What happened to baseball?

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.


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8 Responses

  1. steppy says:

    I’ll say that this is not exaggeration at all. Although, my son is one of the Stars on the team all of his scoring has been from stealing bases, or unfortunately being hit when up to bat. But he took it like a champ.

  2. Well at least they’re getting prepared for the real world.

  3. Becky Riles says:

    Your right, that doesn’t sound like very much fun if it’s just a base race. :D

  4. scott says:

    I would be more inclined to play by the actual rules of baseball, than make up rules specific to their “age” group. Base stealing in baseball is huge, and stealing first on a bobbled, missed third strike is not uncommon in any age group, in fact, that’s how it is in the big leagues, too. Kids have short attentions spans as is, and with baseball being as slow and boring as it is in the big leagues, I couldn’t imagine the torture these kids would have to endure if there were rules in place saying they can’t steal. Imagine a 5 year old sitting on first base for 10 minutes because the next 2 batters didn’t get a hit. I know for a fact mine might reconsider playing, cause that would happen a lot. Personally, I think every game should be played as it is played professionally, with perhaps a few exceptions, like length of game, allowing coaches on the field to assist kids in the rules, and so on. I have no problem with the stealing. Maybe the in-fields fathers/mothers of those children need to take some time to play with their boys(or girls) to strengthen that arm up. Children are dynamic, and some may find themselves surprised as what these children are capable of achieving when given the opportunity.

    But all in all, baseball is boring, and would be much more so, in my opinion, if there were rules set in place to disallow these children from stealing.

    Just my two cents.

  5. Moonshine says:

    At what age do they tell the kids they don’t really know how to play baseball and teach them the actual game?

  6. Catina says:

    Ask the kiddo if he has issue with how the game is played as opposed to how they are playing it currently. If he isn’t learning anything or having a good time then talk to the mom. If it’s cool with her bring it up with the coach. Surely they have a reason, other than running up the score, to play it this way. Maybe just reinforcing how to steal? If the attempt is to teach and no one is learning then something needs to be done to correct the error. Most of the coaches are baseball dads and are not infallible. Talk to him. I know you are just the boyfriend space but the boy will appreciate you more if you get involved. Some day you guys may need that connection. Consider this a shiny opportunity.

  7. Stella says:

    God that does sound maddening. Ugh. I wouldn’t want to sit through that.

    I just commented on all the posts on your front page. I have to go to work now, but I can’t wait to get back and catch up on all this reading I’ve missed. Good god you’ve written 438 posts? Yeah I have some catching up to do, brandon!

  8. Stella says:

    Oh god I just noticed you have all my old posts up there. Yay! I’m so excited. I’ll be back.

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