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The Boys of Summer – Part Deux

with: Jamie Spencer

I must say that I am truly humbled by all of the praise. I thank those who go out of their way to tell me they enjoy my articles. Writing was never my forte, and by no means am I a professional. I'd like to keep it that way. My topics usually vary and some even find them entertaining. I play fair and strive to win by reporting facts. I always do my best to refrain from the politics, but I have to chime in from the bleachers time to time.
I had a wonderful experience with Little League baseball and the entire program taught me a great deal. I can only hope for the same for my 8-year-old son and his mates. LL International employs several of my friends and colleagues and I've enjoyed our many conversations over this topic the past couple of weeks. I am one of their biggest fans and supporters. I had a very slim to no chance of getting an invite, but after these articles there is NO POSSIBLE WAY I will be attending the MLB Baseball Classic at Historic Bowman Field.
Like I told you last week — no one had their own helmet or bat back when I played. Not even the rich kids. Each league provided their teams with the equipment and we SHARED. Four helmets and maybe two bats if you were lucky. It is the complete opposite nowadays. From tee ball to seniors — it is just insane. EVERYONE has a bat, helmet, and glove all neatly packed in an oversized bag. EVERYONE.
The newest and finest baseball equipment doesn't come cheap. I have several friends who purchased $295 Easton bats for their lads this year. They were featured at the 2016 Little League World Series. Some youngsters are even strapped with as many as four. Big business folks. It's cray and I fear it is going to get worse.
We can expect a MAJOR change in "permissible" bats starting next year.
Little League's bat policy goes into effect on January 1 of 2018 and everyone MUST now use a bat compliant with the new USABat standard. Yes. Little Leaguers are OK to swing their "old" bats here in 2017, but they will no longer be permitted for use after December 31, 2017. Wait. What? NO bats previously approved for play will be allowed in any future Little League practices or games. Old bats. New bats. My bat. You're out. Dude. I'm confused. Here it is in a nutshell — YOU must buy a NEW baseball bat this fall.
USA Baseball is considered to be the governing body, and their youth bat standard was developed by some really smart dudes. They created a fancy scientific formula for measuring performance via advanced nuclear testing. Bats compliant with the USABat standard will be clearly marked with a STAMP. However, these "permissible" bats won't be available for purchase until this fall. Everyone needs to buy one. I can picture the start of every game moving forward. Play ball! Let me see your bat stamp kid.
I consider myself in the know with youth sports and I heard the rumors, but I was completely shocked when I learned that every single bat must go. I totally understand why Little League would adopt a new policy. The technology changes daily and kids are now hitting towering fly balls with check swings. It's scary. But every tee ball and coaches pitch bat? Come on.
Little League did their best to get the word out some two years ago, but the major bat manufacturers like Easton will continue to grow. My 8-year-old son currently has three decent bats that we were hoping to give away for other kids to use. But according to the new USABat standard — these bats will be considered illegal next season. Everyone must buy a new bat this fall.
I recently touched base with a few friends who deal with sporting goods and they were surprisingly just as confused about the new bat policy as I was. They told me it was hush-hush and many of the bat manufacturers haven't released any information. Bat sales were down, but still holding serve. Lots of the folks buying new still have no idea these bats will not be permitted in 2018. Not good. Easton just slashed their online prices. Gee I wonder why. Things will definitely get interesting this summer. #cheers.