My Side of the Plate: Let metal meet the ball until August

It’s that time of year when once again I have to leap upon my soapbox and rail against Little League baseball.

Every couple of years I have to interject a few opinions on how the sport could be improved — not that anyone listens to my advice, I couldn’t be that lucky!

They didn’t listen when I wrote for a newspaper in Eastern Oregon and folks here in Western Washington probably won’t listen, either.

Still, I believe it is my duty as a sportswriter and a former supervisor of a summer baseball diamond where 6 to 12 year olds played to make a couple of comments.

Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball and of all the sports I report on, it is probably my favorite.

My problem with Little League is the season begins too early and as a result, ends too early.

Oak Harbor’s season begins in late March and Coupeville’s first game is on April 1.

The Big Leagues don’t get going until the first week in April so why in the heck does Little League have to begin playing so early?

The teams have three or more games a week and everything is over by the first week in June.

Shoot, some schools haven’t been dismissed yet and summer baseball is over!

I realize the all-star teams have to be picked so 12 or 15 players can advance to regional and state competition — but what about the majority of the kids who don’t make the all-star teams? What do they do for the remainder of the summer?

With the baseball facilities both communities have, it’s ridiculous to leave the fields standing idle when there are kids just hanging around wishing they had something to do before school starts.

Back in Michigan, my summer employment consisted of being the supervisor for boys baseball at Merrill Elementary School.

The program was run by the Flint Board of Education and most schools in the city had summer baseball programs at their diamonds.

The season started the Monday after school was dismissed and games didn’t begin until the second week, which was usually around June 7 or sometimes later.

The city playoffs began the last week in July and the championship game wasn’t until mid-August.

Now that was a summer recreation program!

A suggestion I’ve made in previous columns was to have a recreational baseball league that begins after the regular season.

There is always enough equipment and baseballs left over from the regular season and parents could handle the umpiring duties and field maintenance.

Such a program would cost almost nothing to implement and who cares who won or lost or who won the championship — the kids would have something to do in July and August rather than run the streets.

We can be thankful we have John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool here in Oak Harbor, at least the kids have some outlet for their energy.