Little League International has announced voting results from its Regional Round Table agenda items. As was expected months ago, a permanent 50/70 baseball division was approved for play in 2013.
Since two thirds of voting District Administrators supported the measure, it was automatically approved by Little League's Board of Directors. Complete voting results on all agenda items are posted here. Among the items that failed was a proposal to ban the slash play (fake bunt / swing away) in Majors and Minors. This and any other items can be revisited in the future.
While the specific rules of the new 50/70 division are yet to be determined, the approved agenda item dictates that it will be for ages 11-13. Should leagues choose to do so, it appears that it can co-exist with the Major League division. It will include a postseason international tournament and World Series.
We'll have to wait and see about some important details.... Will big barrel bats be allowed? I hope not. An additional four feet of pitching distance is not enough to safely allow big barrels. Will the fences have to be backed up to beyond 200 ft? Perhaps, with 13-year-olds playing, but many leagues will be unable to do so. Will there be any restrictions on stealing bases? I hope so. If the base runner can take a lead of any distance and steal before the pitcher releases the ball, and the catcher has a longer throw, then an additional 10 feet of base path is not enough. It will be a flawed game with way too many easily stolen bases.
It will be interesting to see what the rules end up being. That will help determine how many leagues choose to participate. But judging from the voting results, I have to think that this is the direction that most leagues will go. I wouldn't be surprised if within 3-5 years, the Williamsport/ESPN show is a 50/70 game. It's just a matter of hammering out some details that work.