Friday, December 28, 2007

Give Us Your Resolutions


We are a little late with our post today. Holiday Air traffic delayed us quite a bit. I don't like airports this time of year. With all of those crowds, lines, traffic, people with their bags of presents they are bringing home from Grandma's house, and with airports these days mimicking the look of shopping malls, my wife said it reminded her of the shopping weekend after Thanksgiving. So, in the spirit of that Black Friday weekend, I found a Friday's in the airport, had a beer and watched a football game...This time however, my wife joined me.

My colleagues and I had a post ready for New Year resolutions all ready to go...but we decided that we would like to hear from our readers too! What would you like to see changed or improved upon in 2008 as it relates to your son's high school team, travel team, the state of showcases and camps, baseball in general, or even your son himself.

E-mail us at roundingthirdstaff@gmail.com and we will compile all of those for our December 31 post.

RT Staff

Thursday, December 27, 2007

High School Coaches Role Revisited


RT Staff Note: One of our favorite web sites to browse is High School Baseball Web. There are some regulars that post on that site that really know how to put things into perspective. One of the recent threads deals with the age old issue about the role of the high school coach as it relates to recruiting. That's a subject we posted a month ago and it's been reprinted on several travel team web sites since, including one of our Top 5 teams, Norcal Baseball. According to our analytics research, we also get a lot of readers from HS Baseball Web, so we decided that since it is top of mind with many baseball parents, we should reprint this post...Enjoy!

Reprinted from November 26, 2007 post...
We have received dozens of suggestions via e-mail on a follow-up to last weeks article on high school coaches. There have also been many discussions on various national and regional message boards about the role of the high school coach when it comes to promoting players to the next level. So over the past several years, we have heard just about every argument and opinion, good and bad. Everyone seems to have a personal story, some of them extremely touching and some not, about an experience they had with a high school coach. Therefore, everyone seems to have an opinion about what the HS coaches role should be...so do we.

In our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to coach...period. Now, let's define the term "coach". High schools coaches see their players nearly every day of the school year...depending on their status at that school. By that, we mean many head coaches are also teachers. So those coaches influence on their players are in many cases, a bit more involved. Despite the restrictions many state High School associations have on off-season practices, a full time teacher/coach will encourage his players to buckle down in school, practice on their own, and open up the facilities for off-season conditioning. During the season, the role of the coach is dedicated to molding his players into fundamentally sound, disciplined, smart, competitive ball players. His job is to make sure that those players taking the field are the nine best players he has seen in action at that point. Those nine can and probably will change throughout the season because good high school coaches will always create that kind of competitive atmosphere. And, no matter what combination of nine players are on that field, they will be the most competitive nine at that given time. That's what high school baseball is all about. High School coaches are a huge influence in the development of baseball players and the better coaches take this role very seriously. This is a full time job that is not only emotionally draining, but these decisions often come with the baggage of over-zealous parents and other critics as well.

So with that in mind, we do not think his role should be that of recruiting facilitator on top of all of the aforementioned duties. It doesn't mean he is not a part of the process...he is, but just in a reduced role...more later...This is usually where the critics seem to disagree. If this question was asked 25 years ago, we would have said, sure...the high school coach should be involved. Today however, the rules of the recruiting game have changed. The high school season is not a time when college recruiters can realistically observe players. Most college recruiters are assistant coaches and are too busy with their own schedules to find the time to go see a high school game. There are exceptions in areas like Houston, the North Carolina Research Triangle area, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area where their are 6 or more D-1 schools within an hours drive. Even then, unless it's a big time tourney like Southern California's Phil Nevin Classic or Florida's Lincoln National Spring Break Invitational, which features a multitude of potential recruits, it isn't cost effective for a recruiter to take the time away from his own teams duties to go see one or two players.

Therefore, the job of recruiting coordinator falls upon the families themselves, with a boost from their travel/select baseball organizations. Families must remember, if baseball wasn't in the picture, the application process would be 100% on the student. The same should apply WITH baseball in mind. That doesn't mean that parents shouldn't seek out additional help...For instance, many good showcase or travel teams have great databases of college recruiters e-mails and snail mail addresses available. Players and their parents should also ask the travel team coaches to help assist them with the proper format for a profile sheet. Many of the top travel programs, like the teams we profiled in our "Top 5" list last month, will even send out material for their players prior to a big showcase and while at the tourney, do a little tub-thumping on behalf of their players. However, student/athletes still need to send out their own letters and e-mails to every school on their wish list. A player must take that initiative...if for no other reason, to show the coaches that he has a vested interest in the recruitment process.

Now, here's where the high school coach comes back into play...and where our article last week needs to be taken seriously by both the HS and travel coaches... If a college recruiter has an interest in a player, there are two references he WILL phone or e-mail. One is the travel coach...the other is the High School Coach. A good travel teams M-O is to get their players placed, so that phone call is a no-brainer. The unknown in many cases is the reaction of the high school coach. It's not his fault...he didn't see his player play in the summer showcases...But, he should either seek out or be given that information...For instance, a player may not have had a great High School season, but really showed his mettle during the summer against better competition that really impressed a college recruiter. Depending on the High School League, some top players actually under perform at the plate during the HS season because they are ahead of or are over swinging at the slower and inconsistent pitching. The opposite also occurs, where a player may hit his stride and be MVP of his High School team, but can't come close to catching up with the faster, more controlled pitching of the travel tourneys.

So, in our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to follow-up with the travel team coaches to get assessments of his players progress. A high school coach must know that the high school season is half of that players time on a field. He needs to know about the other half or summer season as well, so when he gets that phone call from a college recruiter about one of his players, he can base that particular players assessments based on all of the facts...or at least give the college recruiter an idea of his players progression. A High School Coach should never say a player is not ready for the next level based on half of that players season...especially when that recruiter saw him play in the summer and the HS coach did not...and evidently that has happened on occasion, based on e-mails we have received.

Bottom line...A college recruiter wouldn't even waste his time calling a High School Coach if that recruiter didn't see something positive in that particular player. These guys know what to look for and know what they want. At the very least a high school coach should talk about potential or that players projectablity if he doesn't want to talk to travel coaches for whatever reason. But, we feel that it is in the best interest of all parties for all coaches to know all of the facts before they say anything to a recruiter.

And, likewise, we also feel that it is equally the responsibility of the travel organization to help break the ice and call the high school coaches and give them an assessment of their players progress and interest from colleges throughout the summer. And, as our last "Synergy" article suggested, this contact between the two should happen before the summer season starts as well. Once that is done...then hopefully it will become an annual ritual...all for the betterment of the player and baseball in general.

RT Staff (post your comment below by clicking the word "comments")

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Many Happy Returns


The day after Christmas is a big return day for all of the ugly ties, sweaters and and odd trinkets that relatives that didn't know what to give you, gave you something that they didn't really like themselves, but for some reason felt that you would never notice. Yeah OK, it hardly makes sense...but then, neither did the gift.

And, speaking of returns...from a baseball perspective (the only perspective that matters on this site)...the Christmas break is a great time for underclassmen to return all of those college profile sheets that the recruiters sent you a few weeks back. Unlike the relatives "thought that counts" gifts, the coaches and recruiters sent your sons stuff that is really valuable and important to follow up on.

Get In Their Database
The most important reason to fill out those profile sheets is to get on the colleges regular mailing list. That mailing list will provide your son with some useful information about their team, coaching philosophies, player updates and games and weekend series results. This will allow your son to make an educated decision about what kind of team they really are. Those mailers will also inform your son about key camps to attend. If your son is interested in that college, then it may be a good idea to attend that particular camp.

What To Add
While the profile sheets will give the college recruiters some basic information about your son, they are but a fraction of what is needed for them to make any kind of judgement about his abilities. This time of year is somewhat of a downtime for the coaches and an opportunity for them to view SkillShow tapes, stats, read any recommendations from past coaches, review his travel ball history and accolades, or read his upcoming varsity schedule. Make sure your son accompanies any correspondence with a personal letter directed at one person and not an entire staff. Your son should never send out generic letters. That's something that coaches would expect out of their insurance company at Christmas , but not from one of their potential recruits.

Follow-up on the Follow-up
It doesn't end there! This process is like interviewing for a job. Persistence can pay big dividends. Have your son follow up with his work-out routines and any goals he achieved in conditioning such as 60 times, or increasing his 1 RM. As the season progresses and he starts to compile stats, send those updates or send the coach links to articles or school web site summaries.

But it all starts now. Send those profile sheets in. Do NOT procrastinate. There are dozens of stories from people we know that didn't follow up and well, neither did any coaches.

RT Staff

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!


