When I played Little League, there was a kid on another team who threw hard.
I mean, he threw really hard.
He threw so hard that most of us questioned if he was really under the age 12 limit that our local league imposed. We were so intimidated by this kid that the well-known rumor he was already shaving carried real weight.
And when someone said this guy was in the habit of driving his wife and kids to our games, you better bet we believed him.
The only kids safe from this kid's pitch speed, of course, were the other kids on his team. As such, they'd gloat at the lunch table like they had just drafted their uncle to play second base — and their uncle was named Ryne Sandberg. They'd immediately confirm any type of Bill Brasky-type tall tale we'd tell about the guy. ("You're right. He IS the father of every kid on this team! And your team, too!")
Mostly, though, we just struck out against the kid. Bats resting upon our shoulder, we watched as three strikes were piped down the middle at speeds our pre-teen hand-eye coordination systems hadn't yet developed to handle. If anyone even made as much as a nick of contact on the ball, we all handed our over our postgame Ecto Coolers and Star Crunch over to pay tribute. Yet that rarely happened. We lost to this kid. We lost to him a lot. He was good. He threw fast. Real fast. But we lived with it. I assume there was a kid like this in every Little League across this great nation.
To hear the news, then, that a youth league in New Haven, Conn., has banned a nine-year-old named Jericho Scott from pitching because he throws too hard is just laughable to me. It's hard to believe.
It's also apparently laughable and hard to believe to Jericho (pictured above), his parents and his team because when the next game came around, they let the kid take the mound, which was met by a forfeit from the other team. The league's powers-that-be then tried to DISBAND Scott's team, which then caused a protest last Saturday.
There's more of the usual youth sports drama to this story, including whispers that the whole thing is payback because Jericho did not accept an invitation from the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators. There's also the issue of why they just don't bump Jericho up to the next level. I expect we'll see 20/20 tackle the whole issue very soon.
However, the league's attorney says that the only reason Jericho is banned is simply because he pitches too fast at up to 40 miles per hour.
If that's the truth, well, then I guess you can add another case to the ever-thickening file of America's children being coddled too much by their overprotective parents. Not to sound like the old codger I am, but we had to face a real flamethrower back in the day and the last I heard, he was either pumping gas, working a drive-thru or still stumbling around independent league ball.
Meanwhile, I overcame that great life lesson and challenge to become one of the smartest, insightful and best-looking baseball bloggers on the Internet.
Of course, the moral of the story is that, at some point, your kid is going to have to face a few fastballs while standing a box he doesn't necessarily want to be standing in.
Are you going to give him the chance to practice or not?