Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Little League Posts 50/70 Info Page

Details on the new Intermediate (50/70) Division continue to trickle in from Little League Baseball. Williamsport recently added a Resource Page to it's website with an FAQ section that previews some of the rules that should be announced soon.

I'm glad to know that our league has decided not to offer a 50/70 division as part of our regular season yet. I don't think it's a good option for 11-year-old rec players. I also think it's a flawed game, with base stealing having far too big of an impact on the game. Compared to Majors, you're adding only 10 feet of base paths, but allowing runners to take leads and take off when the pitcher starts his delivery.

After reading the new FAQ, it gets worse. The best part about 50/70 was the 50 - the fact that the mound would be backed up to a slightly safer distance. So much for that benefit. Little League has apparently decided that big-barrel bats (2 5/8") will be used in this new division. BBCOR or not, I think this is a big mistake. You only have to picture a big, strong 13-year-old hitting against an 11-year-old pitcher using a large-barreled bat to know that this is dangerous.

So now there is no safe option for 11-12-year-old Little League pitchers. You play 46/60 and you're facing composite bats (and the approved ones still pack a whole lot of punch). Or you play 50/70 and you're facing big-barrels. This is not good. Take a look at that Little League logo up there at the top of this post - all of a sudden "COURAGE" really begins to stand out.


  1. I think you are spot on. I have watched my son play in a few tournaments as a 10- and 11- year-old that have 50/70 dimensions and allow leads on pitchers. Stealing second is routine and stealing third is nearly so. Young pitchers who need all the focus they can to throw strikes consistently get far too distracted trying to hold runners. And big-barreled bats scare the heck out of me when it comes to injury risks to pitchers, even with kids younger than 13 at the plate.

    I keep wondering when we will see LL pitchers wearing (maybe even required to wear) helmets with faceguards, as is routine in girls' softball leagues. On the one hand, I have mixed feelings about it. On the other, I cringe when I think of the damage a line drive could cause if it struck a young pitcher in the head. Bats (including metal, not just composite) are so much lighter and springier than when today's parents played the game... and there was no such thing as big barrels when I was in little league. You can't take all risk of injury out of the game (nor should you), but I worry that we are reaching a point
    where pitchers are in danger of serious harm.

  2. Totally agree about letting the pitchers (and all players) focus on developing the fundamentals/mechanics without having to worry about the running game so much. That's what they should be focusing on at that age.

    I think we may see this Easton pitcher's helmet within 2-3 years:

    This fall I saw our strongest hitter hit a line drive into the gut of a big, strong pitcher from 46 ft. It was instantaneous. Very scary, and lucky the ball wasn't hit slightly higher. I just hope helmets are mandated before someone isn't so lucky. These are children we are talking about, but we think of them as just "ballplayers" when they are on the field. It's messed up.

    Why not play 50/60 - back up the mound without changing the game so much? And I'd like to see BBCOR bats at age 12 and below.

    1. I remember seeing your post about the pitcher's helmet (so yes, I'm a regular reader and enjoy your blog). It looks promising, but I was surprised to see no face mask. Granted, a mask might compromise peripheral vision to some extent (maybe...), but a ball to the face can mean loss of an eye or serious dental damage. Girls wear masks to pitch softball, even at age 12 and below--seems like a good idea for baseball, too.

      All of this also reinforces the importance of good pitching mechanics. Finishing in position to field makes injury less likely.

      One final thought: What happened to the move a few years back for chest protectors for pitchers after a couple of tragic cases of cardiac arrest after balls hit kids in the chest? I realize the studies didn't find much benefit to the protectors, but I wonder why no one came up with a better version? The whole issue just seemed to die.

  3. I see chest protectors more in stores these days, but the issue is pretty quiet now. I guess the news on head injuries has just taken over.

    One thing to consider about face masks: While I'm not an expert on softball pitching, there seems to be less closing up of the front shoulder and turning the head in a SB delivery. The way a baseball pitcher closes up, faces 3B with his chest, and then violently rotates as he throws, I think a face mask would make that extremely difficult. But perhaps there is (or eventually will be) one out there with good enough visabiility.

    I'm not ready to advocate for face masks yet. Perhaps helmets though. I just wish LL and other organizations would be smarter about big barrels on a 50/70 field, and composites on a 46/60 field. LL has a good track record concerning safety. Hope they don't ruin it.