The Staff at Rounding Third would like to wish every one of our fans and readers a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods


As we travel great distances this holiday week, we want to thank the grandparents across the country that travel with their grandchildren when mom and dad had to work, or couldn't be there. All of us have real jobs and to support our children's dreams, and sometimes we have to miss a tournament or two or three. Stepping in to sacrifice their emptynester lives are the grandparents. Their unique brand of nurturing and calmness is always a welcome addition to any baseball event. They are the true elder statesmen and women in the stands. As we all have witnessed, those bleachers can be brutal at times with well intentioned, but overzealous parents. We are all guilty. But grandma and grandpa...they know better. Maybe it's because they have been there too and after years of study and introspect, they have come to realize that all that emotion is just not worth it. We could all learn from that. In a few moments, I myself am about to toast an eggnog with one of those supporting elders. Part of that toast on a cold Christmas Eve morning, is to thank him for being there for my son and above all, an added positive influence before and after every game. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa.

We will not be posting tomorrow...not that you'd be reading this blog anyway...so, have a Very Happy Holiday!!!

RT Staff

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Senior Year" Book Review


Hey, we even do book reviews on this site. Next thing you know, we'll be endorsing political candidates and hosting wine parties. Yeah Right!!!

It helps that the subject of this particular book is all about baseball and a father and son's trials and tribulations in the quest for a college scholarship. Sound familiar? Since many baseball families are probably scratching their heads about what to give Dad for his Holiday gift...we are going to make it a bit easier on you. Buy this book!

In his job as columnist for the Boston Globe, Dan Shaughnessy’s beat covers everything Red Sox and then some. Google him. He is a great sportswriter for the Globe. In Senior Year, Shaughnessy looks into his own backyard and chronicles a season in the life of his son, Sam, a talented and somewhat typical teenager who plays for the Newton North High School baseball team.

While it's not Pulitzer or even a Oprah book of the month material, it's a great family read and dad's and their son's will really connect with this real life memoir. Shaughnessy writes eloquently on a variety of family and male bonding moments that bring together and tear apart at the same time into the fabric of suburban American life. There is father-son relationship, player-coach-team chemistry, and an upscale, typical New England suburban community rallying around their high school sports. What separates this book from most sports autobiographies is Shaughnessy’s tell it like it is look at his own reality show family.

Sam, like most of your own sons, is a senior in high school and is regarded as a potential college athletic scholarship prospect. However, in the words of his mother, he is still a kid, and lackadaisically acts, reacts and plows around the house like one. As a teenager, Sam faces doubts about his baseball ability and experiences some minor, but crucial personality clashes with his coach. Off the field, he struggles a bit with his grades, and parental authority issues that bring to center stage his relationship with his family. Like many of our own lives growing up, it all ends well enough, but the road that got them there is as if someone was writing a book about our own lives. The showcases, camps and the roller coaster post games that turn from joy one game to agony the next are all a part of a good read from a great Boston Sportswriter. That alone, makes this story much more of a delight to read. It doesn't matter if a parent is high profile, middle class, or working class, we are all parents and this book shows how there are no classes when it comes to raising an athlete.

Shaughnessy shows his range in this book. He shifts his expertise as a writer of high profile, independent, spoiled athletes, to local, naive, dependent kids without missing a beat. He hits a homerun in his depiction of the sometimes chaotic life of a teen and his family...and, hit home when he describes throughout, how he, as a father, was constantly concerned throughout that senior year, for the well being of his son.

Get this book...it's a great travel book and a easy read for the whole family.

RT Staff Note: We will be traveling ourselves next week, but the magic of the internet will allow us to post...but not on Christmas. Depending on our schedules, we may write some original posts, but also may re-visit some old repeats as well. And, be sure to show some of your family members our NLI lists, if your son is listed. They should get a kick out of that. Happy Holidays!!!
RT Staff

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Travel Teams Put Up Some Crooked Numbers

RT Staff Note: Some teams added more NLI signees since we first posted this article...So, we changed the post a bit.

Most of the Early Signing NLI's are in and it's no surprise who the winning states are. Our largest state, California has the most signess with 142, followed by Texas at 91 and Florida with 76. Just 28% of the states (warm weather states) had nearly 65% of the signees, although some frost belt states, New York, Missouri, Indiana and Pennsylvania had some significant numbers as well.

The travel team with the most NLI signees is the All American Prospects. They had an astounding 23 players sign NLI's. They also had 4 AFLAC All Americans. Second was the Richmond County Baseball Club in New York with 21 signees, followed by the ABD Bulldogs of Southern California with 18 NLI signings and 2 AFLAC All Americans, NORCAL in Northern California (Bay Area) with 17 players and the Houston Heat with 16. Other notables were San Gabriel Arsenal of Southern California with 14 NLI signings and 4 AFLAC All Americans. The powerhouse, East Cobb Baseball Club also had 4 AFLAC All Americans and some big numbers as did the Houston Banditos (They have the most impressive intro to any web site we have seen), Boys of Baseball, Midland Redskins, and the South Florida Bandits (no web site).

There are still some colleges that have not posted their NLI signings and that puzzles us a bit. Big Schools too...Oklahoma, Kansas are a few of the teams. We at Rounding Third are the anti-technophiles and we have never missed a blog posting since we started this in October. And we have real jobs to boot. It's curious that a coach wouldn't want to announce his roster, his signings and update his web site, especially if they did sign players. We don't care if there is snow on the campus grounds. This is an event in a players and his families life that means the world to them and it should be recognized by that school when it happens.

There are also some travel teams and high schools that haven't listed their players signing either. Many of these kids put a lot of blood sweat and tears into these programs and you'd think a little recognition would be in order. Hey guys, it's not that hard. We stink at technology and we have a pretty cool web site!!! Anyway, we estimate that there are still about 50-75 missing names out there, so if you know anyone that signed and is not on our list, e-mail us at roundingthirdstaff@gmail.com. If the school or travel team won't do it, then we will.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Q&A with Baseball Coach Tim Corbin


RT Staff Note: We found this article on CSTV and Coach Corbin answers some great questions as it relates to his decision to attend a D-III, college baseball's popularity and other issues we have touted on this web site for the past few months. Enjoy!

VUcommodores.com
Vanderbilt baseball head coach Tim Corbin responds to your questions submitted on VUcommodores.com earlier this month.

What are your takes on some of the important new rules? How will they affect the Commodore program and the game as a whole?
I don't think they'll impact our program as much as some others that deal with a lot of junior college recruiting. It would be more state school than private school affected. I'm most against the new rules that affect the way scholarship money is delegated. Now, we have to give a minimum of 25 percent of a scholarship towards an individual. I don't think when you go 11.7, that's probably not the best thing when you're being given a small amount of money and being told how to spend it, too. I'm also against the 35-man roster because with the Major League Draft signing date being August 15th, there's going to be a lot of late signs and a coach won't really have a grip on what the roster size is going to be.

Will the team wear the throwback uniforms more this season?
We've got a couple of other uniform options we'll implement. The kids like the throwback uniforms because they're comfortable. We'll wear them again, even though they didn't bring us good luck at the end of the year.

Have redshirt decisions been made for any of the new players?
No. I won't make redshirt decisions until leading up to the first game because there are so many questions about which young kids will play for us and who won't. With redshirting decisions, the player makes that decision. I don't. We might suggest it, but when they
get to that point, they determine whether or not to redshirt.

Who was the best looking pitcher on the team from 2003-2006 (submitted by former picther Matt Buschmann)?
In my tenure here, we've only had two good-looking pitchers: John Scott and Ryan Mullins.

What college did you attend and why?
I went to Ohio Wesleyan, a Division III school, because it was my best opportunity to play college baseball since I wasn't recruited by any large schools.

Can college baseball ever get the same respect as football and basketball?
It can get the same respect, but it won't generate the same type of revenue. What most people don't know is that college baseball is second in revenue for the NCAA next to men's college basketball, so it already does a fair job of bringing in dollars. I would say the level of its growth will continue to increase because of TV. ESPN in the last three years has taken an active role in putting the Regionals and Super Regionals on TV. The College World Series is going to be rescheduled to make it a more fan-friendly event on TV. I can see a lot of upward movement with the sport.

Who will be the stiffest competition for Vanderbilt in the SEC in 2008?
All of them. There are 11 teams. I think it's a miss-mash. South Carolina and Kentucky will be very good. I think now we're at a point when there is no lower tier in the conference. Everyone is right in the middle. If anyone has any weaknesses, they will be exploited quickly.

Should Vanderbilt be considered the favorite to repeat as SEC Champions?
I don't know if we're the favorite or not. Our goal is to win the SEC. It just matters what we do on the field.

