The Tournament System is Broken

Chances are, there will be a youth baseball tournament held near you this weekend…and next weekend.  Tournaments take on all shapes and sizes…from end of the year local recreation league tournaments to week long excursions against teams from all over the world.

The most common type of tournament is the travel ball “3-Game Guarantee”.  Travel teams within a couple hundred miles will face off with two pool play games on Friday and/or Saturday.  They are then seeded and begin single elimination bracket play on Sunday.

So, teams could play anywhere from three to six games in a weekend depending on how far you advance.  Most travel teams in the 9-14 age range carry about 12 players.  Let’s say you go the distance and end up playing approximately 36 innings.  By the time you reach the championship game, your kids are dragging.  Pitchers are limited to a certain number of innings, but with 11 or 12 players on a roster, those pitchers have to play another position.

How many catchers do you carry?  That eliminates another kid from taking the mound.  Unless one player is capable of catching three games in a day, it probably eliminates two kids from pitching.  Now you are down to 10 pitchers.  I have yet to see a team with 10 different kids that can toe the rubber and consistently get outs.

My point is that you don’t get a true representation of who the best team is at the end of the tournament.  Baseball isn’t meant to be a single elimination game.  Anybody can beat anybody on a given day.

What is the solution?

I know this won’t happen because of the almighty dollar, but humor me for just a minute.  Have a three week tournament with eight teams.  Each round will be a best of three game series.  All teams would play a minimum of six games.  This would give a true representation of which team is clearly the best.