Thursday, December 18, 2008
Do Warm Weather Players Have An Advantage?
This is a ongoing discussion that message boards from East Coast, West Coast and South Coast have been hotly debating for years. This week, Central and Northern California has experienced it's coldest and most miserable week of weather in recent memory. It got us to think how much of a disadvantage winter is to states that actually have a winter. Californians are spoiled...Highs in the 40's is a cause for panic here. A lot of December/Christmas tourneys were cancelled.. What indoor cages there are, were full to capacity with teams that can't play outdoors because of the cold, wet weather...but it doesn't seem the same, according to one of our correspondents. "It's tough to get excited about having a practice indoors...in a cage", he stated. "we just aren't used to this".
The New England Ruffnecks in the Boston area, deal with this for more than four months, not a week. Yet, how do they have so many athletes that commit to D-I colleges year after year. We aren't convinced that weather has any thing to do with the fact that they have 11 or players committed to D-I's on this team every year. College recruiters didn't single these guys out because the pickings were slim. They signed them because they can play...all of them. They may have less games under their belt each year and may not be as "season ready" when the real season does finally start, but they have gotten used to the indoor practices and it's part of their culture in the Northeast.
And, that brings us to another point. Warm weather ballplayers aren't better all round athletes. They are just more seasoned. There may be just as good or better potential talent in Midland, Michigan...just not the ample time to play the game enough to be as good as many warm weather players that play year round. But, that's even changing. There are indoor facilities popping up everywhere. New Jersey could hold the record for the most indoor hitting facilities per capita. There seems to be a batting cage on every corner. Jersey does love it's baseball...as does Virginia, Maryland, New York, Indiana, Michigan and other states that have something to prove to the rest of America that they too can play ball.
There are colleges such as Ohio State that have entire indoor fields to practice on. As baseball becomes more of a revenue generating sport, we may just see more and more frost belt states investing in more indoor facilities and increasing the competitiveness of the players and their ability to compete over their sunbelt competitors. The question is...if you build it will they come? Can today's youth be excited to play and practice indoors if there is a foot of snow on the ground? Do the passions run as deep as they do in SoCal, where a player can play outdoors 365 days a year? It seems that in places like Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Jersey...that they do. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.