Great high school baseball players today have a significantly high chance of signing a pro baseball contract immediately out of high school. Many coaches recruit these great players but don't land all of them on campus. What is your philosophy on this and how much time do you invest recruiting great players given the slim likelihood of them going to a college campus?
I never think in recruiting we're ever going to lose one person. If we do, it's a complete surprise to me because we go into this doing research on the kids, regardless of how highly they're rated. The bottom line is if they're going to show up or not. At a private school like Vanderbilt, it affords us the chance to keep kids that would not normally end up in school. The kids we recruit really value the academic experience of Vanderbilt. There's a reason why kids want to come to Vanderbilt.

How are you planning to replace the many innings David Price pitched in 2008?
With another pitcher. He threw 133 innings. Mike Minor threw 90 innings. I would expect Minor to pitch about 130 innings. We'll slide someone up to Minor's amount of innings. When you lose people, you don't replace them, but you have to replace the innings they pitch. With that, you give people like Caleb Cotham, Taylor Hill, or Steven Schwartz an opportunity to pitch. These are new names and bodies to fans but not to us. They're capable of pitching well.

What are the plans to add additional seating to Hawkins Field? We're working on that right now. There will be temporary seating this year in the outfield, but within a year, there will be permanent seating in the outfield going from the foul pole to the Green Monster.

What did you take away from the Michigan series in the Regional that might benefit the team this year?
I don't know if we take anything away, but the atmosphere and competition was what I expected. It was great for the kids to participate in it. As I've always told the kids, `sometimes you've got to knock on the door before you bang through it.' That's what we did last year. It was our first opportunity to host a Regional. I say we played relatively well. There were a lot of different things that happened in the last game that didn't allow us to go further. There are no excuses. The better team won and moved on to the Super Regionals. From that comes a learning experience. Hopefully from what we learned, we'll be able to get through that stretch this year.

If the season started today, how would the rotation stack up behind Minor? How have Cotham and Hill progressed?
I think the rotation would be Minor, Brett Jacobson, Nick Christiani, and then Cotham. That's what we're looking at. I think the roles could change depending upon who steps forward and ends up becoming a closer for us, someone that can finish a game. Right now, those four have stepped to the forefront. Hill is doing very well. Hill will serve some type of role we haven't decided upon yet. I like him a lot, trust him, and he's going to be out on the mound.

What role do you see Drew Hayes in this season?
He could be middle relief or close. We have to see where his comfort level is. I think he likes to close and likes to finish. He's got a very good arm and good stuff. I like what he brings to the table as far as ability, but we have to get him comfortable and see where he fits best. He will have a role though.

Story Courtesy of CSTV-A CBS Company

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chip Off the Old Block


Many fathers dream of their kids getting into the family business after they graduate and this years 2008 crop of seniors does indeed include the sons and nephews of some former Major Leaguers ready to make their own mark in dad's old career. Here's a list of the names we recognized. Be free to add any others in our comment section that we may have missed.

Jason Brunansky-University of Kansas- OF
Jason is the son of former long time Twin and Cardinal slugger Tom Brunansky. Here's a tidbit of trivia about Tom. After a brief holdout while he considered attending Stanford University, Brunansky signed with the Angels after Richard Nixon, a close friend of team owner Gene Autry, helped negotiate a then-unheard-of $125,000 contract. One of seven players with 20 or more homers each season from 1982 to 1987 and one of six to play 150 or more games each of those six years, he was also Minnesota's active home run leader, fourth overall, when traded to St. Louis for Tommy Herr in April, 1988.

Of Jason, KU Head Coach Ritch Price said "He's an excellent outfielder, and a good base-runner with a plus arm. He will contend for a starting spot in center field early in his career at KU." Good Luck Jason!

Cutter Dykstra- UCLA- SS
Cutter is the son of Lenny Dykstra who was Nicknamed "Nails" for his scrappy style of play, Lenny Dykstra did everything all out -- he worked hard and played hard. An integral member of the brash Mets of the mid-1980s and the blue-collar Phillies of the early 1990s, Dykstra epitomized the gritty leadoff hitter, blossoming to use power as well as speed in his repertoire.

UCLA Head Coach John Savage says of Cutter: "Cutter is one of the best athletes in the country. He can run and hit as well as any high school player. Cutter has a tremendous future at UCLA and is one of those players that really knows the game. He brings energy to the field every day." Sounds familiar...Go Get em Cutter!

Beau Brett- USC- 1B
Yeah, that Brett. Although this is the son of Bobby, George and the late Ken Bretts brother. Bobby played a little professional ball and is now the managing partner for the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League and also involved with the High Desert Mavericks (California League) and the Tri-City Dust Devils (Northwest League). We've seen Beau play and he throws right and has that legendary left handed swing just like uncle George.

USC Head Coach Kreuter on Brett: "Beau is a three-sport star in Washington. He is a lean, dangerous left-handed hitter with better than average power. He comes from a rich baseball lineage, ready to come out and make a name for himself. Beau's athleticism will allow him to battle for immediate playing time at several positions. Look for Beau to carve out some history of his own at USC."

Tyler Bream-Liberty University- 3B/1B/RHP Son of Sid Bream. The lanky, lefthanded first baseman came to Pittsburgh in the 1985 Bill Madlock deal. A career .329 hitter in the minors, Bream set a NL record with 166 assists at first base in 1986, his first full season, and finished third in the league in doubles.

Liberty Head Coach Jim Toman on Bream: “Tyler Bream is a very good player. His commitment is special to us because he obviously has Liberty roots and he was the first commitment of the new staff.

Kevin Eichorn-Santa Clara University P/SS
Son of Mark Eichorn, who spent 13 years in the bigs, mostly with the Blue Jays and Angels as a middle reliever. In 1986, Mark posted a 14-6 record with a 1.72 ERA with Toronto. In 1993, he got a ring for being a part of the bullpen for the World Champion, Joe Carter and the Blue Jays dramatic series win.

Santa Clara Coach O'Brien on Eichhorn: "Kevin is one of the best two way players in the nation. He is talented on the mound and in the infield, and he will do both here. We expect him to make a major impact in this program."

Michael Aldrete- UC Davis-SS
Son of catcher Mike Aldrete of the Giants, Expos, Indians and Angels. Mike was traded by the Angels to the Yankees for Rich Monteleone and played 32 games with the World Champion Yankees in 1996.

UC Davis Head Coach Rex Peters on Aldrete: "Michael can really flash the leather and knows the game. He may be one of the best defensive players we've ever signed at UC Davis."

Cameron Seitzer-University Of Oklahoma-IF
Son of Kevin Seitzer who made his big-league debut as a September call-up in 1986 with the Royals. He made it to the majors to stay in 1987, where he started the season as the Royals' regular first baseman. He traded positions with Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett later in the season, in hopes of reducing Brett's chances of injury. Seitzer hit .323 with 15 home runs and 207 hits in his rookie 1987 season and, though overshadowed by fellow rookie teammate Bo Jackson, he was selected to the American League All-Star team. One of Seitzer's highlights of the season was a 6-for-6 performance on August 2 in a 13-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox; he became only the second Royal (after Bob Oliver in 1969, the franchise's inaugural season) to collect six hits in a nine-inning game.

No info on the Sooner website...Shame on you Sooner coaches! However, a rivals web site had this to say...In verbally committing to the Sooners, Cameron passed on offers from Dartmouth, Columbia, the University of St. Louis, and several junior colleges in the area. He was also being recruited by Arizona State.
"I wasn't really influenced by anyone to go to Oklahoma, except maybe my dad." Cameron said. "He absolutely loved the place. He also thought the coaches had a really good idea about the game which meant a lot to me."


RT Staff

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bits and Bytes


What’s In A Word?
In lieu of the testimony handed down implicating Roger Clemens, the researchers and scientists that are responsible for the creation of the chemicals are now being referred to as Rocket Scientists and the drugs, Rocket Fuel.

National Coalition of Anti Academics (NCAA)
Trim the roster, play more games per week, shorten the season, hand out the fewest scholarships of all the sports at the university, discourage any chances of attending summer school, don't transfer, especially if it's in your best interest...and... we want you all to get better grades, graduate on time…and oh yeah, we just signed a big fat extension with ESPN, so smile when your mug is on TV.

Testing 1..2..3..
This is finals week for many high school students. No slacking guys! We’d like to think that all of the TV networks had that in mind when they switched to re-run mode last week. Fat chance they are that in-touch with reality…Nevertheless, take advantage of absolutely nothing worth watching on all 500 channels and STUDY! The better the grades, the better the chance of getting into the school you really want to attend.

R and R
After all of the fall and winter strength and conditioning most of you focused on this semester, enjoy the holidays with some good old fashion couch potatoing. You may want to throw in a push up or a crunch in there every once in a while, but overall, this is a good time to relax. It will make you fresh and ready to pick it up again once school starts up again.

