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.