50/70

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  • I am starting this post to ask if anyone has tried "Supplemental" 50/70 for Majors (11/12)? If so, how did (or do) you like it?

    We converted all Majors teams to 50/70 this fall. Season in underway and the kids are loving it. As travel ball factories continually draw our kids away from LL, we would like to offer the same program in the spring. Our customers want it. The problem is that LL does not count the games towards AS eligibility. Why? No idea. I hope it changes this winter and we can truly take advantage of this program.

    Anyway, let's talk 50/70. Future of LL? Staying around or leaving?



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  • Kinda makes one wonder how any of the current MLB players learned anything playing 46/60 in "whatever" organization.

    A whole bunch of for profit tournament organizations and coaches have somehow convinced way too many people that if you don't learn how to pick/lead/steal at 10 you'll never make in out of middle school. They're making a nice living. Your kid still won't make the big time.

    Or how about a gazillion parents sending their DD to gymnastics academys thinking they'll be the one big star in the Olympics some day.

    Same with ice skaters.

    And how about those "Toddler and Tiara" little girls.

    Parents living their fantasy life.

    Suckers!

  • Rich, how many LL 50/70 games have you attended and how do you feel that the kids enjoyed playing in them?

    Would you say that the parent and volunteer support was less than, equal to or greater than that of your local 60' program?

    Assuming you know some of the players well enough, how do you think playing 50/70 helped their skills development, and how do you think playing 50/70 within their local league will impact their decision about continuing to play LL baseball vs. playing travel or in a competing league?

    Obviously none of the kids you saw playing in the Little League 50/70 Pilot Program are likely to move on to the show, but do you think any of them learned skills that may help them as they make the move to 90' baseball in high school?

  • I did a bunch of PONY 11/12 games a few years back. Regular season stuff. It was okay. The coaching, as I recall, was poor.

    More walks, and stealing second was a gimme. Taking third was pretty easy too. With the big barrel bats, balls were whistling through the infield pretty quickly. There was more hitting, as the ball was getting there slower.

    What I took away was the good kids played fine, but the slower, less skilled kids were more discouraged. I don't know if 50/70 is better or worse, I just know it's different. I do know that I did not enjoy officiating those games, even though I was getting paid to do so. I lacked fun. Why? I don't know. I just did.

    Now all this could have been, and probably was, due to the poor coaching, and the league in general. Few fans, a dreery city park, and no snackbar. It just wasn't a cool place for the kids to go. The whole experience was bad. Honestly, I think the field size had little to do with it.

    Let's reverse engineer this a bit, shall we? If Williamsport switches it's premier tourney to 50/70, will it still be a draw? I say no, it won't. It won't be that little kids game any more. It will be a different game that what millions of kids and adults have played for many years. I think the trickle down will be less players.

    Now, can a local make 50/70 work? I think so. But not as a replacement to 46/60, but as a supplement to it. Cut the infield grass back a bit, and put some pegs 10' back. But feel free to keep the fences at 200', because you're using wood bats. Yeah, wood. I've seen it, and it works.

    LLB&S, a question for you: Can a local play BOTH, using regular season teams? M-F it's 46/60, and on Saturday, you play 50/70 with wood bats. I think that would be cool. And yeah, our field can be converted in about 10 minutes.

  • @Kyle, I agree that LL will not make 50/70 its premier division for the reasons you have stated. 50/70 could prove beneficial to any league at the local level. I like your idea of making the 46/60 M-F and 50/70 on Sat, hope LL would allow that. In Southern California, we tend to lose players on the weekends to their Travel teams, so by offering this program as part of the regular season, I think we will lose less players. I will be waiting for the answer from LL now.

  • We will be holding meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the results of the most recent survey of leagues that did/did not have 50/70 programs this year. The Operations Division will then come up with the plan for 2012. So stay tuned.

  • NOBODY in our geographic area has gone 50/70.

    The Middle School teams are where the transition to 90' is taught and learned. It wored for many decades. It'll still work today.

    If the PONY approach is so great how come they're way down the food chain in youth ball. You'd think people would have flocked to it because it's "so much better".

    And Kyle - you're right that the kids with lesser ability will not like it - they have problems already on the 46/60 field. They will go elsewhere rather than move to an even more difficult game.

    LL is NOT NOT NOT the minor league system for HS and beyond. It is a program for ALL the kids, not just the good athletes.

    The profiteers have sold folks a BS bill of goods.

