My girlfriend and I were at her son’s baseball game last night, and I have a few words to say about it. First of all, he’s eight. So it’s still not that serious. It is, however, more serious than your typical “everyone plays” league. It’s double A ball, so the kids are a little better than average, and this year, they’ve begun to allow base stealing.
Now for those of you familiar with the rules of Little League baseball, which I am not, you’ll know that up until a certain age, they aren’t allowed to steal bases, and the coaches pitch part-time for the pitchers to give every batter a fair chance at a hit. Except that sometimes the coaches screw it up for them worse than the pitcher was doing. Whatevs. The point here is that now they allow base stealing.
And encourage it.
Now here’s the deal. There’s a run rule for the at-bat, so each team can only score five runs before retiring their half of the inning. Well, if you can’t already see where this is going, keep reading. Did that make sense? So not only do they encourage it – and by ‘they’ I mean the coaches – they enforce it. Every. Single. Pitch. If there’s a base runner, he’s told to steal. Every base. Every pitch. So if a batter is walked. Or, for the sake of argument, gets a base hit… The next pitch to the next batter, the kid on first is stealing. Next pitch, next base. Then he steals home. It’s like this with every single batter, every single pitch.
The game is now about stealing. It’s no longer about the competitive nature of strikes and balls and outs and at-bats, and good fielding. It’s now about stealing every base, every chance they get. So the visiting team starts off the game, steals five runs and retires to the field. The home team bats and does the same thing. So at the end of the first inning it’s five to five. Because they run rule each other every inning. Sigh. But wait, it gets worse.
They can steal first.
Read that again. The runners can steal first. On the third strike pitch, if the catcher loses the ball, the batter can steal first. And of course, because these kids are just, well – kids, the catcher never quite has the arm to out-throw the runner. So he gets on base. And usually the ball sails past the first baseman, so the runner goes ahead and takes second. By the time he gets there, the right fielder has the ball and overthrows second, and the runner takes third. Of course by this time the ball is over by the dugout and the base coaches are waving him home. So he steals home, and now basically has a home run on overthrows. When he struck out.
What ever happened to someone striking out and having to go sit down? Now you can score after you’ve struck out, by virtue of being able to steal every single base? So that’s what this entire game turned into. The whole thing was back and forth stealing. Every single base, every single pitch. I’m not exaggerating. It was ridiculous, to the point where I really started getting frustrated and upset. Of course, the boys were too. You could tell. Because as you get more tired later in the game, you miss more balls, and more runners can steal and score because of it.
So by the end of the game, it became apparent that whichever team screws up a steal and gets caught off the bag was going to lose. Now that’s good baseball! Seriously, I really have no interest in watching another game. I’ll go, because I care about the kid. And I like my girlfriend. But seriously, it’s not what it used to be. It’s disheartening. It’s BaseSteal now. There are almost no hits anymore. Just runners stealing first, then every other base, and run-ruling the inning.
Who the hell thinks up these rules? How about some moderation? How about the base coaches not trying to run up the points by just stealing? How about a little restraint? How about making it a game and occasionally stealing a bag? It’s clear the coaches are now all about the score. Instead of teaching the kids good ball and a good time, they’re running them silly just to drive up the score and win the game. What a waste. It sort of makes me want to cuss.
Oh well, what can you do? I might get out there and kick some dirt on the umpire and see where that gets me.