FanDuel - WFBC

August 26, 2008

9 year old with a 40 mph fastball, gets the boot.: I'm not sure what to make of this. On one hand I can see the punishment for being very good. On the other hand they allowed him to either play a different position or go up to the next level. I really dont know what to think about this but I have a 9 year old who I think could hit him :)

posted by firecop to baseball at 01:14 AM - 38 comments

I'm curious how that 40mph compares to other fireballers at different ages. I know the LLWS seems to have a top speed of ~70mph at 13/14, so if your 13 year old is hurling it 69-70mph, he's probably going to get drafted if he works on his form and control, and avoids injury from trying to force the curveball too early, etc.

So if 90+mph in high school is "massive outlier, possible draft pick", and 70mph at 13 is "probably going to be hitting 90+ when he's in high school"... where does 40mph at age 9 match? Because unless that's way ahead of the curve... I don't see the fuss. 40mph is pretty damn slow- it's about the slowest speed you'll find in the batting cages outside of the slo-pitch softball cage. I guess on 9 year olds, thats on the fast side, but not impossibly so, at least from what I'd guess. But I don't know: that's why I'm curious how fast people typically throw at that age; the leagues sounds like an instructional league, where usually the coaches throw or they hit off a tee. If they're beyond that... what's the problem, exactly?

Jericho's coach and parents say the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators.
Well, okay, this is the part I don't understand. If he's that good, shouldn't the parents love to have him move up to the next level a couple of years early? It's almost like they'd rather he stay in the instructional leagues and completely dominate than to face kids 2 years older and seem more ordinary, statistically. I think pretty much when they were young, all those future major-leaguers destroyed every level they played at and were moved up ahead of schedule, playing among kids who were hitting puberty while they were still playing with Legos and Transformers. Why do the parents seemingly resist this for their own kid, when the league even said "He can play, but he should move to a harder league."?

posted by hincandenza at 05:27 AM on August 26

I was reading about this early this morning and I just don't see what the whole drama is all about. Granted, the kid should be allowed to play. If the kid is that good of a pitcher, it's not his fault that the other kids can't catch up to his fastball. On the flip side, if the other coaches believe that he's good enough to be moved up to another level, I don't see why not.

I look at it like if a kid that's in school and seems to be a little smarter than the other kids in their class, shouldn't he or she be moved up in order for them to get the best availiable education? This kid should move up in order to get the best possible competition and then we'll see just how good he really is.

posted by BornIcon at 08:19 AM on August 26

When I was in third grade I was considered for skipping on to fourth grade, but after everything was weighed it was decided that I might have trouble adjusting. Maturity could possibly be an issue in this case. On the flip side, if the kid stays, does he improve or learn the right lessons? I like to win, but if I'm just whipping the tar out of everyone is it good for me? I'd be more concerned with keeping the kid grounded in reality than in creating a super athlete.

posted by whitedog65 at 08:46 AM on August 26

If he is so good, I agree he should move up, but why did they let him play with his team for 8 games before deciding to make him quit or make him play a different position?

posted by lil'red at 08:51 AM on August 26

To me, it just goes to show how far we have gone with political correctness. This kid can't pitch because he is too good. Are you kidding me? The message needs to get out- There are losers in life, not everyone succeeds, but hard work & in this case practice, (i.e. go to the batting cage) should be the message to the other players in the league., Not take the kid off the mound because he's just too fast. This is one of the most ridiculous kid's sports stories I have ever read. If you read the article, it sounds too me like this kids team was winning & the former champions didn't like it (Plus he choose not to play for them), so they shut him down. Thats what I get from reading between the lines. The right thing to do is let him finish the season & move him up a league next year.

posted by directpressure at 08:51 AM on August 26

I agree the kid should be able to play, somewhere. I am in Texas and they have select baseball for all ages and they play almost year round. The thing that pops ups most in the story is that the defending champion team wanted him. Hmmm, wonder if this would have happened if he played for them. Some of the story is sketchy regarding the league and moving up. Does the league have teams at a higher level, or does he have to go to a different association to play? Some leagues have rules on kids being able to move up and play at a higher level. Thats where select ball comes in, better players at the same age...

