Friday, February 27, 2009
This past week, Vermont and Northern Iowa University killed their baseball programs. That's sad and probably necessary at the same time. We are survival of the fittest types. Teams in the north, just don't always have the enthusiasm or invested time to make it work. Practicing indoors and getting excited about baseball when there is a foot of snow on the ground is tough. That said, here are some basic questions that address the warm weather vs. cold weather states as it relates to baseball issue.
Q. Historically, where are the stronger programs?
A. In the past 20 years, the southern/warm climate teams have had 156 representatives go to Omaha...the Northern teams have had 12.
Q. Why does the south and western state colleges dominate in the College World Series?
A. Outside of foreign born players, the majority of major league baseball players come from California, Florida, Texas and Georgia, so it stands to reason that these colleges would have a strong base of high school players to choose from, making their ability to load and reload easier each year.
Q. Why do baseball baseball players be seem to better in the southern/western states?
A. They play more baseball. They have the ability to concentrate on baseball year round and by high school, have ceased to chop up their season by playing fall and winter sports. Although some people will disagree that year round baseball makes a difference, the realities are that most west coast and southern state players DO play year round and as a result, those states continuously produce some of our nations best players, best college teams and MLB recruits.
Q. Will Northern players ever compete with southern players?
A. Absolutely!!! A great athlete is a great athlete. The difference is commitment. It takes a year round commitment, a love for the sport and a major shift in their work-out habits. Baseball is an outdoor sport, when you can play it outdoors. A great athlete that loves baseball in Schaumburg, Illinois will have to take his game to another level mentally, than the guy in Poway, California. The guy in Poway can play in tournaments, face good pitching, hone his game situation skills, etc. The high school player in Schaumburg has to visualize those situations and work a lot harder indoors to achieve those kind of results.
And, folks that's very hard. Northern players have a distinct disadvantage. It's tough to psyche yourself to play pretend baseball in a cage, gym or on an indoor carpet. But, it can be done and has been done. Prior to 1988, there were teams like Maine and Michigan that used to be regulars in the CWS. A lot of that was due to regionalism and the way they seeded the brackets, but back in the 50's and 60's, Minnesota won three times and Michigan won twice. It just takes commitment and hard work, no matter if you are indoors or out. High School players in the North just need to get used to the idea of getting their reps indoors for 4-5 months.
Northern collegiate baseball seems to be headed in the right direction to address their biggest issue of February baseball. Teams in the Big 10, Big East and other conferences had to travel down south starting as early as Feb. 2nd and play conditioned and outdoor seasoned southern teams from the ACC, SEC and other warm weather conferences. That was a big disadvantage for them since they had little or no outdoor playing experience that early in February.
So, last week the Big East and Big Ten had a pre-season tournament challenge in Florida to kick off the 2009 season. They got their feet wet by playing other northern schools that are in the same situation as them to start off the season without greatly affecting their RPI standing.
We hope this tournament and hopefully others like it, will eventually convince the NCAA that there are solutions to narrow the weather gap and lengthen the season again. As we have written many times on this blog, the condensed season is hard for the STUDENT-athlete. In a condensed season, teams have to play 4-5 games a week early in the season and that makes it extremely hard for an athlete to be a student.
It's all so complicated folks. And, unless this global warming issue gets worse, collegiate baseball will always be be divided by the climatized haves and have-nots. All of you readers that live in the north are probably real sick of hearing about how the south is better than the north...when we all know there are great baseball athletes are on both sides of the Mason Dixon line. The bottom line is the level of commitment and playing time that separates the good baseball athletes from the great athlete and that divide can be closed with a shift in your winter baseball work-outs. It's really that simple.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
For many of you future recruits, there are some great shows and sites to help you make a decision on the type of college program that might fit your style of play and your criteria for a collegiate setting.
Every Wednesday on satellite radio, Sirius 122, XM 143 at 9 a.m., central, 7 a.m. pacific and 10 a.m. eastern, Rivals Radio broadcasts a College Baseball report. You can also hear a re-broadcast courtesy of Rivalsbaseball.com.
I listened to their first broadcast and was impressed at the coverage. For parents and recruited players that want to learn more about the college game...who's hot and who's not...tune into this broadcast.
This radio show is part of a growing list of media outlets that is starting to take advantage of the ever increasing popularity of College Baseball. The College Baseball Blog, Rivals College Baseball, CBS Gametracker, Boyds World, SE Baseball.com, and a variety of state, conference and regional blogs and web sites are now available to give you the type of up to date information that you only used to see with basketball and football.
We are serious folks. College Baseball is incredibly entertaining. We have been saying this from day one and now it seems the word is finally spreading. There are some great match-ups this weekend that you should attend...Even if you live in a cold weather state. For instance...in Minnesota...yes Minnesota...at the Dome...Washington, Minnesota, UC Santa Barbara and Hawaii square off in the Dairy Queen Classic.
