch count during an outing and when a kid gets up to the low 90s he is informed "this is your last batter". The issue of doubleheader or next day games during playoffs hasn't come up yet in my experience but I will likely deal with that subject after this playoff season when i understand things more. What happened with my son when this occurred the other day is the last batter got into a five or six foul ball battle so the count got up closer to 100.
When I began understanding this issue and started this thread after a Nations travelball tournament 2.5 years ago, my son was 12. He went 9 innings in less than 24 hours! 6 innings first day, then 3 the next morning. At 15 pitches per, that's 135 pitches! Then of course, he played SS, 3rd, or OF every other inning of the five games in two days! These HS coaches know I would never stand for that and at this point I have confidence they wouldn't do that even if I weren't' around. I'm also confident they would not subject any other kids to obvious pitcher overuse. But that's because I've talked to them, listened to their ideas over time, and observed many games now. If it were a whole new set of coaches I would once again feel obligated to pay close attention and determine whether or not they "get it".
I am aware now though of a travel ball club locally which is participating and perpetuating young pitcher abuse by the simple fact they pay to play in a "no limit" pitching rules company. They should spend their money on USSSA or any other tournament company which has at least a semblance of responsible pitch limit rules. Regardless if any given team is careful in managing overuse risk, or if certain parents make sure their kids are limited, simply paying the fee into the tournament company perpetuates the culture of irresponsible parenting and coaching.
… I get why there is resistance to that kind of thing at the HS level and beyond. I also understand how difficult enforcement would be in the travelball tournament situations. …
Hey Doug! Long time no hear.
Don’t you find it amazing that even at the HS ages, there’s so many people involved who think they get it, but don’t?
But I don’t want to get off onto all kinds of tangents. What I’d like you to do though, is give a REASONABLE explanation why there’s so much resistance to pitching limits in HS. I get it at the college level where most of the players are 18 and in full control of their own destinies. If they want to allow their tentacles to determine their lives and take risks, that’s completely up to them. But why do you think its ok to put kids at risk at the HS level where most players aren’t yet 18?
Also, will you give some explanation as to why you think enforcement in tournament situations is any more difficult than any other. Perhaps things have changed, but when I was doing the tournament route, almost every tournament had “official scorers” supplied by the tournament, so I ‘d think that would make policing of those kinds of events a piece of cake.
I must admit though, that I’ve never run a tournament, but I’ve scored in a number of them, and one of the main things I was told to look out for was pitch limits.
If it is a pitch offered up to the batter, it counts. Fair, foul, missed, or looked at. That is simple enough if you have a drop dead number limit.
And keeping track is simple. Get a tally counter at most any business supply store and just get a 3rd person to click off the pitches. The score keeper looks at the counter after each half inning, records the total and resets the counter to zero. Let the appropriate coach know when his pitcher is getting close to the limit and stop the game when and if he does. No ifs, ands or buts.
The official score keeper has ultimate responsibility no matter who is pushing the button.
Post by scorekeeper on May 13, 2012 18:13:46 GMT -6
You know and I know its pretty simple in theory, but in reality it can get a bit “complicated”. The reason it gets complicated isn’t because its difficult, but rather that its not at all unusual for an observer to get caught up in the moment and forget to hit the clicker. As much as it shames me to say it, I’m guessing my pitch counts are off by 1 or 2 almost every game, and I have to say that I’m pretty good at staying focused.
It may be that I lost focus for a second because something took place I had to give my attention to and neglected to make sure I got that last pitch, but more often with me, its something I can’t plan for. Something like someone asks what position in the lineup was batting, what Joey did last inning, how many k’s Tim has, or something that takes my full attention away from what I’m supposed to be doing, and the baseball gods pick that precise moment to make some bizarre play take place, and whoosh, there goes the perfect count.
And those things can happen to anyone, anytime. The problem isn’t that they happen, but rather than not get too excited about a pitch or two, some folks get downright anal about it and want to see a coach get burned at the stake if a kid goes 1 pitch too many.
I had to laugh at our local LLI league. The BOD decided they’d make it mandatory that each team have a counter, so the supplied one to each team, and have a spare in the snack bar. Then each team has an official counter for each game, and after each half inning they have to agree and give the number to the official scorer. I’ve watched 3 games now, and the two counters differ at least once a game, but usually more.
But here’s the kicker. What do they do when there’s a disagreement? They ask the official scorer what s/he had, then that becomes the “official” number. I tried to tell them to just let the scorers for the 2 teams do it, and be done with it, but there’s just no way to talk to these people. Its like there another kingdom that’s gonna last forever.
And these are the same people who drive cars home after the game? I relate entirely to your scenarios. The same leagues have the carpenters and bricklayers as presidents where the accountants and CEOs rake the field. Some have never had a power position in life and this is their big moment. Scroll down about half way on the opening page until you find my post on Youth Catchers and note the interest. Another forum has one reply. I thought things could get better with input from experienced coaches. I guess that is not the case. Hardly ever post anywhere now. Too bad for the kids and the game.
As you can see, travel ball is all about the coaches putting a winning product on the field and the parents who think their kid is going to be left behind if he doesn't play travel ball. And those dads who are living their dreams through their sons sports participation. It has gotten sooooo out of hand. But most parents and coaches don't see it that way. I am completely amazed that people will pay thousands of dollars for their young kids to play "travel ball". It completely blows my mind. It is bad enough at 15 yo but ridiculous at 9-10 years old.
One of the things that I am doing is talking to pros and collecting their stories of how they didn't even start pitching until their junior year in HS, with the hope that this will address some of the lunacy and reduce the pressure to start too young.
There's Greg Mathews who didn't play freshman or sophomore year. There's Al Hrabosky who didn't start pitching until Junior year (due to injuries in the starters the coach was counting on). There's Mark Buehrle, who was cut his freshman year.
Increasingly, people think that if a kid isn't a stud by __ grade, he's never going to go anywhere, and it just ain't so.
Wasn't Jason Motte drafted as a catcher?
BTW: I think pitching is especially dangerous and shouldn't be done exessively but even playing in the field too much is not good for kids.
Not only for the arm (although a lot of MLB position players had TJ surgery) but there is also a lot of wear and tear of the knees, hips and back when playing in the field.
I think this is especially important when the kid pitches AND plays in the field. If he does I think it is a mistake to only look at pitch counts. the throws in the field add up too (especially when catching but also in the IF and even OF).
Post by Doug Shortridge on Oct 22, 2013 9:07:38 GMT -6
Hi, OP here. Just thought I'd check in and see how it goes out there in the younger age travel ball arena. My boy is now a HS Junior and looking good! No injuries have come up since the "Little League Elbow" incident, which woke me up four years ago. I did have a conversation with one father with a younger son playing travel ball...he mentioned "we have to sign the affidavit" (about not over using kids as pitchers). I guess there are some travel ball companies requiring that to keep up the parent and coach responsibility. Not a bad thing I don't think. It seems attitudes are changing.
" Some Travel ball organizations have pitch limit rules which are dangerously high in comparison to the ASMI/USA Baseball recommendations. Overuse injury from a single tournament can be mitigated if the rules are changed downward."
Without knowing the particulars you need to remember that the recommendations are the best guesses of those making them. In the future the actual numbers may change up or down based on experiences garnered from those in compliance.
Pitch counts are one of many factors causing injury. Overuse allows poor technique pitches to be used more. Single game counts are not enough. Recommendations should include per week, per month, and per year. Then there is the thing that some kids just break easier. As to your son's injury I would suspect that it was occurring little by little before the event that precipitated the pain and diagnosis.
In any event, it is an issue that continues to need research and preventative intervention.