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CALIFORNIA DISTRICT 37 LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL

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The following is an opinion based article 

Well, the 2017 Spring/Summer baseball season is in the books and I'm sure that everyone from the kids to the parents, league administrators and District staff have some fond memories.

  March brings fresh faces to mix with old ones. First timers starting out in the TBall division have begun their road through the various divisions to hopefully one day making the All Star team and maybe, just maybe, playing in August on the big stage in Williamsport. Returning players have the same hopes and aspirations.

  The District did have a couple of bright spots this past season, the 8-10 Westchester Del Rey softball team captured the State Championship in the State Tournament hosted by District 37 and Westchester Del Rey. The Westchester Del Rey 11-12 softball team made it all the way to the Western Regionals in San Bernardino and acquitted themselves admirably even though they fell short of making it to the World Series.

  Speaking of the World Series, it was exciting watching the International and US Pools battling it out for an entire week before Japan walked away the flag and title as 2017 Little League World Champions. Sentimentally I imagine we were all rooting for Rancho Santa Margarita since they were representing the West. But the boys from District 68 fell midway thru the double elimination bracket.

  I do have a suggestion for LLB with regards to their format; make the championship games a true double elimination. That way a team that sweeps bracket play has a chance to advance to the World Series. While it is very difficult for a team to wend their way through the losers bracket, thereby exhausting their pitching staff, a team that gets to the final in pool play should have to win 2 games. After all, wouldn't it be better for a team to earn their way in rather than be lucky? Many times the lucky team isn't always the best team to represent.

  And what about the umpiring? While I am no where near a professional umpire I do consider myself above average. But I found the strike zone to be horrendous. At times if the pitch was in the area code it was called a strike. and you cant say camera angles skewed the view since the camera was set up in straight away center field. While I congratulate those chosen by their respective leagues I do question the standards or level of competence in the selections.

  Maybe I'm off base here in my criticism of the umpiring crews. Maybe they were instructed by LLB and ESPN to have a liberal strike zone, to speed the games along, for time constraints. If so that is wrong. These kids, 11-13 years of age, are All Stars, the best of the best and should be held to higher standards, at the very least a regulation strike zone. And all the replays! It almost seemed as if every single play was under review. This detracts from the game. Not to mention how many calls were overturned, which goes back to the last sentence in the previous paragraph. Maybe it's time for paid, professional umpires, at least behind the plate? I don't know but what I do know is that the umpiring needs to get better. And the only way to do that is to have, one, to have a competent chief umpire at the local level and two, more parents volunteering their time to learn the ins and outs as well as learn the rules of the game and become certified umpires.

  At any rate it was a fun season and now it's time for Fall Ball, a grewat experience for those new to the game and those players who want to hone their skills. Good luck and see ya'all next Spring.

Greg Jones
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Hawthorne, California 90250


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