PONY Baseball and Softball (i.e. the national PONY organization, not Santa Barbara Pony) has decided to implement an “Age Change” for all Pony players. They have also chosen to not grandfather in players at any level.
What Does This Mean?
The former age cut off to determine each player’s division of play was April 30th. It has now been moved to August 31st. All players born May through August will now be considered one year older and their division of play will be adjusted. Going by the registration lists of Spring 2017, this will impact 163 Santa Barbara players. Here is an example of how this works…a player who will be turning 9 years old in May would previously have been a 1st year Mustang player (see Division details at bottom). That player will now only play one year in Mustang instead of two before they are moved up to the larger field for the Bronco division.
Concerns & Impacts
The concern we have is that many players, especially on the younger end, will not be prepared to handle this higher level of play. The place where this may have the biggest impact is moving players into kid pitch before they are developmentally ready, or moving them up to the larger field before they are physically ready. This could be mitigated by our league allowing players to play down if they feel they need to.
Another impact will be for the All-Star teams. Many of these teams have played as a unit for years, with the occasional addition or subtraction of players based on qualifications. Each of these teams will have their oldest 1/3 move up a division and become ineligible to play with their current team. Many of these teams have put a lot of effort over the years into creating cohesive teams and it has shown in Santa Barbara Pony’s improving All-Star tournament results. The positive impact the age change could have on All-Star teams is team shake-ups may open spots for new players who are interested.
What Can We Do About This?
It is the Board’s responsibility to examine all possible options to ensure we are doing what is best for our 460 (and growing) families.
When the age change became official, we were made aware of another possibility. That possibility is ending our charter with PONY and starting a charter with the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken organization. BR/CR uses very similar rules to PONY Baseball with the one major difference being leading off/stealing/dropped 3rd strike in the 9/10 division. BR/CR has stated that they have no desire to implement an age change at this point in time. They have admitted that there is pressure to do so now that Pony and Little League have done it, but they do not see it being beneficial for them to follow suit. Also, according to their bylaws, they cannot even hold a discussion on the topic until 2020. If we change our charter to CR/BR, most current families would see absolutely no changes in their baseball experience.
The largest hurdle to pass in chartering with CR/BR is that in Southern California, they are a smaller organization than Pony with fewer leagues. This will mostly impact our All-Stars and the 13/14 division. Both would find they would have to travel further for tournament play. The 13/14 division currently partners with various Pony leagues in the Spring season such as Santa Ynez and Ventura. A charter with BR/CR would mean they would be traveling to Simi Valley or would operate like the rest of our divisions and the teams would be playing against each other. As our league grows, and that division grows, that would become less of an issue. But as it currently stands, we may only have 3-4 teams at that level to play amongst themselves.
On 11.29.17, after numerous information meetings and discussions, including discussions with representatives from PONY and Cal Ripken, the board held a vote. The vote came to a tie. It was decided to help our board make a final and informed decision, it would be best to reach out to the families who will be more impacted by any change. Please take a moment to fill out the survey questions you were sent via email. This email should go out no later than 12/5/2017.
Need More Information:
Cal Ripken / Babe Ruth League
Pony Baseball Division Details
Shetland: Ages 5-6
Tee and/or Pitching Machine
Ages 7-8 Pitching Machine, 50′ Base Paths, 38′ Pitching Mound
Ages 9-10 Kid Pitch, 60′ Base Paths, 44′ Pitching Mound
Ages 11-12 Kid Pitch, 70′ Base Paths, 48′ Pitching Mound
Ages 13-14 Kid Pitch, 80′ Base Paths, 54′ Pitching Mound