posted by bruce2ww at 09:04 AM on August 26

The article doesn't even say that playing for the the other team is a move up. As far as I can tell, this other team is in the same level as the team this kid plays for. It really sounds like there's something shady going on, perhaps like what directpressure mentioned.

posted by bender at 09:42 AM on August 26

What's wrong with letting the kid be a kid. He should be playing and associating with others in his own age group. The NBA has taken the steps to prohibit drafting straight out of high school no matter how good you are. This country is way too obsessed with sports as the ultimate answer to being a success in life and young children are often pushed into sports mainly to satisfy the false egos of their parents. Should this ruling be carried over to all sports like you can't play highschool football because you're too good, or basketball, tennis, swimming etc? Come on, sports is a GAME and fortunately for a few, it can provide a generous income but should it be the driving force to a persons exixtance?

posted by boltz at 10:37 AM on August 26

To me, it just goes to show how far we have gone with political correctness.

That's a red herring. There's a safety issue involved in not letting kids in a fast-pitch leagues face pitches above a certain speed.

I don't know enough about youth baseball to know if 40 mph is unsafe for nine year olds, but I can see why a coach would refuse to face a flamethrower if his kids weren't ready for it at that age.

posted by rcade at 11:10 AM on August 26

This nine year old boy has no business playing in a beginners league. Being able to throw that hard and with the control to not have hit a batter(according to the article) he obviously is not a beginner. He shouldn't have to play with older boys either, not all leagues for nine year olds are for beginners. If his area doesn't have a league suitable for him then his parents should check the neighboring cities for one. There was a comment made by directpressure that really bothered me. He said "there are losers in life, not everyone succeds". This may be true, but to say that here and imply that the other kids in this league are a bunch of losers because Jericho is a much better player is absolutely ridiculous. Yes they need to work harder, and many visits to the batting cage are needed. But that should be the norm any way for beginners. What kind of example of fair play and good sportsmanship is this for these kids just starting out? I say not a very good one. Jericho should be playing with boys of the same skill level, period.

posted by deans77 at 11:22 AM on August 26

I understand what you're saying rcade but it was also pointed out in the article that this kid hasn't beaned anyone or even came close to hitting someone with the heater. It seems that he has control over his pitches but since he decided not to join the defending champions "which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators", that probably has a lot to do with the league taking this kid off the mound which speaks volumes in itself and needs to be looked into.

posted by BornIcon at 11:27 AM on August 26

I don't buy the idea this kid is so good he won't hit anybody, so it's OK for him to pitch. That defies logic. Even the best control pitcher plunks people occasionally.

posted by rcade at 01:42 PM on August 26

This isn't T-ball! The kids wear protective gear, and he has never hit a batter! The kid is just a better athlete. This is an example of pathetic jerks, trying to capture some glory by living through their kids on the baseball diamond! I guarantee the former champ's coach is tired of Jericho striking out his son every time he faces him. It was insult added to injury when this talented kid turned him down,(obviously a wise decision) then goes on to dominate his team on the field. This coach, the administrator, and the parents who want to ban Jericho from pitching should move their kids to one of those leagues that doesn't keep score, and everyone wins the same trophy for playing. Their kids are probably average athletes, but with parents that are pathetic, whining losers, unable to comprehend good sportmanship, they already have two strikes against them!

posted by mrblaster at 02:01 PM on August 26

In little league, safety has to be more important than winning. If the parents and league don't think it is safe for a pitcher to be throwing pitches that fast, then they made the right call. These kids are beginners. There is no reason why this kid can't play in a league that is better suited for his skill set.

posted by bperk at 02:16 PM on August 26

I can't agree with your assessment, bperk. How can anyone argue that a 9 year old that has a solid arm shouldn't be pitching. If a kid the same age, on the same team or even in the same league bats like his name was Barry Bonds, what's next to happen? The kid won't be able to hit because for fear he'll make the pitcher feel inadequate? I mean, this game is simple: Throw the ball, see the ball, hit the ball and catch the ball. I'm not going to call these parents or kids losers but it's a shame to make a kid that has the talent for the game and so happens to excel a bit faster than most, the outsider. Let the kid play, it's just a game.

