An Important Announcement:
In conjunction with the Bonnet Bay club, we will be hosting the 2022 BNSW Rookies tournament on Sunday 27th February. This will bring significant prestige to the CSJBA and its member clubs but we will need considerable support. Bonnet Bay will be setting up 8 small diamonds and will need to borrow benches; bases, pitchers plates and home plates; back nets just to start as well as volunteer workers throughout the day. Expect to hear from both us and B Bay officials in the near future. The field will need to be set up on the Saturday afternoon. Sunday will be HUGE! Currently 23 teams have nominated. We look forward to all of our CSJBA clubs helping out enthusiastically.
Covid as a reason for games to be abandoned. Now that school has resumed and families are back from holiday activities teams can borrow players from lower grades or younger age divisions. Consequently from Round 12 (11/12th February) any match, with the exception of Tee Ball Minors, in which a team is unable to field at least 7 players will be considered a forfeit.
While visiting our Covid protocols could I remind to all coaches and parents that if players feels unwell they should not attend matches or training. We understand this may provide an opportunity for malingerers to avoid exercise but these days team officials have to “tread on eggshells” when working with children and some helicopter parents.
Coaches are also reminded of their “Duty of Care” responsibilities and shouldn’t pitch/play juniors who tell you they are “sore” or carrying an injury. A seriously injured player who has missed games as well as training should provide a medical clearance before resuming. This would cover the coach in the event of an existing injury being aggravated.
Zooka Machine Placement: During the week preceding Round 10 the CSJBA Secretary sent an email to all clubs reminding them of the correct placement of the Zooka machine. This was after complaints received. I only visited one Zooka game in my travels in Round 10 but sure enough – if the child playing pitcher tried to move to his right to field a batted ball he would have run straight into the machine. The pitchers plate is 43 feet from home. The centre stem of the Zooka is 40 feet from home (so the pitcher can move left or right and get past it). As it happened the club secretary passed by and I queried if she had received the email. She had and was disappointed because she had definitely forwarded it to all the club coaches. She commented that she can’t force them to read their emails.
“No pitch” in Zooka. This is when the machine delivers a ball that is so wide, so high or so low that it cannot be hit by the batter. If the umpire is quick and declares “no pitch” then the ball is dead irrespective of whether the batter swings. Sadly if he hits a home run it doesn’t count. Happened once at Manly during Rookie Reps. Baserunners may not advance on a dead ball. If the batter doesn’t swing but the umpire agrees that the pitch is not a strike then it is still a no pitch and again runners may not advance. Finally, if the umpire isn’t quick and the batter swings then the umpire is likely to allow play to continue even though the batter exhibited poor judgement.
The machine is throwing high is a complaint from parents, and some coaches, particularly if the hitter is vertically challenged (short!). The machine is calibrated to throw strikes to average sized players. It is not a simple matter to alter the height trajectory for specific hitters and won’t happen. Could I suggest coaches encourage their shorter players to consider moving back in the box so that when the pitch is going past it has dropped lower and hopefully into the batter’s comfortable hitting zone.
Or teach the short kids to hit high pitches. In a loud voice recite the axiom, “High ball, home run!” Then in a less audible mumble finish the axiom, “but high risk”.
Machines that begin throwing inaccurately: Call time and fix it. Umpires can stop the game as soon as the inaccuracy begins to develop and ask the home team to recalibrate. Ideally don’t do it at the change of innings such that the visitors bat against a machine throwing poorly while the home team get better pitches in their half inning. Act promptly once a problem is identified.
Zookas don’t like dirt: If the ball is dirty ask the pitcher to wipe it clean. Shirt fronts are eminently suitable for cleaning dirty balls.
Stealing in Zooka: Stealing one base is now allowed if the catcher fails to keep the ball in front or beside. However in front doesn’t mean bouncing off the leggings and rebounding half way to first base. The usual guide is if the catcher is required to take more than a step and a reach to retrieve it then the ball has gotten away and the runners may steal. If in doubt run and should the umpire consider it inappropriate he will send the runner back.
Players not playing in their normal grade MUST be indicated on the result sheet and line ups (where line ups are being used) Rule 22.1 (b). Players may “play up” but there is no provision for “playing down”.
Rep trials are underway and the number of participants is encouraging. I’ve had time to observe the SL and LL trials and the numbers are very good with the standard of play also quite encouraging. Wet weather has hampered the process but it is nearing the finish and teams should be announced shortly.
