Cold Weather Means It’s Almost Little League Season!

So what if the wind chill today hit -1?  All it means is that we’re hurtling toward baseball season!  Major League Baseball spring training starts in three weeks, and new Little League coaches are looking for the right book to help them manage their soon-to-be teams.  Look no further: Pick up HOW TO COACH YOUTH BASEBALL SO EVERY KID WINS on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now!

An article in the New York Times today reported that some parents spend upwards of $11,000 on baseball equipment for their Little Leaguers.  First of all, this is by no means necessary.  Second, who would want these kids on their teams anyway?

Warning or ejection?

One of the better players on our team was ejected a couple of innings into one of our Little League games this weekend.  His offense was to mutter to himself after a called third strike and then slam, but not throw, his helmet onto the bench.  It was the third game into the season, and I attempted to persuade the ump that a warning would have been sufficient given the infraction.  (Under Little League rules, an ejection is an automatic two-game suspension.)  The ump, debating with himself out loud, seemed to agree that his call may have been too harsh but then decided not to change it because he was afraid that he wouldn’t be respected if he did.  I thought that was pretty disappointing.  As far as I’m concerned, the game is about the kids, and the umps really ought to just stay in the background, make their game calls, and not insert themselves onto central stage like this.  The kid in question has a history of uncontrolled emotions, but I didn’t think it was right to just burn his house down like that — he sat on the bench and cried hysterically for ten minutes.

Some, I’m sure, would think this is the right call, but for me a warning would have chastened the player and presented the coaches with yet another teaching moment to help this kid to learn something without the unnecessary humiliation.  One way or another, coaches have to help these kids to mature (see, e.g., Carlos Zambrano).  Wondering if anyone else has some thoughts on similar situations?