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Little League Baseball Bats - Make Your Kid Swing Like A Pro

Different leagues have different standards for baseball bats. Professional, adult leagues (the ones that hope to make it to the World Series) require classic, wooden baseball bats.

little league baseball bats, little league baseball bat

Different leagues have different standards for baseball bats. Professional, adult leagues (the ones that hope to make it to the World Series) require classic, wooden baseball bats. But Amateur leagues allow for lighter, more powerful metal bats. When it comes down to equipping your child with the best bat they can possibly get, it takes more than just buying him any ordinary bat.

Furthermore, in high school leagues, baseball bats must be more than 67 millimeters in diameter, so it's only suiting that the requirements for Little League baseball bats are just as stringent! This is no surprise considering the difference in size between adolescents, adults and children. The following requirements are typical and good to know if your son or daughter is thinking about joining a league and baseball bat shopping might be on the horizon.

Little League baseball bats cannot be more than 33 inches long or have a barrel diameter of more than 2 ¼ inches. Also, they must be taped around the handle. To understand how much a bat weighs, look at the negative number that it is associated with. If a baseball bat is 30 inches long and its number rating is -10, that means the bat weighs 20 ounces. Lighter Little League baseball bats are more powerful than heavier ones (and also will hurt a child a lot less if it accidentally hits them in the head, which is a good thing since there is no crying in baseball!), but they are also more expensive. The surefire way to zero in on the perfect little League Baseball bat for your child is to make some test swings before uou head to the counter.

 

Major League Baseball - Pitchers You Can Bet On

It’s the start of the MLB season and already some pitchers have come to the forefront. Who looks good and has the support to win a slew of games? You may want to wager on these guys all season long. However, before you decide to drop some money on any pitcher, you’ll need to consider some variables other than that particular hurler’s stats.

Sports, Wagering, Wager, Betting, Bet, Gambling

It’s the start of the MLB season and already some pitchers have come to the forefront. Who looks good and has the support to win a slew of games? You may want to wager on these guys all season long. However, before you decide to drop some money on any pitcher, you’ll need to consider some variables other than that particular hurler’s stats.

In putting together this list of four pitchers who have a strong chance of winning every time they take the mound, consideration has been given to each hurler’s earned run average, his club’s ability to generate runs and the team’s bullpen situation. Additionally, the age of the player, physical condition and health and past history have been weighed.

For our purposes, we are only interested in betting the money line. The reason for this is that the money line is a straight bet which does not take into consideration the +/- 1 and1/2 run game spread that the run line does. Betting the run line complicates the attempt to determine a pitcher’s worth in a game, since topnotch mound dwellers are capable of winning many one run games over the course of a season. This is especially true when the team has a great closer.

Pitchers backed by top closers may not beat the spread, which makes wagering on the run line extremely risky. Since our point is to determine what pitchers have the best chance of winning whenever they go to the mound and since strong pitching tends to defeat great hitting, we want to bet the game in its purest form - the money line.

Jose Contreras (Chicago White Sox)

Contreras starts his fourth Major League season and is coming off his best year ever, where he went 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA for the world champion White Sox. This season the thirty-four year-old right-hander is off to the best start of his career, going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA. Batters from the left side of the plate are hitting .229 against him, while those from the right are hitting .167. In 4 starts, he’s given up only 19 hits, which makes him one of the toughest pitcher’s in the league.

He has three strong pitches - 91- 95 mph fastball, a slider/cut fastball, and an elusive forkball. Contreras had always been seen as having great potential but his mental make-up seemed to get in the way. That particular problem disappeared last year when, after the All Star break, he became unbeatable. In September he went 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA, and during the entire second-half, he was 11-2 notching a 2.96 ERA. He also had a great post season.

The question for this year was would the post-All Star break Contreras show up or the pre-All Star break pitcher (4-5, 4.26 ERA) from last season take the mound? It looks like the new, confident Contreras is present, as the righty continues from where he left off in the World Series.

The White Sox are scoring 5.9 runs per game and closer Bobby Jenks, who has given up 2 homers in 9 innings, is 6 for 6 in save opportunities. The home runs might be worrisome, except for the fact that they did not affect a save opportunity and Jenks has a 90-100 mph fastball that more times than not simply mows down hitters.

