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Jericho Scott and New Haven’s Little League Handicapper General

jericho scott

UPDATE, 7.32pm: MOVE OVER, JAY MARIOTTI. You stink anyway.

Ahh, the meritocratic American Dream. It’s a beautiful thing until some moron stomps on it in the name of equity and fair play.

The term “Handicapper General” comes from a Kurt Vonnegut story called “Harrison Bergeron.” It’s a short glimpse of dystopia set in the year 2081 – the United States places handicaps on the most talented and the most intelligent to pull them down to the mean. Diana Moon Glampers, US Handicapper General, oversees the effort.

It’s a provocative story – so engaging and so relevant that The Moving Picture Institute is releasing the short film 2081, which is, as the opening line of the story attests, the year in which “everyone was finally equal.” The summary is as follows:

“Based on the short story Harrison Bergeron by celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut, 2081 depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is finally equal… The strong wear weights, the beautiful wear masks and the intelligent wear earpieces that fire off loud noises to keep them from taking unfair advantage of their brains. It is a poetic tale of triumph and tragedy about a broken family, a brutal government, and an act of defiance that changes everything.”

You can watch the trailer and sign up for updates on the film at www.finallyequal.com.

Well, Jericho Scott, a 9-year old baseball player in New Haven, CT, just got tagged by Ms. Glampers. No, he doesn’t have to wear an anvil around his neck, he’s just not allowed to pitch 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.”

That kid’s got a cannon.  Surely he was beaning tykes with errant pitches, right? Multiple ER trips, concussions, tear-inducing fear en route to the batter’s box?

“”He’s never hurt any one,” Vidro said. “He’s on target all the time. How can you punish a kid for being too good?”

Oh. League officials, including Peter Noble, the attorney representing the league, should be ashamed of themselves, though they surely aren’t.

At least the immaturity of this equality spectacle is obvious – the league has handicapped everyone by removing a challenge rather than weighing down specific talent. Then again, it’s only 2008.

When we remove the greatest obstacles from sport, we remove the greatest accomplishments, too. There will never be another Miracle on Ice now that our Olympic teams use professional players. There will never be another Milan over Muncie ’54 because of class-based high school athletics. Without overwhelming odds, there would be no James Braddocks or crazed court runs by Jim Valvano.

Simply put, manufacturing equality ensures that there are no miracles.

And those who are being cheated the most are the kids who are being denied a chance to play with a great player. They’re being denied their own tiny miracle because some “handicapper general” thinks it’s best for them.

When I played little league, another team had a dominant pitcher not unlike Jericho Scott. In one game I hit two triples off him. I don’t know if we won or lost, and I’m not sure if I remember another thing from that year, but I do remember getting those hits.

Let them all play, including Jericho Scott.

UPDATE: There’s a great article at the NH Register – far more detail. Check it out.

There are also takes on the following sites:

Moments in Time: Jericho Scott Is Too Good To Play Little League

FanNation | FN Magazine’s Blog | Chase’s Rants Vol.2: Ft Jericho Scott

9 Year-Old Jericho Scott Is So Good He Makes Teams Forfeit Games

Mediocrity must be maintained! Excellence must be discouraged

Sox & Dawgs Picking Up The Blitz Ver. 9.2

9-year old baseball player punished for being too good

MY KID CAN BEAT UP YOUR KID

Does anyone have any contact information for this league? E-mail it to mktabor@gmail.com – thanks.

UPDATE at 10.41pm:

You can shoot an e-mail in support of all these kids to Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. at MayorDeStefano@newhavenct.net.

30 Responses to “Jericho Scott and New Haven’s Little League Handicapper General”

  1. Kevin Matin says:

    This is ridiculous. Face the music. Your little precious one will enjoy looking back and retelling the story of being struck out by a future major leaguer.

    pathethic…. GO JERICHO!! MOW EM DOWN

  2. Kevin,

    Exactly – I got the impression that they haven’t a clue about sports, let alone what makes sports great. Hopefully I can hop down the road and see this kid get inducted into the Hall someday.

