Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let The Coach Decide...Please

Do you know what we despise? We despise parents that sit in the stands and complain that the coaches don’t know what the heck they are doing. They think that they are much more qualified to make decisions on whom to start, who to play when and what situation may warrant a better choice than the one that was executed.

OK, parents, so you think that you guys are so smart? Have you spent time with the players three or more hours a day, 6 days a week, for the past five months? Because the coaches have. That’s over 360 hours of observation and analysis of each player. They have situational practices, inter-squad scrimmages and countless hours of time in the cage to help them decide who the better players are.

Have you even seen your own kid play that much? If so, where and what was the level of competition? How much time have you spent in the cage with your own son and what credentials do you have to critique his hitting mechanics? How many ground balls or fly balls have you hit him this week? Can you teach him the proper way to field a ground ball? When do you use the back hand? Do you know the different ways to throw a double play ball to second, based on how far away from the bag the ball is hit? Have you worked with him on that for countless hours each week?

Do you work with him on how to react to the hundreds of situations that occur when runners are on base? Do you work on hitting the cut-offs everyday? How about the double cut? Do you watch him run the bases and work with him on that? At what point in the pitchers delivery should a base runner take that first step towards a steal?

How many times each week do you work on bunting with your son? When do you bunt towards third base and when should you bunt down first. Do you teach him the push bunt? When would you ever use that? Do you work with him on hit and run plays, going opposite field on off-speed, or hitting to the right side with a runner on third with one out or less?

Do you work with your son’s on covering first base if he is a pitcher? How about bunt coverage? Do you parents ever talk to your sons about the upcoming game and their hitters and what they have done in their past at bats? Are you discussing what your son should be thinking before each pitch? How about how to hit based on the count? What might the other team attempt?

Do you help him visualize situations like how to cover a steal, hit and run or bunt? Where do they need to be in each situation? Did your family dinner time conversations talk about what your MIF son should do if there is a runner on first, ball is hit back to the pitcher, and the ball is fielded and an errant throw is made to second?

Do you do any of this for three hours a day, 6 days a week? If you don't, then HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY KNOW if your son can adequately handle all of the skills well enough to earn a starting position? If you do, then you don’t have a job…because that’s exactly what coaching a team is…a full time job!

And much like in your own job, mistakes will be made, It's a crazy, unpredictable game...There will be mistakes...but not on purpose. There’s not a coach alive that wants to maliciously make it a horrible experience for your son. Oh yes, he will be tough on your son, maybe even in his him a little verbal beat down...because he wants to make him tougher...We have seen that strategy work many times...Hey, if your son can’t handle a little tough talk, how the heck is he ever going to handle a tough game situation? Heck, forget about baseball for a will he handle a game of LIFE situation? Listen, good coaches take a statement like “there’s no crying in baseball” very seriously. So stop your crying folks!

As I sit in some stands, I hear more often than not how horrible the coaches are. These are usually the parents whose sons are NOT playing. As if the kids that are playing are given some special privilege that somehow, some way their kid didn’t get. Parents, did you ever think that maybe the players that start have proven time and time again in practice that they deserve to be on the field? OK, we get it. Sometimes a starter doesn’t always deliver in a game…but maybe he impresses them so much in practice that they are pinning their hopes that he will someday break out and therefore, give him a few more chances that our armchair observations can’t see. In baseball, as it has been for the past 125 years, only 9 play on a team and if it is a close game, only 9 will play period.

Be a good your team...set an example for your own children and please, quit embarrasing yourselves in front of everyone else and have respect for the other parents that are in the stands enjoying their sons season. Sorry for the tough talk folks...High school and college ball isn’t tee ball where everyone plays and the losers get a trophy.

RT Staff
Getting It Off Our Chest Rant

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The "Invited" Walk On Player

RT Staff: We are in the middle of the late signing period and a lot of parents and senior players are getting e-mails and letters asking them if they would be a recruited or invited walk-on for the 2008-2009 year. Many of our readers are confused about this. We did some research and the best explanation we found for baseball is on our favorite web site High School Baseball Web. This article was written by their resident genius, Bob Howdeshell...Enjoy!

The "Invited" Walk On Player
by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

There are several significant differences between being a walk-on college baseball player and in being an "invited" walk-on player. When a college coach contacts a high school player and invites him to walk-on at his program he has a "real" interest in that player. We take a look at the topic.

The typical walk on player is one that comes out in the fall of the year. Usually after seeing a notice for baseball try-outs. (Many schools still require their programs to hold try-outs)

The "invited" walk-on is the player that a college baseball coach specifically calls or invites in person, to come and be a part of their program as a walk-on. Those players are the focus of this article.

As funding for college baseball programs continues to get tighter and tighter and team rosters seem to be getting larger (numbers) at many schools each year, the walk-on is becoming more and more important.

This is especially true when the player is an in-state student.

An invited walk-on player almost always has a chance to earn some scholarship money as he continues to contribute to his team. Invitees also are usually given a much longer "look" by the coaching staff. This may involve getting to play in mid-week games, etc.

Keep in mind that the walk-on player will have to be clearly better than the scholarship players at his position to get significant playing time. This is just the way the world works. It's not always fair.

In many cases the invited walk-on player is given the use of the same resources as the scholarship players. Things such as weight room usage times, training staff, dorm assignments (the walk on will pay a dorm fee (board), use of the athletic dining room (again the walk-on will pay), athletic department tutors, athletic department academic advisors among other items.

NCAA non-scholarship players do not sign a National Letter of Intent. The LOI comes into play only when scholarship monies are involved.

The same is true for NAIA and NJCAA letters of intent.

Some schools require all players to sign a "code of conduct" type of agreement, this applies to both scholarship and non-scholarship players. This agreement is a "one way" document that allows the school to terminate the players involvement with the baseball program for violations of team rules.

The signing of one of these "conduct" agreements does not prohibit a player from transferring to another school.

In the case of ALL invited walk-on players the acceptance of the initial offer to be an invitee is a verbal commitment. There are no binding written agreements involved. A player is free to sign a scholarship offer with another school after verbally agreeing to walk on at the first school. I will leave the moral and ethical debate on this issue up to the individuals and their families.

As we have discussed on this site before -- Being a walk-on player can be a great experience for some, for others it is not. I suggest that the player and his family research a school's, and the head coaches history of playing walk-ons before agreeing to do so.

In some cases it is better to get a small scholarship at a lesser baseball power or a junior college than it is to be a walk-on at a major college baseball program.

The name of the game is "PLAYING TIME", all players ultimately want to play, not sit on the bench. Being invited to walk-on makes a big difference, just be sure to do your homework.

I suggest reading the High School Baseball Web article entitled Walking On as well as this article.

Monday, April 28, 2008

American Heritage #1

1. American Heritage - Florida – 25-2 (2)
Pine Crest and Coral Springs were the Pats latest victims and this star studded team just could be playing the best ball in the country right now. Because of BG’s loss, we now can salute a new #1…American Heritage.

2. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 14-0 (3)
Right behind the Pats at a very close second is the DBP club. This week, Don Bosco Prep beat Hoboken, N.J 9-1. Niko Spezial (2-0) gets the win pitching a 1 hitter with 12 Strike Outs and only 1 BB, through 5 innings. Tim Sullivan (Quinnipiac) got the save. Anthony Gomez had a HR, a double, a single with 3 RBI's. HR's were by Eric Phfisterer (Duke) and Ben Luederer (Marist). This past weekend in the New Jersey Shore Classic, Prep threw Mike Dennhardt (Boston College) and won 7-0 vs Christian Brothers Academy. In game two on Sunday, Eric Phisterer(Duke)was the hurler as Prep downed Ocean Township. Phisterer had a no-hitter going until the bottom of the 7th, giving up a lone single to the lead off batter. Don Bosco Prep has scored 167 runs vs just 13 against in 14 games.

3. Sarasota - Florida – 20-2 (4)
The Sailors win two more against Riverview and Lakeland in the District tournament…That’s right folks…as the Northeast and Midwest is just getting their season underway, Florida and most of the sunbelt states gear up for the play-offs. Texas and California’s start next week. It will be a battle royale for the top spot. It’s never easy to win in the play-offs in this state.

4. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 29-2 (1)
The Gaels showed signs that they are human and lost 7-4 against Sierra Vista. They rebounded later in the week with a 9-1 victory vs. Rancho. Their hits just weren’t timely in their loss and in baseball that can happen more often than not. This team can still rake though. They drop, but not much.

5. Lake Brantley HS, Florida 23-2 (5)
Idle this week.

6. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 18-5 California (6)
The Celts easily take two from St. Francis of La Canada. The next two weeks will be a test for Crespi as they wind down league and position themselves for a top section seeding.

7. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 22-2 (7)
Union, Sperry and Page sounds like a law firm, but it’s the Rams latest three victims. After a few tough losses 10 days ago, Owasso had something to prove and outscored those three teams 26-4.

8. Orange Lutheran – California 19-3 (8)
The Lancers stayed on course and took two from Santa Margarita and so they stay put for this week. Big showdown this week with home and home series vs. Mater Dei and St. John Bosco…two tough conference foes. While Gerrit Cole and Aaron Gates are the big names, it has been Tyler Smith-.422 and Chase Harrison-.383 that have been the hot bats as of late.

