Mitch Williams Takes Leave (of His Judgement)

I never forgave the Atlanta Braves for losing the 1992 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in 6 games. Although after the Philadelphia Phillies allowed the Champs to repeat in 1993, I declared nothing good would ever again come from the City of Brotherly Love… At least in my lifetime.

Therapy eventually allowed me to forgive the Phillies and place the blame for that Series squarely on the fact their closer that night, Mitch Williams, performed perfectly to the level of his self-described scouting report – which was “poor control” and “no idea where the ball was going to end up”.

Pitching success in Major League Baseball is predicated primarily on the ability to consistently throw strikes. But when the Wild Thing was on the mound pitches often entered the strike zone only by accident. Thus it would seem logical for Mitch Williams to start his Little League coaching career by focusing on the basics.

But rather than teaching ten year old kids how to bunt and hit the broad side of a barn at a moment’s notice, Williams apparently fast-forwarded through the fundamentals and allegedly ordered his pitcher to fire a beanball at an opponent.

It was during a Ripken Youth Baseball tournament in New Jersey last Sunday, when Williams, who manages his son’s team, reportedly called the opposing pitcher a “pussy”; an insult that resulted in a heated exchange between both team’s coaches behind home plate

Immediately thereafter the opposing pitcher just happened to get nailed in the ribs with a first pitch fastball to open the inning.

As reports that Williams ordered the beanball began to circulate, outrage ensued, and understandably so. If the accusations are true, Ripken Youth Baseball should terminate the Wild Thing’s budding managerial career before he makes a name for himself in, say…. the Junior Babe Ruth or Connie Mack ranks.

Advocating violent actions against another player in Little League should never be allowed. To his credit, Williams subsequently apologized for his actions last weekend and has taken a leave of absence from his gig as an MLB Network analyst – perhaps to reflect on his behavior.

In the interim he was slightly defiant on Twitter, claiming he didn’t tell his pitcher to bean the opposing player, but merely “to throw inside”. That the kid was able to locate a pitch precisely on demand, and more accurately than his former MLB coach, does sprinkle this unfortunate story with a bit of irony, however.

The real question Mitch Williams needs to ponder during his time away from the MLB Network relates to his judgement. While “pitching inside” is a part of the game at advanced levels, it doesn’t belong in Little League. More importantly, it certainly shouldn’t be suggested to pitchers who haven’t got a grip on their control.

And the ex-Phillie closer, who used to pass out buttons that read: “I SURVIVED WATCHING MITCH PITCH” isn’t the market’s finest professor of pin-point accuracy.


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Testiclees is a free-lance writer from Seattle who goes by Scott Gentry in real life.  You can follow him on Twitter @testeeawards Give us a follow while you’re at it – @LastWordOnSport, and “Like” our Facebook page!

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