New Year, New Start
While it’s the home stretch for 2008 grads, the New Year marks a new beginning to sophomores and juniors ready to crack their high school line-up. Set goals, have a plan and work hard to achieve them. Here’s a little advice. Be the first to work-outs, , the first dressed and the first on the field. Be the one that works the hardest and really try to stand out. It helps if you have the talent to back it up, but having the heart goes a long way too.

RT Staff

Friday, December 14, 2007

Will America Ever Learn?


RT Staff Note: We altered this post for release to the press and it was published in over a dozen newspapers and web sites in the U.S. Here's the version we released to the national press:

America, it’s time to wake up! There is a distinct difference between Ambition and Greed. Really…Daniel Webster said so. Ambition is everything that good parents of baseball players, their high school coaches, and summer programs try to preach to our kids. Webster defines it as: a desire to achieve a particular end…a desire for activity or exertion. That means that ambitious people have a plan and exert themselves through a disciplined work ethic to get there.

Greed is something altogether different…defined as: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed. The key words in the definition of Greed are: "more of something than is needed". The desire to achieve that "something more" is so distorted, that there are people that will pull strings, bend rules and yes, even cheat to get it. And, we never seem to learn the consequences that result from our greed. Have we forgotten the pain inflicted from the Enron debacle and dot-com insanity earlier this decade? Are we aware that this same greed has fueled today’s mortgage crisis and fuel prices? We seem to have these demons that draw us to more than is needed. Likewise, in our baseball world, Barry and the Rocket already had the HOF locked up prior to the year 2000….They didn’t need to feed the greed. Now they must face the consequences.

Are we really that clueless to the differences between Ambition and Greed? Do we understand the anguish and hurt our ignorance can inflict? Has the Fox Network dumbed some of us down so much that we can’t even differentiate good from evil anymore. Are we really dumber than a fifth grader? Isn’t it time to learn from our repeated mistakes and just face the truth?

The problem with todays celebrities and athletes is that everyone seems to take the Nixonesque "I Am Not A Crook" approach to their social responsibilities. If the athletes in question did steroids or HGH, then they need to say they did it, say they are sorry, and then, set up youth programs and foundations with the millions they made from their suped up bodies and educate America's youth that it's wrong to cheat, lie and take shortcuts. There have been other athletes, but Magic Johnson comes immediately to mind as a prime example of what to do when confronted with a social issue. He didn't hide. He initiated a foundation. According to his web site...

"The mission of the Foundation is to identify and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health, and social needs of children, young adults and inner-city communities throughout the nation. MJF also donates needed funds to organizations that provide HIV/AIDS prevention and health care education to the minority community."

Some media outlets have asked the athletes to step down or for baseball to ban them from future HOF consideration. However, rather than stepping down, the best way to make an impact for the future of the game is to have the athletes step up! The higher road for the "accused" athletes to take is telling the TRUTH and use their celebrity to stop this runaway train of performance enhancing drug use. Denying it is almost like endorsing it, by teaching kids that hiding will make all their troubles go away. And, in our rapidly decreasing, sound bite induced attention spans, maybe that's true...but it certainly is not RIGHT!!!

RT Staff

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baseball Like It Ought To Be


We are writing this prior to the release of the Mitchell report and we are bit saddened that baseball has come to this. Why did players, who were the very best at their position, team, division and in some cases, their league have to take a drug to become even better. It wasn't enough that they made it to the big show. They had to be show stoppers as well. Big muscle bound freaks that hit, pitched and played with prodigious ability that defied logic.

Why did we get to that point? It's not that we got bored of the way baseball was being played on the field. It was the way the game played out in the front offices. The strikes and hold-outs did make us mad, but we would have gotten over it eventually. But after those strikes, they took OUR game, the game we played on sandlots and urban streets and listened to on the front porches of America on transistor radios and turned it into a big-business empire. And that would have been OK too, but to fast forward the game back into the black, they (The Owners and Big Media) Rupport Murdoched (euphemism for sensationalized) baseball. And, we drank the Kool-Aid.

Why did they have to mess with the game? It was great the way it was. We didn't mind the many years that separated The Babe's records from Maris and Aaron, or that a Bob Gibson or Koufax came around every decade or so. In the 70's, the small market A's and Reds dynasties combined with the Royals AL West dominance, succeeded with speed, grit and hustle. Games were won with opposite field hits, sacrifices, bunts, Ricky Henderson stealing home and Pete Rose stretching a single into double. Yet, somewhere along the line, some front office guy decided that hustle was out and muscle was in and the next thing we know, we have a countdown graphic on ESPN for the Mitchell Report.

If there is anything to take from this, it's that there are never any substitutes for an honest, hard work ethic. The harder you work, the easier it can get...not always, but giving it your best, honest shot pays dividends after the baseball career is over and will make it easier to adapt that ethical standard in your work and with family and friends.

RT Staff

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Prep TV


Have you noticed that more and more high school games are being televised nationally? This fall, every weekend was filled with national football games of the week on ESPN or Fox Sports Net. ESPN is televising HS basketball with regularity now. It wasn't too long ago, we thought it was over the top when they televised Lebron James' St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) teammates upend top-ranked Oak Hill Academy at Cleveland State University in 2002. So, can televised high school baseball be far behind?

High school football and basketball games are televised usually to showcase a team or a group of players that have national prominence. These player rankings are compiled by popular online services like Rivals and publications such as Rise that are distributed throughout high schools across America. Baseball too, has it's stars and player rankings that are posted on online sites such as Perfect Game and Student Sports/Rivals....for a price...but posted nevertheless. And many of you reading this that are on travel teams, have probably seen many of those top ranked players play at the WWBA, JO's, USA Baseball Nationals or a PG national showcase. Therefore, like basketball and football, the interest and awareness of these players is there.

Should the networks televise the games then? I'm sure if they decided to give it a try, there would initially be a backlash ala Lebron's TV debut...but now that we are used to high school basketball and football telecasts, I'm sure we could get used to baseball on the tube as well.

ESPN wouldn't even have far to travel. The East Coast has plenty to offer. Amazingly, St Johns College High School in our Nations Capital has NINE players committed to D-I's including AFLAC All-American Scott Silverstein and North Carolina bound LJ Hoes. We're not sure that there has ever been a high school team signing that many players. If it indeed is a record...well, we're not network programmers, but to us, that would make a pretty good storyline.

Regionally, there could be some great match-ups made just for TV. Florida's Amercian Heritage with SIX D-1's and TWO AFLAC All-Americans in Eric Hosmer and Adrian Nieto could be pitted against in-state power Lake Brantley with FOUR D-I's signed. Back up East, Don Bosco Prep (FOUR D-I Signees) and last years pre-season #1, Seton Hall Prep (THREE Signees) could provide a battle of the Jersey Boys.

And then there are the loaded tournaments like the Phil Nevin Classic (CA) or Lincoln National Spring Break Invitational, (FL) which are sure to bring in national talent. Would you watch High School baseball on national TV? Do You WANT High School Baseball on National TV? How would your son feel if his team had the chance to play in front of a national TV audience? Personally, we think it could be great for the overall perception and popularity of youth baseball in general. Do you realize how big ABC's College Game Day with Herbstreet and the Boys is to the colleges that they visit? College fans beam with excitement and pride when these guys visit their campus. Can that be duplicated at the high school level...YES...Click on St. Edwards of Ohio's web site...Do you THINK they were excited to have ESPN coverage? It certainly makes for an interesting discussion.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Putting Things Into Perspective


One of our contributors had a converstaion over the weekend at a Christmas party about how ridiculous the lengths parents go in travel baseball. She went on to say that the money spent on travel, coaches, tournaments, was out of hand and that she would never do that for her son. Her son, although a good athlete, preferred music. My colleague then asked her how she supported her son's passion for music. She replied that there were music lessons, acoustic and electric guitar purchases, travel and fees to battle of the band contests, music camps and a college recruitment expert to help them apply for the right music scholarship. After her reply, she defended herself and sheepishly said..."But what we do is different". My colleague gave her a look and they both knew...There was absolutely no difference between what he contributed to his sons passion to what she contributed to hers.

Ask any parent that wants the best for their son. Whether it's entering their son in a Battle Bot Contest, golf tourney, tennis match, optimists clubs, debate teams, volleyball select teams, etc., We all want the best for our kids. Don't feel guilty that you are doing too much for your son. You are only doing too much, if your son never wanted to do what you signed him up for. In other words, if it's your passion and not his, you are wasting your money. Ask him what HE wants...and if it's to be a great baseball player then pursue that route. If it's to be an computer engineer, then pursue that.

