Editor's Note: Coach Kevin Manero, who along with being an assistant of mine at the high school level, is also an American Legion coach. He is a former high school and Division I pitcher at LaSalle University and is a tremendous baseball guy. Although the team and player names are specific to the suburban Philadelphia area, I think the theme and message from his piece are universal to baseball in America today. This was written on 'Baseball by the Yard' blog.
PAY TO PLAY - THE FINANCES AND THE PROMISES:
Over the last approximately ten years, the concept of AAU baseball, otherwise referred to as Travel Ball or Tournament and Showcase teams, has increased in popularity and diverted many high school age baseball players away from the established, community based American Legion programs.
As I enter my ninth season as an American Legion coach with an admitted bias, I continue to see many families spend inordinate amounts of money on these nouveaux programs, and I feel it is time to speak as a voice for Legion baseball. I am certainly not denouncing all tournament and travel teams (there are always exceptions to every point one may make for or against), and I am also not promulgating praise for every American Legion program, as certainly some need fixing and Legion ball itself is not without its own shortcomings, but before people jump into what may be packaged as a better baseball alternative, there are some points that should be considered and some questions that should be further examined.