The 2006 youth baseball season is winding down. After Sunday's game, the players and coaches on Matt's CYC team stood for their annual team picture. The regular season schedules for both of Matt's teams is complete. Talk now is about end of season tournaments, fall ball, and "next year".
For some of the kids, "next year" will probably mean no organized baseball. Every year it's the same. The kids decide whether they want to keep going. The typical drop off rate is about a third. Each year, the level of competition dramatically increases, and lots of players have a hard time keeping up. The pitching gets much better; the fastball is heavier and it moves more.
In the last game, our guys played a team that was made up mostly of first time players. The opposition only managed two hits in the entire game. The church sponsor of the other team had to recruit players all the way down to fifth grade to field a team.
Baseball is at about the bottom of kids sports interests these days. Combine the overall lack of interest with the difficulty of mastering the sport, and it's no wonder the big losses of players from year to year.
A few of the kids from the church team showed real promise. Solid basic skills, dedicated coaches, and a tough competitive spirit. Hopefully we'll see them again.
For our guys, it's hard to tell. There's a core of serious, hard working players. We figure some won't return. The off season brings the opportunity to evaluate the good and bad of this past season, work on weaknesses, and wonder how many "next years" in baseball some of these young ballplayers might have.