Readers that regularly browse Rounding Third are baseball fanatics...Heck, the people that write this blog are baseball MANIACS...but we wouldn't have started this site if we didn't have sons that had an incredible passion for the sport. You probably wouldn't be reading this blog if we didn't have that in common with each other. Because our sons had that passion, it made us realize what it really takes to succeed, and we think you all should know as well.

It takes an incredible work ethic, a love for the sport, and a desire to be a winner to have a chance to play at the next level. If your son has all of these qualities, then investing in him is a must. You'd do the same if he was a math wiz, chess master, artist, musician, actor or computer programming genius. The parents of all of those kids will do what it takes to make sure their kid has a chance to succeed at the next level. So should the sons of baseball players.

Go back and read some of our older posts in October and November and you will see the lengths it takes to play at the next level. Yes, it is very involved...and all so very necessary. The camps, showcases, travel teams are part of the process and whether or not he has the chance to pursue baeball as a career...at least he will know whatever road he takes post high school or college will require the same amount of work ethic and desire to suceed...and that will give him all the edge he needs to get ahead in life.

RT Staff

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rating Training Aids


JUGS Soft Toss Machine $199

There are so many baseball accessories, some good, some not so good. Many of you already have most of the stuff out there already. We looked at everything from hitting aids, fielding aids, pitching and throwing aids, most that have been around for decades. The Todd Helton I-ON Eye Trainer was an interesting concept, we just haven't found anybody that stocks it, so we couldn't test it. (It is Off- Season for many retailers.) But, for shear practicality, there's nothing that beats our lone entry into the accessories department.

We have always liked this automatic soft toss machine. And it's been around for a few years too. But we never grow tired of using it. Combined with a JUGS soft Toss net, your son can work on his swing for hours by himself. The soft toss comes with other accessories that can handle up to 30 balls too.

So, we have given you a few thought for your player. Next week, we will get back to recruiting basics and have some guest articles from prominent travel and tournament organizers. Happy Holidays!

RT Staff

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rating The Cleats


Footwear is always an important choice for athletes, but we chose these shoes because they are black. Charlie Finley may be rolling in his grave, but we are pretty old-school and it is our jaded opinion that all baseball cleats should be mostly black. So, the following is our list of yet another thing to add to the Holiday List.

1. Mizuno 9 Spike Limited Low Metal Baseball Cleats $129
Mizuno is the footwear choice for a lot of high schools and colleges in our area, so we are biased. We really like the 9 spike in durability, traction, and design. It's also made of Kangaroo leather and will give your player extra hops. All right, so it won't do that, but the leather down under is more durable and supple for a more comfortable fit...And, it breathes like real leather...no synthetic stuff...That means less smelly socks. Mom's we are sure will be rushing to put this shoe under the tree for that feature alone.

2. Nike Shox Fuse Premium Low Metal Baseball Cleats $119
We always liked the Shox technology but the first models were a bit too heavy. Nike has lightened the load and has come out with a pretty good shoe, both in comfort and look. Of course Nike has always been at the forefront of style. No one can make a black shoe look better than they do.

3. Under Armour Thief Low Metal Baseball Cleats $79
Speaking of shox, here's a shocker. Under Armour...It's a great looking, great performing shoe. If Kenny Lofton wore this shoe in his prime, he would have looked even faster in these cleats. Think one of those futuristic concept roadsters in a shoe design. On the inside, it has HeatGear® liners that wick away moisture keeping the foot cool, dry, comfortable and yes mom's, less smelly. Dual Plate Technology and Rotational Traction, a more masculine version of the rotational pattern on women's fastpitch shoes, allow for explosive starts and max speed out of the batters box, on the base paths and in the field.

4. Nike Zoom 5 Tool Pro Mid Metal Baseball Cleats $104.99
If you must have a Mid...then this Nike is the best mid around. Like the Mizuno, it has 9 cleat configuration for first step traction. They also incorporated Dri-FIT lining for breath ability, comfort and durability. Full length midsole for extreme cleat comfort and a new caged zoom heel unit for responsive cushioning.

5. Adidas Diamond King Low Metal Baseball Cleats $74.99
We like this shoe, because it is ALL black and it doesn't look like a Adidias shoe. For we all know that Adidias is a s****r company and real baseball players really don't like s****r. The shoe is also comfortable for the foot and the wallet as well. Not a bad shoe, if for anything else, to practice in...

RT Staff

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rating The Gloves


When you add the cost of a new top of the line baseball bat, with the cost of a new glove, shoes, accessories and tourney fees, your son's baseball exploits can be a budget buster. The good news is that they usually don't need a new glove every year at this age...A glove is a personal preference and in high school and college, players tend to hang on to their favorite glove for a while. It's an extension of their body and has to fit and feel just right. So, shopping for a glove for your son is like shopping for an evening gown with your wife. They need to try on just about every one on the rack...and that's the way it should be...they are a very personal thing.

So, if your son needs a new glove, now is the time to buy it to allow for it to be broken-in before the season starts in a month or two, depending on where you live. Today, we rate the top gloves and they aren't cheap...but they are the best and will last, so the value is there.

TOP OF THE LINE

1. Rawlings Primo I-Piece 11 1/4" Baseball Glove $399.99

If mom and dad can buy $200-$300 Italian leather shoes or purse, why can't junior have an Italian leather glove? Two layers of the finest Italian leather work in tandem to create a pocket built for performance at your position. Upon ball impact, the inner palm and lining adjust to the shape of the outer palm in order to absorb the impact. It's not as silly as it sounds...Italian leather is usually softer, smoother, decreasing the break-in period...It is also more durable. If your son is the type to leave his glove in the dug-out, then this glove is not for him. However, if he is the conscientious type, he'll never let this glove out of his site...it's that good of a glove.

2. Mizuno Pro Limited Series $299

Another soft feel that will reduce the break-in period. We don't know what Japanese tanned Deguchi leather is, but it does feel good and has a good fit. Mizuno has made huge inroads in the Bigs and many top athletes are wearing this brand.

3. Wilson A2K 1796 $299
A2 is a Wilson Glove preferred pattern that has been used by the pros for years. The NEW A2000 A2K is made from the top 5% of Pro Stock hides. What are Pro-Stock Hides? Pretty self explanatory, but it is stock that has been selected by pro athletes for softness, durability, fit, thickness and protection. Pros actually do talk about things like low-rebound performance, optimal weight, extended durability, & unmatched pocket stability, like a surgeon would talk about a new non-invasive laser tool. This glove and the gloves preceding it in our rankings have the features professionals demand.

BEST VALUES

1. The Rawlings Heart of the Hide. $179

The meat and potatoes of the Rawlings sports empire...Preferred by more Gold Glove players than any other mitt. Like the Wilson featured below, this glove is a classic. Rawlings Heart of the Hide leather is used by more pro players than all others and comes from the top 5% of all leather available.

2. Wilson A2000 $189.99

This is the staple of the Wilson brand and also uses pro-stock leather. I'm sure many of your son's have this model and for the price, you can't go wrong with this glove.

3. Mizuno Classic Pro X Series $189.99
Some pro athletes wear this glove like Andrew Jones, Tom Glavine and Adam Everett. Made from Deerskin, which is a soft leather and tough too. Has a good feel to it and many players may prefer this pattern to Rawlings and Wilson.


RT Staff

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rating The Bats


1. DeMarini Voodoo $289
1. Dermarini CF-3 $379

For a company that specialized in men's slowpitch softball for years, this company rocketed to the top of the charts. We rank them in a virtual tie for first because how can you ignore a bat company that turned a HAT TRICK in collegiate sports? The NCAA Division I, II, and III national champs all used the DeMarini Voodoo. In terms of performance, feel, distance, graphics and price, the DeMarini Voodoo, provides value and that alone makes it stand above the rest. DeMarini says that they have the most powerful and durable performance alloy on the market, SC3, exclusive to DeMarini, provides the Voodoo with the 'pop' to go deep. An Ion End-Cap and Carbon Reinforced Composite handle complete the system for the Voodoo. Demarini's new composite, the CF-3 is nothing short of an amazing bat...It looks, feels and sounds powerful. We had a few players try this out in a test and they really liked the balance and feel of this one so much, they called it the "Magic Stick".

1. (tie)2008 LOUISVILLE EXOGRID (CB82X)Price$359.99
In terms of feel, sound, durability and distance, our research shows that despite the high price, the EXO is tied for the top spot among our reviewers. Players like the handle stiffness over the competitions flex technology. When you make contact with an EXO, it just sounds better. In terms of graphics, it has too many colors for our taste, but the players seem to like that, and that's all that counts. Good return policy as well. If you send overnight, they will return your replacement in less than a week. Also, look out for their 2008 EXO Air model...exclusive at Baseball Express. It's a bit more pricey at $399, but we like the features.

