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Roy Tucker
03-30-2007, 01:25 PM
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070330/COL03/703300359/1082/SPT
Paul Daugherty

No chatter, chatter!
New rule silences baseball tradition: No more on-field taunting

In a few weeks, 23,000 kids in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Knothole baseball by filling the springtime air with the nostalgic sounds of the game we all grew up with:

Hey, battuh-battuh. Please swing if it makes you feel good about yourself!

The Knothole Club of Greater Cincinnati has decided to eliminate "chatter." Unless the chatter is "positive" and directed at your own team. You can't say "We want a pitcher, not an underwear stitcher!" unless, maybe, you grew up in a culture that idolizes underwear stitchers. Standings for the Feelgood Division of the Self Esteem League will be available any time now.

Until then, a moment of silence for the death of an American tradition. Proponents of the new edict say it was a necessary response to increased incidents of taunting. They cite one especially ugly example from June, involving a game in Colerain Township between two teams of 14-year-olds in the A-2 division. One parent received 15 stitches after a player whacked him on the forehead with a metal-spiked baseball shoe.

The incident began with a coach being ejected for arguing a balk call and escalated into a full-scale brawl.

Apparently these days, one kid's "no batt-uh" is another kid's "let's throw down."

"We didn't want Knothole to get a bad name for anything," Knothole president Dave Epplen explained. "If you're saying, 'Swing, batter,' and this poor little kid is swinging at everything, he feels bad and maybe he turns to the catcher and gets mad. Honest to gosh, I didn't have any trouble doing this."

Knothole follows the Rules of Major League Baseball. Rule 4.06(a)(2) states, "No manager, player, substitute, coach, trainer or batboy shall at any time, whether from the bench, the coach's box or on the playing field or elsewhere, use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, an umpire, or any spectator."

Coaches and players found guilty of "negative" chatter will be warned once, then suspended for a game. Maybe they'll be sentenced to watching "Oprah" for a month, too.

"We're going to follow the rule as it's written," Jim Pecot, umpire coordinator for District 34, said.

Practically speaking, there is reason for the move. Taking their cues from the pros, kids have raised (or lowered) the level of chatter to suit the times. It isn't enough now to tell a pitcher he has a glass arm. You also have to question his heritage or disrespect him after a home run.

Given that some of the umpires working lower-level Knothole games are as young as 12, it can be hard for them to differentiate between good-natured chatter and over-the-top woofing. As Pecot put it: "It goes from 'Hey batter, batter' to telling the pitcher he sucks. It gets out of hand. Sometimes, that can be tough for a 13- or 14-year-old umpire to handle."

Well, OK. Kids can be cruel (always have been); young umps can be, um, callow (always have been); and parents, coaches and anyone else who should know better can release their inner-ogres when it comes to kid sports (always have). Any adult ragging a 10-year-old player or a 12-year-old ump should be sent to his room with no "SportsCenter."

But, c'mon.

There are some truths we hold self-evident. Big stuff, such as life, liberty and all that. And there are other, more vital verities, such as the right to shout mildly denigrating things at the other team's pitcher. Or to tell a batter to swing. Or that a catcher's underwear is showing. Great, all-American stuff.

Only now, that's out. You can't have little taunters screaming "Pitcher has a glass arm!" and not expect Attica to break out.

"Chatter is the foundation of youth baseball," said Nick Lutz, a coach in the Loveland Youth Baseball Organization's D-Rec League of 8- and 9-year-olds. "If my self-esteem had been damaged by Knothole, I'd have killed myself by now. I was probably a .190 hitter. I still had fun yelling 'hey batter-batter.' "

The kids on Lutz's team have varying opinions. Essentially, they come down to "Do we still get a snack after the game?"

Said Ryan Mangan, 9: "It's sort of weird, but it has a point. Some kids don't have the same feelings as you." Will Reverman, 8, allowed that the rule was "dumb." Ryan Lutz said it was "really dumb."

Eight-year-old Michael Staley had a more practical concern: "We can still steal, right?"

Dave Epplen and Jim Pecot plead for some understanding. It isn't as if they wanted the rule enforced.

"It's society now," Pecot said. "It has taken a lot of the fun out of it."

A committee made up of coaches and members of Knothole's board of directors made the decision. Leagues began enforcing the rule halfway through last season, Pecot said.

"It's not like all of us stood up and said, 'Yea, this is great.' I've (umpired) some games where I'm glad it's there and other ones with the younger kids where I wish it wasn't."

Epplen, 62, is a Northern Kentucky native. He's also an umpire who credits Kentucky resident and National League ump Randy Marsh with teaching him to call a game. Epplen's five sons played Knothole. Epplen himself is a Knothole alum. He was a catcher.

