Remember why we play? For fun

Earlier this week, I was at the final baseball tournament for my brother. It’s been a great summer but I saw firsthand the evidence for the mounting injuries and poor sportsmanship that are taking place in youth sports.

To provide some brief context, my brother’s team entered this final game of pool play 2-0 and had advanced to the semifinals the next day. Meanwhile, our opponent was 0-2 and had been eliminated from the tournament as a result of the victory of my brother’s team. Anyway in our 15-16 U age bracket the matchups were pretty much set and due to a rainstorm that had cancelled this game, it was taking place at 9:40 PM.

According to a presentation by George A. Paletta where he discusses the rise of elbow injuries in young pitchers, he mentions the following: “A young athlete should never throw through pain or continue to pitch when he or she is obviously fatigued,” says Dr. Paletta. “Additionally, parents should familiarize themselves with the recommended single game, weekly and season total pitch counts, suggested recovery times, and recommended ages for learning various pitches.”

Now you may ask why am I bringing this up? In a meaningless game for the opposition, the pitcher of the opposing team threw 138 pitches in a complete game 13-2 loss. He gave up 14 hits, 13 runs (3 of which were earned) and faced 42 batters. Again this poor kid threw 138 pitches in a 7 inning game that was completely meaningless for his team!

The game was a 4-2 game in our favor entering the top of the sixth; this poor kid threw half of his pitches in the final two innings. In the seventh inning it just became sad as his team kicked the ball around the infield. On three consecutive plays with two outs, simple errors extended the kid’s night. It got so bad that our kids were trying to get into rundowns and find a way out of the inning. Continue reading