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The Slice

Feedback on today’s print Slice

Heard from a reader bright and early who took issue with something I said in today's Slice.

I had suggested that a Little League pitcher who realizes a batter cannot handle his fastball should keep throwing fastballs and not start varying speeds.

"That's not pitching," said the reader.

We disagree. I would argue that pitching is about getting batters out.

Here's the thing. I understand that fairly early on in their development young pitchers need to learn about changing speeds, to keep batters off balance. But in my experience, overmatched Little League hitters seldom have the ability to make adjustments that would allow them to catch up to a fastball that had zipped by them in previous at-bats.

So keep throwing it, I say. Mixing in some changeups just because that's what older pitchers might do simply invites batters to get hits they couldn't get against a steady diet of fastballs.

Sooner or later the pitcher is going to face some kids who can hit his fastball. Then, after consultation with his coach, he can start to mix things up a bit.

I think the reader who contacted me also had some qualms about the spectacle of Little League batters getting mowed down, one after another, by a pitcher who is a step ahead of them in his athletic development. I understand. We all want to see every kid experience success.

But I don't think it is up to the pitcher to unilaterally level the playing field, so to speak. Perhaps my views are a bit dated. But I believe that to compete means to try your hardest at all times.

No one likes to see lopsided games. And no one wants the losers to be devastated by a slaughter. That's why there are 10-run rules and what have you.

In addition, there's nothing stopping the manager of the team that's way ahead from substituting like mad to keep the game from being an epic rout.

But I've always thought it is an insult to your opponent to not do your best. So if you are a 10-year-old hurler who can strike people out with your fastball, I say keep throwing it. There's no shame in wanting to win.        

The Slice

The online home for Paul Turner's musings and interactions with disciples of The Slice.