Hey, Bud Selig: What MLB Could Borrow From the Little League WS
As a National Correspondent for Bleacher Report, we have weekly articles assigned to us. My assignment this week is regarding the Little League World Series and what FIVE things Little League does which could possibly help MLB.
Things that Little League does which the MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, could implement for his little group of grown men who play the same game. Suggestions were a more expanded replay system, a true "World Series" tournament, mandatory pitch counts for young pitchers, and a more expansive strike zone.
First off, the Little League game is different from the major league game. Little League is about protection while most (if not all) major league decision are based upon the money involved.
For example, LL has restrictive pitch counts so a pitcher lessens the chance or hurting his arm. But I have seen kids pitch in a baseball game, taken out due to a pitch count, but then throw 150 pitches of wiffle ball later that day*.
*By the way, the kid lost the real game but dominated in his wiffle ball game.
MLB teams primarily have a pitch count and innings limits on young pitchers because of the money involved with developing young pitchers. If the teams did not have millions already invested in young pitchers, they would be worked harder. Because free agent pitchers cost so much money, these teams limit their young pitchers to avoid having to go the free agent route.
So, the two games are completely different. Not much LL does will help "improve" MLB.
I don't believe there five things which Little League does which could help MLB. Going to an instant replay for every close call? LL Umpires in the World Series could run reviews of all close calls if they conference up, and each coach has one unsuccessful challenge to use.
Please. Spare me the "everything little thing needs to be exactly perfect" in this ever increasing liberal idea of utopia in baseball. MLB is a game played by men, umpired by men, who will sometimes make mistakes. I know I am in the minority amongst the goody do-gooders, but expanded instant replay is a dumb idea.
Armando Galaragga had his perfect game ruined by a bad call? We all know he did throw one, and he is more well known (and popular) then even Dallas Braden after he threw his.
Plus, I already wrote about what Jim Joyce should have done right after he made that call.
So, I am not big into the expanded use of replays. Not in the major leagues.
A true World Series? It would be awesome to see the 2009 Yankees play against the Japanese, Korean, Mexican League and other countries champions.
But it will never happen. Money and pitching once again. The Yankees would never risk CC Sabathia throwing 20+ more innings against the Mexico City Tigers or Yakult Swallows. We will never get the equivalent of a Japan vs. Hawaii ultimate championship game.
And mandatory pitch counts for young pitchers in MLB? That is a big farce, too.
In the NFL, there are so many rules now to help protect the quarterbacks. We are one step away from putting them in red shirts and "tackling them" by two-hand touch. Troy Aikman even said it is good to try and protect these guys, but eventually you will get to the point "that they are not even playing football anymore."
So true. Want to limit major league pitchers to say 100 pitches until they turn 25? It will not be baseball anymore if that ever happens. Hitters will take pitches on purpose to get a pitcher out of the game because you know they have to be taken out after three more pitches.
Now, most young guys are taken out near, at or past the 100 pitch count, but the other team does not know exactly when. To me, if a pitcher still has strong legs, and his mechanics are sound, he can still go longer than 100, or even 120 pitches.
The Nationals did everything for Stephen Strasburg but limo him to the mound every inning and cut his meat for him during dinner, but he still became injured.
So a mandatory pitch count for young pitchers is a stupid idea and will actually change the way the game is played on the field.
One thing which did sound good would help young pitchers. It appears that LL follows a real strike zone, one with pitches just on (or even slightly off) the corners were called strikes.
That is good for the game. More strikes called by the home plate umpire speeds up the game, and will force hitters to swing more often, putting more balls in play.
That would allow pitchers to get through more innings and batters faced over the same 100-120 pitches. Starters go deeper, there is less need for and use of a bullpen (no need for a 12th pitcher), which gives teams benches more depth.
Another factor is that everybody on the LL roster needs to get at least one at bat, and play three consecutive outs in the field. But the re-entry rule makes that mandatory playing rule survive, and re-entry (although admirable) would never fly in MLB.
Re-entry changes the game too drastically. Maybe that rule could be effective if a major injury occurs, but my expanded strike zone implementation would allow teams more depth on the bench. Therefore, an injury late in a game to a substitute player would not affect the team as much.
I would like a more expansive strike zone, a factor which will help the game in many ways.
The other things which Little League baseball does is bad for the major league game.
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