On many other teams, Contreras would be a number one starter. With such an all-around tough starting pitching staff surrounding him, plenty of offense, and a great bullpen, Contreras appears to be in a comfort zone that will simply give him more and more confidence. He’s a great bet.

Greg Maddux (Chicago Cubs)

Maddux has started his twenty-first MLB season in amazing fashion with a 4-0 record and a 0.99 ERA. Coming into this year, there was concern over the aging pitcher due to the fact that he had a losing record in 2005 (13-15, 4.24 ERA). The last time Maddux had lost more games than he won was in 1987.

Last season, Maddux seemed to lose some of his great stuff. He’s always had fantastic location and movement, while ably working both sides of the plate. His 82-87 mph fastball has late movement that handcuffs hitters. His three other pitches include a tight curve at 73-75 mph, a tricky slider ranging from 80-84 mph, and a circle change. He usually walks an average of 1 man or less per game.

Backing up Maddux is closer Ryan Dempster, who last season saved 33 games in 35 opportunities. It’s now been two years since Dempster, a former starter who the Cubs converted to a closer in 2004, had elbow surgery. Last season’s strong performance gave credence to his recovery. This season he’s sporting a 1.50 ERA while being a perfect 6 for 6 in saves.

The Cubs offense has scored an average of 5.05 runs per game, which is plenty the way that Maddux and Dempster have been pitching. However, to continue in the impressive manner in which he’s started, Maddux must have pinpoint control.

Despite his losing season in 2005, Maddux started 35 games and pitched 225 innings. His health is not a concern. Although entering his third decade as a major league pitcher, he’s still a workhorse who wins with finesse and intelligence. Those two attributes make him a good bet.

Curt Schilling (Boston Red Sox)

In 2004, Curt Schilling came to Boston and helped the Red Sox do something they had not done since 1918 - win the World Series. Schilling, perhaps baseball’s ultimate competitor, did something during the famous playoff series with the Yankees that no one else had ever done before; he had a tendon that was interrupting his delivery sewn in place.

That operation could have ended his career, and in 2005 it did look like he might be done with baseball. Now, in 2006, he is back - stronger, dominant, in total command and as competitive as ever.

The veteran pitcher is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA and 31 SO in 34.2 innings. This is the best start of his 20-year career.

In the role of closer, John Papelbon has been stellar, going 9 for 9 with an ERA of 0.00. In 12.1 innings, he’s struck out 10, while walking two, hitting one batsman and allowing 6 hits. In this young season, Papelbon, a rookie, is the best closer in the majors.

Boston is in the bottom third of hitting in the majors, which is certainly not good news for Schilling or the rest of the pitching staff. But they are expected to do better.

In a way, a competitor like Schilling who has the support of a young closer like Papelbon doesn’t need a whole lot of run support. The starter is meticulous in his record keeping on hitters and teams, and his game prep is flawless. He’s one of the most disciplined players in the game and when he goes out to pitch, he takes the mound prepared to carry the team on that particular day.

In 2004, Schilling won 21 games while losing 6. If he can stay healthy, he should easily match that mark. Roy Oswalt (Houston Astros)

In four of his first five seasons with the Astros, right-handed pitcher Roy Oswalt has proven to be one of the best in the league. In both 2004 and 2005, he had 20 wins while throwing more than 230 innings in each year. During his career, he’s given up an average of only16 homeruns per season.

After missing part of the season in 2003 due to injury, he came back strong in 2004, recording 206 strikeouts and a 20-10 mark. In five games this year, he’s 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 23 strikeouts.

Oswalt works fast and commands his 92-96 mph fastball with aplomb. His curve, which tumbles in at around 70 mph, has a big arc with tight downward spin. Hitters have a tough time reading it and when they finally do, it’s usually too late. For variety, he also has a straight changeup.

The Astros are third in the league in RBI and second in batting average, which means this consistent and reliable pitcher should enjoy good run support.

During his fairly short career, fastball throwing closer Brad Lidge has been very good. Last season he earned 42 saves in 46 opportunities and the year before he was 29 for 33.

However, there is some concern with Lidge this season. He is 7 for 9 in save opportunities, giving up nine runs and 3 homeruns over 11.2 innings. His two blown saves were opportunities 8 and 9. It was during the last two save attempts that he gave up the majority of his runs, while having trouble with his control.