In Houston at Minute Maid Park, February 27th - March 1st, the annual Houston College Classic features the University of Houston, Rice, Texas A&M, Baylor, UCLA and UC Irvine! Some of those match-ups will feature the nations top pitchers such as Rob Rasmussen against Rice on Friday, Yankees first round pick and now UCLA Bruin, Gerrit Cole against Baylor on Saturday and Charles Brewer against UC Irvine on Sunday. BTW, Cole is dominating...and was clocked at 98-100 on radar guns this past weekend. Don't miss his outing of you are in the Houston area.
For all of the snow birds that like to travel down to the Cactus League for Spring Training...there's a great college tourney in Tempe this weekend pitting Missouri, Arizona State, Oregon State and Northern Illinois. You just might find that this will be much more entertaining than the pro teams you came down to watch. You will be in good company...there will be dozens of Pro scouts at those games as well.
Other great match-ups include Georgia at Arizona...Miami (FL) at Florida...Stanford at Cal State Fullerton...TCU at Mississippi...Auburn vs. Florida State...Clemson vs. South Carolina...
Get out and take your family to a college game this weekend...We promise...you will be hooked!!!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Attendance at college baseball games this past weekend was up considerably over last year as NCAA Division I teams opened up their season from coast to coast. As we reported, last week, the reason is partially based upon the economy, but thank ESPN , CBS Gametracker, Rivals and their new radio broadcasts and the internet in general for the increased popularity of the game.
We at Rounding Third think attendance will continue to increase, based on the ever growing access to the sport at the college level. The emergence of webcasts like CBS GT and the dozens of other such sites make it possible for university students, parents, and fans alike to follow teams more closely. The way we see it, if there is more access, more interest and attachment to the teams goes up exponentially. When exposure is increased, the desire to go see a team in person goes up and so on.
As far as the economy goes and relation to attendance, students are the ones rotating the turnstiles…even more so than alumni and local working adults. Many students that still rely on their parents for funds while in school but are hearing about that money running low, a night at the ball park is generally much cheaper than running up a bar-tab. It’s also becoming a great place to meet girls too we are told.
But, don’t take our word for it…a few posters at RivalsBaseball.com reported a few fun facts that verifies our claim that the game is getting more and more popular.
For instance, the Oregon State Beavers will play six games at pro ballparks this year, Missouri State at PGE Park 3/13, 3/14,3/15; Oregon at PGE Park 3/28, 3/29; and Washington at Safeco Field 5/8. In 2007 they played the Huskies at Safeco in front of 10,421 fans, a Pac-10 single-game record for a league game. Last year the Beavers played Georgia at PGE Park, drawing 29,332 fans over the three-game series (an average of 9777). For the third game, 11,166 fans came to PGE Park.
The University of Georgia broke their opening weekend attendance record, and against Youngstown State….not Mississippi, not LSU…but Youngstown State!
Long Beach had a record setting crowd for season opener at Blair Field on Saturday night when the Dirtbags hosted the Trojans (The Friday and Sunday games were at USC). With at least a few regionals being played there, the crowd of 3,442 was Blair Field record for a CSULB baseball game.
We understand that the Big East/Big Ten challenge was a success and the new Alex Box stadium at LSU is going to set all sorts of collegiate attendance records this year as well. Folks…don’t miss out. The college game is exciting, pure and full of future stars. It’s the real deal and will someday approach the popularity of NCAA basketball. Be a trendsetter…go to a college game in your area this year.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
RT Staff: The following was written by a writer that only identifies themselves as L.E.M.S. We liked it and therefore felt compelled to re-print it. Enjoy!
The beauty of the game - and why some women love the men who play it.
Since I can remember baseball was a part of my life. I had three cousins living with us when I was a year or so, and I credit my two older boy cousins for rubbing some of their youthful roughness and competition off on me.
For some who may not believe that I had my own understanding of the game by the ripe age of 2 take my father's college graduation into account. Me, all dressed up like a perfect princess, but standing on my chair in the crowd chanting as loud as I could, "let's go Mets, let's do it again!' Okay, to give myself some credit it was a large crowd (very stadium-esque) that I was in, and how many 2 1/2 year olds really know where they are all the time? But yes, this was proof that I had learned a lot from my Uncle's 1986 Christmas card video which was highlights of the glorious 86 Mets season.
I lived for baseball... for playing it, and for the season itself. I was child of summer. I had a larger collection of baseball cards than most boys I knew- and next to my Mark Paul Gosselaar and JTT posters in my bedroom was a giant Nolan Ryan poster. I loved Doc Gooden too- but after my cousins broke the drug scandals to me in the early 90's I had to hide my adoration. He wasn't a good role model according to my parents.
I played softball like it was the greatest skill I had ever learned. I had to, they forced once the town I lived in split into girls and boys leagues. Pitcher, shortstop, 3rd base, 1st base and then the outfield after we discovered that I had a wicked arm. I loved going to professional games, but I loved playing in my own even more. I went to Mets games with my Uncle, the one credited with teaching me all the chants and the most die-hard Mets fan I know to this very day. I guess I fell in love with the game before I even knew what love was.
