Our Youth Baseball League is Great! Here’s Why . . .

I hear so many stories and read so many accounts of recreational youth baseball leagues with unhappy parents and significant issues. With every new story, I appreciate my son’s local rec league even more.

This post is for anyone looking for tips to help make their league better, whether as a board member, a manager, a coach, or even a concerned parent who shows up to board meetings occasionally.

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Axe Bat Origin 2016 Review: A sub $100 bat for youth baseball that is awesome

When an average hitter picks up a new bat and immediately starts hitting far more line drives than he ever has before, you know he’s holding a winner in his hands. The Origin Axe is that bat.

Axe Bat Origin cropped image
Origin Axe Bat 2016 (-12) L135C

When my son starting using the 2016 Youth (Drop 12) Origin Axe Bat L135C, it immediately became his favorite bat he’s ever tried. His percentage of line drives and hard hit balls increased substantially. He used to be “that speedy guy” who kept beating out dribblers and grounders to the left side for singles. No more. Now fielders are moving back when he comes up to bat.

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Is Your Kid’s Bat too Heavy? Here’s How to Tell

Whether you are a parent or a coach, by far the easiest way to improve a kid’s real game hitting results is to switch to a lighter and/or smaller bat. Of course, that only works if you first determine that the bat is too long or heavy.

360px-Louisville_Slugger_exterior
Louisville Slugger Museum

This post explains several methods for determining whether a bat is too heavy, starting with a reliable method any parent or player can use without a coach. I used to think it required substantial coaching skill to figure this out. It doesn’t.

Just observe soft toss. If the player hits mostly line drives, the bat is fine. If not, try a lighter bat.

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Why Subscribe to FilterJoe?

FilterJoe is easier to subscribe to than ever. If you’ve enjoyed any of my posts about baseball, batteries, or other topics, please subscribe via Email or RSS, or follow me on Twitter, using the links in this sentence or icons located at top of sidebar (far below on mobile, upper right on notebook/desktop).

Why?

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Best AA Batteries and Chargers: 2016 Update

Fujitsu Charger and 3 batteries
1 AAA and 2 AAA batteries in Fujitsu’s excellent budget charger

Over the past 5 years, I’ve written many articles about pre-charged, low self-discharge AA and AAA rechargeable NiMH batteries. Such batteries, used in conjunction with a high quality charger, offer consumers the best combination of quality, durability, environmental sustainability, and cost-effectiveness, as compared with other types of rechargeable batteries or single-use Alkaline batteries. I explained why in my original AA battery article, and more briefly review below.

In this post I update everything for 2016. I will also update this post with any significant developments for at least 11 additional months.

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The Grinch who Changed to the Twenty Sixteen WordPress Theme

I’m the Grinch who grumbles about every WordPress theme. Except one. After years of resisting change, I finally switched FilterJoe to a modern, responsive theme: Twenty Sixteen—the new default theme included with WordPress 4.4.

Grinch image

An easy-to-read blog matters to me. Nothing WordPress offered in the last 7 years has tempted me away from the child theme I personally put a lot of effort into nearly 7 years ago.

My only temptation has been to leave WordPress for a simpler and more writing-focused platform like Ghost or Medium. While WordPress was for blogging at first, it expanded over the years into content management and an online application platform. The original focus on blogging has been diluted, and WordPress themes often reflect that.

However, WordPress now offers Twenty Sixteen for modern blogging, and it is good.

In this post, I detail how Twenty Sixteen makes me comfortable with it as a wonderfully content-focused blog theme.

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Great Gifts for Kids Who Love Baseball

My son loves baseball and will be entering the 11 to 12-year-old Bronco division of PONY baseball in 2016. I’ve seen a lot of baseball gifts come and go over the years.

gift image from https://pixabay.com/p-307776

Here’s a gift guide aimed at baseball-loving kids below the age of 11, broken down by age, so you can benefit from my 20/20 hindsight and hopefully get an idea or two. I purposely skip books as I already wrote about great baseball books elsewhere.

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More Fun is More Effective in Youth Baseball

My son really enjoyed the year I managed his 9-10-year old baseball team. When I asked him what he liked so much, he said that I was good at organizing. But that’s not what this post is about.

He especially liked that practices were really fun. He takes baseball very seriously. Yet, at age 9, he wanted practices to be fun . . .

Cubs players dog pile
“Of course I want to have fun!” says Milo

In this post I describe how I organized 9-year-old youth baseball practices for fun. Even if you aren’t a coach, there’s a few things here you can do at home with your little leaguer, though some of them require another kid or two.

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Magic the Gathering Guide for Keeping Costs Low While Still Having Fun

Magic the Gathering is a very popular collectible card game. Kids and adults who seriously pursue this game will stretch their minds and have loads of fun. However . . .

Magic the Gathering can be very expensive.

Some people end up spending thousands of dollars per year buying cards or participating in drafts. There is a collectible aspect to the game that can become more like addictive gambling or playing the lottery, leading to the phrase “cardboard crack.” Some people open hundreds or even thousands of packs of cards per year.

This post was inspired by a conversation with a worried parent and was initially intended as a parent guide, explaining how to get most of the fun and benefits of playing Magic while spending no more than the cost of a typical board game along with several expansions. The intent was also to approach the cost aspect of Magic as a tremendous financial learning experience far beyond the typical benefits of games.

However, now that I’ve finished this guide, I think it’s also useful for newer Magic players of all ages who want to maximize fun and minimize cost.

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Do Hitting Mechanics Matter in Youth Baseball?

It depends.

Sure, there’s a few rudimentary basics that everyone has to learn such as bat grip, batting stance, hip rotation, keeping your back foot planted, and keeping your eye on the ball. Beyond that it gets confusing fast.

Muhl Tech Tee helps develop better mechanics by discouraging casting or dropping the bat head

Should coaches spend a lot of time teaching hitting mechanics during practices and give tips during game at-bats? Should kids take private hitting lessons? Will spending time improving hitting mechanics have an immediate impact on game performance? With all the disagreement among pros about finer points of hitting technique, how to even know which mechanics are correct? Do mechanics even matter all that much if you have the right mental approach and a good batting eye?

I’ve been confused about this topic for years. My 10-year-old son recently began taking private hitting lessons for the first time, which helped me sort out why and when mechanics matter. I’m ready to share what I’ve learned.

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