2. Easton 08 Stealth Composite $379
This bat is a very close second as it combines the ConneXion technology with Eastons Carbon Nanotube technology and patented IMX(TM) - Integrated Matrix technology strengthens composite structures, optimizing designs and materials for maximum performance. As opposed to the like it or hate it flex handle ConneXion, this handle is stiffer and when a player makes contact it doesn't give that dull, cracked bat sound that most older ConneXion models had. That gives a player a bit more of a psychological edge at the plate.

3. Easton 2008 Stealth Stiff $289
For those who just like the sound and feel of a regular metal bat, the Stealth Stiff is the one for you. Simple graphics and superior wall technology makes this a great value.

4. Rawlings 2007 Rush Composite $349
The leader in baseballs and gloves has been making a big push into the premium bat market with success. They are more agressive in sponsoring colleges and travel teams than in years past and their product has earned it a mention in many publications rating services. The thing we liked about the Rawlings composite is the barrel technology that is 13%-21% bigger than competitors. Bigger barrel means bigger sweet spot. We are not sure that players should be rewarded an extra 20% barrel space...and we can name a few pitchers that would back us up, but the bat does feel and sound pretty good. The bigger barrel, cheaper price and composite technology is what makes us rank this bat as a great value.

5. Rawlings 2007 Rush Gold $299
We always thought that this bat would have sounded better if it was named the Gold Rush, not the Rush Gold. But what do we know? Tough barrel with 15% more Liquidmetal in the barrel makes it twice as strong as Titanium. The balance point is maximized with the combination of the Liquidmetal and composite handle. What's that mean? Our players love the balance and stiffness of this "flex" bat. Parents prefer the price. Rawlings has this thing called the "Low Rider" speed plug. Dumb name, but pretty interesting concept. It's just a tougher end plug that can withstand direct impacts up to 105 Mph, that reduces damage from hits of the end of the bat.

6. Miken 2007 Burn ESD $349
We were really skeptical about this bat, but are impressed by the performance. This bat is going to have to be a a personal choice for your son. Go to a batting facility that sells bats and ask them for a demo. Our players liked it and would even consider using it, but it's a psychological barrier to use a bat that hasn't proved itself and the price doesn't make it any easier. But, it does sound and feel good and has great balance.

WOOD BATS

1. XBat Pro Maple 73 Wood Baseball Bat $139
The best in the business and the choice for major leaguers. The most popular new style in the Big Leagues is X-Bat's maple bat Model 73. The very large knob serves as a counter weight making the bat feel very light and balanced. He will need a wood for summer ball and we think it's a good idea to use wood for batting and cage practice. This is the cream of the crop in wood bats!

2. XBat Pro Maple Black 24 Wood Baseball Bat $119
Hard Maple! X-Bat takes MLB by storm with their tough maple Model 24 bat. The hardest maple available is used to insure top performance. A bit cheaper and still above and beyond what other wood bats offer.

3. SamBat Hardwood Maple Wood Baseball Bat $119
The bat that changed professional baseball forever! The choice of more than 100 top MLB players was developed by Sam Holman using his proprietary lathe technology. Chosen from only the top 5% of Prime Hard Maple, unlike other maple bats available, the ZERO pressure process maintains the strength Hard Maple has in its natural state, while traditional processes fatigue the wood.

4. D-Bat 2 Tone Black/Flame Maple Wood Baseball Bat $74.99
Unique Bell Knob! This maple bat was designed with a LONG BARREL that is shaved enough to make it easy to swing for High School and College players. The longer hitting area provides a greater contact performance when missing the "sweet spot". Better value for practice and the cages.

5. Mattingly V-Grip Heavy Wood Soft Toss Bat $69.99
Strictly for practice, but with good balance and weight transfer. If you want wood for strictly practice purposes, two of these for the price of one XBat, makes this a great value. Plus, let's give Don Mattingly some props...That guy had one of the best swings in the game!!! Buy this bat for Don.

There were other metals and composites like the Nike and the Combat Virus that were pretty decent, but for the price and popularity, we think the choices we made were pretty fair...

RT Staff

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rating the Baseball Stocking Stuffers


This week we will be rating the bats, gloves, shoes, and other equipment that you may want to give your son for Christmas. When you consider the cost involved for a metal bat, you want to make sure that you are making the right choice. Gloves are a little more personal, but we will provide guidelines to follow as well as tips for breaking them in. Since little Johnny is past that "surprise me like Santa Claus stage", it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring him along.

We will also rate the hottest item in the baseball community....wood bats. We are big fans of summer wood bat tournaments, batting practice and fall ball. If you read Senior Year, by Dan Shaughnessy, (A great gift for Dad) there are high school leagues in Massachusetts that only allow wood bats. We like wood, because we feel that it puts things into perspective. There are no mistake hits with wood. That 90 mph inside fastball that you eked over the second baseman's head with your EXO, is a sawed off handle with wood. Wood forces you to seek the sweet spot, stay inside the ball and drive those balls using proper technique. If you can hit successfully with wood against good pitching, you are MVP caliber with metal.

There are also some great little accessories and training aids out there worth a stocking stuffer or two that we will feature as well. Tomorrow, we rate the bats...Wednesday the gloves...Thursday the shoes and Friday the accessories. Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

This Coach Is A "Hit"


We received an e-mail the other day from Nate Trosky about a concert he is having tonight.. Nate is the co-founder and head trainer at the Trosky Baseball School. Nathan spent 4 years as a player coach in Europe’s professional leagues and 2 years in the states in the minor leagues. Seasonally, when he goes back to Europe to coach with the Croatian Olympic team, he scouts for the Arizona Diamondbacks...and Nate loves baseball. In fact, he loves the game so much he is a writes songs about it...professional quality songs with catchy tunes and lyrics...One in particular was the subject of a story in the Monterey County Weekly...We are re-printing this story because it's guys like Nate that give baseball its character. He takes the term "respect the game" to a whole new level. We hope you enjoy this story as much as we did....

Baseball was a given for Carmel’s Nathan Trosky—it was in his blood. The love affair between the Trosky family and America’s pastime dates back to his grandfather, Hal Trosky, whose face landed on a box of Wheaties after he hit 42 home runs for the Cleveland Indians in 1936.

“I think when something is just there, when it’s such a big part of your life, you don’t think too much about it,” says Trosky, 37. “It wasn’t until high school that I started to grasp who my grandfather really was.”

This month, Trosky shared that inherited passion with hundreds of thousands of Major League Baseball fans when his original tribute to Jackie Robinson played at stadiums around the country.

Only when his own career as a full-time pro player and coach started to wind down in the mid-‘90s did Trosky discover just how important baseball was to his family.

“I wasn’t traveling so much, so I had more time to explore my family’s history in baseball,” he says. The increased leisure time brought a revelation—he was actually one of eight members of the Trosky family lineage to play under pro stadium lights.

“Our family’s huge, and most of them are from Iowa, so we’re not always in dialogue with each other,” he says. “With that separation, it’s difficult to have connections with all of them. Some of them, uncles and cousins who played in the pros, I’d never met before.”

Since his discovery, he’s committed himself to sharing his family’s baseball history, and the folklore surrounding the great players who played alongside his grandfather. He does that in different ways—as co-owner of Carmel Baseball, a youth baseball clinic on Sixth Avenue which doubles as a memorabilia shop, and as a musician.

Trosky’s part-time country music career has taken him to the stage at the San Francisco Blues Festival and KTOM Summer Jam. He’s also co-writing and performing in the Old Time Baseball Show, which premieres at the Carl Cherry Center next month.

Six months ago, he began working on a different project that would combine his love of music and baseball, an album about the great icons of baseball. One of the songs, “Born Right On Time,” is a twangy Americana ode to the life and legacy of Robinson.

“Without Jackie Robinson, who knows when society would’ve reached those milestones,” Trosky says. “He had a purpose, he was born to make a difference, and I think he knew that there was a greater plan at work.”

In 1947, 20 years before Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Robinson personified the civil rights movement when he became the first African-American player signed to a major league roster. Robinson’s impact transcended baseball: the NFL and NBA were integrated in 1948 and 1949, respectively. By the time his playing career ended in 1956, Brown v. Board of Education had integrated schools and Rosa Parks had kept her seat. Martin Luther King Jr.’s bus boycott would desegregate Birmingham’s public transit a short time later.

After finishing “Born Right On Time,” Trosky approached the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, to gauge its interest in using the song as part of the league-wide salute to Robinson on April 15, the 60th anniversary of Robinson’s Major League debut.