9. Alvin HS - Texas – 26-3 (9)
It’s clear to us who the best team in Texas is. The YellowJackets destroy Clear Lake and Clear Brook to silence the critics.

10. Seminole (Seminole, Fla.) 23-1 (11)
Another Florida powerhouse gearing up for bragging rights in the state when the districts start this week.

11. Moody High School – Texas – 27-3 (12)
Ther Trojans beat up on Calhoun and Miller 12-2 and 9-1 respectively and move up one spot.

12. Atascocita-Texas- 26-3 (13)
Not much change, although they beat Kingwood in their last regular season game.

13. Plant High School – Florida – 23-3 (14)
They finish out their season with big wins over Hillsborough and Chamberlain. They are preparing for the play-offs as we speak.

14. Farragut -Tenn.-28-1 (16)
With this record, you would think we would rank them higher, but they lost last week to Blount and although they move up, the stay in the lower half of the top twenty.

15. Plano West (Plano, Texas) 28-0 (NR)
Some polls have them at number one. We don’t despite their 28-0 record…It’s a preference of ours to rank the teams based on strength of schedule and enough confidence to schedule teams that are out of their area. But we do give them credit for an undefeated season. Let’s see if they can carry that over to the state play-offs.

16. Paul IV – Fairfax, VA 23-1 (NR)
This is another team that we thought about ranking as the season progressed, and were ready to move them up to our top ten this week and they lose to Bishop Ireton. They have a big re-match with St. Johns this week. Should be a great game.

17. Barbe - Louisiana – 28-6 (17)
They beat Lafayette and More HS...Are more wins in their future during state play-offs?

18. Opelika (Opelika, Ala.) 32-1 (NR)
The Bulldogs are 4-0 in the Class 6A play-offs and advance to the next round. They clobbered Satsuma in a best of three series and are on their way to keep their number one ranking in this Sweet Home of a state.

19. Aptos HS - California – 19-3 (10)
They traveled to Oakland to play in the Coliseum where the A’s play in the Dave Stewart Classic…a great event that raises money for urban youth organizations, but the Mariners forgot to bring their A game. They lose a tough one to league rival Santa Cruz 8-4 and drop.

20. Calvert Hall HS – Maryland- 19-5 (20)
The Cardinals stay put but beat Archbishop Curley..(no Moe and Shemp jokes please we were told…) and then easily dispensed of McDounough 12-0. They have 6 crucial league games left before the play-offs.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Feature Ball Park Complex

RT Staff Note:Every month, we will feature a baseball complex that appeals to us. We have already ordained the East Cobb Complex as the Mother of all Baseball Complexes, but there are close seconds. Snowden Park, in Mississippi, just south of Memphis gets our vote this month.

Snowden Grove Park, built in 1999, has set the standard for which all new youth baseball complexes are trying to emulate. This 17-field baseball only facility possesses many features only previously found at professional stadiums.

Because of its many amenities and locale, Snowden Grove Park has been awarded and continues to host numerous World Series and National Events including the 1999 to present year - 10 Year Old USSSA World Series, 1999 to present year - NABF World Classics in the 9, 11 and 13 Year Old divisions and the 1999 thru 2009 - Dizzy Dean Baseball World Series in the 8, 9, 13, Soph., Jr. and Sr. divisions.

The development of Snowden Grove Park resulted in the City of Southaven receiving the prestigious Economic Development Award presented by the State of Mississippi for the impact that this park has had on the local economy of Southaven, MS. Snowden Grove Park was also awarded the USSSA World Series Host Site of the year in 2000.

The latest addition to Snowden Grove Park is the Southaven Field of Dreams, a mini complex for handicapped and mentally challenged children and adults. No longer are these special people left out, the Field of Dreams provides the opportunity for them to participate in the great game of Baseball in a safe environment.

Southaven, with its close proximity to Memphis, TN, offers small town charm with big city attractions such as Graceland, Casinos, Beale Street, BBQ, Memphis Grizzlies, Memphis Redbirds and the mighty Mississippi River.

Complex and Field Specifications:
17 Baseball Only specific fields

Fence Distances

Field# Foul Lines Center Field
A 1-5 180 feet 180 feet
B 8-9 200 feet 200 feet
B 6-7 250 feet 250 feet
C 10-11 250 feet 250 feet
C 12-13 275 feet 300 feet
D 14-15 300 feet 300 feet
D 16-17 325 feet 395 feet

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ego Driven Madness

We at RT cringe a bit when we here about a player that lists himself as a Pitcher/SS. OK, we get it, he's a great athlete. But, because of our exposure to travel ball teams good and bad, we can only imagine a ego driven coach or overzealous parent not exercising good judgement when it comes to the health and safety of that star athlete. Now, not every two way player is a victim of overuse...but we have all seen top athletes overused at a young age resulting in a subsequent injury to the player.

In our small world here in California, we can list at least 25 kids..all great athletes...all P/SS type of players...going down to an arm injury. Of those 25, twelve had to have major surgery... The rest are sitting out due to tendinitis or other types of strains. These are players within a 100 mile radius of our hometown. Yesterdays article from the Houston Chronicle is typical of what is happening all across the country....and it's all due to an ego driven madness that starts right at home.

The Water Cooler Braggadocio
Here's a typical conversation in the Monday morning office break-room from a over zealous parent...

Dad: "My son pitched a complete game and then made three diving catches at shortstop and got the Tournament MVP award, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH."

Co-Worker: "What High School does he play for?"

Dad: "Oh, he is only 13...but we are looking into enrolling him into a private high school in a few years. They have the best baseball program. I'm sure a ton of colleges will be after him and we want the best exposure for him BLAH, BLAH, BLAH"

Co-Worker: Does he play any other sports? I mean, if he is that good of an athlete, how do you know he'll play college baseball?"

Dad: "Oh, it's different today. He plays year round baseball...up to 100 games a year. That's the only way he'll get better, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH"

Co-Worker: "Oh, he must play on the XYZ Travel team. I heard that they are the best".

Dad: Well, no we tried them, but they wouldn't give Junior enough playing time. My son's good. After he pitches, he's ready to play shortstop...When the games on the line, I want him making that last out or on the mound shutting the other team down. He's no bench sitter, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH."

Ever talk to THAT GUY??? Do you wonder where his son is today? Part, but not all of the problem in youth sports today, are ego maniacal parents, that live vicariously through their sons. They are the main reason why there are so many sports injuries today.

The Tortoise and The Hare Approach Works
When will we ever learn? The Hare's of the world have been responsible for the Dot-Com crash, the Enron debacle, the Mortgage melt-down and so much more. Don't be them...especially with your son's and daughter for goodness sakes. If your son isn't the tournament MVP at age 11, it won't matter. If he isn't on the Junior National team at age 14, it won't matter. If he isn't a starter on his freshman team in HS, it won't matter.

The key is, to just keep playing at a pace that is right for him and his health...learn the game, get stronger, and with a good solid work ethic, it will all come together.

Here's a real life scenario of a friend of ours. He did it the right way. Names have been changed, but the situation is real...

Timmy started playing travel ball at the age of 10. Timmy was a shortstop and pitcher and was a star on his Little League team in his community. However, his parents wanted Timmy to develop with players that were as good or better than him. A local coach had the idea to start a team with over 15 players...all of who were pitchers and shortstops in Little League.

Not everyone bought into this team, but Timmy's parents thought it was a great idea. Timmy pitched once every other week and played just about every position. He would have pitched more, but there were other parents putting pressure on this coach to let their kid pitch and be the star.

In the meantime, Timmy got the opportunity to learn other positions and make himself more valuable to the team as a player. Because of the ego's of other parents, Timmy rarely got to play SS, bat in the top 5 of the line-up, or pitch, but to his parents, that was a blessing in disguise. Timmy's parents told him that if he really wanted to crack the top of the order, he would have to earn it by working harder. And, that's exactly what Timmy did.

This went on for the next several years of Timmy's travel ball life. Players came and went, and the travel ball coach was always out there recruiting the next big Phenom...the next big closer...or power hitter...and Timmy just kept on working hard, improving his game, batting sixth or seventh in the line-up, while bigger, more high profile guys...ringers for a big tournament...kept him out of the top half of the order. He eventually gave up pitching to concentrate on being a position player.

By the time Timmy hit high school however, it was clear to the coaches that he had some skills and like the travel team, he got to play several positions and ended up winning a minor post season award in his Freshman season. His Sophomore year he improved even more. As a Junior, he really broke out and by his Senior year, he was awarded the Metro Areas top MVP honor and is now playing at a top rated D-I university, hitting 3rd and leading the team in BA.

And all along, the parents never panicked, never fought the coaches over playing time, and kept telling their son that he had to earn his way in baseball and in life, by working hard, practicing, listening and always learning. Oh, by the way, their son also has a 3.7 GPA as well. So, if baseball doesn't work out, we are positive that he'll take what his parents taught him and earn his way into a very successful career too.

The other kids that played with him the past 9 years in travel ball....where are they now? There were about twenty-four players in all throughout the years...Five are still playing in college and having some success of their own...They were the phenom, tournament pick-ups...the same players that kept Timmy out of the top of the order, but influenced him to become a better player.

Eleven are out of baseball or quit and just got burnt out from all of the pressure their parents put on them. Five of his team mates had career ending injuries and three are in physical therapy nursing an injury....but good enough to be still in baseball.

