As A first timer to the tournament my opinion and voice are similar to that of Brennan and Dale from Step Brothers. I could be potentially presenting the Fucking Catalina Wine Mixer, or I could be presenting Prestige Worldwide. Talk about pitching, walks, and the lack of hitting have been a topic recently with Facebook lighting up with debate and comparisons. From my overall observation of the games that weekend and with some factual statistically evidence, pitching dominates the tournament.
A brief history lesson for Leroy Wiffleball begins in 2012. We put up a field in the middle of a corn field with no stats, few rules, and a lot of fun. 2013 rolled around and the only changes were the addition of a 2nd field with popularity growing. Then the idea of an actual league took off, which in turn forced us to unify around an actual playing style and rule book. A lot of items were addressed from pitching distances, innings played, and everything else that makes each league unique. The only item that bothered me after it was all said and done, pitching.
Growing up in the Chicago region is a sports fan’s dream. It’s one of the few cities that offers any kind of professional sport you want. From basketball, to hockey, to football, and finally baseball. The great thing about baseball in Chicago, like everyone knows it has two teams: The Cubs, and something you put on your foot. Growing up in the nineties was awesome for baseball with the likes of Mark McGwire and ours truly Slammin’ Sammy. Every at bat you were glued to the T.V. to see if he was going to hit one out, for me it’s what made baseball fun. Then more times than not, in situations with runners on, the catcher would stand up, stick his glove out, and four pitches would cross the outside of the plate. If you step back and look at it, it’s the stupidest concept in any sport. It’s like a defense in football being able to force the offense to kick a field goal in a crucial situation when they have Tom Brady throwing on a 2nd and goal at the 8. Maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch, but for me I want to see the hitters hit, and the pitchers pitch. So for LWA we eliminated the walk.
For those who haven’t tuned out completely yet I’ll give a breakdown of the rules we use with an analysis of the pro’s and con’s we have seen so far. We use the same system the NWLA has incorporated now, a 5-3 count with no speed restriction. (Our pitching mound is 42’, but we will be moving it to 48’ in 2017.) The difference is what happens after the 5th “ball” is thrown, in NWLA the batter trots to first, in LWA the batter gets almost as excited as Brennan and Dale after getting the O.K. to turn their beds into bunkbeds. A “pitch to hit” rules takes effect where the pitcher must pitch a lob or underhand pitch that at one point in time has to be above the batter’s head. The strikes remain, but the balls reset back to 0. Another 5-3 count ensues (remember the strikes roll over from the first count) and if 5 balls is reach again the batter can take a “single” (walk).
I liked the concept, it gives the best pitchers the ability to still dominate. It also gave the average player the ability to shine if he got the pitcher into the second “pitch to hit” count. It forced the pitcher to attack the great hitters early with the chance of having to pitch slow to the batter, where as they would work the corners with the thought of “hey if I miss he just goes to first”. I know what your thinking though, the pitcher will just throw 5 trashy slow pitches and give up the single “walk” anyway. So I added another strategy to the process, that gives the batter complete control over the at bat.
After the second 5-3 count, the batter is given the opportunity to take the single “walk” or continue is at bat. Many things determine the batter’s decision for example if the pitcher has 2 strikes the best option might be to take the single. If the pitcher has struggled and hasn’t produced 1 strike yet he may continue the at bat which goes to another 5-3 count with the strikes rolling over. If another 5 balls are thrown the batter can take a double or continue. This goes on again with a triple, then if 25 total balls are thrown before 3 strikes a home run is granted to the batter. The batter may only choose to accept the base(s) at the end of a count and not during the count. Before everyone lights their torches and grabs the pitchforks let me tell you in 2 years we have probably seen less than 5 home runs granted because of pitches. The rule more or less exists to promote the pitcher to give his all against every batter, showcasing the best pitcher vs. the best batter. The pitcher is forced to try to throw strikes even when he reaches the “pitch to hit” stage because if he continues to throw ball after ball he’s given triples and homers away without the batter even earning it.
To me it enhances the batting and the fielding aspects of the game entirely. More balls are hit into play and it reduces the overall dominance needed from the rubber. Although this concept won’t affect the “alpha” pitchers so to speak because if they truly dominate they won’t need to every enter that “pitch to hit” count. I’m not looking to change the tournament, but thought I would throw this idea out there. It’s an out of the box concept that has thrived in our league with players loving the style. Would I want to see this incorporated into the tournament, yes of course I think it truly evens out the 3 main aspects of the game: Pitching, Batting, and Fielding. Do I think it will be incorporated, probably not. It’s hard to completely change something that is a main foundation of a sport. Walks have always been a part of baseball/wiffleball and many think the idea of no walks is almost a new sport in itself.
All in all, the article was to open some thoughts for other ideas and promote others to do the same. To see so many people interested in the national tournament fuels my interest knowing there are many years of great competition ahead. I would love some feedback, but at the same time remember no system is perfect. Growing and evolving the game I think is more important and better for the game rather than doing nothing and watching interest die down due to a boring style of play. Thanks for reading, now get back to watching Cops!