  3. Aaron STein says:

    Pure bigotry. I recall another incident in basketball where a young Black girl was banned from playing. We may as well go back to 1776 and put certain groups on the plantation.

  4. Aaron,

    Yep, that’s Jamie Nared – here’s a quick writeup:

    http://www.ohiolockerroom.com/clinton-county/jamie-nared-banned-from-boys-basketball-team-for-being-too.html

    I remember seeing video of her. She absolutely ruled at basketball. What travesties, both of these.

  5. R L Price says:

    I think the kid should be able to pitch. Where does it say in a rule book that a picther should pitch under 40 MPH. I do not know what league this is, but in Little League any kid that can pitch pitches. It does not restrict a kid that pitches 30 mph nor 80 or 90 mph. I sat and watch the Little League World series this past week and saw some of the best pitching I have ever seen in the program and some of the pitches were clocked in the high 70′s and low 80′s. I been a voulenteer for our league for over 30 years and I have never heard anything so stupid in my life. I say Jericho keep up the good work. Maybe in 3 years we will see you in Willamsport at the Little League World Series or something.

  6. R L,

    Unfortunately, the league in question isn’t affiliated with Little League Baseball. If it was, I don’t think any of this would have been an issue. From what I understand, this is just a recreational/developmental league.

    Keep up the good work indeed!

  7. Donny says:

    I love baseball and it is America’s pastime; I’ve played baseball since I was five years old, now I watch at 34. Back in the day, coaches would coach, batters would hit and strike out, pitchers would throw fast or slow, ball or strike; but never have I seen the sport turn to this. I hated to be babied on the field, we worked hard and we played the game, win or lose. This is one those things that make us look like idiots in front of our kids and that we have lost our way. I hope to see this young man in the hall of fame.

  8. Donny,

    I played when I was younger and then developed into an avid fan. I love it. I never liked my coaches much – even at 9 or 10 I understood Little League politics – but I did love playing.

    It stunk to strike out, or to make a mistake, but that’s life, and those basic lessons are taught pretty easily by sport.

    I wonder what all the kids in this league think about success, or exceptional talent in sports. Maybe they’ll dog a game, or let someone off easy, because they’ll be worried about the effects of a great performance? I sure hope not.

  9. This has the least bit to do with worrying about safety and more about winning the penent. Way to show your kids to take the easy way out and quit.
    http://specialreport.com/9-year-old-boy-with-a-40-mph-fastball/

  10. Brad from Minnesota says:

    If there is a rule that exists in the by-laws that no pitch can exceed XX mph, then the kid is stuck, and it’s a shame. However, if that rule doesn’t exist, then I say the parents get a good lawyer and sue for his right to play (not sue for a profit folks). I don’t know how the ‘officials’ can sleep at night making a decision such as this. Also, what about that coach that packed up his team because they didn’t want to face him? What are you doing??? Did every kid want to go home? Or just the coach making a statement.
    HEY FOLKS, REMEBER THIS IS FOR THE KIDS! NOT YOUR OWN SELFISH PRIDE.

  11. WyomingSling says:

    This is completely wrong in every sense. The league cannot arbitrarily change the rules mid-season because it capriciously feels that one team is superior to the next. This is sport and the nature of it is to coax greatness. What would have happened if, at the Olympics, the officials decided Micheal Phelps was to good and barred him from the friendly international competion. I understand these are children and one must carefully consider despiriting them. But sport also teaches one to accept loss as fuel for self improvement and as such should be embraced as a motivating ethos. If the league felt he was eligible to play at the begining of the season then he better damn well be eligible to finish it. I only hope these events don’t make him second guess his abilities for it would be tragic if a child was to fear that their level best was suspect. Too good to play? I have never heard something so preposterous.

  12. Marty Peterson says:

    What are these parents thinking?! they want to ban Jericho from pitching or have him go to the next league up in age? What are they gong to do when their kid faces Jericho in the next league and he’s throwing 60-70 mph? They ought to realize their kids have an opportunity to learn hitting fast fastballs at a young age which will give them an advantage as they get older and progress through the sport. Let the kid play. It is a game for kids, not for the parents to once again coddle these kids from the sometimes brutal reality of sport.