Timmy's parents had the Tortoise approach to their child's development. In the earlier years of Travel ball, when he was a two-way player, Timmy never pitched and then played a position immediately...The parents were OK with him being a DH after being on the mound or just resting the arm altogether on the bench. For them, there was no rush to need for adolescent accolades. The recognition would eventually come they rationalized...or not...the main thing was to seize the moment at hand. Work hard and play hard with the opportunities that were given to him.

As a result, he played injury free. And more importantly, although a key contributor to his team, Timmy only earned one tournament MVP award...but it was at a tournament that meant something...the summer after his junior year in high school, coming right out of a 1st team All Metro high school season, in front of a bunch of college scouts at a high profile tourney. As a result of that tournament, he received invitations to other showcases and camps and by the end of the summer, had 8 college offers. He picked the one that was right for him and things are going well. In a recent interview with Timmy's head coach in college, a reporter asked why this young freshman is having so much success. The coaches answer? "He just works harder than everyone else on the team".

You see parents...sometimes, you just have to let your kids work it out on their own. Getting in front of the coaches face and complaining about playing time will not make them a better player...Starting or finding a team to give Junior more playing time will not earn him a college scholarship...earning it the hard way will...or at the very least, the effort to earn it will make him a better person in life in the long run. That's what real coaches want...That's what the real world needs more of.

RT Staff

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Being Responsible

RT Staff Note: A reader sent us a copy of an article from the Houston Chronicle yesterday and it talks about the pervasive injuries from pitchers that play year round baseball. It's more than that in our opinion. It's about common sense. The reason why we praise travel ball on this site is because the truly great travel ball clubs have a plan. They have a rotation. They know the value of rest and conditioning and the risks involved in too many pitches in a week. A top rated travel team will have 6 or more starting pitchers and closers...minimum. Any less than that is irresponsible. If your son is being approached by a travel team, the first thing to ask is the number of pitchers they carry. Too many dads want their son to be the showcase pitcher..But at the ages of 12, 13 and 14, it means absolutely nothing...$5 plastic trophies are useless and won't get them into college...especially if the player is overused and gets injured. Your responsibility as a parent is to make sure your son is part of a rotation...not part of your vicarious vision of stardom. Don't agree? Then read below.

Tommy John surgery is rising among young pitchers

Nathan Eovaldi knew something was wrong. For all the pitches he had
thrown in his young life, his arm never felt like it did after this one
on March 13, 2007.

"I threw a slider, and something didn't feel right," said the Alvin High School senior righthander. "It wasn't a horrible pain, but when I threw it, I felt a tingling in my arm, and I could just tell something was wrong."

Two months later, the Texas A&M signee underwent surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, otherwise known as Tommy John surgery.

It may sound drastic, but what was once a last-ditch procedure to save a professional player's arm is now becoming more commonplace at all levels — including high school.

Eleven months after the procedure, Eovaldi is back on the mound competing with his Yellow Jackets teammates. He is both a picture of a successful recovery and a sign of how the procedure has been mastered.

But he is also a symbol of a larger concern.

While rates on UCL surgery are not tracked nationally, some of the area's and country's top surgeons said they've seen a significant increase in the number of high-school-aged players having the procedure.

"I would say over the last five to seven years, (the rate) has doubled," said David Lintner, an orthopedic sports medicine specialist who is Eovaldi's doctor and also serves as the Astros' team medical director. "And it goes up steadily every year."

Dr. James Andrews, one of the nation's most respected orthopedic surgeons, has also seen a spike in the number of high school pitchers he has performed the procedure on.

In a three-year span from 1996-99, Andrews performed Tommy John surgery on 164 pitchers, 19 of whom were high school aged or younger. From 2004-07, that number had jumped to 588 pitchers, 146 of whom were high school or youth league players — a seven-fold increase.

"Without a doubt, it's an issue," said Glenn Fleisig, the Smith and Nephew Chair of Research at the American Sports Medicine Institute, which was founded by Andrews. "The numbers are staggering in adolescents. More and more high-school-aged kids are having the surgery."

The big question: Why is a procedure once used mostly on college and professional players becoming more prevalent in kids who can't legally vote?

There are many factors, including how much a pitcher throws, what type of pitches he throws and whether he has good mechanics. But one factor stands out as the main culprit.

"Without a doubt, the No. 1 statistical cause (of UCL injuries) is overuse," Fleisig said. "In our studies, when a pitcher regularly threw with arm fatigue, he was 36 times more likely to be in the surgery group as opposed to the non-surgery group. That's the strongest statistical correlation in any study we've ever done."

High school coaches agree pitchers are throwing too much these days — and it starts before their high school careers. With the warm weather in Houston, the high school season is just one part of an elite pitcher's year. Such pitchers often play with select or travel teams in the summer and sometimes in the fall, leaving little time for rest.

'Crazy' year-round play

"(Year-round play) has gone off the charts," Alvin coach Mike Rogers said. "Years ago, it used to be that you played Little League, and then you went to basketball and football. Now you have 8- and 9-year-olds playing winter league and summer league. It's crazy."

Fleisig said year-round play is one reason high school pitchers may eventually require the surgery.

"Kids get more specialized, playing all year round, but that's what got them here," Fleisig said. "With so many pitches thrown, their total pitch count is now what a 25-year-old man used to have."

Eovaldi said he began pitching at a young age.

"I started pitching when I was 8 or 9," he said. "It was just fastballs, though. I've been a pitcher ever since then, for about nine or 10 years."

He said he rarely experienced pain — aside from customary postgame soreness — until that March game against Brazoswood. Once the UCL tears were discovered and the decision to have the surgery was made, Eovaldi wasn't nervous. In fact, he was somewhat excited about the procedure, which was performed by Lintner.

"I was ready to get it, recover and get back into it," Eovaldi said. "I read up on it. Doctors have really mastered the surgery. All the pros recover. It's just about being patient for that full recovery before you get back out there."

Timeline for a full recovery is normally about 12 months or longer, though pitchers can often throw again before then. Eovaldi, for instance, has been competing with the Yellow Jackets for much of this season, but he has been on a strict pitch count and hasn't fully regained his original velocity.

Lighting up the gun

"Before surgery, the highest I hit on the radar gun was 96 (mph), and I was consistent with 90-94 (on my fastball)," he said. "Now, the highest I've hit is 94, and I've been pretty consistent from 88-92."

Eovaldi is one of a handful of players in the area to have recently had Tommy John surgery. Mo Wiley, a senior at Mayde Creek, underwent the procedure in late March. The 18-year-old righthander, who is a University of Houston signee, had the procedure in hopes he could return in time to play as a freshman with the Cougars in the spring of 2009. His procedure was also done by Lintner.

"Luckily, most of the players understand that it can take a year to get back to pitching," Lintner said. "But every teenager thinks they'll heal quicker than everyone else ever did."

While the number of surgeries has increased over the years, so has the rate of full recovery. It's a much more reliable procedure now, and Fleisig said a recent study he conducted shows athletes who have UCL reconstruction come back to the same or a higher level 80-85 percent of the time.

"Yes, more kids are getting hurt, but now that we have a reliable surgery, people will have it because the recovery rates are good," Lintner said. "Ten years ago, it was almost a coin flip whether a pitcher would get back. It was just a salvage operation out of desperation. Now we expect upward of 85 percent getting back to being able to pitch."

Still, athletes can take preventative measures to help them avoid the injury. It starts with monitoring how much they throw — weekly and annually.

"The older they are, the more they can throw," Lintner said. "A teenage pitcher should not be going over 100 pitches once a week, generally speaking."

Rest is another important preventative measure. Most doctors agree pitchers should take a minimum of two to three months off from throwing.

Back off on the curves

Also, doctors recommend pitchers not throw breaking pitches (curveballs or sliders) until they are ready — normally after they've reached puberty.

But parents and coaches at all levels also have to take responsibility.

"Dads thinking (their sons) have to win at all costs at 9, 10, 11 and 12 years old to win those championship games (at tournaments) — all that means nothing in the big picture," said Mark Wiley, Mo Wiley's father. "They are fun years, but they all mean nothing compared to (the high school) level. It's not worth risking your son's arm to win a tournament at all costs."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quick Gain = Quick Fall

RT Staff Note: At the beginnning of the year, TeachDGame ran this article on their web site on the dangers of steroids and quick fix weight gain programs. There seems to be more emphasis on size and strength these days and we want all of our players to know that there are zero short-cuts to strength, speed and conditioning. It can only be achieved by hard work and a lot of sweat.

As we start off another new year, it seems quite relevant to talk about resolutions regarding our preparation and mind sets. We are also coming off the Mitchell Report regarding Steroid / HGH use in Major League Baseball and immediately besides the obvious affects this has on the game at that level, there are also direct questions regarding how this affects the youth of America from College athletes to High School athletes and below. While we can debate the affects, I think like any good analysis, at some point you need to evaluate and get to the root cause of these issues. While there can and usually are many “reasons” for problems such as these, one key issue in my opinion drives from our current society. In today’s society, it seems we want everything RIGHT NOW.

