Pal Eldredge

’Pen Pal


Monday, May 7, 2001

Things baseball
could do without

THE game of baseball has withstood the tests of time. While it has undergone some changes in the past couple of decades (namely the DH rule), it has basically remained the same for over 100 years.

There are however, things that have to do with the game that really upset me. The following are my pet peeves regarding the game:

1. The outside strike. Home plate is 17 inches wide, meaning a strike should be called by an umpire if the pitch is in the rectangle ranging from the middle of the chest to just below the knees, if it is over the plate.

So why are pitches called strikes by umpires when they are not in the zone? Okay, I agree that mistakes are occasionally made and we should allow for human error, which is part of the mystique of the game. But when the pitch is a foot or more off the plate, how is that a strike?

A pitch that far off the plate shouldn't be called a strike because: a) it isn't one and b) it's not fair to the batter. The batter can't even reach that pitch, so it shouldn't be called.

2. Arrogant umpires. If you've played or coached, you know what I mean. The umpire has the last say and is not always fair about it. Enough said.

3. Coaches who cheat. Not many professional coaches can get away with cheating. There's just too much scrutiny on them. College coaches can try to bend a few rules regarding the recruiting process and grants-in-aid, but the NCAA monitors that. High school coaches are okay, too. And yes, we've all tried to steal signs, but that's part of the game.

I'm talking about youth league coaches. You know who you are. You are the ones who tell a below-average player not to come out anymore so you can bring in a ringer to have your team win. You're the ones who yell and overly criticize players to turn them away from the game. You're the ones who cheat. How can you sleep at night?

4. Overbearing parents. I've always felt that as a coach, I don't go into the office of a parent, say a dentist, and tell him/her how to drill a tooth, because I'm not qualified to do so. So why do parents feel they know more than a coach, especially if a coach has a solid reputation and has produced good players? All of us know a parent or two like this.

Let's say a player has below-average ability but his attitude is fine and there are a few extra uniforms, so the player is kept on the team. The player doesn't get much playing time, and now the parent is upset. Having the child playing on the team to learn about the game isn't enough for them. How fair is that?

Or how about the parent who feels his/her child is a star when the child really isn't? Parents: You take care of your child in family matters, let the coach take care of baseball. If that's not good enough, remove your child from the team.

5. Players with bad attitudes. I wish we could give players with bad attitudes the hindsight to be able to look back on themselves. Maybe then they would see that participation in the game is so short that to give anything less than 100 percent dedication and hustle is dumb.

The game will go on, no matter what, so you might as well give it your best shot. Leave the negative attitude somewhere else.

Pal Eldredge is a baseball commentator for KFVE
and former varsity baseball coach at Punahou School.
His column runs Mondays during the Major League Baseball season.
Star-Bulletin sports can be reached at 529-4785 or:

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