  • Rich my point was that you're slamming something you have zero experience with. BTW middle schools don't have baseball teams around here so it's apples and oranges to a degree.

    My league's experiences starting a small 50/70 program have already been described here by myself and others involved. Robert (the OP) can find them if he does a search.

    I'll only point out that while parents, players, and coaches all enjoyed the program, the most positive response was from the umpires. Our district umpires were all over these games and they are still telling me how much they loved working them.

  • We see this bill of goods every Saturday up in the Wisconsin Dells. Travel teams of younger kids who play on bigger fields where just about every walk is at least a double. Awful baseball and the teams think they're "select." I'll take some of their money umpiring these games, but it's not good baseball, not at all.

  • Rich F, could you please tell me what that has to do with Robert's question about the 50/70 LL pilot program? If somebody wants to start a thread dedicating to trashing travel coaches, parents, players, whatever, I'd be happy to contribute, but that's not the info that Robert was looking for.

  • It has nothing to do with the original questions. Threads evolve. I'm responding to (and agreeing with) Rich Ives. You weren't forced to read or respond.

    50/70 should die a quick death, IMO. It certainly isn't going to improve the games being played.

  • Yeah, they do, but this one never got started. Robert asked a question and didn't get a single response before it want off the rails. But your most recent response is on point so I'm sure he'll appreciate that.

  • Wow - with so many reasoned discussion on this board, I am surprised at the tenor of this question. My own observations as a proponent of 50/70 who does love LL (and knowing John G a little bit, i can speculate that he is similar):

    - the weaker kids can thrive in 50/70: our 50/70 pilot program (in which we played John G's league/district) was open to all 11s and 12s in Majors and Juniors (one of our 2 12s in Juniors played a game or 2). We had enough kids for 2 teams and the teams consisted of travel ball players and end of the bench kids. From my own regular season team, a couple of my very weakest players played. The result for those two: one had more success than in league (he is a taller kid and the field scaled for him a bit better) and the other had terrific success that I believe gave him confidence to play much better down the stretch on the smaller diamond in league.

    - once the pitchers learn to hold runners, while there will be more running than in LL (a positive in my view), it will not be automatic doubles on walks. There will be plenty of challenges in stealing second and third - on the O and the D - and by mid-season, it will be not unlike (and perhaps more like "real" baseball) Juniors (some good catchers will slow the running game; others will be more easily run on).

    - I don't care about preparation for HS any more than I think 46/60 prepares the kids but, looking at DPs, hit and runs, squeeze plays, hard hit balls that DON'T result in hits unless right at an infielder, I think 50/70 is developmentally the right size and open running the right rules for 11s and 12s. At age 10 - even for the travel ball kids that play it all the time - I don't think they respond as naturally to runners bluffing and the constant movement - but by age 11, they are ready.

    - no need for big barrels and no need for wood (I don't think 11s or 12s, as a group, are developmentally ready for wood and have discussed that in other threads). But, because of the extra 4' of pitching distance, the balls will fly so the fences should either be made higher or moved back (higher is more likely in space-challenged leagues like ours).

    In the end, as much as I loved the LLWS - and I watched every US game and many int'l games (other than this past weekend b/c of soccer; I will have to go to ESPN3 for those), I would have liked to see these same kids on a slightly larger diamond with playing rules that more closely match "real" baseball. The quality of the game would still be high but we'd see even more strategy, defense, etc. The quality of the coaching will not go down because of 50/70 assuming coaches in a specific LL can teach the game but kids who are weighing moving out of LL might stick around (how's that a bad thing?). I do think that many 11s may not be ready so you make Majors 50/70 and Minors 46/60; you made re-draft mandatory and remove the cap on 12s on a roster (if redrafting, there is no reason to stack 11s for a lot of 12s in year 2 or you make it waiveable if there is a good case (say, disproportionately small # of 11s in a given year (like this year in our league)).

    50/70 cuts against decades of LL tradition but LL also has a tradition of innovation (racial integration, protective gear, pitch counts) so I am hopeful that LLBS will take a thoughtful approach to this issue. Cut the passion from the reason and make an informed decision. I'd predict that in the near term it will remain 46/60 but I think, ultimately, 50/70 will be in Majors in the not too distant future. The two major obstacles are not the rules or the configuration but field conversion and small leagues where they have no choice but to have 9s and 10s make up a significant part of Majors. For them, 50/70 will present different challenges.

  • We did a full time 50/70 division this year. We evaluated all of the 11 and 12 year olds and allowed the 11 year olds to play down in the Minor AAA division of the need was present.