For today’s athletes, the competitive environment seems to have taken on an evil life in and of itself. Everyone wants the Quick Gain. I need to win NOW; I want to get bigger, stronger, and faster NOW. I need to have a good year NOW to get that scholarship. Even our lifestyles reflect this belief. Look at the rise in Fast Food consumption, the speeds we drive on the freeway, the Internet (need my information NOW) and just about all other aspects of our life can have many components that drive our need to have everything NOW. As adults, we are not immune from these same thoughts and beliefs just like our children. Everyone can take a good long look in the mirror and what do we see? My son needs to make Varsity NOW so that he can be seen and get that scholarship. So we need to take him to the latest velocity, speed, mental, vision, pitching, catching, whatever trainer to improve him NOW.

If these Quick Lesson’s do not produce immediate results, we look around for the answer somewhere else. Academics are not immune from this as well. “My gosh, SAT’s are coming up, we need to get you into that SAT Prep CRAM course NOW so you will improve your scores”. What get’s lost so many times is the appreciation for good old fashioned hard work. We seem to have lost the belief that “nothing happens without hard work”. Or maybe we have just redefined “hard work”.

In many instances, it is the long struggle that not only provides us with the gains we are looking for, but also the appreciation for the journey and the lesson’s learned. Sure, I can pop some pills or inject myself with some chemical that will allow me to become something rather quickly that I was not before. But is this magic or merely just a faster route to Quick Gain = Quick Fail. Anything that can be gained quickly can be lost just as quickly.

Athletes want to perform in competition but need to remember what prepares us for competition is the hours we put into practice. Players need to work harder in practice than they would in the games. They need to challenge themselves and be challenged more in practice. That way, anything that happens in the games will have already been conquered in the practice environment. The belief that methodical improvement and hard work builds that strong base which is more difficult to fall from, needs to be the focus. This goes for the academic side of life as well. There needs to be that same focus in putting in the hours learning lesson’s in the classroom just as the athletic field. Sure, you can cram it all in the night before a test, and then hope it “spills” out on the paper. But will you really retain anything? Will you have learned how to work hard and reap the long term rewards of that work? Sure, this may work for today, tomorrow or the short run. But at some point, these quick hitters just won’t work any longer. Are you going to be prepared to do what it takes if what it takes is more than you are accustomed to doing?

Sure, life has changed. But what has also changed is our belief in how we achieve success. We must start believing that QUICK GAIN = QUICK FAIL. That way, we will do what must be done to truly be as great as we are capable of being for the long run. We might be applauded for what we do today, but we’ll be remembered for what we did over the long run. We’ll also be remembered for how we did it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bishop Gorman Checks into First

1. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 28-1 (2)
The Gaels scored 63 runs and allowed 13 in their last three games. The Gael force offense is proving it’s pre-season high ranking was well deserved. How would you like to be an opposing pitcher against these five players…Jeff Malm-55 hits, 53 RBI’s, 6HR’s, .585 avg…Joey Rickard-47 hits, 33 RBI’s, 7HR’s, .553 avg….Neil Lawhorn-29 hits, 29 RBI’s, .468 avg…John Rickard, 34 hits, 45 RBI’s, 8 HR’s, .442 avg…Brandon Garcia-32 hits, 39 RBI’s, 8 HR’s, .410 avg. Scary good! The team BA is .436…That’s insane!

2. American Heritage - Florida – 23-2 (5)
Pompano, Everglades and Westwood were no match for the Patriots…and we mean no match. The Pats outscored them 36-3. Joey Belviso continues to be hot with a .516 BA and 14 HR’s. Also going yard with frequency are Eric Hosmer with 9 HR’s, Eric Acevedo with 9HR’s and Deven Marrera with 8 HR’s.

3. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 9-0 (6)
Don Bosco Prep played Cranford H.S. (NJ) and won yesterday 10-0. Game was stopped after 6 innings. Mike Dennhardt (4-0)(Boston College) got the win. Sam Cerbo (Delaware) HR. Don Bosco moves to 9-0 scoring 121 runs vs 7 against. Earlier in the week, the Prepsters clobbered Hackensack, N.J. 12-1. Tim O'Sullivan (Quinnipiac) got the win. Brett Knief had a HR.

4. Sarasota - Florida – 18-2 (7)
The Sailors are on a huge roll as they beat Manatee and Venice to move up in the polls. They have won 11 in a row and are poised to start the sectionals as a very high seed soon.

5. Lake Brantley HS, Florida 23-1 (5)
They had to lose at some point and University schooled them 6-2, but the Patriots still had a 23 game streak going and that’s good enough to stay put this week.

6. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 16-5 California (8)
They rebound from a tough loss and go to North Hollywood and play like stars vs. Harvard of Westlake. For that, they move up in the polls again and we think they can stay there.

7. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 22-2 (1)
Broken Arrow broke the Rams streak…twice. Nevertheless, Coach Larry Turners team had 21 straight wins and had a huge target on their back…They drop towards the bottom of the Top ten, but not out.

8. Orange Lutheran – California 17-3 (4)
The Lancers were cruising along with a 5 game winning streak and then…laid a huge orange colored egg with a 11-0 loss to Servite. That’s baseball. Conference games are usually tough and mean different things for different teams. After taking two from Servite earlier in the year…they couldn’t take the sweep and drop a bit in our poll.

9. Alvin HS - Texas – 24-3 (12)
Although Atascocita is ranked ahead of the Yellowjackets in a local Texas poll, Alvin has an equal record AND a 5 game win streak. Coach Mike Rogers has this team focused and playing great ball right now as they crack our top 10.

10. Aptos HS - California – 19-3 (16)
The Mariners outscored their opponent 35-3 and move into our Top 10 this week. They have won 6 in a row and are one of the teams are a favorite to win the Central Coast Section this year.

11. Seminole (Seminole, Fla.) 23-1 (nr)
They lost their last game, but are the favorite to win their district. Seminole's Jay Taylor is first on the team in batting average (.458) and second in RBIs (21) and home runs (three). The Warhawks have advanced to the region tournament nine times since 1999.

12. Moody High School – Texas - 22-0 (16)
Rockport and Gregory HS are the latest to fall to the mighty Trojans. They are one of the few unbeaten teams in Texas and one of the toughest, despite the e-mails we receive from other teams.

13. Atascocita-Texas- 26-3 (nr)
We were getting tons of e-mails complaining that the Eagles weren’t in our Top Twenty and then they lose to Sterling 4-1. They are 26-3 and we are impressed with that, so we’ll put them in our poll this week.

14. Plant High School – Florida – 21-3 (9)
They lose to Sickles and move down in our poll.

15. Poway – California – 16-3 (11)
Poway splits with Rancho Bernardo and moves down in our poll.

16. Farragut -Tenn.-23-0 (nr)
The have cruised through their schedule and the Admirals latest victims were Maryville, Heritage and Lenoir. Led by University of Tennessee bound RHP Matt Ramsey, their perfect record gives them some exposure in our Poll too.

17. Barbe - Louisiana – 24-5 (15)
How can you beat a team 23-5 one game and lose 6-5 the next? Can you spell revenge? Acadania did just that and avenged a romping and the Buccaneers move down a notch.

18. Jupiter - Florida - 21-4 (19)
we gave the one more week to right their losing ways and they responded with four straight wins…a 14-2 beat down at Suncoast and a tough 5-3 victory over West Boca.

19. Calvert Hall HS – Maryland- 16-4 (NR)
They seem to have found their way after a disastrous California trip. They beat previously ranked St Johns 3-2 and destroy Gillman to crack our poll for the second time.

20.Grossmont HS - California - 14-5 (20)
West Hills and Santana (twice) were no match and Grossmont stays right where they were last week.

Friday, April 18, 2008

College Game Day for Baseball

RT Staff Note: This post is from John Meadus, a college baseball player that has a few things to say about the lack of publicity the college game gets. Enjoy.

It's April. Football season has been over for two months, and won't start up again for another four or five months. Basketball and hockey are both ending their regular seasons and beginning their playoffs.

It is baseball season, but not just for professional baseball! Not just the guys who get paid millions of dollars to sit on the bench with a sore pinky toe. Not just the guys who don't run out ground balls or pop-ups to the infield. I am talking about the kids who may not make it to the next level, but still put out more effort and hustle than the "pros" do. I am talking about college baseball.

Everyone loves college football because of all the big crowds, and the atmosphere in huge stadiums across the country. The same goes for college basketball: guys running up and down the court, diving on the floor for loose balls and taking charges. These are the things that professional games lack these days, which makes some people enjoy college sports more than professional sports.

What is so different about college baseball?

I really don't think college baseball gets the kind of recognition that it deserves. It has all the passion and desire that the professional game has and more. You can just see the desire in players' faces when they play, because for most, this is their last chance to play this game in such a highly competitive way. You can see these kids dive all over the field, not because they're getting paid to, but because they are having fun and playing out of love for the game.

I am a college baseball player, myself, and I believe that there should be more college baseball games on television for people to see. I think that college baseball is always exciting to watch, because even a five-run lead is not safe when hitters are using aluminum bats. While it's true that ESPN shows the College World Series, there are plenty of other games out there during the regular season to watch. For example, take when Florida State plays Florida, or UCLA plays Arizona State.

The College World Series is great, because you can see all the emotion that goes into the game. For the winners and even the losers, all their pent-up emotions come out after the games, and even on the field during play. It's tough to say that about the Majors these days.

I don't think that, watching on TV, you can say that every player gives 100 percent every game. They do play three times as many games as college kids do, but it makes no difference to me. College baseball players always play hard, and when they get to the College World Series and are on TV for once, they play even harder, which makes it great to watch.