Oswalt has had a tendency over the years to win twice as many games as he loses, making him a very good bet. This even occurred during his injury-shortened season. He’s one of the best in the majors. Despite Lidge’s uneven performance in the closing role, Oswalt’s consistency and command make him a sound bet.

The four starters we’ve examined all have the potential to win 20 games this year. Before placing your wagers, you should review current stats on these starting pitchers, the bullpen staff, and the team’s recent offensive output. Also take a close look at the team’s opponent, gauging how they are hitting, their starter, and the ability of the club to score runs, mount comebacks, and win close games.

The best pitchers will usually get a decision in 25-30 of their starts, winning from 18-23 of those starts and losing about 8 to 14. However, remember that you are betting on a particular team and as long as the listed starters begin the game, there will be action. It doesn’t matter if that starter wins; it matters if the team wins.

Out of a top pitcher’s approximately 35 starts, he will win somewhere around 20. That leaves them and you with 15 losses; if you’re a little lucky and able to analyze the situation, you’ll end up +5 in terms of wins vs. losses. If you can finish at +5 on these four pitchers by the end of the 162-game season, you’ll be sitting pretty. But remember, there are no guarantees in sports or sports betting.

 

Major League Baseball Players in Japan - Strangers in Paradise

This article is about Baseball in Japan. The final match-up of the World Baseball Classic featured two teams from countries where baseball is a beloved sport - Cuba and Japan. Both countries are noted for producing fine players, some of whom are enjoying stellar careers in America.

Sports, Recreation, Baseball, Japan

The final match-up of the World Baseball Classic featured two teams from countries where baseball is a beloved sport - Cuba and Japan. Both countries are noted for producing fine players, some of whom are enjoying stellar careers in America. Presently, Ishiro and Matsui from Japan are two of the best and most consistent players in the majors. Making it in the big leagues in America is a big deal in Japan, a country that loves baseball and embraces its own professional teams.

American teachers first introduced the game to the island country in the 1870’s, and it firmly took root. By the turn of the century, it was a sport throughout the nation and in 1936 the first professional teams were established. The current professional structure was created in 1950, with teams playing in either the Pacific League or the Central League.

The exchange of players between the Japanese leagues and Major League baseball is not a one-way street. The first American to play baseball in post-World War II Japan was Wallace Kaname Yonamine, a Nisei Japanese American who had played NFL Football but never had a spot on a Major League Baseball club. Yonamine had a Hall of Fame career in Japan.

When major leaguers from America first started to compete in the Japanese League, they were often at the end of their careers. In 1962, right-handed pitcher Don Newcombe became the first MLB player to sign and play with a team in Japan. During his 10 years in the majors, Newcombe posted a 149-90 mark, with 1129 strikeouts and a 3.56 ERA. He is still the only player to win Rookie of the Year, MVP and the Cy Young. Newcombe was the first of many Americans to go to the Far East to play what many consider "the" American sport.

In the past decade something has changed concerning the emigration of professional players from America to Japan. The men who go to the Japanese League are no longer at the end of their careers. They are now, more often than not, mid-career players who can’t seem to find an everyday role on a major league team. Often, these players decide to go to Japan because they will have a chance to contribute every day.

Some players find a home away from home in Japan, while others go and get some daily experience and come back to parlay that into a starting role in MLB. Still, others struggle in their foreign environs and come back looking to play in the big leagues, even if it’s as a utility player.

Alex Cabrera is an example of the first type of player, while Lou Merloni seemed as though he might fit the bill for the second category but didn’t quite get a break in Japan or make the cut when he came back to his homeland. Gabe Kapler illustrates a player in the final and least desirable of the three groups.

First baseman Alex Cabrera, who spent nine seasons in the minors with the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Arizona Diamondbacks, finally got his chance to play Major League Baseball in 2000. In 31 games he hit 5 homer runs, scored 10 runs, knocked in 14 RBI and accumulated a .262 BA. Then, in 2001, the Seibu Lions of the Japan Pacific League bought his contract from the Diamondbacks. For Cabrera it was the perfect move at exactly the right time.

Cabrera immediately became a star in Japan. In his first season he hit .282 with 124 RBI and 49 HR. In 2002, his second season, he won the Pacific League’s MVP award and tied the single season homerun mark (55) set by the Babe Ruth of Japan, Sadaharu Oh. (Tuffy Rhodes, another former MLB player also tied the record in 2001.)