posted by BornIcon at 02:51 PM on August 26

I did a little google searching and found an article from a local paper, the New Haven Register, that describes the situation with a bit more detail than the wire story, as per usual. Here's the link:

http://www.nhregister.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20089039&BRD=1281&PAG=461&dept_id=635049&rfi=6

(Tried to link it using HTML tags, but the remainder of my original comment got deleted. Yarr)

Here are some passages from the story that struck me:

"Parents are angry. There are lawyers involved. Conflicting and wild accusations are flying. The adults are fighting over the kids." "The fighting started this week when Coach Wilfred Vidro refused a directive by league officials" "Parents posted brightly-colored signs and many wore handpainted T-shirts with sayings such as, Lets be fair, its all about the kids,-- Theyre only kids,-- and Let Jericho Pitch.--" "Noble said they cancelled the game for fear the adults bickering would create an unhealthy environment.--" "She said league officials came to their house about five months ago to recruit Jericho, who also plays in another league. "

This is not a Harrison Bergeron issue of political correctness - Jericho was already in another league and was drawn into this situation by the very league that now seeks to expel him; meanwhile, the coach and parents have declared war on the league, which is why this was brought to our attention in the first place. It seems very evident to me that all the problems that have arisen are the direct result of willful and obnoxious adults. If we take at face value that Jericho Scott is a superlative pitcher when compared to the beginners in the New Haven league, it's pretty evident that he should move up to face stiffer competition. You'd think that could have been handled quickly and quietly to everyone's satisfaction, but instead this has escalated into legal cases and front page stories; a battle over a PLAYOFF for nine-year-old baseball players.

I lump them all together in this indictment - the adults in this story (a) recruited a nine-year-old for an introductory league (b) plunged into intrigue regarding what team the kid would play on (c) issued fiats regarding his playing time from above without moving towards an actual solution to the issue (d) willfully refused said fiats, leading to more drama (e) staged protests and counter protests at the site of a little kids' baseball game (f) dissolved a team as a high handed power play (g) got lawyers and reporters involved, splashing this poor kid's name across ESPN.com and hundreds of other media outlets.

This entire situation, which should never have arisen and once it did arise, could have been handled in one simple meeting. Instead, all the so-called grownups in the scenario are acting like spoiled babies. Fucking ridiculous.

posted by Venicemenace at 04:02 PM on August 26

I've been playing baseball for almost 14 years...and the fact that these people are saying he's "too good" is a joke.....there just upset cause he keeps beating them...at 9 years old everyone in the league can hit a 40 mph fatsball..at least down here they can...

as for someone getting hurt by him. Its hardball someone is going to get hit by it eventually...plus if you send him up the older kids would have a hay day with him...

grown-ups need to stop playing their lives thru their kids...it stupid... when i was 10 we had three guys that could throw almost 60...all we did was take bets on who would get a hit off them first

this is stupid your punishing a kid for being too good...whats that going to teach them? "dont excell"? that's good motivation...

posted by Mcarl at 04:03 PM on August 26

Alright, as someone that has coached, and umpired, baseball on many levels I would like to make several points. 1) Yes, getting hit with by a pitch is dangerous, however, most injuries occur from a hit ball, or a collision between players. 40 MPH is not that fast that injuries are the concern. (absolutely not saying that there is no way an injury could occur, just that I don't see it as a real issue)

2) Sure, maybe he should be moved up, but I would hate to see that being a mandatory decision. Why can't he play with his friends? Who decides which players MUST move up? What if he's a good pitcher but a below average hitter? How is best served by being forced to have to bat against better pitchers?

3) The world is full of former little league pitchers that were moved along too quickly. In younger ages the games are shorter, and usually, there are more stringent restrictions on how many pitches a player can throw, and more limits on how often he can pitch a game. These restrictions are relaxed in higher leagues. I'd hate to see a 9 year old get into a 11 year old league where he could throw more often. coaches often do not consider their players' long term best interests when making up their roster.

