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Monday, August 11, 2014

Girls power Little League contenders

Mo’ne Davis and Kayla Roncin almost couldn’t help but run into each other last week in Bristol, Connecticut.

As the only two girls among the hundreds of kids on the 52 U.S. teams remaining in the race to the Little League World Series, Davis, 13, who plays for the Taney Youth Baseball Association in Philadelphia, and Roncin, 12, from Toms River, New Jersey, are both competing in the Mid-Atlantic regional. Sunday’s final will send the winner to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“We said ‘Hi’ and took a couple pictures,” Davis said. “It’s definitely really cool being the only girls there and showing we can hang with all these boys.”

They can do more than hang.

With the New Jersey Little League championship on the line a little more than a week ago, Roncin was brought in to pitch to the opposing team’s cleanup hitter—with a 2-0 count, two outs, the bases loaded and the tying run on third in the bottom of the final inning.

Roncin, a 5-foot-9, 120-pound seventh-grader-to-be, already had crushed a two-run home run when her one and only pitch—a low fastball—got the batter to pop up. A diving catch by center fielder Jon Giordano secured the 7-6 victory….

In the state championship game, Kayla had to deal with a loud group of hecklers, booing when she took the mound then laughing when she bounced in her first three warm-up pitches.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “But I was just thinking that if I didn’t pitch, we wouldn’t win. So I just had to do it for the team and see what happened.”

Her teammates, most of whom have played with Roncin for the past five years, “have her back,” said coach Pete Avallone. “Her athletic ability stands alone, but her personality fits right in with the team.”

Davis tossed a three-hit shutout yesterday to send her team to the Little League World Series

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 09:43 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: females in baseball, little league

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   1. What Zupcic? Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4768490)
In the state championship game, Kayla had to deal with a loud group of hecklers, booing when she took the mound then laughing when she bounced in her first three warm-up pitches.


Was this because she was on the opposing team? Or because she was a girl? The former is garden variety pathetic but the latter is grounds for being launched into the sun.
   2. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4768505)
Was one of the hecklers wearing flannel?
   3. Random Transaction Generator Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4768516)
I don't think a 13-year old (girl or boy) should be throwing curve balls. That's not good for the arm/elbow.

Fastballs, change-ups, knuckleballs...no problem.

Anything that puts extra strain on the elbow? That's too young to be doing that.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4768519)
Pitching itself is not good for the arm.

What exactly are you protecting their arm from? 99% of these kids will never play pro baseball.
   5. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4768524)
What exactly are you protecting their arm from? 99% of these kids will never play pro baseball.


Well, a good 80 percent of them might want to play next year, and the year after, and into high school and maybe even into college. So, there are benefits to protecting the arm beyond that first bonus check.

But if you think you'll peak at 12, then by all means go for it.
   6. Bug Selig Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4768526)
What exactly are you protecting their arm from? 99% of these kids will never play pro baseball.


Because that's the only reason to care about kids getting hurt.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4768530)
We don't even know that curveballs are bad for a young pitcher's arm.

NYT: Young Arms and Curveballs: A Scientific Twist

“Science is banging heads with intuition and gut instinct,” said Glenn Fleisig, the research director of the American Sports Medicine Institute, who has conducted studies on breaking balls and young arms since 1996. “For years, we told people that curveballs were bad. Then we set out to prove it. We did not prove curveballs are safe, but we could not prove they were dangerous.”

Like a pitcher and a catcher disagreeing on pitch selection, the opposing sides in the debate could not be more closely allied. Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedic surgeon to many athletes, is a founder of the American Sports Medicine Institute and has written with Fleisig some of the studies that have failed to prove that curveballs are hazardous to young arms. It has not stopped Andrews from challenging the results.

“What we found out in the lab is true,” Andrews said. “For pitchers with proper mechanics, the force of throwing a curveball is no greater than for a fastball. But that’s not what happens in reality on the baseball field. Many kids don’t have proper mechanics or enough neuromuscular control, or they are fatigued when throwing curveballs. Things break down.
   8. The District Attorney Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4768533)
Was one of the hecklers wearing flannel?
Probably a fedora.
   9. A Fatty Cow That Need Two Seats Posted: August 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4768559)
   10. Adward Posted: August 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4768574)
I played pick up baseball next to a track complex. The outfield was always made up of girls playing both sports. When the women's relay team won another gold our coach reassured the boys that a baseball team still needed a pitcher, a catcher, and a first basemen.
   11. TJ Posted: August 11, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4768590)
In the state championship game, Kayla had to deal with a loud group of hecklers, booing when she took the mound then laughing when she bounced in her first three warm-up pitches.


