Before he started managing the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike Matheny wrote a youth baseball manifesto

In 2009, retired St. Louis Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny agree to coach a St. Louis-area youth baseball team. STLToday.com’s Derrick Goold reports that it had to be under his terms, which were faith-inspired and without parent intrusion. The result is the TPX Warriors club, a principles-based baseball program that is helping to change the tenor of local youth sports by focusing more on developing the players into excellent young men than on winning games. And they play in a Field of Dreams-ish field carved into the corn, which is pretty cool.

Here’s how Matheny starts his Manifesto:

I always said that the only team that I would coach would be a team of orphans, and now here we are. The reason for me saying this is that I have found the biggest problem with youth sports has been the parents. I think that it is best to nip this in the bud right off the bat. I think the concept that I am asking all of you to grab is that this experience is ALL about the boys. If there is anything about it that includes you, we need to make a change of plans. My main goals are as follows: (1) to teach these young men how to play the game of baseball the right way, (2) to be a positive impact on them as young men, and (3) do all of this with class.

Read Derrick Goold’s STLToday.com story.
Read the Matheny Manifesto (PDF).

Image from Wikipedia user UCInternational

When should kids start throwing curves and sliders? A vote for the “shave rule”

Wendy Sanny, PT, ATC, from the Athletes’ Training Center in Omaha provides simple guidelines for protecting the arms of youth baseball players. She believes potential superstars, who can be identified as early as eight years old, are at greater risk.

Read Wendy’s Athletes’ Training Center story. (PDF)

Rockies pitchers happy to put 75-pitch count limit behind them

After years of talks and crunching numbers, the Rockies attempted the four-man experiment because their free-fall by June made it a plausible path. It wasn’t so much a failure — the Rockies’ starters numbers improved slightly — as a model impossible to sustain for the season’s first five months.

An army of arms in Colorado Springs — all with minor-league options — would be necessary to make it work. Even future Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, who set a record for bullpen moves in the last World Series, said he didn’t see how a four-man staff on a 75-pitch count could be pulled off long-term.

The idea was to force starters to become more efficient, to understand the value of pitching to contact. Instead, they became prisoners of the pitch count.

Read Troy Renck’s Denver Post story.

Preserving a pitcher’s arm – maybe not rocket science but still inexact

After all these decades of baseball, the best way to preserve and use a pitcher’s arm still is a remarkably inexact science. Injury rates continue to rise, even as methods become more sophisticated.

Pitch count was tracked for the first time in 1988 by Stats, LLC. Since that year, the number of times a starter throws more than 125 pitches has shrunk progressively … and dramatically.

There hasn’t been a season with more than 74 of those games since 2001, after years of triple digits. Still, injury rates climb. So simply limiting the bullets in the gun is no panacea.

Author Matt Spiegel leans toward fusing what Nolan Ryan and the Baltimore Orioles are doing:

You have to throw to be strong, while using something like biomechanics to save your ace from himself.

Read Spiegel’s Daily Herald story.