Monday, February 8, 2010

Winchester’s Baseball ‘funnel effect’

Open Forum

WB’s ‘funnel effect’

What occurs when league is all-star-centered? Baseball dies

In response to Todd McNemar’s letter, “Setting record straight on WB” (Your Views, Jan, 22), I have to comment even further and in more detail this time.

Please set the record even more straight, Mr. McNemar, as several attempts have been made to get answers to the following questions below since October 2009 and, most recently, as of Jan. 23, but Winchester Baseball officials and/or reps still remain silent because the perception is they do not want to open up Pandora's Box.

Just for clarification, are not all of the WB board members Frederick County residents now?

Now, for my questions:

* How many kids are playing in Winchester Baseball, ages 8 through 12?
* How many kids are Winchester City residents?
* How many are Frederick County residents, Clarke County residents, Warren County residents, Shenandoah County residents, and Hardy and Hampshire County residents?
* Are there not all-star teams practicing in the Armory during December, January, and February? And how can this be fair and equal if these all-stars are pre-selected before the season even starts?
* Are any kids added to these all-star teams after the regular season is completed?

In response to your statement about fields being utilized by Shenandoah University, Handley High School, and Parks & Rec programs that I assume are conflicting with Winchester Baseball: Shenandoah University finishes up their seasons about the first week of May. Handley baseball is normally finishing up during mid-May. This is all the more reason to have “summer” baseball for 12-and-unders as opposed to the early spring when it is not ideal, weather-wise, to be practicing. Practices, may I add, that may run until 10 p.m. on school nights.

Mr. McNemar, the motive is to get all of the facts out on the table for City Council to review so they can make an informed decision about city taxpayer dollars. Should the City of Winchester spend money on this World Series during these epic budget constraints we are facing? How can saying this be viewed as stirring the pot?

The tax base of Winchester has taken serious hits in recent years due to the fact that many new shopping centers located in Frederick County have opened up — in other words, not within the city limits.

So, yes, it would be nice for Frederick County to share the expenses for this 2011 World Series. Especially if the majority of the kids are from Frederick County.

Furthermore, the structure of WB is casting ill effects on Handley baseball, which only had 25 players come out last year, eight of them eighth-graders. Handley baseball is in serious jeopardy, but why? I have an opinion. The board, coaches, and parents of WB are recruiting the best players around to come play in attempts to assemble the best all-star team possible. Now, how are kids who reside in Winchester supposed to get better when WB is trying to pull the best kids from all the surrounding counties?

I agree 100 percent. WB should be very successful when pulling kids from a population area of more than 180,000 (and up to nearly 230,000 if Shenandoah County is in the equation).

Again, you are correct: I will question the operation of WB. Is this in the best interests of the masses, especially the kids who reside in the City of Winchester? The perception is that WB is basically an AAU baseball program hidden under the umbrella of Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth League Baseball.

But look at Frederick County Little League, split into North and South boundaries serving a total population of 73,898. Maybe this is why WB does not want to be part of Little League baseball, which has restrictive boundaries.

Basically, everyone needs to realize little Johnny is most likely not going to be the next major leaguer. With everyone starting out now in T-ball starting at age 4 and then having all those age-group all-star teams, I believe this system is burning kids out. Why are kids from 13 to 15 years old dropping out at a tremendous rate? Back in 1953, Winchester had four teams for the 13-14 age division with much less population. How many teams are in the 13-15 league now with a much larger area and population?

To close, this is like a funnel effect! Everyone is on top starting at age 4 and 5 and as each age is reached, the funnel begins to narrow and gets tighter until only a few make it through the system. The young kids realize they have not had an opportunity to be a kid and enjoy other things because this league is structured and geared for all-stars.

Maybe since this program is basically serving the county residents, should we not hurry up with the consolidation of Parks & Rec services, so we are in compliance?

Jeff Milburn is a resident of Winchester.

1 comment:


Where does WB draw kids from?

- 36,663 Warren County
- 14,458 Clarke County
- 13,591 Hardy County, WV
- 22,574 Hampshire County, WV
- 73,898 Frederick County
- 25,878 City of Winchester
- 187,062 Total Population

If Shenandoah County has a player in the WB program, then that would be a total population figure of nearly 228,000 based on Shenandoah County's (40,777 population).

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