I am not advocating putting college baseball games on ESPN in place of MLB games, but when I am going through the channels and I get to ESPN2, I see drag racing on for three hours.

Maybe, instead of televising one of the least popular sports in America, they could show a college baseball game every once in a while.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You Are Only As Good As What You Put Into The Game

Our post yesterday sprouted e-mails from all corners of the country and one in particular caught our eye. It’s from a player that said that his team is full of a bunch of whiners on the bench because they don’t like the style of coaching or don’t get enough playing time and do nothing but bring the rest of the team down.

So, we e-mailed him back. We have seen this situation hundreds of times before and thought we may have a solution. Our e-mail conversation took a day and a half to complete…we have to work and the player had school. But when it was over, we were basically right in our assumptions about the root of the dissension.

If You Don’t Dream About Baseball, Then Baseball is NOT Your Dream
The players that cared and performed well on our e-mailers team are what we call diamond dogs. According to this player,they all eat, breathe, sleep and dream baseball. 100% of the starters and contributors on that team, coincidently played on summer travel teams that they had to try-out for. They were used to the competition…used to the pressure…and could handle the heat of a demanding and grizzly tempered coach. In fact, our player preferred ill tempered coaches to more laid back ones…He and the other stars on the team liked the pressure of someone being on their butts all the time. And, it was no surprise that these same players were the stat leaders on their team. Tough guys win in tough situations.

The whiners on our e-mailers team were recreational ball players. We define recreational ball as any community league, such as Legion. Now, there are Legion teams that are good in some smaller communities, and not all Rec ballplayers are like the players in our scenario. But, for the most part…in large markets and sun-belt states, Legion Ball can be a false sense of security and a safe haven for mediocre players. Sorry parents if you disagree. In large markets, the better players ARE playing travel ball…there are very few exceptions to this…the rest are playing Rec ball. If you look at our D-I signee list, 90% of the D-I players played on a travel team…Enough Said.

Therefore, the whiners on our e-mailers team, for the most part, get ample playing time in the summer months on their rec teams…which is an awesome thing…That part we like. The only way to get better is to play more. That's what that league is give baseball players that don't play at a high level, a chance to play more and possibly get better...But, we all must put these things into perspective as parents. A star on a Rec team is not the same as a star on a Travel team…just as a star on a Single-A team in the pro’s is not the same caliber as a star on the Major League Roster. There are different levels of competition and different levels of success. High school is somewhere in between the rigors of travel ball and the watered down competition level of Rec Ball. It's a step up for the rec guys and usually a heck of a lot of fun for the Travel players.

Numbers don't lie. Travel Ball players are putting up gaudy High School stats. Orange Lutherans Gerrit Cole and Aaron Gates and American Heritage’s, Joey Belviso and Eric Hosmer have insane stats this year. There are hundreds more like them that play at the same high level of play with equally lofty stats.

On the other hand, as we stated earlier, the Rec ball player sees high school as a higher level of play. The stars in the Rec league…those guys that were putting up lofty numbers against lesser competition, often find it a bit tougher to put up those big stats on varsity. When they don't have that same success in High School as they did the past summer, they risk losing their confidence, cool, and passion for the game, because they had it so easy with Dad as their coach in Rec ball. They start to blame the coaches or others for their lack of success and unfortunately, so do many of their parents. If we heard it once, we heard it a million times…”My son hit .500 on his Legion team and he can’t crack the line-up on his high school team…the coach is a joke”. No parents, the league your son played on was not as competitive and did not properly prepare him for the level of play his HS league has. Although many rec players may indeed be good…and may someday develop into better players…the big fish in a small pond kid will have a tough time in the Ocean a majority of the time.

Back to the Travel Ball players. They never had it easy. Hosner, Belviso, Cole and Gates DID NOT have those stats in travel ball. Belviso did not have 12 HR’s in 22 travel ball games. Each had to earn their positions, work hard to maintain their status on the team and prove that they were worthy to play day in and day out...and did so in front of pro scouts and college recruiters. That's a lot of pressure for a 16 and 17 year old kid. There were no dads guaranteeing them a spot on the roster. There were no city boundries limiting them to a local team. The travel teams that they played on had a dozen guys just like them from all over the state competing for their spot…so it raised their game to a higher level…and it’s no surprise that they all are considered the nations best…because they competed day in and day out in the summer against the nations best.

To the travel ball player, high school is a bit easier…and as a result a bit more fun and rewarding…But they too realize that success in high school does not mean success in college or the pros. They are smarter and savvier than that…because they have seen that higher level of play and while they may be basking in the accolades that high school brings…it’s a whole new ball game at the next level.

If only our e-mailers whiner team mates could take that attitude and treat high school as their next level and grind it out rather than grind everyone around them down…that team and others like that team would be a lot more fun to play for. Guys, it’s usually not just the coach…It’s your attitude towards the game…the commitment to yourself…and your work ethic that will make or break your high school career. Our e-mailer is calling a team meeting in the next few days to discuss our thoughts with his team. Good luck to him and good luck to his team.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The “I” in TEAM

RT Staff Note: This is another post from Jim Giles at Enjoy...He has a lot of great things to say.

I wish I had a dollar for every time some coach has professed the wonderful words “There is no I in Team”. Heck, I have even used it myself at times. But as I sit back and ponder this thought, it occurred to me that there is an “I” in team. There has to be an “I”. The team is made up collectively of a number of “I’s”. So where are they? Where are they hiding in there?

They are invisible to the naked eye, but they are truly the most important aspect of the TEAM succeeding. They are at the very core of the success of the team. If they are not there, in no way will the team succeed. They are the glue and foundation by which the team is built and ensures the teams success. With that, I bring you the “Invisible I’s in TEAM”:

I MUST PREPARE. Every individual member of the team must prepare themselves to the best of their abilities to do their job. A team is only as good as its weakest link. A cliché yes, but true nonetheless. If every member of the team does not do their part in preparing themselves, there is no way for the collective team to succeed at the highest-level possible. At some point, in some way, every member of the team will be called upon to help ensure success.

I MUST SACRIFICE. Every member of the team must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole. The level of sacrifice will vary, but regardless, each member of the team must find and accept their role in the success. This sacrifice can be on many different levels. It might be playing a different position, it might be becoming a role player instead of a “star”, and it might be the support system for another player who needs you. Whatever it is, are you willing to do it for the good of the team?

I MUST LET GO OF MY EGO. The team is bigger than any one individual player. Regardless of their level of ability, there is not one player alive that can go out and compete by themselves in a team sport and be victorious. At some point, in some way, they need each and every other player on that team for them to be individually successful.

I MUST FIND JOY IN ANOTHER PERSONS SUCCESS. At some level, other teammates must succeed if we are collectively to succeed as a team. A pitcher can go out and throw a no hitter striking out every batter. But if we don’t score any runs, we will not win the game. We should not be jealous of another person’s success, but rather we should embrace it, support it and do everything in our power to HELP it.

So without the Invisible “I’s”, all you will be left with is a cute slogan that sounds good in a speech or looks good hanging on the wall. Without the Invisible “I’s”, you will not have the very basis by which this “belief” works and ensures everyone’s success. While on the surface this belief might be appropriate for your specific sport, there are also some things, which are far bigger than this. This same process and belief is also the very fabric by which our most important Teams are built - FAMILY and FRIENDS.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Staying In School

The news the past few days that many of the same players that wowed us in the basketball March Madness, are now headed to the NBA bothered us a bit. It doesn't surprise happens every year. But, now that many of us have teens in college or high school, and we are closer to it, it doesn't seem like the right thing to do. What happened to loyalty and school pride? What's the point of recruiting a Blue Chip athlete if a team is only going to have them for one year? Ohio State is in the championship game one year and doesn't make the tourney the next? How would you like to be that coach? So much for Buckeye Spirit.

Baseball, curiously has a hybrid rule that allows high school graduates to enter the draft. However, if they go to a four year university, they must wait until after their junior year to be draft eligible. We like that rule. Education should be the number one priority.

However, there are ways around this rule if a players goes to a Junior College. A player is eligible after each completed JC season. A player may use this strategy to move up the draft board. Let's say a player gets drafted in the 30th round after his senior year in High School. They don't offer much money at those rounds, so the player goes to a JC. The year after his JC freshman season, he moves up to the 18th round. Still not good enough money to make a living, but he did move up and is being followed. After his sophomore year, he moves up to the 6th round where the money is decent enough to sign and does so.

The JC route is not a bad strategy. At least the player gets an education, but in our opinion, that player may have had a more memorable experience, a better education and more applicable post baseball opportunities at a four year college. If that same player had gone to a four year and then decided to leave after his junior year and baseball didn't pan out, he would only have one year of college to complete...which is much more manageable.

Plus, nothing beats the college experience...the football games on Saturday afternoons, the college basketball season and the built in fan base of 25,000 plus faithful students, thousands of alumni and locals can provide at those sporting events. One year away from the real world of the baseball business will not make or break a players chances to succeed. MLB is full of college players that played at LEAST 3 years at a 4 year university. Even for those that didn't make it to the Bigs, most pro contracts will pay for the player to go back to college and finish his degree. Wouldn't it be easier for that player to only have a few semesters to get that degree? We think so.

It's just so hard for a player to succeed out of High School. There are so many intangibles at that young age. College gives the player a chance to grow up in a more controlled and disciplined environment to help him ease into the sometimes harsh realities of today's world. It's hard enough even for college players to make it...For instance, according to the NCAA, 9.4% of all players go on to play professionally if they go to college, versus .45% of players going professional from High School.

