Innovative rules to better learn the Grand Old Game

Michael Piasetzki
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Changes intended to help make baseball interesting for very young

Innovative rules to better learn the Grand Old Game

Ask anyone who knows a little something about baseball, and he or she will tell you it’s a sport that takes many years to excel at.

In fact, one could conceivably continue developing individual hitting or fielding skills right up until your mid 20s. Others may argue the learning never stops. However, one thing is certain, it all begins with youngsters who first pick up a glove and bat. To that end, the Lac St. Louis Baseball Association decided to institute several rule changes this season to help make the game interesting and innovative for very young West Islanders.

The first was at the mosquito B level, the first level of pitching for many, where games used to take up to three hours to complete, primarily because of the pitchers’ inexperience. The problem was not just too many walks. It included catchers not being able to throw the ball back to the pitcher, overthrowing all the way to the second baseman, who would sometimes roll it back. Extra long games caused players to lose interest and as a consequence, hindered their abilities to learn how to pitch. “We found out you could actually play six innings of mosquito B ball in a little over an hour by doing something as simple as having the umpire stand behind the mound and hand a new ball to the pitcher after each pitch,” said Victor Levis, director general of the Lac St. Louis Baseball League. “If we can keep the game moving and teaching the kids to pitch, that would be good thing.”

Levis also said Lac St. Louis Baseball has implemented what is called a Rally Cap program for children aged under seven. Developed and subsidized by Baseball Canada, players graduate to different levels based on colours of hats, according to how far each can throw and hit. “Rally Cap is more of a skill development thing,” said Levis. “There is no championship at the end of the season for the kids. However, at the end of each practice, there’s a little competition to see how far each child can throw and hit, and each child then graduates to another level the next week and wears another coloured cap.”

Another innovative rule change this year has seen Lac St. Louis do away with first-year (minor) mosquito players at the AA level. Next year, the region plans to eliminate AA mosquito baseball completely. The reason, Levis said, is researched evidence has shown too much high competition at a young age in a sport like baseball is simply not healthy. <@Cp>Jacques Pharand<@$p>

Organizations: Lac St. Louis Baseball Association, Lac St. Louis Baseball League

Geographic location: St. Louis

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