4) This is obviously a political issue. Kids learn quickly how to adjust to a dominate pitcher. Bunt more often, move back in the box, shorten your swing, go with a lighter bat, all of the above. Let the kid play in whatever league he's justified to play in, and let it be.

posted by dviking at 05:01 PM on August 26

I don't think it's as complicated as many of the other posters seem to. It's a bunch of overprotective parents terrified that their kid might get an owwie. If their kid could hit those pitches I doubt they'd be bitchin'.

posted by gradioc at 08:24 PM on August 26

Every league has an unhitable pitcher. When I was in little league there was a guy that gave up only 1 run the entire year. He shut-out my team for 2 full games and 5 innings of another game (then he hung a curveball and I swatted it into the street). Nobody ever talked about making him go to the next level or disbanding his entire team. We took our ass-whoopins and moved on to the next game. Even though we all knew that we probably wouldn't even get a hit, we still showed up and played hard. THAT'S what sports are all about.

The weird thing about this is that it is a 8-10 year old "instructional league". My nephew is 7 and he plays in a real league (minor b). He played t-ball at 6 and then moved up because he though it was "boring". I guess if this dude is really that good, he shouldn't be playing in an instructional league. However, the kid shouldn't be made to feel bad over being too good. That's just going to confuse him for the rest of this life.

posted by docshredder at 08:31 PM on August 26

New Haven is a liberal town where everything has to be politically correct to all ages. Do I have to say more

posted by snaktime at 10:08 PM on August 26

I xoordinate youth sports leagues for the city I grew up in. It's laughable that they are trying to bill a league with sponsors as a purely instructional league. In my years of experience, you can't have a purely instructional league with team specific sponsors. Sponsors want championship trophies.

40mph for a 9 year old is pretty fast. I've umpired for nearly 25 years, and have seen maybe a few dozen players that can bring it that fast, that early in non-competitive leagues. Consider that depending on the leagues rules, the pitching distance is likely between 38 and 42 feet at that age. 40 miles an hour from 40 feet away would be like facing a 90+ mph from 60'6. Just as you see on the LLWS that a 70+ from 48 is blazing.

Its a sad state when a league tries to force someone to either move up or limit the positions a kid could play.

Also, for posters that are claiming that the parents are doing the kid a disservice by keeping him down, its hard to say without knowing the kid. If he has the mental maturity to deal with being a below average player or possibly a benchwarmer, then sure the step up will help in the long run.

One thing to ponder: Would the league move up a hitter that can crush the ball? I see more players hurt on a liner back to the box or on hard hit grounders than I do by getting pelted.

posted by micmckit at 10:29 PM on August 26

micmckit:

I xoordinate youth sports leagues for the city I grew up in. It's laughable that they are trying to bill a league with sponsors as a purely instructional league. In my years of experience, you can't have a purely instructional league with team specific sponsors. Sponsors want championship trophies.

I don't agree with this on two levels. First, at this age group, I really think that sponsors are mostly interested in having a picture of their team to hang on their wall to say that they support the community. Sure, championships are nice, but I don't think that is really the motivation. Second, even if it is an instructional league, that doesn't mean that a desire to win by the team or the sponsors detracts from that mission.

I pretty much agree with what you have said about the on-field activities, though.

posted by bender at 08:03 AM on August 27

Sure, championships are nice, but I don't think that is really the motivation

This has to be the single most head-scratching statement made by a poster on this site. How could you even suggest that sponsers don't care about winning championships? In sports, regardless of the age group and if it's amatuer or professional, if a team is being sponsered, championships are a main reason as to why a team is sponsered in the 1st place no matter if it's Home Depot or Bob's Tree King, they all want to back a winner.

posted by BornIcon at 08:49 AM on August 27

This has to be the single most head-scratching statement made by a poster on this site. How could you even suggest that sponsers don't care about winning championships? In sports, regardless of the age group and if it's amatuer or professional, if a team is being sponsered, championships are a main reason as to why a team is sponsered in the 1st place no matter if it's Home Depot or Bob's Tree King, they all want to back a winner.

Really?! For 9-year-olds? Sponsors (at any level) pay money to sponsor teams because they hope to get something out of it.

Sure, if you sponsor the Patriots and Belichick is wearing your hooded sweatshirt on the sideline when they win a ring, that's a better situation than sponsoring the Falcons and Mike Smith is sitting at home watching it on tv.