"I was back there telling kids to swing at everything," he said.

Hey battuh-battuh?

"Absolutely. That, and things like, 'C'mon, batter, you can't hit,' " Epplen said. Enforcing the anti-chatter rule "doesn't feel like baseball," he said. Nick Lutz put it differently: "It's the most asinine thing I've heard in youth sports, and I've heard a lot."

As a public service, we offer Coach Lutz and his players and peers a few suggestions for proper chatter, to nurture a sensitive, non-threatening environment that preserves the dignity and self-worth of our tender young people:

"Hey, pitcher, your mother wears Manolo Blahniks!"

"We want a pitcher, not a glass of the finest French Cabernet!"

"Yes, batter! Yes, batter!"

"The umpire is visually challenged in a positive way!"

Finally, instead of whistling "Three Blind Mice" to disagree with an umpire's call, bow deeply from the waist, refer to the man in blue as "My Lord" and offer to wipe his glasses with a silk pocket square from Neiman Marcus.

Let's see 'em toss you for that.

E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com

Ltlabner
03-30-2007, 01:29 PM
All in the name of self esteme and safety. :barf:

KronoRed
03-30-2007, 01:31 PM
This is just wrong

Caseyfan21
03-30-2007, 02:11 PM
Ridiculous.

Chip R
03-30-2007, 02:49 PM
I always thought chatter was stupid. But outlawing it because there was a fight is infinitely more stupid.

dougdirt
03-30-2007, 02:54 PM
Todays children are going to grow up being the biggest pansies ever. They are so coddled and protected its ridiculous.

Red Leader
03-30-2007, 02:58 PM
Todays children are going to grow up being the biggest pansies ever. They are so coddled and protected its ridiculous.

Agreed. Makes me want to walk down the street and rough up the smallest kids I can find.

Maybe not. But I still agree with you doug.

MartyFan
03-30-2007, 03:00 PM
This is flat out stupid.

Ltlabner
03-30-2007, 03:01 PM
Todays children are going to grow up being the biggest pansies ever. They are so coddled and protected its ridiculous.

As long as they wear their helmets at all times they will be just fine.

BRM
03-30-2007, 03:03 PM
Todays children are going to grow up being the biggest pansies ever. They are so coddled and protected its ridiculous.

A guy on the radio this morning said we are raising "a generation of wussies."

Ltlabner
03-30-2007, 03:05 PM
A guy on the radio this morning said we are raising "a generation of wussies."

But safe wussies with great self-esteeme.

dougdirt
03-30-2007, 03:07 PM
A guy on the radio this morning said we are raising "a generation of wussies."

Its probably true too. When kids cant play tag on recess and kids cant call someone an underwear stitcher, there are serious problems. Seriously, and underrwear stitcher.... its not like he is out there calling the kid something derogatory, or making fun of his looks, or size....

michst
03-30-2007, 03:14 PM
I can understand if the chatter was derogatory but come on, did any kid really swing because kids were screaming "hey batter batter"? I always thought the chatter was just a way to keep the kids in the field sortof in the game instead of playing in the dirt or watching a buttefly come by.

Kids are tougher than people give them credit for. If a kid gets low self esteem or starts a fight from being called an underwear stitcher there are definitely more other problems in the kids life that need to be addressed first.

Hoosier Red
03-30-2007, 03:18 PM
I don't blame the new rule as much as I blame a society that can't be trusted to not turn a mild good natured insult into the malace at the palace.
It's not the self esteem I'm worried about, it's the legitimization of a kid reacting by kicking over the catcher and charging the mound.

Ltlabner
03-30-2007, 03:23 PM
Kids are tougher than people give them credit for. If a kid gets low self esteem or starts a fight from being called an underwear stitcher there are definitely more other problems in the kids life that need to be addressed first.

Problem is kids get good self-esteem from facing the challenges of life (being teased, being put down, being dissapointed) and realizing that they are strong enough to survive and woln't die if someone calls them a goofy name. Dealing with failures, either by excepting your natual limitations or working to overcome your short commings also builds self esteme, not sheilding kids from any and all bad things that might hurt their fealings. All these rules aimed at 'protecting the children' have the exact oppisate effect. They don't build self-esteem, they destroy it because they prevent kids from dealing with the realities of life. Parents who think they can create a 'saftey bubble' around their kids are sadly mistaken and ultimatley harming their children, IMO.

If a kid starts a fight deal with the kid. Don't pass a law outlawing anything that could lead to a fight.

Roy Tucker
03-30-2007, 03:35 PM
As a father and coach and from a common sense standpoint, I think it's dumb.