Wonder if these idiots have any daughters? Would love to hear that conversation- "Honey, you can grow up to be anything you want, unless it's a pitcher. In that case, you had better spent your time learning to cook and clean, cuz pitchin's work for the men folk..."
   12. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4768681)
True story, when my oldest daughter was 4 she once said 'Daddy, why is a girl driving that truck?' (pointing to a driver of a large delivery truck). I have no idea where she learned that sterotype, unless perhaps in her own mind, she never recalled seeing a female truck driver.
   13. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 11, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4768758)
Well, a good 80 percent of them might want to play next year, and the year after, and into high school and maybe even into college. So, there are benefits to protecting the arm beyond that first bonus check.
Despite "what they want", fewer than 25% of LL players even make it to freshman HS baseball; of those, only 28% will still be playing as seniors; of those, only 6% will play in college.

7% of LL players will still be playing as seniors in HS; fewer than 4 in 1,000 will play in college.
   14. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 11, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4768768)
Despite "what they want", fewer than 25% of LL players even make it to freshman HS baseball; of those, only 28% will still be playing as seniors; of those, only 6% will play in college.


More significantly, what percentage of LL pitchers make it to freshman HS baseball? Cuz I'm thinking the rightfielder getting chastised for chasing a butterfly is probably less likely to advance up the ranks than the guy on the hill contemplating whether he wants to explore the dark world of the breaking ball. The latter group tends to be able to play much longer. Perhaps not as long as they want, but well past freshman year.
   15. TDF, situational idiot Posted: August 11, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4768778)
More significantly, what percentage of LL pitchers make it to freshman HS baseball? Cuz I'm thinking the rightfielder getting chastised for chasing a butterfly is probably less likely to advance up the ranks than the guy on the hill contemplating whether he wants to explore the dark world of the breaking ball. The latter group tends to be able to play much longer. Perhaps not as long as they want, but well past freshman year.
That's fine, but even of the ones who are still playing as HS freshman only 28% are still playing as seniors.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 11, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4768789)
That's fine, but even of the ones who are still playing as HS freshman only 28% are still playing as seniors.


OK. That's not exactly no one.

The point is, one doesn't need to make the big leagues to get a lot more years of baseball-playing enjoyment past the age of 12, and that should be factored into what risks are taken in pursuit of pre-teen mound success.

My youngest boy happens to be a 12-year-old pitcher, and a pretty decent one. Right now, he just throws fastballs (he's got a change, but he's not confident throwing it). He likes pitching, and will probably want to pitch as long as his arm allows. While learning some baby curve may help him get a few hitters out now, it's not going to help his long-term development, and may in fact damage his arm. I just don't see how that's remotely a good trade.

   17. theboyqueen Posted: August 11, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4768801)
The point is that you are begging the question. It may be that the fastballs are damaging his arm as much or more than the curveball will.

Sure seems to me that pitchers relying on off-speed stuff last a lot longer than the flamethrowers, certain notable exceptions aside. Not sure what's happening with Verlander but hopefully he isn't the latest example of this.
   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 11, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4768807)

It may be that the fastballs are damaging his arm as much or more than the curveball will.


I know of no one who has ever suggested that 12-year-olds are more at risk throwing fastballs than throwing breaking stuff. I suppose it's possible, but it's a theory without an owner.

Sure seems to me that pitchers relying on off-speed stuff last a lot longer than the flamethrowers, certain notable exceptions aside. Not sure what's happening with Verlander but hopefully he isn't the latest example of this.


I don't think the experiences of major league pitchers with fully developed arms are terribly instructive to that of a 12-year-old. And I'd be interested in seeing some more evidence than your "seems to me" to be convinced of its authenticity.

Pitching at a high level is inherently risky, for both the flame-thrower and the junkballer.
   19. DKDC Posted: August 11, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4768825)
Personally, I was always skeptical of the aversion to the curveball for youngsters.

I wasn't allowed to throw the curve until high school, at which point I never was able to fully learn and develop the pitch the way I did with the fastball. And I personally found the curveball felt much better on my arm than a fastball.

So if the kid who blew out his arm gets to blame his parents for letting him throw a curveball, I'm blaming my parents for NOT letting me throw it.
   20. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 04:49 PM (#4768832)
Hurhur, Mo'ne Davis throws like a girl, with a 70 mph fastball and a hammer curve.

Also, I was never allowed to throw a curve as a kid, but I haven't seen any evidence that it's actually worse for a kid than any other type of pitch.
   21. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 11, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4768868)
Men's Rights Fashion Cheat Sheet


Hey, Sketchers makes some damn fine almost-dress shoes.
   22. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 11, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4768926)
Also, I was never allowed to throw a curve as a kid, but I haven't seen any evidence that it's actually worse for a kid than any other type of pitch.


It's not.