  13. John Grieten says:

    I was so disgusted that I wrote the following letter to the Mayor. I hope that you all will follow suit.

    Dear Mayor DeStefano,
    My name is John Grieten. I know of a little boy who needs some government help and you are the first step.

    It is not financial help that he needs; it is moral and emotional support. You see, this boy is too good at what he does and there are those who wish to exclude him because of it. He plays a sport where, under normal circumstances, everyone is encouraged to do their best and work on their weaknesses and he has done that. He played with kids his age and he is being turned away because he excels at what he does; he is fast and accurate and does his job in his position in this sport. You see, the fact that everyone has a chance at-bat in the game of baseball, everyone has an area to improve in, includes the fact that the kids this nine year-old pitches against need some extra batting practice….. is this his fault? Where is the sportsmanship in a world where a team and young boy who excels at what he does and wins is torn apart and separated for the sake of “fairness”?

    These kids need to know that the world is not fair, that there will always be someone who is better than they are, and that sports is not as much about winning or losing as it is one’s character and talent in playing the game.

    Mayor, a little boy named Jericho Scott needs your help. The adults and administrators of the New Haven Little League need to nurture this boy’s talent, not hide it away. This boy excels at what he does; Allow him to play!!!!!!!!!

    If ever government guidance is needed, it is now! Everyone in this boy’s governmental jurisdiction needs to get involved now, to protect this child’s right to play a sport for which he qualifies in every way! Correct this injustice and give this young citizen what everyone is afforded under the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence: the right for PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, the pursuit of success! Our Laws and founding Documents do not provide for everyone being just as good at everything as everyone else; do not let this erroneous message be the standard!! It is your responsibility to protect the rights for the PURSUIT of happiness for EVERYONE, and not degredation and re-distribution of a team which excels (which already reminds me of the present tax system). I humbly submit that New Haven’s government needs to do its job and restore faith that the government will provide these basic rights!

    Sincerely,

    John D. Grieten

  14. Colin says:

    Here’s something I’m wondering about.. is 40mph even that fast? I know it’s fast, but is it really otherworldly? I’m not doubting the kid’s greatness or anything, but 40mph isn’t unheard of at that age. I remember a few kids tossing 60+mph in the 11-12 year old division on the same size diamond they’re using (assuming.. they should be for the 8-10 year old age group). And sure it was scary at first but you learned to cope with it and hang in there.

    I’m interested how liberally they’re using the “developmental league” tag. By definition, all youth leagues are developmental. But t-ball usually starts at age 5 or so. I’d venture to guess a lot of these kids have been playing ball for a few years. Maybe it’s their first time facing pitching from other players as opposed to from the coach. Even still, facing the best is a pretty efficient way to develop.

    As long as Jericho’s coach isn’t throwing the kid’s arm out, let the kid pitch.

  15. Brad from Minnesota,

    There are no solid bylaws that I know of since the league is independent [not part of Little League Baseball, etc.]. From what I’ve read, they’ve already got a solid lawyer – I’d hate to see this happen to another kid. It seems like every few months we hear about a Jericho Scott or a Jamie Nared.

  16. WyomingSling,

    “I understand these are children and one must carefully consider despiriting them. But sport also teaches one to accept loss as fuel for self improvement and as such should be embraced as a motivating ethos.”

    I agree with this completely. I figure that the league of 8 teams probably plays 12 games or so. If they get blown out one out of 12 times, big deal. It’s not a bad failure:success ratio.

  17. Marty,

    “What are these parents thinking?!”

    I may be wrong, but I’m getting the impression here that the league officials panicked after the forfeit, and that probably a few parents complained. I think the league officials shoulder the blame here.

    Having said that, I was surprised to read about a team forfeiting. I can’t imagine what kind of coach would make that decision unless safety was an issue [and it wasn't], and if I was a parent of a player on that team, I would be incredibly upset at the coach. I hope many of them are.

