[quote=“shoshonte”]A few thoughts on this matter from observing my son these past few years from age 9 and 10
. . . it’s very frustrating to pitch well and lose because the other kids cannot field or catch
. . . my son never throws his best if the catcher cannot catch his pitches. He pitches down to his catchers abilities!
. . . it’s more enjoyable for the pitcher when his teammates can field a ground ball, make the throw from short to first and make a defensive out. If there’s no defense, then he PRESSURES himself to strike out EVERY batter.
. . . it’s frustrating when the 2nd baseman doesn’t move for a ball hit one foot away, or watches the pop up drop at their feet
. . . pitching is most enjoyable when the catcher can catch
. . . it’s frustrating when the 1st baseman yells on every throw “don’t throw the ball so hard”
. . . it’s frustrating to have different strike zones depending on the pitchers skills; a postage size strike zone for the kid that throws strikes and a generous strike zone for everyone else. It’s called keeping “balance.”
. . . it’s more challenging to pitch a few (or one) good inning(s) against the best hitters than to pitch six shut out innings against kids who haven’t a chance at hitting the ball. At age 9 in the Minors, he was pulled from a game in the 2nd inning 'cause the other team would not stand in the batters box. It is no fun pitching to kids who are afraid.
. . . enjoy the off season away from baseball. So far he’s taken summer (swimming, being a kid) and winter (basketball) breaks from the game, and when he returns he throws harder, better and has more love for the game.[/quote]
Everything you said above and the concerns south paw expressed are indeed things that are factors affecting pitchers. But, they’re much more concerns of dads than of the kids who are pitching. Sure they’re negative things, but kids don’t generally hang on to either the positives or negatives for very long.
When my boy was younger, I recognized the same things, and even went so far as to create some stats to see just how much those things affected his performances. The 1st thing of course was to track EMBs(Errors Made Behind), and UNPs(Unnecessary Pitches). Sure enough, the fielders behind him kicked a heck of a lot of balls cause him to throw a heck of a lot of unnecessary pitches. Of course another was PB’s, SB’s and FPct that showed pretty much the catcher’s performance. Sure enough, his catchers didn’t do a slam bang job either.
And for a couple years, I sounded a lot like what you two do, and for good reason. Its all true! Then one day as I was talking with my friend who was a 20 year pro pitcher and 12 year ML pitching coach. I was going on about how my kid had been so unlucky about having such poor catchers and fielders and how they had kept him from realizing his great potential, and that’s when I got my first real whack between the running lights with a 2X4.
He’d listened attentively, nodding his head in agreement as I was going on for at least 10 minutes, listing all the psycho babble and cliché’s I’d learned, and when I was done he went over and grabbed us a couple of longnecks. As I was enjoying the taste of the ice cold beer, he gave me THE ADVICE. If things are so bad, make him stop pitching. That was it, and of course that sent me into a soliloquy that was just about exactly opposite of what I’d just spent 10 minutes complaining about. I was coming up with things like they were just kids, it happens to everyone, etc. and IOW rationalizing why those things really didn’t matter.
When I’d calmed down again, he asked THE QUESTIONS. Does a pitcher have any choice about who his manager puts behind the plate or in the field, and if he doesn’t like them can he just refuse to throw the ball? WHOA! I’d never thought about it before, but he doesn’t.
After grabbing another beer for each of us, he told me to let it go. Its just part of baseball. And, no matter who’s playing behind a pitcher, or who he’s throwing to, its not his worry. His only job is to do as good as he can no matter what the circumstances, and let the manager worry about how the defense plays. If he can’t deal with that little bit of adversity, he really should quit pitching.
I thought about that for a bit and realized what I was doing wasn’t productive at all. In fact it was probably just the opposite. Players already know when they’ve screwed up, and I’ve seldom seen one who didn’t feel bad about it. Although I wasn’t screaming and hollering at the kids who had screwed up, in my mind I was blaming them, and that’s just wrong.
Even now I still wince when a player screws up, and I’ll point out to a pitcher’s dad that his support wasn’t as good as it could have been, but I no longer blame anyone. In a standard baseball game, there are always things that could have been done better, so no one play or player is every to blame totally for a loss.