So, if any of you players are good enough to make that decision to go pro or college...pick college...College will not only help you mature and grow mentally, but every D-I program has top notch strength and conditioning programs and facilities that are often not readily available at the rookie and Single A level. You will emerge out of college smarter, more conditioned and disciplined than that kid that decided to make a leap into the big time out of high school...Plus, that degree will be far more valuable than any pro contract in the long run. If you are that good and have a desire to play pro...the scouts will be there waiting...and salivating at that mature, physical specimen that college helped you become.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Top 20 Mid Season Poll

1. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 18-0 (1)
We ranked the best in the country first. Now, it seems ESPN and USA Today have caught on to what we knew all along. This is the Rams third straight week on top of our poll. That goes to show you that if you keep on winning and never lose, you get rewarded. They rack up three more big wins against Washington, Bartlesville, and Page.

2. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 25-1 (3)
The Gaels averaged 15 runs a game in their last three big wins. They are playing really high level baseball right now and doing so against national competition and local teams. The local teams can’t compete right now, but baseball is sometimes unpredictable and it’s tough to route teams and keep up the momentum. But, if anyone can do it, BG can.

3. Orange Lutheran – California 16-2 (4)
They take two from J. Serra of Southern California. In game #1, All-American Gerrit Cole struck out 10 and pitched a complete game 2 hit shut-out. Aaron Gates and Cole contributed RBI’s in the win. In game two it was Gates on the mound and pitched a 3 hitter himself in a 4-2 win.

4. American Heritage - Florida – 21-2 (5)
Pompano, Everglades and Westwood were no match for the Patriots…and we mean no match. The Pats outscored them 36-3. Joey Belviso’s 12 HR’s and Eric Hsomer’s 9 bombs are the keys to their lofty record this year.

5. Lake Brantley HS, Florida 21-0 (6)
WOW!!! 21-0 is an impressive record and so are their wins vs. Lake Mary, Haggerty and Lake Howell. They continue to move up the poll.

6. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 6-0 (8)
In the east, Catholic schools play on Sundays. The Church of Baseball…We like it. And on this holy day, DBP beat St. Joe's (Metuchen, N.J.) 8-1. Mike Dennhardt (Boston College) went 6 innings getting the win. Niko Spezial gets the save. To date, Don Bosco has 83 runs scored vs 5 against. Home Runs in the Sunday Special were by Steve Proscia (Virginia) & Ben Luederer (Marist) for Don Bosco Prep. Earlier in the week, Sam Cerbo (Delaware) gets the win vs. JFK. Eric Pfisterer (Duke) had a Grand Slam AND pitched a No-Hitter.

7. Sarasota - Florida – 16-2 (9)
Jesuit was the Sailors latest victim as they move up the polls and are ready to prove why they were pre-season favorites coming into the season.

8. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 13-5 California (2)
They lose 2 out of last three and their web site suggests that their losses were a audition for the remake of the Keystone Cops. Unlike a few games that were played in the Midwest and Northeast this week, Crespi had to play in 98 degree heat. AAAWWW! Seriously, baseball is a game of ups and downs and Crespi is a great team and will stay in our Top 10, despite the heat stroke they surely suffered vs. Thousand Oaks and Loyola.

9. Plant High School – Florida – 20-2 (7)
After winning four straight, the Panthers drop a tough one to Brandon in the Saladino Tourney. They drop a bit, but 20-2 is still a great record and stay in the top 10.

10. Poway – California – 16-3 (11)
It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season…even tougher when those games are back to back to back. Mt. Carmel is one team that doesn’t want to remember the Titans as Poway beat them handily. Brett Thomas and Alex Dickerson are carrying the big sticks with .453 and .438 BA’s respectively.

11. Long Beach Wilson - California – 17-3 (12)
The Bruins have raked up 8 straight W’s and Zach Wilson could convince the locals that the school is named after him with his lofty .507 BA. Right on his tail is fellow prop prospect Aaron Hicks at .490.

12. Alvin HS - Texas – 20-3 (15)
We received a few e-mails that criticized us for having Alvin in our poll. Those e-mails must have made their way into the Yellowjackets dug-out as they win two more last week against Pearland and Clear Creek.

13. Aptos HS - California – 17-3 (16)
Soquel and Scotts Valley couldn’t keep up with the hot bats of the Mariners. They move up quite a bit.

14. Vista Murrietta - California – 14-4 (17)
Two more wins against Murrieta Valley move the Broncos up the ladder.

15. Barbe - Louisiana – 23-4 (18)
Barbe is on a hug roll with it’s 6th straight win. Sulphur is the latest victim and the Buccaneers move up.

16. Moody High School – Texas - 19-0 (20)
A few big wins over Calhoun and Miller move the Trojans up while they give their opponents a bit of a moody feeling after they get beat up by this tough Texas team from Corpus Christi.

17. Serra HS – California - 16-4 (NR)
They are back due to a huge win over California’s #1 ranked team, Valley Christian of San Jose. The Padres didn’t just beat them, they beat them up...16-1. Great pitching by Ryan Allgrove and two HR’s by Ryan Palermo (his 10th & 11th), one a Grand Slam, puts the Pads right back up in the national spotlight. Can they hold on to it this time?

18. St. Johns College HS - Washington DC 8-3 (16)
A team this loaded with talent has high expectations and a huge target on it’s back. They lose another game to DeMatha. Their weather has not been conducive for baseball and that usually evens out the playing field. They drop in the polls too.

19. Jupiter - Florida - 17-4 (13)
The Warriors have lost two in a row and we’ll give them one more week in the polls, but that’s about it.

20.Grossmont HS - California - 14-5 (10)
They had a chance to prove to a Petco Park crowd that they were the real deal and lose a tough contest to Granite Hills. We will keep them in the top twenty but they need to re-group and play tough the rest of the year.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Worry Only About What You Can Control

RT Staff Note: This is another article by TeachdGames Jim Giles. Go To for more articles.

One of the hardest aspects of baseball, sports in general or life, is the incredible affect that outside influences have on our actions. Our actions then become a direct influence on the outcome that follows. It is very difficult to really and truly focus only on what YOU can control. While difficult, it is one of the key attributes of any successful athlete. During the course of competition, there will undoubtedly be numerous outside influences that can have positive or negative affects on the outcome. IF YOU LET THEM. Whether it be umpires (officials), opposing players or coaches, your coach, fans in the stands, your performance, etc., the affect they can have on the outcome of the game is tremendous if you let it. To separate yourself as an athlete, you must master the skill of worrying only about what YOU can control.

I was reading an interview with Pete Carroll who said “if you make the game all about what you can control, then the outcome is essentially in your hands every time.” This philosophy can apply regardless of the situation or scenario you are encountering.

As a player, how do you worry only about what you can control? A Pitcher, often times can get extremely agitated if an umpire is having difficulty maintaining his strike zone. You really need to focus all of your energy on the area where YOU have control. That area is how YOU REACT to situations. You can throw a ball right down the middle of the plate. BALL ONE! What? Are you kidding me? Of course not, ball one. Guess what that next pitch you put on the black is going to be? Yep, ball TWO. You can not control if the umpire will call the pitch a ball or strike. All you can do is focus on making a good pitch. Once the ball leaves your hand, FORGET ABOUT IT. Another scenario is you make that great pitch. Yet, the hitter get’s a piece of it and flares a base hit. Does it make any sense to expend any energy in frustration? No, you can not do anything about it. You need to regain / maintain your composure and focus on the next pitch. Or how about you’re throwing a good game, routine ground ball to your shortstop, ooops, and right through his legs. You step back on the mound, ticked off because your shortstop can’t make a single routine play, you proceed to walk the next batter then give up a 2 run double on a BP fastball right down the middle because now your really frustrated. Game over, you lose. You can NOT control whether the players around you make the plays or not.

As a hitter I love this situation. A player will take 2 fastballs right down the middle. Now they are sitting 0-2 and the pitcher breaks off a deuce just off the plate, strike three. The player comes into the dugout cussing and swearing, throws their helmet and proclaims “that umpire sucks”. Now after the player has thoroughly berated the umpire, possibly kicked his equipment across the dugout and moaned and complained to every other player, here I come. “So, the umpire sucks huh? How about those first two pitches right down the middle?” The reply “yah, but…”But NOTHING. Or maybe Mr. Umpire is having a bad day. Strike Zone is all over the place. This happens all the time. Nothing positive comes from focusing on the fact that everything out of the pitchers hand seems to be a strike. What you must do is find a way to focus on what you can control. This is looking for a good pitch and putting a good swing on the ball. Or maybe you just ripped a line drive sure double into the outfield gap. The outfielder lies out and makes a phenomenal catch. You’re ticked because you didn’t get the hit. Now you are focusing on this for your next 2 at bats where you strike out looking and hit a weak ground ball. Wrong Answer. Focus on what you can control. You hit a good pitch; you put a good swing on the ball and drove it hard. All positives. Nothing negative happened in that first at bat for you, the opposing player just made a great catch. Now you have turned a good at bat into a BAD DAY.