  18. John,

    Excellent letter – you hit all the important points. As silly as it might sound to some, this is one of those times when I’d like to hear what a government official has to say. The sun will still shine tomorrow regardless of whether a 9 year old gets to pitch in little league, but how we view sports [especially youth sports] is a terribly important issue.

    Let me know if the Mayor or his office responds – I have a feeling they’re getting flooded with calls and letters right now.

  19. Colin,

    40mph is pretty fast on such a small diamond, but it’s not impossible. The other kids are probably throwing 25-28mph with less control. I’d rather face a 40mph with control than a 25mph who’s about 50x more likely to bean me.

    They face a tough a fastball – good for them. I haven’t yet read an article that talked about Jericho Scott’s string of no-hitters or perfect games, so I’m assuming that the occasional kid succeeds in the batter’s box.

  20. Colin says:

    it’s fast, especially at that age, but the kids in the LLWS are a few years older than that and throwing 60+ on the same diamond. That’s all I’m saying.

    He’s damnnn good. It’s not so much about the 40mph, it’s just that he’s buck-nasty. That’s the real sham.

  21. John Grieten says:

    Matthew,
    Will do!
    I got an automated ‘out of office’ message, so I sent it to his Chief of Staff as well!
    Yes the sun will shine tomorrow, but this is a hill worth fighting for. I will follow his career with interest, and look forward to seeing who this young man signs with when he gets out of college!

  22. John,

    Out of office reply? That’s surprising – I expected you’d get a “We’re sorry, but the answering system is inundated and about to explode” message.

    About 20 times today I’ve remembered the scene in Bad News Bears 3 [maybe 2?] where they’re playing at the AstroDome and the crowd chants, “Let them play! Let them play!”

  23. DW says:

    For all you folks who don’t know too much about baseball, here’s a little help. 40 mph is way below average for a “good” 9 year old pitcher. I have been coaching for 8 years now and on average a 9 year old team will have at least 2-3 kids that can throw 55-60mph. The kids who throw 40 mph are the back-ups. If other kids can’t hit this kid – then they are being coached poorly. Apparently, he throws very accurately. A 40 mph fastball right down the middle is what us coaches would call a “practice ball.”

  24. Dave Wetmore says:

    Folks should get this correct…. this is not Little League Baseball…. this is a “local league” and should be noted accordingly.

    Regretfully – in todays highly competitive atmosphere… many parents and league officials miss the entire point of the sport.

    If this team and player wants to be treated correctly and have rules that guide and protect all players — then join — Little League Baseball

  25. Dave,

    Unfortunately for Little League Baseball, most people refer to most youth baseball as “little league,” official or not – sort of like people in Mississippi calling all soda “Coke.” ’tis the sad reality of branding. I bet that Little League baseball is being inundated with calls/e-mails despite having no association to the problem.

    I think I read earlier today that the player in question is a member of another league and that this one was mostly for fun. I’m sure he’ll be popular with the travel team circles in short order, if he isn’t already.

  26. Joe Oliveira says:

    Why doesn’t he just play in a more competitive league? This league is for new comers to little league.

    Don’t assume the league is wrong, look a little deeper and at both sides. Does the kid pitch in another league? How does do in that league.

    I hope mom and dad don’t win a suit for emotional stress. They are the problem of america – crybabies when told that your son belongs in another league suitable for his talents and where competition matches his talent.

  27. Joe,

    I think he does play in another league. Even so, that’s irrelevant.

    As of right now, I haven’t read a thing to suggest that his parents were suing for “emotional stress” or anything remotely frivolous. The impression I had is that the legal action is related directly to an athlete’s ability to play without restriction – and in response to the league’s decision to disband the entire team.

    You would do well not to lecture me and others on assumptions a line or two after you’ve made some yourself.

  28. K Parker says:

    My son throws 52 MPH and just turned 9 years old. 40 MPH is not scary and not unhittable. There is something wrong with the story. I coach in District 14 in Connecticut and 40 MPH is nearly batting practice for a Travel Playing 9 year old. Somethings wrong with this story.

  29. Malea says:

    never let anyone kick you off a team just keep on playing!!!
    Malea

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