    The kids LOVED the league! The parents LOVED the league! The volunteers LOVED the league!

    In our area, we don't have middle school teams. Kids either play Travel or Little League at that age level. The 50/70 division really allows for kids to transition up to the 90 foot baseball field, which is a truely different game from 60 foot. It also encouraged volunteers to start a few additional programs (winter off-season clinics for all ages and a county championship tournament) and allowed for discussion on where weak 11 year olds should be playing.

    As the league's fall ball coordinator and Jr./Sr. League VP I can safely say that the 50/70 division has helped develop this kids for their next level of play. It has introduced them to lead offs, pick-offs, and more situations than previous.

  • To answer Robert's original question, we did not have a 50/70 program in my district. So I can't give you an assessment of its success or failure.

    I speculate, however, that in the not-too-distant future, LL will formalize the pilot program and put it in the rulebook. The pressure being put on local LL programs by other organizations that have 50/70 ball, like Cal Ripken, Dixie Youth, PONY, etc., may eventually force Williamsport's hand. I don't know about other places, but our district has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of players eligible to play Majors. My son's local league had 10 Majors teams when he played, and now they're down to half that. The fact that LL even started the pilot program a couple of years ago is evidence of that. If they really felt that Majors baseball on a 46/60 field was hear to stay for the long haul, they wouldn't have even bothered with the program.

    What will become interesting is if they do what Cal Ripken Baseball did, and showcase the 50/70 world series at Williamsport (Ripken's 70 Series was at its HQ in Aberdeen, MD), and move the 46/60 world series elsewhere.

  • Will, did the fact that you no longer had a path to Williamsport have any effect? I know it would in our league, with our history of going there once, and getting a sniff most years. Having that chance keeps the 12's in our program, I have no doubt.

  • It drives me crazy when guys say kids aren't ready for wood, I played my entire career using wood. I wish LL and other groups would outlaw -8 and higher frops. I can see -5 in the younger groups and -3 at 13.

    As far as 50/70, I would like to see LL define field size and bat size. Right now it's a crap shoot on what is used.

  • @ Kyle: We haven't had a lot of luck with All-Stars at that age level. With that said, another league in our district, which has had moderate success and has advanced to state, did also convert to 50/70. They did there conversion a little different. They started all players on a 46/60 field and played a 12 game schedule. After that they played the 8-10 games using 50/70 format. This allowed them to remain eligible for Williamsport.

    @ Michael: Little League has a recommended field size for 50/70. It won't make anyone convert to those fields because of the large cost associated with doing so. I know that we have 1 field where the cost would be upwards of between $9,000-$18,000 to do it correctly.

    In regards to bat size we utilized the appropriate age guidelines for equipment. That meant 2 1/4 bats and no metal spikes.

  • One of the big stumbling blocks would be moving fences back. That's not an option at our location, as we have a protected creek running in the back of both our fields. But, switching to wood makes those field playable at 50/70.

  • @Michael: I understand the advocacy for wood and my intent is not to drive you crazy. I have put my thoughts here many times about why I think that wood is inappropriate for a recreational program like LL. For more skilled players, I just have not seen the repeatable swings necessary - even among the most advanced players - that makes wood a good thing for them as a primary bat. As a teaching tool, I think wood is great (my son (turned 13 in July) has a wood bat in addition to his now-retired small barrel and his -8 big barrel) and I think that at age 14 or 15, it can become more of a primary bat and I do wish that wood was standard for HS. The subject is worth a reasoned debate - reasonable minds can differ on this issue and I certainly am not driven crazy by those who would wish for wood at the younger, more recreational levels.

  • Fence distances would be a problem, yes. Many of our LL fields are in parks with little to no room to move the fences. Perhaps the solution for our leagues would be to modify the 90' fields to accommodate the 70' games. We have a number of parks that have skinned infields for 90' play. Another option would be to use softball fields with a temporary mound.

    BTW, I went to the PONY rule book to see how far their fences are for their 11-12 (Bronco) division. They're 225 down the lines and 275 in center. What I didn't realize was that the pitching distance for Bronco was only 48', not 50'.

  • I believe that Bronco players are allowed to use big barrel bats which certainly adds to the distance. The 48 v 50 is a shocker to me - but I verified the same thing. I have tried searching for older rule books to see if it was ever 50' (I played Bronco as a kid - which may frame my affinity for 50/70 - and my recollection was that it was 50'). I'd laugh at myself (not the first time) if the 50' distance was more myth than reality. That said, I have watched 50/70 in travel ball and in our pilot and my views remain the same.