FOCUS ONLY ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL. Along the way, realize that the ONLY thing you can control is how YOU REACT to situations. What really means something is what you do about these situations and how you react. That very next step you take will be the most important part of your success or failure. Only you can decide which way it will lead you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Beauty of Baseball From the Air

I was flying cross country the other day and asked for my usual seats on the aisle. However, on this day of travel, the only seats available were windows. Depending on who is sitting in the two seats next to me, I don’t particularly like the window. Window seats make me feel trapped.

Lucky me, nobody sat in the middle seat, so I had the fortune of spreading out and staring out the window looking at the many towns that dot this country. It wasn’t the parallel pattern of the roads and rows of houses and businesses that caught my eye from above. It wasn’t the undulating terrain, lakes or rivers that meander through our countryside either. No…what caught my eye in the hundreds of towns and cities in my 3,000 mile trek were baseball fields…It’s amazing how pure the sight of a baseball field is from above. There’s a reason they call it a diamond…those symmetrical plots of land are gems to look at.

As I traversed the airways from state to state, I saw how the seasons define the old ballyards condition. The fields in the warmer climates were greener, more lush and the cold weather states had patches of green intermixed with seasonal grasses that were still recovering from the previous months of a punishing winter.

It was a mid afternoon flight, and the one common denominator of all of the fields was the traces of tiny microscopic specs dotting the fields. ‘It’s April in America’, I thought to myself, and no matter what the temperature, the games were on. I glanced out and wished that I had military strength binoculars, or the type of vision wear that science fiction movies say that the military has, so that I could watch double plays being turned, and hit and run plays being executed in the hundreds of games that were visible from my nose bleed view. With that type of eagle eye vision, who needs the dozen TV’s that sports bars tout. You could forget any and all types of virtual reality. I could have the reality of virtually dozens of games right in front of my eyes.

As it were, I had the luxury of just knowing that Baseball in this great country is alive and well and being played in conditions that ranged from 85 degrees to a hand stinging 35 degrees. And if I could see the expressions on the players faces, I bet that no matter what the conditions, the players were just glad to be on the field, playing their game…in their town…if front of their fans and friends.

Some fields had perfect dimensions from pole to pole, while others had asymmetrical nooks and crannies in the outfield that were obviously designed to give the home team some type of offensive or defensive advantage. Some had big stands dotted with multi colored flecks that I could imagine being proud parents watching their sons battling it out on both sides of the ball.

After hours of staring out into the vastness, the one notion that struck me was that maybe Iowa’s Field of Dreams isn’t heaven after all. I am now convinced heaven is up there in the clouds…right where I was…so that the angels can have a birds-eye view of our world…our game…our National Past Time.

RT Staff

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Respect The Game

RT Staff Note: This is another article by TeachdGames Jim Giles. Go To for more articles.

I had an epiphany while reading a quote by USC’s football coach Pete Carroll. Carroll said the "football gods" cause the ball to bounce in your favor sometimes, in your opponents' favor on others. "You're going to have to overcome all that stuff. We're going to have to do it again," he said. "Maybe this week and maybe next week, the teams are going to have our number, or somebody's going to be hot and the wind is going to blow and things happen”. "That's why we talk all the time -- you have to respect the game."

This just hit me hard. I truly believe exactly what he was saying, but as I reread it over a second and third time…. OK, so I’m a nut, I love trying to get inside Pete Carroll’s head and understand his methods/theories…. But I think so many times all of us, coaches, players and parents need to really look hard at these 3 very important words :

“ Respect the Game “

Coaches – every time we step on the field, do we really exemplify the respect for our opponent, respect for our players, respect for the umpires and respect for those who have stepped on the field before us? This great game we all love and hate is so fickle. One day we win, the next we lose. If we win, HOW do we win? Do we walk off the field gloating and rubbing it in the nose of the other team? Do we shove it in the face of the opposing fans? Do we post on message boards our record? Do we really win even if the scoreboard shows the other team might have scored more points during the game?

I think it was John Wooden who said, “ some days we don’t lose, we just ran out of time”. Do we really respect our players, or are they just a mere means to an end of satisfying our own ego’s as we can no longer play the game ourselves? Do we remember that every time we step on the field and coach, it is an opportunity to lead by example to those young men who look at everything we do, even when we think their more worried about the hotties in the stands? As we run out to argue a questionable call or rant and rave about the idiots in blue, can in the next breath we really talk to our players about “worrying about what you can control”?

Players – every time you step on the field, it is one step closer to the day you will no longer be able to step on that field and compete. How do you want that step to be taken? Everyone wants the satisfaction of winning. Winning feels good. But can you win while still retaining the Respect of your opponent? Can you still respect an opponent if the scoreboard says you didn’t score more runs than they did that day? How will you respect the name on the front of that uniform? In most instances, there were guy’s that wore that uniform ahead of you that gave YOU the opportunity to wear it today. They played the game with respect which is the reason while you wear it today. People will look to you with respect just because of the name on the front. How are you respecting them?

For those that will wear the uniform behind you, how will you respect THEM??? By leaving a legacy so that when they wear that uniform tomorrow, next year or 5 years from now, they will get the same respect that you do just for wearing it. How do you respect the name on the back? In many of the days ahead of you, the name on your back will be a source of great pride. You should be proud of who you are. But, this comes with a price. The price that hopefully has been paid by those ahead of you. The price you pay for those behind you that will have to live with the legacy you leave behind by the way you respect it today. And one day hopefully, when you are in the stands and you get to look down on a little one who wears that same name, you will understand the pride that goes along with that price.

Parents – how do YOU respect the game? Every time you are in the stands or on the sidelines, you are a direct representative of the team / school that your child is playing for. Are you respectful of the opportunity your son has been given to wear that uniform? How do you respect those who have come before you and given you the opportunity to wear that cute little sweatshirt or hat with the team logo on it? How will you respect those behind you, who one day will hope to walk into a stadium and garner some level of respect just because of the logo they so proudly wear? Or will everyone look upon them as “ Oh, their one of them “. How will you respect your
CHILD? Every time you stand up and yell at the umpire, it is almost assured that your son is sitting in the dugout putting his head down in shame. Or worse, you are telling them directly that it is OK NOT to respect the officials. How do you respect the coach ?

In many instances, you have paid for this privilege, whether it is travel ball fees, tuition at school, or just athletic fees. How can you possibly expect your son to Respect the coach or opponents if there is no example coming from the stands? How can you even remotely expect your son to only worry about what he can control if during the entire ride home or dinner that night, you criticize the coach, the umpires, the opponent, fellow players or YOUR SON’s play?

God, this is what we all forget so often. IT IS JUST A GAME. It SHOULD NOT be the embodiment of who we are. It will many times however reveal WHO we are. It is NOT the end of the world! It just seems like it if we didn’t score enough runs that day. It is NOT the financing for my son’s college education. Oh yeah and think about this one….. Key word --- education, why do I want to go to college, to play baseball, NO – to get an education. It is NOT my personal retirement fund as God willing, my son will be a million dollar bonus baby and suddenly all MY WORRIES will be erased. He’ll take care of me when I get old. Remember, they’ll follow your example.

For those tiny select few, maybe one day it will be their JOB….. Getting paid to PLAY THE GAME….. but can you get paid and still Respect the Game? Respect the Fans? Respect the name on the Front of the Jersey? Respect the name on the BACK of the Jersey? I sometimes feel that this is forgotten. All those dollar bills come from somewhere. That “tight” ride you’ll be driving, the “dope” house you and your kids are living in and all the "blingage" is a direct GIFT from everyone sitting in the stands who has paid a huge amount just for the privilege of watching you play. You get to EARN a living playing THE GAME we all love. Those people in the stands don’t consider how they earn a living to be a GAME. Those same people are the one’s who buy the products you’ll endorse, which will bring you more cash. So when the spotlight is shining so bright and everyone wants a piece of you, remember why that desire even exists giving you something only a select few have – RECOGNITION – it is because of THE GAME. How will you Respect it?

So as we all walk out on the field this weekend, next week, next month or next year –we can all really think “ how will we RESPECT THE GAME “.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Measure Of A Man

RT Staff This is another article by TeachdGames Jim Giles. Go To for more articles.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love to use this quotation during difficult times on the field of competition. The game of baseball as well as the game of life is full of opportunities to show what we are really made of. It is easy to be filled with confidence and composure when we are in the middle of success and things are going well. Often athletes speak of being “In a Zone” when things are going good. Feeling as if they are playing outside themselves and just letting things happen. Not knowing how or why things are going the way they are, but just happy they are going that way. Or a team might be in the middle of a winning streak.

Someway, somehow, they seem to be getting all the breaks whether it is their own actions, or the untimely failure of their opponent. But the true test is how we handle those moments, or periods, where success seems to be running away from us. No matter what the team does, or players individually, they seem to be on the short end of opportunity after opportunity. Collectively, the team or player just seems to not be able to overcome small obstacles along the way to be victorious.

Baseball is a game of failure. A hitter will fail 6-7 times out of ten at bats and be considered successful. Teams rarely go an entire season without a loss. The test is mentally, how do we handle those failures? How do we handle those times of challenge?

The dreaded “slump”. Every athlete, regardless of their sport, will endure periods where success seems to be hiding from them. It seems like no matter what a person does, they can not get that “break” that will get them over this hump. Often times, you will see an athlete try and push harder, try and fight themselves out of this period. Sometimes the consequences are harsh; digging themselves deeper and deeper into this quagmire of
unsuccessful times. It is our ego and basic human instincts that will drive us to want to fight our way out of this.