If you're sponsoring a 9-10 instructional baseball team, you get your company's name on their jerseys and a sign on the outfield fence. The parents know who you are and maybe they stop in. You get to hang the team picture on the wall, and your clients say, "Oh look, they're involved in the community." Oh by the way, you probably also get a tax writeoff for your donation. Of course you wouldn't mind seeing the team win, too, but if that's higher on the list than the other things listed above for the majority of sponsors, I'd be very surprised.

posted by bender at 09:09 AM on August 27

Really?! For 9-year-olds? Sponsors (at any level) pay money to sponsor teams because they hope to get something out of it

Yes!! Sponsers do in fact "pay money to sponsor teams because they hope to get something out of it even if it's for a championship and a team picture to hang on their wall or to have the community see that they're being involved with sports for children, that's the point of sponsering a team.

If a team loses every single year, do you honestly believe that sponsers will be banging on the teams doors and continue to dish out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to support that team? Every sponser wants to be the one that has their team on the winning side of things in the end in this day & age, don't get it twisted. Just take a look and see what's happening with this kid. It's just a damn shame.

posted by BornIcon at 09:22 AM on August 27

I love SpoFi. Where else can you coordinate a sports story with Kurt Vonnegut?

posted by hawkguy at 09:44 AM on August 27

In our 8-9yr old league we use a pitching machine that is set at 35mph and kids hit it good, we also have kids come up from coaches pitch to fill in and they hit it and they are 7yrs old. 40mph with control for a 9yr old is really good but I don't think it is outstanding.

posted by doeball at 09:54 AM on August 27

If the kid didn't try out for the team and his parents paid for him to play, then where is the issue? The league didn't say "you can only play so long as you're not above this skill level," they just said pay your money, and you're in. And if this is a case of a league administrator throwing a fit because this kid wouldn't join the admin's team...then way to be buddy. I cannot stand THOSE types of people involved with youth sports. They live their youth athletics over because they couldn't hack it is a child so now they have "power" and are going to get their way. God gifted that kid with some great talent...whiney administrators and other players parents should shut it and let the game be played.

posted by Bleedinbluno2 at 10:12 AM on August 27

Yes!! Sponsers do in fact "pay money to sponsor teams because they hope to get something out of it even if it's for a championship and a team picture to hang on their wall or to have the community see that they're being involved with sports for children, that's the point of sponsering a team.

If a team loses every single year, do you honestly believe that sponsers will be banging on the teams doors and continue to dish out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to support that team? Every sponser wants to be the one that has their team on the winning side of things in the end in this day & age, don't get it twisted. Just take a look and see what's happening with this kid. It's just a damn shame.

(1) You make that out to sound like I said that sponsors are not looking for something in return. That is not what I said at all. Rather, my point is that championships are not the major motivation but rather a bonus.

(2) What is an instructional league 9-10 baseball team that loses every year? The team turns over (players and coaches) every two years if not every year. I'm not talking about pro teams or college teams or even high schools. Of course sponsors at that level are looking to back a winner. If we were even talking about sponsors of a 9-10 select or travelling team, you could have a point, but we're not. It is an instructional league for young kids. Outside of the players and the parents, no one cares who wins, so whether the team you are sponsoring is undefeated or winless doesn't make the slightest bit of difference.

posted by bender at 10:49 AM on August 27

In our 8-9yr old league we use a pitching machine that is set at 35mph and kids hit it good, we also have kids come up from coaches pitch to fill in and they hit it and they are 7yrs old. 40mph with control for a 9yr old is really good but I don't think it is outstanding.

for real...when i was a kid we learned at that speed when i was 6-7...plus if you don't let the other kids face him they'll never learn how to get any better... the way you learn how to hit 95+ is facing someone that throws that fast until you catch up to them...you keep this up and when those kids get to high school the're going to get spanked around if they can' hit above 80...

argue about the parking lots in the city... not the kids talent

posted by mcarl at 03:09 PM on August 27

My 9 year old son was in an instructional league last spring. He was beaned in the side of the head by a pitcher who threw between 40 and 50 (but he hit at least one batter every time he pitched). My son survived the beaning and after shaking it off and running the baseline got back in the box and faced the pitcher again (he struck out but then the next time he faced him he was the only one on the team to make contact -- he wasn't awarded a base for being hit because the ump called time and the pitcher didn't hear him and threw anyway. My son wasn't ready and had his head turned so the ball caught his on the ear protector -- it hurt but he didn't cry). All this to say, that 40 MPH is not too fast for 9 year olds (that's the speed he works on in the batting cages. Most pitchers throw at least that fast).

