I want to address the entire MC baseball community, but I will go in turn.
Brain A. Reed,
You need to be very careful with the word elitist when talking about Maverick Baseball. I'm sure that there are many former Mavericks who would love to hear themselves referred to as elitists. I can imagine the Saylors, Smothermans, Hubbles, Hawks, Lancasters, Tonkaviches, and Larsons going around with an elitist attitude. Brian, you had every oppurtunity to play Maverick Baseball. If you would have made the team you would have been given every oppurtunity to play. Part of me, a whole lot of me, thinks that there were other reasons you didn't come out for the team. You were one year ahead of me and I don't remember you ever trying out or getting shunned by us "elitists." Coach Plowman, who was coach when you were of age, had some faults, but one of them was not playing kids because of their elitist status. Now I could be painfully honest here on this issue, but I'll decline.
To the rest of Miles City, there was a time not to long ago that kids played for the Mavericks for the thrill of playing the game for a city that adored them. I'm pretty sure that I remember this fairly well. It's only been 11 years that Miles City Baseball was supreme in Montana. Now everyone wants to jump on the bat issue as the fault for the decline in Maverick Baseball. Well, the problem started before that tragic night in Helena. Numbers declined years before metal bats were even an issue. Too many video games and too much apathy. Kids didn't want to sacrifice their entire summer to play for the Mavs. It's much easier to create yourself on a Playstation game than it is to actually be out there doing it. The kids in MC and everywhere need to get off their butts and go play the game. You learn more about yourself playing in a tight game than you ever will flexing your thumbs on a video game. Careful, you might actually become a man, fighting through pain and adversity instead of resetting the game console.
On the metal bat issue, for those of you who think that the Patches and MCYBA ruined MC baseball by sticking to their guns, you can go to a hot and dreaded place. Miles City, for once is being a progressive community in dealing with metal bats. Aluminim bats should have been outlawed the moment they were created. Besides the safety factor which I'll get to in a minute, they have ruined youth baseball across the country. By giving a kid a metal bat you are giving them a tool to succeed when they shouldn't. All metal bats do is inflate stats. Heaven forbid that a kid should learn to get his bat around on a fastball with a wooden bat. Heaven forbid that a kid is taught to sacrifice bunt or be a situational hitter rather than just try for the long ball. A metal bat allows this same kid, who doesn't want to learn how to hit, to get Texas League singles off the handle of an aluminum bat, that if made of wood shatters in his hands and he is thrown out at first like he should be. Any kid who can hit 400 with metal should pick up a wooden bat and see if they can duplicate that stat. He'll probably hit 250. George Will cited this problem back in the 80's in his book "Men at Work." NCAA pitchers have quit throwing inside because it does them no good throwing against metal bats. They throw junk outside all day because any 120 lb. joker can fist a ball to right center with a metal bat when they have been beaten by a fastball. Sadly, a fastball pitcher would have better chances at success by forgoing college and entering the ranks of professional baseball. That is a fact sad as it may be.
Safety. You have got to be kidding me that there are parents in MC that think their kids baseball futures are ruined because of wooden bats. I caught for the Mavs for 2+ years and another year in college and I am amazed that we have had only one casualty in 80+ years of Maverick Baseball. That sickeneing thud off a pitchers chest, thigh, ankle, whatever, should turn your stomach. If not for luck, the national media could have been doing stories on a Wagner, Larson, Johnson, Lockie, Toepke, or any other Mav pitcher. They all had comebackers go flying past their heads, or hitting them in non-vital places in almost every game we played. The fact is the ball comes off a metal bat faster than it does off a wooden bat. The metal bat companies in this country have the same moral base as the tobacco companies. Watch the College World Series this year, and you will see numerous ads about the power and speed generated by the next great thing in aluminum bats. Go to a court hearing about the dangers of aluminum bats and you will hear these same companies vowing, under oath, that there is no difference between a metal bat and a wooden bat. A common argument is that wooden bats cost more due to replacement issues. Most bat companies that make aluminum bats also make wooden bats, i.e. Louiville Slugger and Easton. If this is so, wouldn't they stand to make more money if the whole country used wood as opposed to the inexpensive metal. Their argument dosen't hold water, because it's full of BS.
I played with aluminum bats. I was an average hitter with an aluminum bat. I should have been a dreadful hitter had I used wood. I played because of defense and the fact that I could bunt. I know the benefits of an aluminum bat when it comes to getting cheap singles or beating an outfielder when I shouldn't. That doesn't make it right. Those of you who think your kids are being cheated by MCYBA's stance on metal bats should really ask yourselves, "What is success for my kid in baseball." If it is making the major leagues, MC is doing him a favor by playing with wood. If it is playing in college, I think Coach Bishop and other college coaches have apretty good handle on who is hitting because they are a hitter and who is hitting because they are fisting the ball with an aluminum bat. If your goal is having your kid compete and have a good time while being safe on the diamond, MCYBA has their ducks in a row and you should be proud to have your kid be a part of a great Montana Baseball tradition.
To the Outlaws, I've heard strange and troubling arguments about the way baseball is taught in MC. For instance, "everyone throws like a catcher or third baseman." Do you mean that everyone in MCYBA has a quick release and a rocket arm. Things are looking good in MCYBA. Stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. Metal bats have no place in youth baseball.
Just some thoughts from an old Mavericks catcher.