Friday, November 20, 2009

Baseball Only? Day 3

RT Staff Note: The following is our response to a thread on NorCal 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 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. For the record, our stats on players that play only baseball come from our readers. We have received hundreds of e-mails from parents announcing their sons NLI and their sports exploits during their time in high school.

I think there's some confusion. We have written over 300 articles on our web site on subjects like this and we have tried to combine all of what we have written into two short posts. This subject is a sensitive one and must be spelled out and we apologize for any misunderstandings we may have caused.

First...TU mentioned the education part. We have written many times that college is an "education first" choice. A player must ask himself the following, "If baseball was not in the equation, would I go to school here?"

We do not advocate a player going to a university for the sole choice of trying to play baseball. College is one of those life long choices...a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. We have colleagues that have daughters that play collegiate softball and they do it the right way. For them, since there is no "after" after their college softball career is over, they always pick the school of their choice...and no matter how good they are, it is not always a D-I or high profile school. It's the school they WANT to go to.

Boys must approach baseball in much the same way and good CDP's really take this into consideration. There is a CDP in the Boston Area that we really admire (New England Ruffnecks) that helps place their players on some of the finest schools on the East Coast. Last season eleven of their roster of 15 signed NLI's to colleges like Brown, Vandy, Georgetown, Columbia, Holy Cross, Marist, Dickinson and more. These were good ball players that had more than baseball on their mind. That said, they were mostly year round baseball players that worked out with the Ruffnecks in their winter programs at Harvard's indoor facility. They knew that if they wanted to attend both the school of their choice AND play baseball their, they needed to show something extra.

When we say baseball only, it doesn't apply to the universe. There are exceptions. But, we ran an article last year and received e-mails from our readers that helped us come to the conclusion that over 80% of D-I signees this year and last only played baseball. The figure is nearly 95% in the sunbelt states.

Kids that are playing at this level and get recruited at this level are passionate players. Baseball is not only fun for them, it's a dream. Burn-out, as the coach said he was concerned about, usually only occurs to players that feel that they must do it to please Dad. Many recruiters and scouts usually can tell through body language and other non-verbal clues, which kids are "players" and which kids are just "playing". This is not unlike some of those basketball stories you hear about where the star player carries around a basketball like it is an extension of himself.

All athletes have a love and deep passion for their main sport. And, let's give kids some credit. They also know what they need to do to achieve those goals that they may have in life. The Barry Bonds of the world have that swagger and confidence built in to their DNA. He felt confident enough about his baseball game that he knew he could play football and basketball and still play his game of choice at the next level.

Other athletes don't have that built in to them and let's give them credit for making the choices to play year round to achieve their dreams. Sports are not unlike other choices kids make to get to their next level dream. A student that wants to get into Harvard or Stanford, makes school and studying his year round activity. He has to show extracurricular activities, enroll in AP classes, and then gets tutors in the summer for SAT testing, so that they can compete against the braniacs of the world where a 2300 on the SAT is not enough.

As stated earlier, we could write for days on this subject and have. The one thing everyone must realize is while there are exceptions, many ball players that play at the next level aren't always the sure bet. They are still growing and developing and know what they must do to achieve their goals...especially in the highly competitive areas in the sunbelt states. In the sunbelt states, it's not always a level playing field like it is in many cold weather states.

Our advice is for the developing, growing, "projectable" players...not the sure-fire stud. Stats show that these kids benefit by playing more. Make sense?

1 comment:

bill said...

I don't take issue with the "developing, growing, 'projectable' players, not the sure fire stud, benefiting from playing more."
Where I have a differing view is when do they take the route of "playing more?"
As I read more information, it seems pretty clear that DI is the focus and norm to "achieve" that route to DI is showcase and travel teams.
In my view, while those types of players will be more skilled as HS juniors than the multi-sport athlete, they will also be closer to their projection. The multi-sport athlete will be further from that level. They will have a much bigger upside when they get into college and compete, for the first time, on an equal basis. More importantly, I have a very strong believer in the mental side of baseball. My opinion is playing football, for instance, always creates mental toughness and discipline that easily translates into baseball. Baseball doesn't always demand that type of mental toughness and discipline.
While I fully recognize DI coaches are using showcases and travel for recruiting, they are going to miss many players with major upside.
Luckily, especially for CA. players, there are a number of coaches nationally who recognize this and recruit such players in CA with diligence. They are not all DI's but these are coaches who create DI experiences for their players, on the field, in Summer leagues and even with chances to be drafted and to keep playing.
Options other than playing year round exist and rewards for those types of players are plentiful, even if not at the DI level.