Jump to content

Travel ball lifts head first slide ban


SeeingEyeDog

Recommended Posts

Greetings brothers,

     My local youth travel league just updated their local rules as follows. Previously, for 13U - 18U if a runner slid into home plate head first, they were to be called out. As of September 3rd, this was lifted. This is both an umpiring discussion, a parenting discussion and a general baseball discussion...

  • Umpiring - I got no notice of this rule change from my association. I have since visited the league's website and confirmed the change. When my partner and I conducted the plate meeting, my partner said, "Ok, we have a 14U game here today under NFHS high school rules with local modifications to include...if a runner slides into home head first, that is an automatic out." Both coaches stopped the conversation to tell us and agree that the rule had been changed and head first slides into home were not permitted. My partner and I nodded our agreement and voiced to the coaches we would call it that way. The game proceeded without incident. My question is...what is appropriate and or what is required when we are confronted with a local rule change that we were not previously aware of? Let's take this head first slide rule for a moment...let's say the rule had NOT been changed as illustrated above. We still have the coaches agreeing to allow head first slides, my partner and I agree to call it that way, and then a player gets hurt on a head first slide at the plate. Have I absorbed any liability here? What methods/tactics/strategies do you guys use to make sure you are updated on all the local rules for the leagues you cover?

 

  • Parenting/General Baseball - I played 5 years of Little League, I umpired 6 years of LL and I have coached 4 years of LL. I no longer umpire at the LL level because the fees for youth travel, scholastic and or men's leagues in my area are significantly higher. I'm still a huge fan of LL, watch my friend's son play when I can and also watch the LLWS when it's on. I will always have some beef with how LL manages the business side of their operations globally (where DOES that money go?) but, in terms of structuring the game of baseball and its rules around safety and limiting liability, they do a great job with that to include head first slides when advancing at Majors and below levels. (Amazingly, a runner can advance 59 feet on the basepath, turn around and return to the previous base...and legally slide head first while returning to that base!) My question is...Why are players at ANY level below college permitted to slide head first in any situation?

I'll hang up and listen for your responses...

~Dog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Uhhhh...ok...I didn't exactly sign up for "Crypto-Quiz"...I really just kinda' wanted straight answers...apparently, this one is self-service?

Baseball is an inherently dangerous game. It's not as dangerous as boxing, it's more dangerous than checkers. Ray Chapman died 100 years ago last month as a result of a head injury sustained in a game. The game is much safer today than it was then. The game is much safer than it was yesterday and it is not as safe as it will be tomorrow. The game is constantly evolving towards a place of increased safety and...on-field people will continue to sustain injuries and risk even death by choosing to play this game. As time moves on, injuries will be less frequent and less severe and the risk of death continues to be reduced.

Nobody enjoys seeing their kids get hurt. Nobody is allowed to enjoy other people's kids getting hurt. In the world of youth sports, injuries are bad for business. Youth sports leagues need happy customers. Happy customers are happy parents. And happy parents draw their happiness quotient directly from their kids. Are my kids as safe as they can be participating in this activity? Are my kids learning how to play this game? Do they enjoy the game, enjoy their teammates and enjoy their coaches? When a kid becomes unhappy, parents and guardians become unhappy and they voice their unhappiness with their wallets and withdraw from the game. Leagues need players to function. They also need leadership, coaches, officials, scorekeepers, field/facility maintenance personnel and countless others I am neglecting. But, players make the game go.

So, most (not all) youth leagues try to structure their rules with regards to safety and liability. In LL, it's illegal for majors and below for an adult to warm up a pitcher. This was commonplace back in the late 70's and early 80's when I played LL...not so now. No doubt some years back, an adult was warming up a pitcher, got injured on a missed pitch and then took the league to court for the financial sum of their injuries, pain and suffering. I am no lawyer but, whether the judge found in their favor or not lawsuits are also bad for business, regardless of the outcome. LL wisely added this rule banning adults from warming up pitchers in order to have documentation to refer to should an incident happen in the future and there is litigation.

Back to head first slides...A player could get hurt walking out of the dugout. Again, it's a dangerous game. Feet first slides are less dangerous, safer but not safe. Head first slides are more dangerous and the risk of injury is higher than feet first slides. LL doesn't want players getting injured and have therefore banned head first slides when advancing to try and minimize (but never eliminate...) injuries.

 

 ~Dog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

Uhhhh...ok...I didn't exactly sign up for "Crypto-Quiz"...I really just kinda' wanted straight answers...apparently, this one is self-service?

You can't have a straight answer when there needs to be a certain level of background understanding (such as the primary issue being neck injuries caused by helmets on head-first slides, and yes, that specificity is necessary to grasp why LL has rules going forward but not backward.) That is just the starting point; there's paragraphs that could be written about their reasoning, and that time could be saved if the respondent knows that the questioner has more than cursory knowledge of that process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most LL Safety Rules are based on injury history.  Talk to someone in Williamsport in Risk Management, you'll learn a lot. Lots and lots of sliding injuries, that's why the rule.

As for the head-first sliding, in the vast majority of cases a head-first slide while advancing is at full speed, not so on returning. 

In another move to reduce sliding injuries LL requires disengageable bases.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Out of curiosity, why are head-first slides now considered legal in travel baseball? Just like SeeingEyeDog, my association also covers games for a travel league that used to ban head-first slides at home plate. Is it because the organizers feel that players no longer need the "training wheels" rules that Little League has up through the Majors level? (Little League has Intermediate, Junior, and Senior divisions, but teams in those divisions are not as common) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking for the area I work...we have a lot of supremely competitive type A people who run my travel league who want the 13U's (and even younger) playing Federation rules "as soon in their development" as possible. The sooner they start playing at that level, the sooner they are competent and ready to play at that level. I would submit (again, in my area) that not EVERY travel baseball player will go on to play HS baseball. 

~Dog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, ilyazhito said:

Out of curiosity, why are head-first slides now considered legal in travel baseball? Just like SeeingEyeDog, my association also covers games for a travel league that used to ban head-first slides at home plate. Is it because the organizers feel that players no longer need the "training wheels" rules that Little League has up through the Majors level?

Outside of the big, nationwide organizations (Little League, USSSA, etc.), it’s a precarious compromise between liability and the potential intensity of plays coaches & parents want ruled on. As soon as you have a “no head-first slide” rule, and a scoring play involves a kid stumbling in, making absolutely no contact with the catcher, and the PU is compelled (or pressured) to call the kid Out and take the run off the board, coaches & parents – who paid “a lot of money to be in ‘this’ tournament – are going to be extremely upset, and will take issue with the umpire and/or the tournament director. I’ve seen this escalate to stop-payments, social media shaming, and refusals to enroll in the next tournament.

That’s damaging to smaller tournaments, existing weekend-to-weekend. If there is a serious injury incident, there is likely clauses in the contract covering this, or insurance. But with Little League and USA Baseball, the entirety of the organization, nationwide, is in jeopardy if an injury is found to have been preventable by a Rule.

This is also why many tournament series play by NFHS Rules, but allow catchers to use two-piece headgear instead of NOCSAE-certified one-piece helmets, because of the difference in scale and range of liability. Same go for baseballs, bats, and pitch counts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.






×
×
  • Create New...