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Aug, 2017

2018 PONY League Rule Changes

The 2017 season just ended, and Santa Monica PONY Baseball is busy getting ready for fall 2017 and spring 2018.  

As our 2017 Fall Baseball Registration continues (HERE!), we wanted to inform you of some new developments.    

The national PONY organization is implementing four new rules in 2018.  Three of them directly affect us.  [In case you're wondering, the fourth rule change relaxes the penalty for using a tee ball bat in a coach- or machine-pitch game, because yes, there was a coach somewhere in the USA who demanded the ejection of a 6 year old and his Manager for using a tee ball bat in a pitch game!]

Please take note of the following three new PONY rules:

Age Change:  PONY has changed the date for determining league age from April 30 to August 31.  Your child will now be placed in the Division as determined by his/her age on August 31.  Little League, Inc., is following suit.  The ultimate effect of this change is to make each Division younger.  

Santa Monica PONY Baseball has implemented this rule beginning with our upcoming fall baseball season.  

New Bat Standard:
 PONY, along with some other youth baseball organizations, has adopted the new USA Baseball bat standard.  Effective January 1, 2018, all bats used in PONY play must satisfy this standard.  The only bats currently in use that satisfy the new standard are -3 (BBCOR certified) bats.  Bats with other drop weights (e.g., -5, -7, -8, -9, -10, -12) will be illegal and not permitted.  Bats complying with the new USA Baseball standard are expected to go on sale after September 1, 2017.   Read what PONY has to say here.  The USA Baseball standard is discussed here.  A bat seller has these thoughts to offer.  

Santa Monica PONY Baseball will implement this rule on January 1, 2018.   

As you make your purchasing decisions, note that USA Baseball and PONY's motivation for this rule change arises from the "goal of establishing a wood-like standard," because, of course, "a wood-like performance standard will best provide for the long-term integrity of the game."

You may discover, as some of our League members already have, that it is most economical simply to purchase and use wood bats in order to reach the stated goal.

Pitch Smart:
 PONY is adopting a program called Pitch Smart that is jointly presented by USA Baseball and Major League Baseball.  Rather than protect pitchers' arms based on the number of innings pitched, this program implements pitch count limits and rest periods based on pitch numbers.  

The danger, of course, is that players, parents, and coaches will treat these pitch count numbers as minimums rather than ceilings (and the rest periods as maximums, not minimums) and have a child with a non- or under-conditioned arm "use up" all his/her pitches based on a one-size-fits-all chart.  We all need to learn and apply an understanding of each player's personal limit and a recognition of other stressors on an arm besides the number of pitches thrown.   

Santa Monica PONY Baseball is well aware that many of our Players are not ready to pitch the number of pitches called for in these new rules.  In our view, the bullet-pointed comments for each age group are at least as important as, if not more important than, the numbers in the chart.  Also, these comments lump the age group 9-12 as one.  Santa Monica PONY Baseball does not recognize such a grouping.  For the 9-10 age group, we encourage our League to hew more closely to the comments for 8 & Under than to the comments for 9-12, particularly in light of the new age rule making each Division younger.  

Beginning with our fall program, Santa Monica PONY Baseball will implement Pitch Smart.  

We are excited for our next season of baseball to start in less than a month.  We look forward to seeing you all at the field!
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