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 for...to 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.