We’re still seeking volunteer officials for the 10/11 Rep teams which start their trials next Wednesday 9th February. I believe there are 46 players who nominated to trial for a position in either the Championship team or the Development team. In the 10/11 Championships we are not obligated to select teams of equal ability as is the case in JL and SL.
Our Monday evening LL Hitting Development program at the Grand Slam Facility is progressing extremely well with all participants enjoying the experience and benefitting from their time in the tunnel. All of the Minor teams have had a turn and we are currently working through the LL Major teams. There will be sufficient time remaining after the LL teams are finished for us to squeeze in the IL teams as well. We consider these beginning pitched ball hitters will benefit most from the program. Older players are encouraged to consider getting a couple of friends together and hiring a lane. At $50 an hour, 3 to 5 team mates splitting the cost make it a very reasonable batting practice session. Groups are ideal as too long in the tunnel can lead to the development of undesirable habits as the hitter becomes fatigued. Consequently groups sharing multiple short stints is recommended.
Call Brad McDonall 0425 268 546 for available times. Open Monday to Thursday evenings but not Friday or at the weekend.
Wild Pitchers: An experienced junior coach recently observed a game where a player was introduced to the pitching mound and threw extremely hard but with very little control. Three young players were hit and the remainder had several week’s growth scared out of them. Even the umpire was ducking and weaving. My colleague suggested it was actually bordering on dangerous and should have been stopped. All coaches in junior sport have duty of care responsibilities and that covers the opposition as well as their own players. In men’s park ball where players have to go to work the following day 3 hit batters normally prompts a change of pitcher. Kind of the “3 strikes and you’re out” philosophy. I don’t believe in being struck out and junior coaches could consider replacing a struggling pitcher before he reaches three plugged batters. It is not a rule – it is etiquette. Please keep it in mind. Etiquette is important in a civil society. Another etiquette situation is replacing an injured baserunner with the fastest player in your team and then stealing bases. An injured runner probably wouldn’t be stealing because of the injury. The coach who steals is abusing the concept of a “courtesy runner”. Note that running on a pass ball is not considered stealing.
Videoing at games. There is no NSW law that says videoing in public places is illegal if it isn’t for commercial purposes. Several team coaches like to set up a camera behind the back net and set it to record the game, primarily the home plate area. It would be courteous to notify the opposition officials if you are doing this so they can inform their players/parent body. Should anyone object to their child being videoed then the camera can be paused for that child’s At Bat.
Note that unofficial videos cannot be used to review umpire decisions.
Intermediate League: As clubs are aware we designed our Intermediate League competition to cater for young players transitioning to the bigger diamond who might struggle if they were required to move immediately to the 80 foot base paths of Junior League. We specifically excluded former LL All Star players (even though they may be age eligible) and League Age 14 players. The division is intended to be of a lower standard than a Division One competition. It has recently come to light that on our website in the draw and results section IL is referred to as IL Division 1. If it was considered a Division 1 competition then current LL Major players “playing up” in IL could pitch unrestricted. This would not be satisfactory and consequently the Executive has written to the 4 IL clubs telling them that we have made a determination that we would consider the IL comp as a Division 3 competition for the purposes of restricting LL players who are playing up. LL Majors may not play on the infield, LL Div 2 players may pitch 30 (finish the batter) and LL Div 3 players would be unrestricted in IL.
At the February General Meeting we will seek the support of the clubs to confirm this determination.
A game that exudes interest will be held prior to the State League match between Cronulla and Macarthur on Wednesday 16th February. Marlins LL Div 2 are leading their comp and feel like flexing their muscles in deeper water. They have challenged the very young Yarrawarrah LL Div 1 team to an exhibition match at 5.15 at Bonnet Bay before the first grade match. Tigers Coaches Gavin Jones and Robbie Hayes Conway are counting heads as I type to determine if they have enough players available to teach the upstarts from Illawong some manners and to respect their betters. The Marlins are coached by young graduates of the Barden Ridge School of Baseball Ethan Ng and Nathan Howarth. Ethan and Nathan have both played some State League, coach aggressively and their respect has to be earned. Could be interesting if Tigers accept the challenge. It is wonderful to see former Juniors, who are still very young themselves, putting something back into the sport and nurturing beginning players. Their parents must be very proud.
Cheers and stay safe,