Kaz’s Korner 

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

I remember when I was a little kid growing up in Upstate New York and my father would come home from work at exactly 3:50 p.m. every day like clockwork.

Before he sat down to drink the fresh cup of coffee my mother had perked and poured for him, he’d ask me if I wanted to throw some when he finished his traditional cup of coffee.

What he meant was that he was asking me if I wanted to pitch to his catcher’s mitt– something I never remember ever saying no to.

We would do this in our backyard, which began to look like a ball field rather than a yard, two or three times during the week and at least once on the weekend.

Although my father had no coaching experience, he knew exactly when I had enough and would ask my mother to pour him another cup of coffee.

This practice went on for years and as I grew older he had to resort to having a sponge in his huge catcher’s mitt. If the weather was a bit cold or damp, Dad wouldn’t even ask me if I wanted to throw some.

Then one day when I was 14 years old, my father informed me that I’d have to find another catcher because my fast ball was moving all over the place and he was afraid of taking one on the wrist or worse.

But if there was one thing I never had, it was a sore arm. However I was more interested in playing shortstop and third base because I loved to hit.

So I put pitching on the back burner, just throwing every now and then in Babe Ruth League and Connie Mack League and playing third base when I wasn’t pitching. That held true when I was in high school where I started during my freshman year.

During the summers, I was asked to play in the Schenectady Twilight League, which consisted of former professional baseball players, area coaches and college baseball players who were home for the summer. However, I probably was only one of a handful of high school players.

I continued playing in the Twilight League in the summers after high school when I was the starting third baseman for McNeese State, but went back to the mound where I had success against those more experienced players. And still I never had a sore arm.

When I returned to McNeese for my sophomore year I informed our coach that I had pitched all summer long and would like to be member of the Cowboys’ staff. He agreed and told me a team cannot have too many pitchers.

So I finished my four-year career as a member of the McNeese pitching staff and as an all-conference third baseman. And I still never had a sore arm.

Last week the University Interscholastic League’s medical advisory committee recommended a proposal to limit pitch counts and require a specific number of days’ rest for high school pitchers between outings.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the legislative council could adopt it in June, although the measure is more likely a year away from being implemented if it gets approved.

“The maximum number of pitches recommended in a day is 95 for pitchers ages 14-16 and 110 for those17-19. The proposal also allows a pitcher to be back on the mound the next day if he threw 30 or fewer pitches,” the article points out.

“A day’s rest would be required after 31-45 pitches, two days after 46-65 pitches, three days after 66-85 and four days after 86-110.”

The current rule states that a pitcher can’t throw more than 10 innings if he pitches in more than one game in a day.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association is implementing a pitch limit for next season. The maximum per day for varsity players is 120 pitches, 100 for JV and 85 for middle school. There also are required days’ rest between outings at each level.

The state plans to use a computer application to monitor pitch counts via phone, iPad or whatever works easiest for coaches.

Three people keep track at each game—the home and visiting bookkeepers and a neutral third-party “pitch count recorder,” and all have access to the application.

At the end of each inning, the three meet and make sure they’re in agreement on the pitch count. If one is off, the majority rules. If all three differ, the neutral party’s total is the official number.

If the pitch limit is exceeded, the game is forfeited, and a $250 fine is assessed against the violating school.

The big question is—Will a pitch limit work in a state as big as Texas???

KWICKIES…By midnight tonight, I believe the Houston Rockets will be bounced from the first round of the NBA playoffs, after they lose the fourth of five games against the Golden State Warriors.

And speaking of losing, the Houston Astros have done more than their share so far this season. Houston batters are hitting plenty of home runs and have decent batting averages, but they just cannot hit with runners in scoring position. And the starting pitchers are having a hard time getting out of the first inning without surrendering a bunch of runs.

The U.S. Appeals Court ruled in favor of the NFL Monday to re-instate New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for 2016, according to ESPN.

Thirty-nine year-old Pro Tour veteran Charley Hoffman birdied the 72nd hole Sunday afternoon to win the Valero Texas Open by a single stroke over Patrick Reed at TPC in San Antonio. It was the fourth tour win for Hoffman, who pocketed $1.115 million for his effort.

The Lamar Cardinals baseball team swept a Southland Conference weekend series from Houston Baptist at Husky Field. The Redbirds nipped the Huskies 3-1 Friday and then took two from them Saturday 8-0 and 8-6. The sweep upped the Big Red’s SLC record to 14-4 and 29-10 overall.

The three-day 2016 NFL draft begins tomorrow (Thurs.) in Chicago and can be viewed on either the NFL channel or ESPN.

And not to be forgotten, the Kentucky Derby is set to run Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs. I kind of like Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner and as a closer Creator, who stormed from last to first to win the Arkansas Derby on April 16. As usual, it should be a wide-open race.

JUST BETWEEN US…I was doing a crossword puzzle and ran across these clues:

A five-letter word for over-rated—answer Giles.

A five-letter word for not living up to expectations—answer Giles.

A five-letter word for he should be shipped back to the Phillies—answer Giles.

A five-letter word for a person who throws gasoline on the fire—answer Giles.

Conclusion: The Houston Astros made a klunker of a deal to give up five pitchers to obtain Ken Giles as their new closer in the bullpen. His 98-mph. fastball has “hit-me” written all over it, and everyone seems to be doing it.