However, using poor mechanics to throw a curveball is a bad idea at any age. Kids are vastly more likely to have bad mechanics. And a kid doesn't need a curve anyway - if you can throw strikes and change speeds, you'll be ####### awesome in Little League.
   23. Tree Posted: August 11, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4768933)
I blew out my arm when I was 12, likely from throwing curve balls. Didn't have any impact on my career, given that I wouldn't have made a high school team. But it did impact my fun playing baseball when I was 13 and 14, not being able to throw hard those years. I still probably can't throw harder than I did when I was 12.
   24. Bhaakon Posted: August 11, 2014 at 09:53 PM (#4769041)
Hey, Sketchers makes some damn fine almost-dress shoes.


Dress shoes are an abomination that needs to go the way of the formal hat.
   25. Lassus Posted: August 11, 2014 at 11:58 PM (#4769135)
Dress shoes are an abomination that needs to go the way of the formal hat.

Ask 100 women and at least 85 of them will tell you that good shoes will help you get laid. Probably more like 95.
   26. tshipman Posted: August 12, 2014 at 01:00 AM (#4769152)
Dress shoes are an abomination that needs to go the way of the formal hat.


Sneakers or tennies look weird with pants that are not jeans.

Chucks + Suit is precious. Very: "Look at me, I'm trying so hard to be non-conforming!"
   27. Bhaakon Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:13 AM (#4769165)
Ask 100 women and at least 85 of them will tell you that good shoes will help you get laid. Probably more like 95.


Ask 100 1920's flappers and they'd have told you the same about a sharp fedora.

Sneakers or tennies look weird with pants that are not jeans.


Only because your tastes have been programmed by popular fashion. If you wore a modern casual work getup into a 1960's office people would have been howling with laughter.
   28. Cris E Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:19 AM (#4769166)
Ask 100 women and at least 85 of them will tell you that good shoes will help you get laid. Probably more like 95.

This is truth. Women care about shoes, significantly fewer men do, and yet men do not exploit this opportunity to easily impress. Instead there are the shared delights of fake tans and Natural Lite, and Axe body spray to close the deal. Men are idiots.
   29. Bhaakon Posted: August 12, 2014 at 04:12 AM (#4769167)
This is truth. Women care about shoes, significantly fewer men do, and yet men do not exploit this opportunity to easily impress. Instead there are the shared delights of fake tans and Natural Lite, and Axe body spray to close the deal. Men are idiots.


Don't mistake solidarity for idiocy. Those footwear-loving scabs had better watch their backs.

Also, I suspect there are a lot more men who care about shoes than use fake tan products.
   30. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: August 12, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4769199)
I know of no one who has ever suggested that 12-year-olds are more at risk throwing fastballs than throwing breaking stuff. I suppose it's possible, but it's a theory without an owner.

Not age-specific, but see the recent Pat Jordan curveball thread for comments suggesting that curves aren't worse for your arm (for that cohort, velocity/torque is the danger).

I still probably can't throw harder than I did when I was 12.

Me either - overuse did me in.
   31. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4769204)
Ask 100 1920's flappers and they'd have told you the same about a sharp fedora.


M'lady.

(That's grown-up Pugsley from the Addams Family movie)
   32. Greg K Posted: August 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM (#4769221)
Sure seems to me that pitchers relying on off-speed stuff last a lot longer than the flamethrowers, certain notable exceptions aside. Not sure what's happening with Verlander but hopefully he isn't the latest example of this.

It could be a case of changing identities over time. A 37 year old junkballer may have been a 23 year old flamethrower. He just turned into a different kind of pitcher, while his compatriot who burned out throwing 100 MPH in his mid-20s is forever remembered as a power pitcher.
   33. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4769229)
Not age-specific, but see the recent Pat Jordan curveball thread for comments suggesting that curves aren't worse for your arm (for that cohort, velocity/torque is the danger).


I've seen studies suggesting this is true, but I've seen nothing suggesting what I said - that fastballs are worse for your arm than throwing curveballs.

As Larry said, the risk may be in improper mechanics on breaking pitches.

But even if all the studies on curveball safety prove true, I'm of the belief that the fastball is the foundation of any pitcher, and thus developing it (velocity, location, movement, changing speeds) is the key to a pitcher's growth. That's one reason SoSH III will stick with the No. 1, at least for a few more years.



   34. DL from MN Posted: August 12, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4769346)
The Little League World Series is probably the peak moment of that girl's baseball career. Let her throw curveballs, there may not be a tomorrow.
   35. Group Captain Mandrake Posted: August 12, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4769364)
A 37 year old junkballer may have been a 23 year old flamethrower. He just turned into a different kind of pitcher,


What does this have to do with Frank Tanana?

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