Welcome to Discuss Fastpitch

Your FREE Account is waiting to the Best Softball Community on the Web.

Register Log in

The quality of mercy

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,421
38
Mundelein, IL
Sorry all, I've been away for a few days visiting my son Adam before he deploys to lovely Afghanistan. Had a nice visit in Myrtle Beach, SC. So while I wasn't blogging, I had plenty of time to think about posts. Especially while sitting in airports waiting for flights to board and take off.

One thing that's been on my mind was something I saw at a tournament this past summer. Essentially, I saw a very strong team take advantage of a very weak team. I think the coach of the strong team realized that they shouldn't have been in that tournament in the first place -- someone else scheduled them in. But what she didn't realize is there's a time to press your advantage and a time to pull back. In this case, the strong team, who had experienced players at the 10U level, was able to do pretty much whatever they wanted against the weak team, who had mostly beginners.

My problem wasn't running the score up to the run rule. You have to do that, and should do that to save your players for tougher games ahead. What I didn't like, though, was the strong team continued to play as though it there was some danger the weak team could come back, even though it was obvious they couldn't. Among the things they did that bothered me was continuing to steal bases when it was obvious the catcher couldn't make the throw, running the bases aggressively on hits (going from second to home on a ball fielded in the outfield), bunting for hits when it was obvious the infielders couldn't make the play, things like that.

When you're in a mismatch, I just think it's wrong to continue doing things to point it out, or to try to embarrass the opposing team. Yes, they're not very good, but there's no sense in rubbing it in. Some of the things you can do are not steal bases (especially home, even on a passed ball), run bases station to station, put in a pitcher who doesn't get much chance to pitch regularly, or even kill an inning by stepping off the base early. (Let the umpire know you plan to ahead of time so he/she catches it.) You can have your team work on things they've had trouble with, or give your second string players at key positions a chance to play.

I'm a big believer in Karma -- the whole what you do comes back to you idea. Karma has a funny way of evening the score. Like, you decide to have your #1 pitcher steal home on a passed ball and she winds up turning her ankle running across the plate. Or you keep playing your #1 shortstop and she winds up breaking a finger by misjudging a ball.

There's also the phenomenon of a long memory. Your team may be way ahead of my team today, but perhaps they won't always be. If I have the chance, I will do to you what you did to me, and I will enjoy it immensely. Fortunes change on teams, especially as they age. A lot of coaches have those kinds of long memories.

Then there's the "you never know who knows who" syndrome. A couple of years ago we were at a tournament. The coach of another area team that I know was telling me how his team was spanked and humiliated by the host team. Apparently they thought it would be fun to run up the score against this team, which was just finding its way at 14U. Now, we have no connection to the area team -- in fact we compete against each in games and for players -- but there is something to be said for area pride. We played that host team the next game, and let's just say we evened things up. Hopefully that coach learned a little something about knowing when to say when.

I know there are people who think you should always stay aggressive, never let up so your players know how to play the game. Get real. Kids aren't stupid. There is a teachable moment, not just about softball but about life, when you're in an obvious mismatch. The right thing to do is let up on the gas, and afford your opponents some dignity. You just never know when someone might have to do the same for you.

More...
 

May 12, 2008
2,217
0
I've found the REALLY good teams understand those lessons and manners. I find it's the wannabe's, posers and newly on their way up teams that haven't learned those lessons.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,421
38
Mundelein, IL
Good point. I would put the team I saw more in the "newly on their way up" category. I don't think this particular coach realized what she was doing or that she should've backed off. I know her so I'll be talking with her personally about it since I think she does a good job generally speaking.

We've all seen the ones who know better, though, and do it anyway. Those are the ones who really bug me. If you really think you're that good, play better competition.
 
Jul 17, 2008
65
0
in the dugout
hey, i just got back from myrtle beach last monday. had a great vacation!!!

great post ken. i got into a situation this summer where our travel ball league scheduled our team (18u) against a 14u team. this particular 14u team is a good team and won quite a few tournaments this summer at the 14u level. i knew they were a quiality team and warned my girls to not take them for granted.

the first game of the double header i pitched my #2 pitcher and we ended up winning a pretty close game in the final inning on two run triple. so i knew this team could play right along with us. so did our girls.

the second game of the double header i put in my #3 pitcher and kind of mixed up a few things with some of the girls. well their pitcher really started struggling and put quite a few girls on base. my girls bats also decided to wake up and we started hitting the team pretty well. then they went back to their #1 pitcher but our girls were hitting everything that came across the plate by this time. we basically ended up stopping our girls from stealing, even on past balls. and finally sent a runner early to stop the bleading. only problem is that we were up 18-0 before i realized it. well i got attacked by he opposing teams parents and was basically verbally abused:D. i chose to just ignore them and get out of there without making a scene.

a few weeks later i ran into the coach of this team and went up to him apologized. i told him that the score got out of hand quicker than i had realized and that we would never intentionally run up the score or try and humiliate a team. he graciously accepted my apology and we talked several times throughout the summer.
 

Ken Krause

Administrator
Admin
May 7, 2008
3,421
38
Mundelein, IL
BGE, sounds like you did the right thing even if it was a bit late. It's easy to lose track if it was a close game and then suddenly breaks open.

If this was a 14U team playing an 18U team, they must be pretty strong. I wonder if they've showed the same level of mercy in their 14U tournaments. I certainly hope so.

And yeah, Myrtle Beach was a lot of fun for us too. Nothing like bobbing along in the ocean.
 

Staff online

Latest threads

Forum statistics

Threads
33,086
Messages
477,714
Members
14,928
Latest member
StormDad
Top