The other parents seem to be most upset that the team is dominating the league and are using the pitcher as an excuse (He is playing on a team other than the team that wanted him). The team won when he didn't pitch and I am sure that the kid can't pitch every inning or every game (they have rules against that). Leave the intrigue and posturing for Olympic host nations.

So let the boy pitch. Make all the parents (and the league officials) be quiet or be banned from games. And next time, put him in a different league because this kind of bickering and fighting take all the fun out of a game.

posted by Monica Poland at 05:08 PM on August 27

A. Venice, sorry your comment got so mangled in some browsers apparently no one can read it, as it addresses a lot of the objections here. B. I know around here all the business tout the championships won by the tow-headed tots they sponsor as proof of their worthiness as business and not as civic-mindedness. I personally choose my physician and tax lawyer based on total championships won in Peewee football.

posted by yerfatma at 05:09 PM on August 27

I wonder what the Olympics would be like if the league had not allowed Michael Phelps at age 9 to keep winning races!!!!

From history:

"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence."

Abraham Lincoln

posted by Fly_Piscator at 06:58 PM on August 27

Some people are saying safety is an issue. That is a terrible excuse of why the kid can't play. When batting, the only real danger is getting hit in the head or the elbow. Everything else has enough meat on it to be okay. You wear a helmet, so there goes the chance of head injuries. If parents are that worried about their kid getting hurt in the elbow, then they can get protective padding for him (or her). I'd say it's more dangerous for the pitcher, because if someone sticks out the bat, and makes contact up the middle, he might be in some trouble. Growing up in a very political baseball system, all this is is people being angry because someone is good. I remember when i was on my last year of the small field (i believe 6th grade) we had a stud pitcher. He was throwing upper 60's which was tough to catch up to. He was allowed to play no problem.

Also, the subject in which states the kid should move up. I'm sure all he wants to do is play with his friends. He's 9 years old, all he wants to do is have some fun.

posted by SkaB0t at 08:51 PM on August 27

Lincoln didn't say that.

posted by wood at 10:05 PM on August 27

William Boetcker did say that. Odd that Lincoln is often cited as having said that, as Boetcker wasn't born until 1873.

As to the issue of whether or not sponsors care about winning. In regard to a 9 year old instructional league the answer usually is not much. At that age the sponsors of the teams my son played on were either dads of players on the team, or business owners that never came to one single game. Over the years the teams I was involved with won some leagues, and finished toward the bottom (won 1 game once). I truly noticed no differnce in sponsor reaction. Recently, I sponsored a team through my company, went to a few games, threw a pool perty for the boys, and didn't give a hoot if they won or not.

For upper level select teams it is much different, however that goes with the territory.

posted by dviking at 10:31 PM on August 27

Maybe things are different in Southern California. That's what I'm basing my opinion on. For the leagues that permit corporate sponsorship, you see a high amount of sponsor turnover on teams that consitently finish at the bottom of the league. Whereas the top dawgs have the same sponsor from the time a team is in the t-ball level to the time it reaches Sr League.

Think Chico's Bail Bonds :).

It depends on the level of sponsorship. Are the sponsors paying $100 to help with the purchase of the team's banner, or are they providing each kid with a top of the line bat/glove/cleats/catcher's gear......

That's why I tried to specify "purely instructional". Often times, instructional leagues -ie City run leagues- are reinforced thru the lack of a score being kept, or standings. Every kid gets the same size trophy at the end. The focus is on instruction.

Coaches and parents must attend workshops prior to the season put on by groups like the PCA (Positive Coaching Alliance) or NAYS (formerly NYSCA). From the looks of this article, its not that type of a league.

posted by micmckit at 10:52 PM on August 27

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