As an ump, I can see where this might be necessary. When I umped and some of the chatter got out of hand (and sometimes it does), I'd talk to the kid and/or the coach and tell them to ease up. If it was a parent, I'd unload with both barrels (I hate parents who get on other peoples kids). But I was a 40 year guy who knew how to handle himself.

If you read the article, the rule was put into place for the 12-14 yr. old ump who has a player or a coach or a parent who is getting out of hand and they just don't know how to deal with it.

By and large, players, coaches, and parents behave themselves. But you run into an idiot every so often. And like with a lot of the PC rules that are in place nowadays, the rule is for that idiot.

westofyou
03-30-2007, 03:49 PM
Arlie Laham and Charles Comiskey introduced chatter to the game when with the Browns in the 1880's (then they were the Reds #1 rival)

http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&bid=842&pid=0


Arlie jockeyed and taunted opposing players not only from the bench but also as a third base coach. At that time there was no coaching box that the third base coach was supposed to stay in, so Arlie took full advantage of it by running up and down the third base line while yelling invectives at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup. The rule makers, taking notice of Arlie running up and down the line like a lunatic, soon put into the rules the coaching box. Arlie is reported to have been the first permanent base coach in major league history.

TC81190
03-30-2007, 06:52 PM
Agreed. Makes me want to walk down the street and rough up the smallest kids I can find.

Maybe not. But I still agree with you doug.

I agree with you and doug. And I'm all for a random-child-walking-down-the-street Ass-Kickathon. Maybe not thaty harsh, but damn are these kids gonna be shellshocked once they hit 20.

puca
03-30-2007, 06:56 PM
I hope I can still taunt others in the work place.

wheels
03-30-2007, 08:23 PM
We're becoming a nation of hall monitors.

Everyone's seemingly looking for someone being even mildly offensive.

"Sticks and stones" no longer rings true and I find it very sad.

CrackerJack
03-30-2007, 09:22 PM
I don't know about other generalizations outside of baseball, but this rule stinks.

Half the fun of playing ball growing up, even in high school, was to make fun of the guy on 2nd base from the outfield, or heckle the batter with quick, cliche, under-the-breath comments.

You grow out of it, or if your team sucks, you can use it to help get through the monotony of standing in place for 3 hours in the hot sun in high school, looking like a dork while your pitcher gets shelled and errors abound.

Our best pitcher's only pitch at one point, was the "chickenbone." He threw it about 80% of the time. People still hit it. He didn't know anything else. This was early high school ball and into varsity years.

We had one guy who would do a Pete Rose slide into every base, regardless of the situation.

We forgot to bring our equipment on the bus a couple of times, and had to wear the other teams batting helmets and catching equipment...and use their bats...and balls.

There were many stories, and they have stuck with me a long time, and are still funny to me. Can't beat that I guess. And a lot of the fun I had, was heckling and baseball chatta related on the field. It was good natured and only crossed the line, if you were in LF or CF, and could make fun of the guy's mama at 2nd base.


Take away heckling and baseball chatta, and you rip the soul out of little league and high school baseball.
For shame.

We'll have a nation of robots at some point.

Marc D
03-30-2007, 10:03 PM
I ran into something similar a few years ago.When my daughter went to sign up for t-ball the first year they told us how they don't keep score and each kid gets to bat every inning. They went on and on to us (parents) about how it builds self esteem, etc.

First words out of my daughters mouth?

"How do you know who wins?"


Its amazing how adults can complicate what is so simple to a child.

OldRightHander
03-30-2007, 11:04 PM
As long as they wear their helmets at all times they will be just fine.

And don't forget to use anti-bacterial soap.

Yachtzee
03-31-2007, 12:02 AM
I always thought chatter was a positive in the game. It kept our heads in the game because we had to watch the pitch so that we would know when to say "Hey-batta-batta-SWING!" If someone started to drift off to "La-La-Land," coach would immediately yell "Hey RF, let's hear some chatter out there!"

SirFelixCat
03-31-2007, 02:14 AM
Todays children are going to grow up being the biggest pansies ever. They are so coddled and protected its ridiculous.


Thank YOU!!! :bang:


This is just disgusting.

GAC
03-31-2007, 07:39 AM
When I coached boys (8-10), you had to yell at/encourage them to chatter, which was primarily used to get their heads back in the game (and with some, to get their finger out of their nose). :evil:

But our chatter was always the typical stuff we use to say as a kid. Nothing taunting or derogatory.

I coached girls 14 and under for about 3 years. Some of the cheers they came up with from the dugout made me want to put a bag over my head and slink out to the car.