In 2004, Cabrera hit two homeruns in game three, including a grand slam, and a massive dinger in the seventh game of the Japan Series to help the Seibu Lions defeat the Chunichi Dragons 7-2, leading his team to their first championship since 1992.

Cabrera totes a .308 BA with 413 RBI and 147 HR in his first four years with the Lions. Life is great for the first baseman and he loves Japanese ball. Except for one thing. In an interview with ESPN.com he acknowledged his frustration at not being allowed to break the record set by Sadaharu Oh.

Cabrera noted, "All my teammates wanted me to break the record. A lot of the players on other teams wanted me to break it, too. The pitchers want to throw me strikes but the managers and coaches don't let them."

"They didn't want me to get the record," he acknowledged. "All records are for the Japanese. The last 20 at-bats of the season, I think I only saw one strike."

There are aspects of the game with which MLB players have difficulty. Cabrera said it very clearly, when he complained, "Here, if you hit a home run your first at-bat, they walk you the next three. In America, you get a chance to hit more home runs. They challenge you."

In the same article, former Japanese player and present Yankee Hideki Matsui observed, "In the past there has been more of that sort of unfairness," Matsui said, sympathizing with Cabrera. "But it has been decreasing in the last couple years and I just hope that in the future it will get better."

Although Cabrera has found a home with the Lions, he’s certainly willing to come back and play in America. In fact, he’s anxious to prove that he can hit big league curveballs - something scouts claim he can’t do - and pound 40-plus round trippers per season in the majors.

Lou Merloni and Gabe Kapler both did their time in Japan for the same reasons and with similar results. Merloni and Kapler were enticed by the chance to play every day, something that had eluded them when they were both with the Boston Red Sox.

In 2000, Merloni went to the Yokohama Bay Stars with the understanding that he would be the team’s regular third baseman. But the player he was supposed to replace decided to stay with the team, and so Merloni spent much of the season on the bench. Although he found it to be a frustrating season, he also thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience.

The game is pretty much the same, except there’s a rule prohibiting tie games from going more than 3 extra innings, which means the game ends in a tie. First, there are the pre-game workouts and warm-ups, lasting hours. Then there’s all the cigarette smoke - Japanese players light up a lot. Also, there’s the fact that when the club is on the road everyone has to dress for the game at the hotel because there are no visiting locker rooms.

The media never tired of asking the third baseman if he’d like to marry a Japanese woman. When Merloni answered questions, he often felt his translator was editing his comments along with reporters’ queries.

Along with the possibility of being an everyday player, there’s the bump in salary a player who’s been in the states realizes. Usually they’re making six to 10 times what they made in MLB! That’s quite a payday. After Japan, Merloni came back to the Red Sox and played for them and the AAA team for the next three seasons before going to various other major league clubs. He seemed like he might have found a starting role with San Diego part way through the 2003 season, but after 65 games, they dealt him back to the BoSox.

Gabe Kapler was offered a similar opportunity in 2005, and like Merloni, he took it. With a contract valued at approximately $2 million, the utility outfielder was excited about getting to play every day and experience an entirely different culture. But after being a part of Boston’s first World Series winning team in 86 years, Japanese ball seemed to lack the spark of the game played in his homeland.

Missing were the overly expressive fans, the rich heritage, and the knock ‘em down rivalries. Kapler also didn’t perform up to expectations and found himself sitting on the bench by the second-half of the season. When he got back to the states and was signed by Boston for the rest of the 2005 season, he was overjoyed as were many Red Sox fans, who always admired Kapler’s hustle, work ethic and intelligent play.

In a strange twist of fate, the outfielder, who was on first base when Tony Graffanino hit a homer, ruptured his Achilles tendon after rounding second. As Kapler lay in the base path unable to get up and in agonizing pain, it was clear that his 2005 season was over.

In 2006, he was no longer on a major league roster and neither was Merloni, who had played a utility role with Cleveland in 2004. For both players, Japan never panned out, while Alex Cabrera has achieved more than most Japanese players. The irony for Cabrera is that despite his winning ways, the Japanese League will never accept him. That non-acceptance, which seems to affect every foreign player, is one thing that definitely separates baseball in Japan from baseball in America.




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