Friday, November 21, 2008

The Bats In The Cradle With The Silver Spoon

RT Staff Note: One of the more active baseball boards in the country on a year round basis is the NorCalPreps/Rivals board that covers Northern California. A question was asked by a well known manager of a College Development Program based there about the idea of Perfect Games new youth program. We gave our opinion and it is posted below. For the record we like Perfect Game...we just don't like this particular program that they are trying to promote. In our opinion it's for parents that are trying to buy an unecessary, costly experience for their kid in order to tell a story to his co-workers by the office water cooler. That said, PG runs some of the best showcases and tournaments in this country and many collegiate and pro players are better off for it. His question was...What Do You Think about Perfect Games new Youth Program? I know I have my thoughts but not sure if it's "fit to print". Our response is below:

What we think and what we will write on this family oriented web site are two different things as well. As a start, here's what PG says in it's promotional brochure:

Play with the best 11-14 year olds in the United States!
- Invitation only events are for nationally ranked players!
- Learn what the pros are teaching!

First, most select teams are already playing good competition by going to their annual treks to Cooperstown and playing competitive baseball at the plethora of tournaments that you can find at any Big League Dreams park in the state or country. At that age, that's all you need.

Second...we think that it is absolutely ridiculous and means zero to be nationally ranked as an 11-14 year old. Are you kidding me? How many times have you dads out there been to Cooperstown and seen that 5'10", 12 year old Grizzly Adams player on an opposing team. Guess how big Grizzly Adams is today?...5'10", probably out of baseball because everyone caught up to him and got better. It's impossible to know how good a player will be or how they will project at this age.

And invitation only? How can they track this? How can anyone know at this age how they rank nationally?

We don't mind that the kids at this age play at a high level. That's always a good thing...but they can do it on a local basis with a good select coach that is truly concerned with development and is consistently accessible to help work on the fundamentals of the game.

Kids at this age are impressionable and may appreciate some company with Albert Pujols (as PG advertises), but they also have a short term, sound bite like memory and one mini camp will not change their life. I noticed that they haven't published any costs. In true PG fashion, I doubt if it will be cheap.

Now that said, PG does some great things as well. They run one of the best tournaments in the country with the WWBA in East Cobb. They provide a good service with their PG National Showcases and regional affairs. We think every aspiring collegiate player should go to a few of their showcases to put things into perspective...but not until after their freshman or sophomore year.

Rob, what you guys and others that we have touted on our web site have done is the formula a player should follow to get to the next level. Baseball is about repetition, especially at this's about telling them, then telling them again, and then tell them what you told them, again and again and again.

Parents, your son should be having the time of his life from 11-14...Travel ball is all you need. And at this age it is just ball. It should be a lot of fun. He also should be playing multiple sports at this age...he should be a kid. He doesn't need to know how he ranks with some hairy dude in Columbia, South Carolina.

Once he enters high school...well, that's a different story. That's when you graduate from a travel ball mentality to a College Development Program mentality. Some will agree with us, some will disagree. But we have seen this model work more often than not.

We are big next level baseball fans. Better baseball often, but not always translates into better baseball players, but not at the expense of them just being kids. We wrote two articles that address this subject that we thought you may enjoy.
On The Campaign Trail For Travel Ball
It's About Time


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