Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Baseball Only?...Day 2

RT Staff Note: The following is our response to a thread on NorCal Preps.com that talks about the issue of whether or not players should baseball year round. The following is our take, but for the entire thread go to NorCalPreps.com Baseball Message Board. Not everyone agrees with our viewpoint. It's a great discussion and this message board is a model for other message boards, especially during the off-season.

There are a couple of interesting viewpoints and we have written about most of them in the past. We are big supporters of what we call College Development Programs. Those are programs whose main purpose is to develop, market and expose players to get seen by college recruiters. If one is to play year round ball, they must do so in the type of controlled and mentoring environment that these programs teach. Those are also the programs that recruiters tend to trust and keep coming back to, in order to fill annual roster spot needs.

One poster mentioned pitchers. We have talked about the teams that are only concerned about winning a cheap piece of plastic at the local weekend sports complex tournament. Pitchers need to stay away from those teams. A good pitcher shouldn't have to worry about over-use if he is on a good solid College Development Program that preaches development, fundamentals and puts their pitchers on strict, scheduled rotations. Most good pitchers that want to develop and strengthen their arms, throw a bullpen or two every five days in the offseason anyway...or at least they should if they want to avoid injury. Why not throw every five days against another team in the process?

Another post said that the trend is moving towards one sport. He is right and it has been that way now for most of this decade. Many high school and college coaches will be politically correct and say they like the multi-sport athlete, but as someone else on this board mentioned...in the back of their mind they want that guy all for themselves...especially if he is a difference maker.

I applaud the athletes that are good enough to play all sports and get what they want. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to a majority of athletes. Most athletes are not wired for other sports. Some are too short or too slow for basketball and football, but dominate in baseball. Others are still developing and may need the year round repetition to get better. Others...well you get the idea. There are a lot of variables and of all the sports, baseball in our opinion is by far the hardest to master without extensive background in the sport.

For example...a majority of freshman high school football players never played football before...yet in a few short weeks, they are running plays and look fairly competent as football players. Basketball is much harder and usually requires an AAU summer league credential or two, but there are players that start later in the sport...especially if they are of considerable height and after a while, can look fairly competent as a player.

Baseball will make you look stupid at the first attempt at an at bat if you don't have the experience, passion or fundamentals of the game down pat. And that takes an inordinate amount of time. So, whereas a basketball coach may look at a 6'9" kid and say I can work with that...most baseball coaches would shy away from a kid that is that raw and will tend to default to the player that has put his many hours in on the field.

If I was from Wisconsin, I may have a different viewpoint on this subject because there is not a year round option to consider. I live in a warm weather state and warm weather states have different dynamics to consider. You can play year round here...many do play year round here...and frankly, with the Arizona Fall Classic, PG WWBA in Florida, and the plethora of college camps available to prospects in late fall and early winter in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and California, it really is in a prospects best interest to play year round if they aren't one of the few blue chippers available out there.

And that brings up another point. Blue chippers like the players you mentioned are few and far between. Of course there are exceptions...that's why they are called exceptions.

Most players in high school are still physically developing and need to get better in order to get seen...They don't have the "It Factor" just yet...and that means playing more often and under the tutelege of a good coach and being surrounded by good players. The combination of a great mentor and osmosis will help a player more often than not, but in baseball it's about time, repetition and the ability to absorb the intricacies of the game. More baseball is the only answer.

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