The test is not to give up and maintain our composure at all costs. The measure is how we respond. We can control how we respond to these situations. Easy words to say, but never easy actions to find within ourselves. You have to find that “special something” deep inside you which continues to drive you during these times. During these times the answer may be to just “let go” as you do during the periods of success. The letting go though, is letting go of the negative thoughts, the self doubt, and the blame towards other forces or people. You need to have faith in your abilities. You need to find faith in those around you that they will support you and that you do not need to do everything yourself.

Focus on your actions and what you are doing to stay strong and continue to battle. Ensure that you respond with positive actions and continue to battle. Someone on the team needs to step up and be that strength for others if needed. One person, maintaining this strength, can be the driving force that will bring everyone else along and help the team endure. This faith, or confidence, must be your driving force. During this time, you need to let go of the easy road. The easy road of giving up, or placing blame on other people or things.

During these times you have to find a way to eliminate all the negatives. No matter what the issue or what the obstacle, there can be no negatives. You must find a way to look at everything as a special opportunity to improve, reflect on and continue to move forward in a positive way. Remove the focus on results. Do not judge each individual step along the way, each hit or out. But rather, judge the process by which you are taking.

Was it a good At Bat? Did I swing at good pitches? As a Pitcher, did I throw the pitch well? Did I commit to the pitch? By doing this you will be in a much stronger position to overcome anything. In the end, you will be “measured” by how you responded and handled these periods. You will be remembered for your courage, strength and endurance of challenge. Those that judge us whether they are coaches at the next level, scouts, family or friends, love to see us fail. For it is not in the enjoyment of seeing the failure, but rather the joy in seeing what lies deep inside us to help us overcome the failure or difficulty. It is our response to these “so called” failures. Quite possibly, the only person who will remember this is you.

We ALL fail or endure challenge throughout our life. But it will be the source of strength the next time you need to endure difficult times and what gives you the confidence to endure. So how do you want to be measured? Even if the only one measuring is you!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Little Change In The Polls

1. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 15-0 (1)
Owasso continues its streak by beating Ponca City, Metro Christian, Memorial, Jenks, Claremore. They are a machine at 15-0 and are proving that they are deserving of their #1 status.

2. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 12-3 California (2)
Since winning the Anderson Bat National Classic, they beat Chaminade of West Hills twice to improve to 12-3.

3. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 22-1 (3)
The Gaels crushed Hometown rival Spring Valley, then had their way with Southridge of Miami, American Fork of Utah, Calvary Chapel Christian and then dispensed of Gulliver Prep of Coral Gables, FL to win the Calvary Tournament.

4. Orange Lutheran – California 12-2 (4)
Since losing to Crespi in the Anderson Bat Classic, Orange had two tough match-ups in Mater Dei and St. John Bosco and came through with 6-1 and 6-5 wins respectively. Impressive wins considering the tough week of national competition they had the week prior.

5. American Heritage - Florida – 18-2 (5)
They beat Wellington and Clearwater and remain at number 5.

6. Lake Brantley HS, Florida 17-0 (6)
Two more wins against Belen Jesuit and Astronaut keep LB at the #6 spot.

7. Plant High School – Florida - 17-1 (8)
With a win versus Alonso the Panthers move up one spot.

8. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 3-0 (10)
They win three. In one of the games, Don Bosco Prep beat St. Joe's of Montvale (NJ) 12-0. Brendan Loban (St. John's Univ.) took the loss vs. Mike Dennhardt (Boston College) getting the win. In the other, DBP routed Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 10-0. Eric Pfisterer (Duke Univ.) went the whole way with a No-Hitter. They have scored 30runs in 3 games this year and allowed only 3.

9. Sarasota - Florida – 11-2 (13)
They have big wins versus Chiles, Collier, University and Charlotte and move up to our Top 10, and may stay there based on the way they are playing as of late.

10.Grossmont HS - California - 13-3 (7)
They lose one against Valhalla and win two versus Monte Vista and Mount Miguel. They drop a bit, but stay in the Top 10.

11. Poway – California – 13-3 (12)
They rack up big wins against San Dieguito Academy and San Marcos to move up a spot.

12. Long Beach Wilson - California – 13-3 (14)
They are playing like champions with huge wins over Long Beach Poly and Cabrillo and move up two.

13. Jupiter - Florida - 17-3 (9)
After a tough Anderson Bat tourney, they come home and lose to Royal Palm Beach 7-5. They drop a bit, but we still have confidence in the Warriors.

14. Alvin HS - Texas – 20-3 (15)
Brazoswood HS was no match for the Yellowjackets and Alvin continues to impress RT pollsters.

15. St. Johns College HS - Washington DC 8-2 (16)
The Cadets rebound from their California Adventure and defeat Ryken and O’Connell to improve to 8-2. A big match-up against DeMatha was postponed due to weather.

16. Aptos HS - California – 15-3 (17)
They too rebound from a tough ending to a good Anderson Bat tourney with wins over a tough Los Gatos team and a not so tough St. Francis of Watsonville squad.

17. Vista Murrietta - California – 12-4 (18)
Temecula Valley and Great Oak were no contest for the mighty Bronocs this week as they move up one spot to 17.

18. Barbe - Louisiana – 18-4 (19)
They outscore their opponents 30-15 en route to 3 wins last week versus More HS, Comeaux and Acadania and move up one spot.

19. Pleasure Ridge - Kentucky - DNP (11)
Their web site still is still listing that their scores from games from last May, their weather stinks and their team still hasn’t played a game evidently. If they have, we assume they don’t care much about it, or it would have been posted on their web site. They drop due to a complacent attitude.

20. Moody High School – 20-2 (NR)
They were 2007 4A state Champs and are on a roll with a 20-2 record this year. Welcome to the poll, Trojans.

Friday, April 4, 2008


RT Staff Note: One of the best recruitment guides we have seen is from yesterdays contributor Jim Giles. The TeachDGame College Prep and Recruitment Guide is very detailed and we will add it as a resource on our side bar soon. On another note, we thought the following article from Jim was appropriate considering the e-mails we have been getting lately. Enjoy!

By Jim Giles...
As we move through the game of baseball and life, we learn by listening to coaches & people we trust, by doing, by watching others and many other methods. At some point, everyone seems to think they know it all. Sometimes this happens in our teenage years of high school, sometimes during our early 20’s as we move through college or for some after, as we enjoy our adult life. It is natural and hard to control our own Ego and basic human instincts. On the baseball field this can limit our potential or other devastating consequences.

The game of baseball on the surface is very simple, or so it would appear. While it has been 90 feet between the bases for over a century and many aspects of the game have not changed, there are many different methods and ways to get things done on the field.

As a player, you may constantly have coaches telling you to do it this way or that. At times this may contradict what you were taught before or that expert advice you are receiving from your “batting / pitching / baserunning / mental psychologist” trainer or advisor. Every time you play on a different team, you may find a coach who wants things accomplished differently. This is fine. You need to stay open to these idea’s because ultimately, how you are in the eyes of that coach, and how you approach the game from their perspective, will be the determining factor in the amount of time you spend on the field vs next to them on the bench. Sometime even whether you make the team or not.

As you moveup in the game, you continue to move up because of the success you have had. DO NOT BLIND YOURSELF BY THIS SUCCESS. Every step up the ladder, will be tougher than the last. You must continue to improve yourself every day or risk reaching your highest potential sooner than you like. You must search beyond yourself and often find that improvement beyond your normal comfort zone. As a coach, you have your ideals and beliefs about the way things need to be done. In many instances, this has been born possibly out of years of success.

DO NOT BLIND YOURSELF BY THIS SUCCESS. The biggest challenge for any coach is not just to win, but to KEEP WINNING. Anyone on any day can win any game. The truly great teams win over the long run. To do this, it is extremely difficult to accomplish without adapting and learning.

The easiest way to learn is to believe EVERYONE IS SMARTER THAN YOU. This is not to say you must sacrifice your own confidence and beliefs. You must be confident in your abilities, without being cocky. Regardless of who we are, or what we know, there is always someone around who might know a little more or something different than we do. EMBRACE THIS ! For us to seek greatness on our own is a sure fire way to fail. Look to everyone and anyone for additional knowledge. You may find this in places you have never imagined. It may be in a different sport, or different field of thought. It may be from that player or coach we can not stand. Watch them, study them. In doing this, we can obtain the experience and knowledge possibly without the pain of struggle.

Watch the GREAT ONE’s. There is a reason they are there. Find a way to adapt what they do to your own individuality. You can not merely copy them, because everyone is different. You must find a way to apply those aspects to your core beliefs and strengths.

Surround yourself with those that are smarter and better than you. As a player, do not seek an environment where you are the best. While this may drive your ego, it will not DRIVE YOU to accomplish greater things. Seek to surround yourself with those individuals you can learn from. For in doing this, you will push yourself to greater achievements in the long run. Yes, it is a long run. As a coach, seek knowledge and input from anyone who has something to say. You never know when that one thought or idea, combined with your existing beliefs and ideals might be the accelerator to greater achievements.

In closing, always keep your eyes wide open for learning opportunities. They may come from any source at any time. There may be ideas or thoughts related to other subjects or sports or even people you never imagined that can be adapted to your situation. For if you really embrace and believe that everyone is smarter than you, you might in the end, just be the smartest one of all.