Positive chatter

Razzing the rival team has been banned for youth baseball players in the Cincinnati area, reports the Enquirer.

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.

Taunting leads to fights, baseball officials say.

About Joanne


  1. What a load of bung! I grew up playing Little League from the time I was 4 years old. All the way till I was 15. I’m thinking that I turned out to be an ok member of society, responsible for shaping young minds and encouraging them for the future.

    All this ‘feel good’ stuff in sports drives me batty. My desire to achieve on the ballfield transcended into the classroom tenfold. I hated to lose, and I still do. Just ask my wife when we are playing backgammon or any other boardgame!

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Why not just have one team, with everyone rotating through all the positions including up. And in football, each side has one pley, then hands the ball to the other team.

  3. Tom Turner, I’m not sure that anyone is going to entirely take the trash talk out of sports — nor that they ought to — but it might be worth a try in this case.

    According to the article, some of the umpires are as young as 12 years old and might not be capable of differentiating between gamesmanship and the kind of racial or ethnic slander that can lead not just to hurt feelings but slashed tires, broken noses, and even bloodshed.

    The Los Angeles City Section HS sports has put restrictions on what players can say to each other during an athletic contest. Most high school athletes can take the trash talk as well as they can dish it out. But in this part of the world the exceptions can be lethal.

    This doesn’t seem to me to be about “‘feel good’ stuff in sports.”

    Losing sucks whether an opponent says anything or not.
    Losing sucks even when you and your opponent have and show respect for one another, even when the opponent is your best friend.

    I, like you, survived Little League baseball in tact (I think) and I also survived playing tackle football on hard dirt with no equipment and engaging in the “sport” of New York street hockey, but I’m not sure any of that has anything to do with this issue.

    Men of my father’s generation played football with leather helmets that did little to prevent concussions. That most of them seem to have survived with most of their mental faculties doesn’t mean we ought not have started requiring more protective gear. It amazes me how traditionalist people get about sports — whether it’s the American League DH or the NFL’s rules to protect quarterbacks from late hits.

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    I wonder how new this is.

    My son plays little league. He is 6. At this age,
    the kids aren’t allowed to taunt the other team. And
    this isn’t new for his little league organization.

    I don’t think that there is an age where my son’s little
    league says that taunting is now okay.

    Does any of this matter? Starting at age 9, teams still
    win and lose. Does the taunting serve a point?

    I’ll also note that the taunting really conflicts with
    what my son is taught at karate, which is that one should
    show respect. Sometimes show respect, and other times
    it is okay to be a jerk?

    -Mark R.

  5. Alex Bensky says:

    Joanne, it’s “we want a pitcher, not a belly itcher.” Your version doesn’t even scan and as young ballplayers, scansion was very important to us.

  6. I believe “underwear stitcher” is used in the Cincinnati-North Kentucky region, though I agree “belly itcher” scans better.

    I’ll never forget the cheer cheered by a parent on our side when my kid brother was playing pony baseball. He didn’t swing and got a base on balls. The parent yelled, “That’s the way to stand there!”

  7. Tracy W says:

    The rule I learnt was to never argue with the umpire. If you argued with the umpire you sat out the next two games. Banning razzing seems in line with that.

    Etiquette in sports is important – after all the rules in sport are fairly arbitrary and exist as a way of letting people indulge in fun physical competition and provide entertainment for the spectators.

    If the sports officials think the game will be improved by banning razzing, then let them try it.

  8. At least change the name to something like the Weenie League.