Is Little League on your mind lately? If so, you’re not the only one.
The Little League World Series is running through the weekend and giving us all sorts of fun displays of youth baseball. Last weekend, Major League Baseball played its first-ever Little League Classic, in which the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates played a game in Williamsport, Pa., in front of Little Leaguers and their parents. It was pretty sweet.
And it ended with both teams doing a handshake line like you see at most youth baseball games. A nice display of sportsmanship, right? If you saw that and thought, “MLB should do this more often” you, once again, are not the only one.
It made us wonder, though: What other Little League traditions would fit well in the big leagues? Here’s what the Big League Stew crew had to say. Leave your answers in the comments.
THE HANDSHAKE LINE
The handshake line might seem like a childish thing, but it was so wonderful to see the Cardinals and the Pirates, two teams with a fierce rivalry, put that aside at the end of the game and shake hands — and even hug! I would love to see that at the end of every series. It might be mostly symbolic, but it’s a good way for players to pay tribute to each other for what they’re going through over the course of the season. That kind of togetherness is one of the reasons we love the All-Star Game, right?
Of course, I can see why it wouldn’t always be comfortable. Not every game ends with a “good game, everyone!” kind of spirit. There are brawls, shutouts, injuries, pastings, and all nature of unpleasant baseball things. But we forget that these players are people, and a lot of times they’re actually friends outside the game. Fans of different teams can get angry at each other just for being fans. It’s a good reminder for fans that at the end of the day, we’re all baseball fans, and it’s just a game. And we’ll all hold our breath and wait for the moment when a brawl inevitably breaks out during the handshake line. (Liz Roscher)
THE MERCY RULE
I know we all enjoy the five times per season a position player gets on the mound, but we could lose that and have a much better game by implementing the mercy rule. Blowouts are dumb. There’s just no reason to watch them. So, let’s say any team leading by 10 runs at the conclusion of the sixth inning can enact a mercy rule.
I think this works in a few ways. For people at the game, they are guaranteed to see six innings. Not only that, but since a lot of runs were scored, they were probably at the game for at least two hours or so. For the losing team, they don’t have to empty their bullpen, and can rely on useful starters the following day. The people coming to the game after the blowout won’t be subject to a terrible pitcher, or have to experience a starter being left out to dry because the bullpen is spent.
For the winning team, they can rest up guys and prevent their stars (or pitchers) from playing meaningless innings. Those extra runs don’t matter. There’s no award for leading the league in run differential. Let’s make it happen! (Chris Cwik)
NO UMP SHOWS
This might seem like a tongue-in-cheek response. After the events of this weekend though and the very public cries for attention from the umpires union, wouldn’t it be nice to have some umpires not looking to be the center of attention?
Every umpire you see at the baseball and softball Little League World Series is willing to volunteer his or her time without compensation while being more than willing to give the spotlight to the players. The latter is the true spirit of the job. Well, aside from being right, but it seems the volunteers do that at least as well as the so-called pros.
I’m not saying MLB umpires should be volunteers either. That would be ridiculous given the job description. I’m also not saying that every umpire that’s ever done a Little League game has been a perfect example. But the idea is I want people more aware of their roles and capable of loosening up. If they bust out a few dance moves from time to time too, that’s not a bad thing either. (Mark Townsend)
SOMEBODY’S MOM HAS TO BRING SNACKS AFTER THE GAME
For some kids, youth baseball is all about the snacks. If you disagree, I’ll point you to your local T-ball field. So I’m only slightly kidding when I say that someone’s mom needs to bring snacks after the game.
I do like the baseball tradition of minor leaguers getting free postgame meals from big leaguers who are visiting on rehab assignments. So maybe there’s an in-between here? What I propose is this: Each player on the team should be responsible for one snack game per season. And the public should get to see what he picks.
And I’m not talking filet mignon or lobster tail or anything bougie like that. Save for those the off-day outings on the road. I want to see which MLB player can produce the best spread that would please a 12-year-old. I want to see packets of Big League Chew and orange slices and Capri Suns. If a player making $20 million can level up and get custom Capri Suns made with every teammate’s picture on it, all the better. (Mike Oz)
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