  • We have not offered this yet but I think we may in the spring,we need to do something. We are a small league in the middle of two Babe Ruth leagues and of course travel ball . We see our number drop each season/

  • To me, this whole debate between 46/60 and 50/70 should really boil down to one thing: What size field is better-suited for the vast majority of kids who are league age 10 thru 12 (I really don't know of too many leagues out there that have 9yos playing Majors)?

    People that say the 50/70 prepares kids for high school are full of it. 12s have plenty of time to get ready for high school once they graduate off the 60' field. They may struggle a little more when they move to the full-up 90' field compared to 12s who have played on 70' fields. But it doesn't take them long to figure it out.

    Quality of play doesn't matter either. You'll see good play and bad on the 60', and you'll see good play and bad on the 70'. The amount of bad play on the 60' is tempered by the fact that there are less opportunities to screw up, since you don't have to worry about uncaught third strikes, balks, poor pickoff throws, etc.

    I'm sure kids will initilally have more fun on the 70' because it's more like "real" baseball in their minds. But if the quality of play is bad, they may lose interest fast with all the mistakes that happen on the field. I've umpired some 70' games where there were more bad pitches and bad throws because of all the worry about leadoffs and base steals.

    Someone wrote that umpires have more fun doing 70' games. Well, I didn't. I felt too cramped on the small infield with kids using 2-3/4" bats. I much prefer umpiring "real" baseball on 90' fields with 2-5/8" bats. It might have been more fun if the quality of play was better, but I still felt I was too much in harm's way.

    There are pros and cons with both.

  • @Manny: I agree with you ("pros and cons with both") and also agree with you on HS readiness. You did not mention safety but I also take safety out of the equation. My feelings about 50/70 are squarely based on the same starting premise you have: what is better-suited for kids of this age. And because there are pros and cons of both, I enjoy the reasoned discussion. Even if we never "solve" anything, we all have to think about our views and consider the good reasons for approaches with which we might differ.

    It would be great if we had the crystle ball that shows what is objectively and absolutely the best - think of all the LL-based issues we could solve (bat moratorium, LLWS format and, more recently, spitting!).

  • I participated in program John Gavin has discussed. I brought a pretty strong team to that program. I went back and umpired a game that featured two teams that weren't incredibly strong. I fully enjoyed both.

    Personally, I could do without all the running. It's a bit unrealistic and not really true to the game of baseball, but the running is rampant in Juniors as well. It's generally not because the catchers can't throw runners out, it's the pitchers that can't hold runners on.

    I do believe the fences need to be moved back for 50/70, but I also believe they need to be moved back in general. So, take that for what it's worth.

    10yo players ... I'd hate to lose the 10's playing in the Major Division and the 10's that are drafted up to our Majors could easily play 50/70. It does solve the problem of potentially having a junior high kid throwing 70+ mph fastballs at a 4th grader though.

  • "12s have plenty of time to get ready for high school once they graduate off the 60' field."~Manny

    How much time do you think is necessary? I had four LL 12 year olds in the 7th grade on my Majors team. That means they have one season to adjust to the 90' field before freshman year. As of right now, our high school doesn't have a freshman program so freshman have to try out for JV. I'm not convinced that one season on a 90' field is "plenty of time".

    With the cut off change and with NJ having an Oct 1 school cutoff, I now have more 7th graders on the 46' field than ever. Any player with a birthdate in May, June, July, August, or September (41.7% possibility) could be a LL age 12 but in the 7th grade.

  • There is a possibility that our district is going to try to run "travel" type environment in the spring in addition to the standard LL divisions. It is hoped that this will offer a travel-type experience but at a much less cost to the parent and keep some kids in the local LL program instead of jumping ship. I am also hoping that 50/70 will be a part of that.

  • Ten years or there about. The 12-11 World Series will be on a 50/70 field and the 10 year old World Series will be on the 46/60. That's my gut feeling. The game of youth baseball is evolving and IMO at a faster rate than ever before. I can only speak for NJ, but more and more kids are flocking to other organizations. I hear it from every corner of the district. What kept these kids in the LL program was all-stars and if their local league can't compete at a district level in all-stars, then they go elsewhere.

  • I agree over the last three years we have had two leagues in our district drop LL and go Babe Ruth. That way they can get kids from other leagues makes things hard

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