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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nine-year-old pitcher Jericho Scott is being sent to the showers - because he's too good:
The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.

Officials for the three-year-old league, which has eight teams and about 100 players, said they will disband Jericho's team, redistributing its players among other squads, and offered to refund $50 sign-up fees to anyone who asks for it. They say Jericho's coach, Wilfred Vidro, has resigned.

But Vidro says he didn't quit and the team refuses to disband. Players and parents held a protest at the league's field on Saturday urging the league to let Jericho pitch...

The controversy bothers Jericho, who says he misses pitching.

"I feel sad," he said. "I feel like it's all my fault nobody could play."

No, Jericho. It wasn't your fault:

Jericho's coach and parents say the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league's administrators.

Jericho instead joined a team sponsored by Will Power Fitness. The team was 8-0 and on its way to the playoffs when Jericho was banned from pitching.

So, I guess LeBron should've been banned from his high school games because he owned everyone on the court.

More than perhaps any other popular American sport, failure is elemental to baseball. The pitcher in any baseball game has the advantage over the hitter by the sheer fact that he's throwing the ball to a location that the hitter can't possibly know for certain. A hitter's a success if he hits the ball safely 30% of the time. The best season in the history of the major leagues came when Ted Williams got a hit roughly 4 out of every 10 times he was at the plate. Pitchers have the upper hand.

So, the real problem here isn't young Jericho's excellence, it's the other kids' failure. In today's America, mediocrity has come to be something that's celebrated - there are graduations from kindergarten, 6th-place medals and points given for effort. At that age, sports are about fun, to be sure - and what's fun about standing in the box and facing a 40-mph heater (that has to look like 95 mph)? But at the same time, sports are about excellence and character, and these kids need to learn a lesson about failure - and what it takes to truly become the best. In prohibiting this kid from playing sports because he's too good, these parents and this league are hurting more than just this young pitcher. Every kid suffers.

These folks shouldn't be surprised if, later in life, their son asks their professor to drop a test from the grade because, well, it's just too hard.


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