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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 02:03pm
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Text from a local article

The following article was published recently on an online site for local HS sports. I'd like your comments and reactions.

I have additional information that I will share after some replies.
RKB - don't spoil it......


Quote:
Pitchers in need of help from men and women in blue

Apr 4, 2013
One of the better high school rule changes in any sport took place three years ago in softball when the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) moved the pitching rubber back from 40 feet to 43 feet.

The idea was to help bring more offense to the game with so many pitchers able to dominate from 40 feet. Softball is more entertaining from a fan standpoint because run production has increased although I'm not bothered by a 1-0 or 2-1 pitchers' duel which are much less frequent. There were plenty of those in the Dallas Escobedo, Sam Parlich, Kenzie Fowler era of just a few years ago.

However, after viewing plenty of softball games the past couple years and particularly this year, pitchers are in need of some assistance. Assistance that can come only from the men and women in blue. Their help would be in the way of more strike calls.

Several times this season I've witnessed pitchers hitting spots on a very consistent basis that can't be more (if they are) an inch or two from a textbook strike. Their frustration mounts -- some more openly than others -- and invariably they take a beating. Some begin working the other side of the plate and get no relief. We're not talking a foot in or out -- an inch or two either way. HItters have made their way back with the help of the pitching distance adjustment. It wouldn't hurt for strike zones to error on the side of slightly wider than foolproof tight.

Another reason for a slightly wider zone is pitch count. (This issue may be larger in baseball due to the resilience factor), but I've talked to many coaches and an overwhelming number prefer a zone on the liberal side. These are high school kids. Kids aspiing to be Jennie Finch or Justin Verlander -- they are not them. Not right now. Plenty of hitters crowd the plate and many umpires snatch the inside corner from pitchers when tight pitches nearly hit crowders. Those pitches are more often strikes than umpires call.

More coaches are teaching and emphasizing to pitchers to hit spots, especially those lacking overwhelming velocity or a multi-pitch reportoire. The most successful pitchers (softball or baseball) usually are those with more than one pitch. If their command at the high school level has to be pinpoint, it makes for frustrated pitchers, simmering coaches and fans. Most coaches ask for consistency and that's the mark of a better umpires. To that I'd add consistent with a slightly-wider-than-textbook zone.

This is not an indictment of umpires.They by and large do a very good job. My friendly suggestion is a few more strikes would go a long way in approval polls pitchers, coaches, and the sane fan. Can't speak for the insane fan.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 02:12pm
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Oh man, you take all the fun out of things.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 02:12pm
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Idiotic. Coaches and fans alike crow that the pitchers are too dominant, so they move the plate back... now they want to widen the strike zone too?

A pitcher that consistently misses by 2 inches, with an umpire who is not calling it, is good enough to move it in 2 inches.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 02:35pm
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Likely from a baseball writer who thinks softball is the same sport with a bigger ball.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 02:48pm
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Should we then tighten the zone for really good pitchers and open it for not so good? How about batters? Should we give big zones to good hitters and small zones to poor?
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 02:51pm
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As with all other team sports, the rules in baseball and softball are written to provide balance between offense and defense. If the author of this article feels that the balance has been tipped in favor of the offense with the change in pitching distance, then he/she should have entitled his/her article, "Pitchers in need of help from men and women in suits", and then argue that rules makers should widened home plate to 21 inches.

And, frankly, I'm not out there to appease "approval polls, pitchers, coaches, and the sane fan."
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 03:25pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manny A View Post
And, frankly, I'm not out there to appease "approval polls, pitchers, coaches, and the sane fan."
Right ... like there is such a thing.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 03:42pm
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Pretty much agree with everything posted. I can promise that most umpires are giving at least 1/2 inch on each side at this age.....and as noted....if a pitcher is consistently missing by more than 1/2 inch....they can bring it in by that much.

Joel
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Last edited by Gulf Coast Blue; Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 03:49pm.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 06:05pm
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OK, I can't wait to hear more... Like where was this posted, what connection the writer has to softball, etc.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 07:10pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
The following article was published recently on an online site for local HS sports. I'd like your comments and reactions.

I have additional information that I will share after some replies.
RKB - don't spoil it......
So, the umpires need to make up the shortcomings of the coaches and players. Yeah, that sounds about right.
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Old Mon Apr 08, 2013, 08:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HugoTafurst View Post
OK, I can't wait to hear more... Like where was this posted, what connection the writer has to softball, etc.
It was written by a staff sports writer at aia365.com
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Old Tue Apr 09, 2013, 06:16am
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Hmmm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
The following article was published recently on an online site for local HS sports. I'd like your comments and reactions.

I have additional information that I will share after some replies.
RKB - don't spoil it......
Les Willsey is a "staff writer"...what does he know about umpiring? Is he an umpire? Has he ever umpired? I tried to find his bio but couldn't. Anyone know?
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Old Tue Apr 09, 2013, 07:34am
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I cant find a bio on him either, but I did find his facebook page. Says he was a sports writer at the East Valley Tribune from 1985 to 2010. When he left the Tribune he went to the AIA/AIA365.
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Old Tue Apr 09, 2013, 08:05am
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The author needs to make up his mind. Either the rule change was good because pitchers were too dominant OR the rule change was bad because hitters have worked their way back and pitchers are becomming frustrated.
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Old Tue Apr 09, 2013, 10:24am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbsbvb83 View Post
The author needs to make up his mind. Either the rule change was good because pitchers were too dominant OR the rule change was bad because hitters have worked their way back and pitchers are becomming frustrated.
I think his point is that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. In his mind, pitchers were too dominant, and the change from 40' to 43' that was supposed to even things out a little bit has actually (again, in his mind) given batters a significant advantage. So, widening the zone is his suggested solution to bring more balance to the game.

Frankly, I don't see what he's whining about. While it's true that those 1-0 or 2-1 pitching duels are less prevalent in HS ball than in the past (at least around here), I haven't really seen games where two decent teams are playing to scores of 9-7 or 15-10. Strikeouts are being replaced by batted balls going to fielders who are expected to make plays. What is wrong with that?

To me, the change has put more emphasis on teams mastering defensive fundamentals. Gone are the days where a mediocre high school team can do okay when it has a dominant pitcher. Now, more balls are being put into play, so more players have to learn what to do and how to do it. They need to understand where they should go with the ball under certain situations. They need to learn how to hit the cutoff player on throws from the outfield. And they need to practice on putting to good use that $250 piece of leather they were previously using to just warm up their hands while spectating.

I had a blowout game a couple of weeks ago, where the winning team should have scored less than half the runs they ended up scoring. The losing team just couldn't play defense. They had a shortstop that, bless her heart, had no idea what she was doing out there. She couldn't make throws to first base without bouncing the ball at least twice. And yet, there were more than a handful of times where she had force plays at third and at second, including a couple of runners who stopped to let her field the ball, where she would just throw to first. Their first baseman, meanwhile, fielded a bases-loaded ground ball with two outs, and rather than just trot over to step on the bag for the out, she threw it home, and sailed it over the catcher.

That's what I'm seeing more of in games with high run totals. And we're supposed to widen the strike zone to prevent that? Sorry, but that's not my job. I'm not picking up the coaches' slack.
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