“The Hall of Fame loved the song, and gave us the rights to the footage,” Trosky said. He pieced clips of Robinson’s playing career into a music video, and sent the finished product to major league ballparks. The clip aired before games at MacAfee Coliseum in Oakland and Turner Field in Atlanta. The Philadelphia Phillies, whose April 15 game was rescheduled due to rain, aired the clip before Monday’s game with the Houston Astros.

Trosky sees some poetic justice in the fact that his tribute to Robinson was featured in Philadelphia, as Robinson’s experiences there during his rookie season were particularly painful. Since none of the hotels in the city would accept him, he and his wife were forced to stay at the YMCA. Phillies’ manager Ben Chapman, a native of Alabama, instructed his players to berate Robinson with a violent stream of racial epithets. Chapman himself screamed that Robinson should “go back to the cotton field.”

Robinson laughed last, however. At the end of the 1947 season he was named Rookie of the Year. Chapman, with his team mired in last place, was fired within a year.

To Trosky, that’s why Robinson is such an inspirational figure—when he was confronted by the ugly face of hatred, he only played better.

“He understood what he was called to do,” Trosky says. “That’s what allowed him to withstand even the most incredible persecution.”

Jackie Robinson’s story of perseverance is just one of many lessons that can be learned from studying baseball’s history, Trosky says. He tries to instill those lessons in the kids he coaches at Carmel Baseball.

“They were old school,” Trosky says of Robinson and the other great players of his grandfather’s generation. “Kids need role models like that to develop, people in their lives to teach values and good decisions.”

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Synergy Equals Consistency...Part 5


When a company like Apple Computer wants to introduce a new product, the timeline to bring it to market involves a synergistic relationship between several departments within that corporation…From research and development to engineering to IT and software development to manufacturing to finance and finally to marketing…The process involves each department communicating and handing down data and specs to bring a product to market that is consistent with what was conceived by the research and development teams that originated the idea….like the iPhone.

Doesn’t this analogy say it all? Imagine a world where we didn’t communicate with one another for a common goal. We wouldn’t allow this to happen in our places of employment, yet in some cases there adults that are letting it happen in the development of a child. Whether it’s a math teacher communicating a students weaknesses to a private tutor or a coach giving his assessment to a private instructor, open lines of communication will create a more consistent and successful result.

This series on Synergy has been controversial to some and an eye opener for others. We at Rounding Third definitely have strong opinions about this subject and we do it all without hidden agendas. We don’t run or own a travel club, batting cages, hitting/pitching instruction business, or are presently high school or travel coaches. We do have sons that played ball and have been heavily involved in all of the aforementioned activities. We have seen the good and the bad of both sides of the fence and the only side that anyone should be taking is the side that benefits the player the most. And, that side involves all sides communicating and handing down facts, data and evaluations from one coach to another and another so that the end result can be a consistent with what was conceived by the teams, coaches and instructors that originated the initial assessment and goal of the player.

RT Staff

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Synergy...Hitting, Pitching and Conditioning Instructors-Part 4


Holistic Synergy sounds like a New Age practice found off the shores of the California Coast. In fact, it was a suggestion from a reader on the cooperation that all coaches should have with everyone involved in the development of a top rated player. Actually, it also sounds sort of redundant, but that's what baseball is all about...Repetition, repetition, repetition. Players need to keep in baseball shape year round and with the seasonal state restrictions on HS coaches and the geographic difficulties in seeing travel coaches, players need to seek out extra help. That increases the need for High School and Travel coaches to have a ongoing relationship with hitting, pitching and conditioning instructors. Like our past three posts, this is another one of those instances where the lack of communication gets in the way of results.

Instead of being long winded on this topic...we are going to be a bit more blunt...Coaches...You need to talk with the private instructors and instructors need to talk with the Coaches.

Baseball players aren't industrial patents...there are no ownership rights of their impending successes to brag about. We hear too many times about instructor "Smith" claiming that Player "Jones" was the result of his "Innovative 8 Step Program"...Blah, Blah, Blah. Guess what? Forget about which instructor did the best job...Everyone is responsible...The high school coaches, the travel coaches, and the instructors...The end result however could be even better, if all of your sons coaches stopped working independently of one another and worked together. Communication handed down from one coach to another will help that player use the information and build a successful career with it.

Again, everyone wins and maybe, just maybe, coaches and instructors could learn something along the way. Face it coaches... After the high school season they will play travel ball and after that they will seek out hitting and pitching and conditioning instructors during the off-season...it's an ongoing cycle and it's a smart way to keep the mechanics top of mind and build muscle memory...Everyone needs that type of consistent training.

Work together guys. It's the "New Age" of total communication for the Betterment of Baseball!!!!

RT Staff

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Synergy...Part Three


Every year around the beginning of November, many of the top college coaches meet one on one with their players and give them their summer assignments. The Top players are assigned to leagues like the Cape Cod, Northwoods, Great Lakes and even Alaska. College coaches from all over the country work in direct contact with officials from the National Baseball Congress(NBC), National Association of College Summer Baseball (NACSB) and the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League(ABCCL) and other smaller leagues to get their players placed. Click on those links for a look at the leagues and their teams.

One of the mission statements of the NACSB is:

"To foster better relationships between collegiate coaches and the NACSB in conjunction with the ABCA".

The ABCCL's mission statement is:

* To serve as a convenient, accessible and quality resource for college baseball players to strengthen their skills and compete with their baseball peers.
* To provide college baseball coaches with an organized, constructive extension to their school programs during the traditional summer "off-season".
* To act as a venue for all college players to improve and showcase their talent before intercollegiate and professional evaluators.


Now That's Synergy!

Then it occurred to us...what if the high school coaches and the travel coaches took their communication to this level? Their college counterparts want their players to continue at a high level of competition...The leagues themselves (according to the ABCCL website)...are designed to improve the players by maximizing playing opportunity. As a result, they will improve their performance upon returning to school and increase their awareness among the professional scouting community.

Substitute the word professional with collegiate and that same synergy could exist with high school players. Again, we can not reiterate enough...the communications lines between the High School Coaches and the travel teams and leagues needs to come from both sides...and now is the time to make that contact! There is absolutely no reason why this can't happen...It's a huge win-win for both programs and an incredible upside for the players.

Comments?

RT Staff

Monday, November 26, 2007

Synergy...Part Two...The Role of the High School Coach


We have received dozens of suggestions via e-mail on a follow-up to last weeks article on high school coaches. There have also been many discussions on various national and regional message boards about the role of the high school coach when it comes to promoting players to the next level. So over the past several years, we have heard just about every argument and opinion, good and bad. Everyone seems to have a personal story, some of them extremely touching and some not, about an experience they had with a high school coach. Therefore, everyone seems to have an opinion about what the HS coaches role should be...so do we.

In our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to coach...period. Now, let's define the term "coach". High schools coaches see their players nearly every day of the school year...depending on their status at that school. By that, we mean many head coaches are also teachers. So those coaches influence on their players are in many cases, a bit more involved. Despite the restrictions many state High School associations have on off-season practices, a full time teacher/coach will encourage his players to buckle down in school, practice on their own, and open up the facilities for off-season conditioning. During the season, the role of the coach is dedicated to molding his players into fundamentally sound, disciplined, smart, competitive ball players. His job is to make sure that those players taking the field are the nine best players he has seen in action at that point. Those nine can and probably will change throughout the season because good high school coaches will always create that kind of competitive atmosphere. And, no matter what combination of nine players are on that field, they will be the most competitive nine at that given time. That's what high school baseball is all about. High School coaches are a huge influence in the development of baseball players and the better coaches take this role very seriously. This is a full time job that is not only emotionally draining, but these decisions often come with the baggage of over-zealous parents and other critics as well.

So with that in mind, we do not think his role should be that of recruiting facilitator on top of all of the aforementioned duties. It doesn't mean he is not a part of the process...he is, but just in a reduced role...more later...This is usually where the critics seem to disagree. If this question was asked 25 years ago, we would have said, sure...the high school coach should be involved. Today however, the rules of the recruiting game have changed. The high school season is not a time when college recruiters can realistically observe players. Most college recruiters are assistant coaches and are too busy with their own schedules to find the time to go see a high school game. There are exceptions in areas like Houston, the North Carolina Research Triangle area, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area where their are 6 or more D-1 schools within an hours drive. Even then, unless it's a big time tourney like Southern California's Phil Nevin Classic or Florida's Lincoln National Spring Break Invitational, which features a multitude of potential recruits, it isn't cost effective for a recruiter to take the time away from his own teams duties to go see one or two players.

