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Drafting New for 2013 East Hampton Little League Season

Sadness as a tradition is left behind, but board is trying to create competitively balanced teams town-wide.

Gone are the days when kids from a particular hamlet in East Hampton Town were automatically on the same Little League team. The 2013 East Hampton Little League season is going to be different in that most players will be drafted, but the board that runs the league feels that the move allows for the most equitable play on the field.

Thursday marks the last day for sign-up with a discounted registration fee, and there is some concern that registration numbers for the season may be down because of the decision.

"There seems to be a lot of controversy and mis-information floating around about the LL Board throwing all the teams into a hat, which is causing a lot of parents concern about the experience this year," said Mike Sarlo, speaking on behalf of the board as its secretary.

Sarlo said the board has faced several challenges over the past few years with regards to separating the teams strictly by hamlet; Amagansett, Springs, Wainscott, Montauk, and East Hampton.

"Due to registration numbers, roster sizes, age/grade distribution and available pitching talent from hamlet to hamlet, there have been many troubling instances ranging from a few kids from one school being asked to go play in another hamlet, kids moving from one hamlet to another but staying with their previous hamlet's team, a dearth of pitching talent in one hamlet vs. another, all of which have led to numerous complaints from parents," Sarlo said.

Last year, there were a bout 380 kids who participated, according to Dave Rutkowksi, the president of the board.

The board, he said, "wrestled with the idea," weighing different options to solve the problems. "We spoke to numerous parents and coaches as well as league officials from other districts, and ultimately decided, by nearly unanimous vote, to combine the kids from Springs, Amagansett, East Hampton and Wainscott into one pool of players to create as fair and balanced a league as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, Montauk, because of the distance between the other other hamlets was left out of the pool, he said.

All of the "upper division kids" (11 or 12 year olds) who played last season will remain on their team for this upcoming season.

Combining teams is nothing new, as it has worked for other youth sports in town — Town Soccer, PAL Football, SYS Basketball, Long Island Junior Soccer League, East Hampton Youth Lacrosse, and the Hurricanes Swim team. "They have all been extremely successful and EHLL felt it was finally time to follow suit," Sarlo said.

"While the board fully recognizes the certain sadness to be leaving a tradition of the Springs or Amagansett kids as classmates moving up through little league together, and the issues of carpooling with a neighbor, or scheduling fields around the hamlet school schedules, we ultimately felt that the best option to move the league forward was combining the kids," he said. "We would have loved to include Montauk as well, but the distance just makes it too hard to work out."

On its website, the league posted: "It is the goal of EHLL to create a town-wide program with competitively balanced teams and an atmosphere that allows for growth and development of baseball and softball skills as well as social development. . . We realize this will be a change for many families. However, the positives far outweigh the minor inconveniences it may create."

Registration closes on Feb. 28. Practices starts in mid-March and the season begins in April.

Registration for the season is $85. Eligible players in first through sixth grades. Forms are available online. A copy of birth certificate and utility bill as proof of residency are required. To register online, click here.

How do you support the decision? Will your kids be participating this season? Tell us if you are looking forward to an exciting 2013 season? Leave a comment below.

Gail Simons February 05, 2013 at 05:17 PM
There should also be a better rotation system of players. My son's coach last year constantly refered to him as a "sub", never as a team member. He was only played because he HAD to be played - and chastized when his attention wandered after multiple innings of sitting on the bench. We were given the crap excuse that kids pay their dues the first year, yada yada. Just because that's how some coaches have done it, doesn't mean it's right. The Canadian leagues have rules that make it much more fun and fair for ALL of the children the "Fair Play Philosohpy" is brilliant: http://www.ollb.org/ollb/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70&Itemid=61
Preliator February 05, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Only in East Hampton can you screw up baseball.
Allison Marie February 06, 2013 at 12:40 AM
I do think its a bad idea. But never out of concern for a trophy. That's an unfair assumption. I have always thought the teams needed to be more even. My son just aged out of Little League and has not been on "winning" team since he was in 3rd grade. In fact, he has not been on a team with even a winning record since. If my concern was a trophy, I would have been one of the parents having a fit to get him on a "certain" team. We all know it happens. There is Coach preference, team preference, etc etc. Our family plays for the game. Period. We are in complete agreement that some of the parents, Coaches and players need behavior adjustments. I also agree the teams need to be more evenly distributed. But I just don't think this is the answer. Just my opinion. It has nothing, at all, to do with my desire to have my kids on"the team". I have many years of my two sons Little League records to back that up. Like I said, I wish the League luck.
Rich Morey May 22, 2013 at 03:22 PM
When I played little league we were "drafted" - you went to a day of open try outs and were then told the next day or so what team we were on. In addition, not everyone "drafted" made the team. I remember this because my older brother didn't make it his first year of little league but I did (as did my older sister!). Also, if you missed the practice before a game you didn't get to play in the game - there was none of this "everyone has to play". Players who showed up for practice and worked hard were rewarded with playing time regardless of their skill level. Players who missed practice or goofed around, etc. didn't get to play.
Gail Simons May 28, 2013 at 01:09 PM
I am missing how you can "stack" a team if it's just made up of kids from the same district? So does that mean that, just for instance, that one hamlet breeds better ball players vs. the other hamlets? And isn't it supposed to be about learning the game, the joy, the team play - not about winning or losing? I've read studies that show that winning is last on most kid's lists as to why they want to play baseball. At the LL age level, most will simply reply "to have fun" or "to make friends". Winning isn't at the top of the list. Not at this age level. Save that for the older ages. There really needs to be a better way to get the true spirit of what the Little League organization stands for: From the Little League official site: Sample Mission Statement Little League aspires to be an outstanding educational-athletic organization that provides a high-quality experience, in which every athlete: • Is coached using the principles of the Little League Double-Goal Coach • Has fun playing the game • Feels like an important part of the team regardless of performance • Learns "life lessons" that have value beyond the playing field • Learns the skills, tactics and strategies of the game and improves as a player.

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