Therefore, the job of recruiting coordinator falls upon the families themselves, with a boost from their travel/select baseball organizations. Families must remember, if baseball wasn't in the picture, the application process would be 100% on the student. The same should apply WITH baseball in mind. That doesn't mean that parents shouldn't seek out additional help...For instance, many good showcase or travel teams have great databases of college recruiters e-mails and snail mail addresses available. Players and their parents should also ask the travel team coaches to help assist them with the proper format for a profile sheet. Many of the top travel programs, like the teams we profiled in our "Top 5" list last month, will even send out material for their players prior to a big showcase and while at the tourney, do a little tub-thumping on behalf of their players. However, student/athletes still need to send out their own letters and e-mails to every school on their wish list. A player must take that initiative...if for no other reason, to show the coaches that he has a vested interest in the recruitment process.

Now, here's where the high school coach comes back into play...and where our article last week needs to be taken seriously by both the HS and travel coaches... If a college recruiter has an interest in a player, there are two references he WILL phone or e-mail. One is the travel coach...the other is the High School Coach. A good travel teams M-O is to get their players placed, so that phone call is a no-brainer. The unknown in many cases is the reaction of the high school coach. It's not his fault...he didn't see his player play in the summer showcases...But, he should either seek out or be given that information...For instance, a player may not have had a great High School season, but really showed his mettle during the summer against better competition that really impressed a college recruiter. Depending on the High School League, some top players actually under perform at the plate during the HS season because they are ahead of or are over swinging at the slower and inconsistent pitching. The opposite also occurs, where a player may hit his stride and be MVP of his High School team, but can't come close to catching up with the faster, more controlled pitching of the travel tourneys.

So, in our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to follow-up with the travel team coaches to get assessments of his players progress. A high school coach must know that the high school season is half of that players time on a field. He needs to know about the other half or summer season as well, so when he gets that phone call from a college recruiter about one of his players, he can base that particular players assessments based on all of the facts...or at least give the college recruiter an idea of his players progression. A High School Coach should never say a player is not ready for the next level based on half of that players season...especially when that recruiter saw him play in the summer and the HS coach did not...and evidently that has happened on occasion, based on e-mails we have received.

Bottom line...A college recruiter wouldn't even waste his time calling a High School Coach if that recruiter didn't see something positive in that particular player. These guys know what to look for and know what they want. At the very least a high school coach should talk about potential or that players projectablity if he doesn't want to talk to travel coaches for whatever reason. But, we feel that it is in the best interest of all parties for all coaches to know all of the facts before they say anything to a recruiter.

And, likewise, we also feel that it is equally the responsibility of the travel organization to help break the ice and call the high school coaches and give them an assessment of their players progress and interest from colleges throughout the summer. And, as our last "Synergy" article suggested, this contact between the two should happen before the summer season starts as well. Once that is done...then hopefully it will become an annual ritual...all for the betterment of the player and baseball in general.

RT Staff (post your comment below by clicking the word "comments")

Friday, November 23, 2007

Age Old Wisdom


It's the day after the usuals...Turkey, mashed and sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (it's like fruit cake, the only time we see that dish), cranberry whatever (don't drink milk after eating that stuff), 20 different varieties of stuffing that the relatives bring over because theirs is the best...and at last count...327 pies. And then there was Brett Favre, his arm looking like a healthy Roger Clemens, throwing for more yards yesterday than the Rocket had strike-outs in a Cy Young award winning season....At the age of 38!

And that brings up the topic of age. Does it seem to you that more players are getting better as they get older? Clemens, Johnson, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Wells, Schilling, Rivera...all are effective pitchers. Omar Vizquel is still one of the better shortstops in the national league. Is it possible that as you get older, you get smarter about the game???...able to anticipate, concentrate and focus more. The adage of wise old men rings very true in this case. Many players are never able to harness that frame of mind. They rely on their physical attribute to get by, but never to get ahead. In today's game...a player needs to harness the mind first...then the physical part of the game becomes a bit easier.

It's not all hocus-pocus stuff...In our daily searches of all things baseball, we came across a few sites that offer books and training to help a player with the mental edge...and as we conclude this this post to make a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwich, we leave you with some links that would make great stocking stuffers for your son on this Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday....AND...look at our NLI listings...we are approaching the end of the list...get your son's or players name in today...e-mail us at roundingthirdstaff@gmail.com

Mental Toughness Sites and Books

Baseballs Mental Fundamentals

The Hitting Edge

Big League Edge

Baseball Warehouse Available Books and Videos on Mental Training

Steve Springers Quality at Bats

Baseball Training Secrets

Be a Better Hitter...Mental Approach


RT Staff

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Turkey Award....Oh Yeah...Happy Thanksgiving!!!


This years first Turkey Award goes to the folks at the NCAA. Maybe this is not a politically correct stance to take since we extol the virtues of colleges on this site, but again our views are opinions for the betterment of baseball and we vehemently disagree on their recent rulings.

The ruling that disturbs us the most is moving the start dates of college baseball up to March 1 from February 1 without decreasing the number of games being played. That means that schools must squeeze in 56 games in four fewer weeks. Many teams must now play up to 5 games a week to comply with this change. To top it off, the NCAA's new Academic Performance Rates (APR) have gotten tougher. APR measures each student's progress toward obtaining an academic degree. Teams failing to score 925 in the APR -- equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate -- can lose scholarships. So, baseball players, which on average enter college with GPA's much, much higher than the players in the "revenue generating" sports, have an additional target on their back to perform even more with much less time available to them in the classroom.

Under the new rules, players also must be academically eligible during fall semester to play the following spring, which will require more players to attend summer school. Football and basketball players address this by going to summer school to improve their status. The difference is that those sports give 100% scholarships that cover the costs of summer school. Most college baseball players don't attend summer school because their limited scholarships, which to begin with are only 33-50%of the total universities costs during regular school year, don't cover it. But, what the NCAA seems to forget is that traditionally, baseball is a SUMMER sport. For most baseball players, summer school is out of the question, because the better players are shipped to the summer leagues like Cape Cod, Northwoods and Alaska... What are they supposed to do???? And, for those that want to go to school, that cost is totally out of pocket, because their 33-50% scholarship doesn't cover it.

Want more???...Also under the new rules, which will go in effect for the 2008-09 academic year, baseball rosters will be capped at 35 players, with only 30 players being eligible to receive financial aid. Starting in 2009-10, only 27 players can receive financial aid, each of whom must receive at least one-third of a full scholarship. So here's the scenario...56 games in four fewer weeks means a team will need more pitchers...but, since the roster is now capped and the scholarship minimum raised to 33%...well....it's not a great time to be a developing position player....teams will only recruit impact guys at positions, so they can concentrate on recruiting more pitchers.

As it is, College baseball receives fewer scholarships that programs that generate a fraction of the revenue. For instance, women's equestrian can dole out 15 scholarships, and women's crew teams can award 20 scholarships.

Ron Polk, the Mississippi State Coach, a huge opponent of the legislation stated, "They're giving us chump change, and now they're telling us how to spend the chump change," Polk said.

The new college baseball rules also include legislation that is targeted at increasing player retention and graduation rates for college baseball. In the past, baseball players could transfer from one school to another without penalty. Football, basketball and men's hockey players have to sit out one season at their new school if they transfer. Under the new rules, baseball players also will face that one-year penalty if they leave.

Most college baseball coaches agree that they need to do a better job of retaining and graduating their players. But decreasing the size of scholarships isn't the way to achieve that goal, Polk said.

Polk believes the new rules will do more harm that good. Because of the new rules, Polk said college baseball teams won't be able to lure top high school players to their schools anymore. "How am I going to be able to convince a kid to come to college, instead of going pro, when I can only give him a 33 percent scholarship?" Polk said.

Rounding Third asks..."What IS the message being sent??? The NCAA wants players to graduate...yet they cap the roster at 35...which means that some upper classmen may have to be cut to make room for new recruits...Those upper classmen can't transfer, they lose their scholarship and then what? Hopefully they have the financial wherewithall to stay in school and graduate, so it doesn't affect the schools APR...Another scenario involves draftable players...how can you convince them to stay in college after their junior year when there are 50 rounds of the draft selecting over 1,500 players? As a contrast, basketball drafts 60 players...and baseball's APR is still pretty even with basketballs...So given all of the outside influences, why is baseball even being targeted???"

Our number one rant is that these players are going to school to play baseball...but they are going to school first...and the NCAA is making it harder for them to make the grade...yet... wants them to makes the grades. Yes, there was a disparity between the sun-belt schools and the frost belt schools when the season started on February 1...And, strapping on full football gear in the Arizona 100+ degree heat or the stifling Florida humidity in late August and early September is tough too, but you don't see those schools wanting to move the football season to October. Bottom line, it's about the players and their educational needs. The NCAA in our opinion just made it a lot harder for those academic needs to be satisfied.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!