Half the fun of being a baseball fan was having one side of the family as Mets fans, and the other as Yankees fans. The bickering and trash-talking always amazed me, and still to this day does. By the time I reached high school I had been to four professional baseball stadiums and one minor league one. I played softball all through high school, and even entertained the idea of playing in college.
I ended up going to college in the Hudson Valley far enough from home, still close enough to the city. That's right, the only city in the world that I love - New York. I was thankful I was still so close to see games whenever I wanted. I credit my college boyfriend for restoring much of my faith in the game after I lived in agony over the 2000 Subway Series.
As a Red Sox fan he taught me the true art of dedication. I knew disappointment as a Mets fan, but not to the extent he was living in. I learned so much that I eventually developed a bit of a dedication to the Sox (and to Gabe Kapler's beautiful arms in right field and Derek Lowe's farmer-meets-surfer looks). After deciding it wouldn't make me a traitor to have a favorite NL and AL team, I accepted my Red Sox t-shirt he bought me for my birthday. Because yes, he refused to buy any other MLB merchandise than the Sox. Hey, at least we spent Valentine's Day in Cooperstown one year.
Somewhere along the way my love for the game grew to a love of those who play it. I know it's partially out of awe and admiration- I envy them for playing a game for a living. I admire them for having a job that they are so passionate about. I know I always liked ballplayers, and that I've always gotten along better with athletes in general. They understand that aggressive, competitive gene that I have in me.
Before the summer of 2005 the only ballplayers I knew were my friends from home and the few I knew in college. Professional ballplayers and I had never been a part of the same social crowd. Until, my internship in the minor leagues. Blame the chubby relief pitcher for turning me into a giggling stupid school girl while he asked what hats I liked better that we sold in the store.
A lot of ballplayers believe girls chase after them for the uniform, which yes, is partially true because it's part of the deal. But there's another part that is often overlooked, the part that honestly means more than whatever size paycheck they earn. Maybe minor league players have the best, because they haven't reached that status in the press, they don't worry about all of the off-field antics, they live to play the game, and hope that they do it well enough to make a living. They have a passion for the game like they're still kids playing little league. Really, they're just a bunch of 7th grade boys with overactive sex drives. Or so the 2005 South Atlantic League taught me.
I love the game for its innocence, for the feeling I get when I'm in a stadium watching what is truly a work of art. Maybe I like ballplayers because they remind me that people still follow their dreams. Because they prove to us that heroes aren't always perfect but we can still learn from them, and love them. Maybe I love how I don't have to explain why I'm a bad girlfriend during baseball season, because they get it. Because for the players, baseball also comes before everything else. They get my love for the game, my dedication for the whole season without a lengthy explanation.
Monday, February 23, 2009
RT Staff Note: Here's another submission courtesy of Jon Doyles web site from Norman Eng.
By Norman T. Eng, DC, CSCS
Welcome to the first installment of Baseball Core Training.
Every time I turn on the TV, there's a new commercial with a buffed up guy or waif looking woman promoting a new ab machine. All these little contraptions make excellent door stops, and are great if you have an empty house and you're looking for a new household ornament to fill space. Whichever commercial I encounter, they all seem to relay the same message: ripped abs means you have a great core! Ehmm. Sure. The reality is that a truly strong core extends far beyond the beach body six pack.
The concept of core training really amuses me. When I was a trainer in the gym, I would walk through the crowded aisles, listening to the sounds of clunking iron and witnessing unsightly visuals of the meatheads wrapped in sleeveless spandex, which they call workout clothes, admiring their shredded abs (and more often not so shredded) in the mirror. What's more entertaining is the weekend warrior doing 500 crunches a day to try and eliminate the 6 pack a day stomach. Adjacent to this guy would be an aspiring athlete with a $2 Fruit of the Loom tank top, pumping biceps curls while standing on 1 leg.
Without even asking these misled athletes, I would immediately know what they were TRYING to do….work the core. They probably saw the exercise in a magazine or on TV, and as we all know, it must be good since it was in a magazine or on TV, right? WRONG!! Unbeknownst to the misinformed and their brethren, the only thing that they're doing is succumbing to the fallacies spewed out by the media. How will this help you in athletic greatness? With all the information spread about core training, let's get to the truth and what needs to be done to achieve optimal performance.
The Core and Core Stability
Firstly, what is the core and core stability? Your everyday Joe or Jane thinks core refers to rippling abs that look great in a bathing suit, but that's incomplete. In reference to core, there are numerous muscles involved. Depending on the field of practice, differing ideas have emerged. From a clinical perspective, the core, also known as the inner unit, consists of the following muscles according the works of Vleeming(1), Lee(2), and Gracovetsky(3):
Superiorly - Respiratory diaphragm
Inferiorly - Pelvic diaphragm
Posteriorly - Lumbar Multifidus
Antero-Posterior - Transversus Abdominis
These muscles are deep and not muscles you can see in your mirror. Currently, it is proposed that these muscles co-contract through external loading and help facilitate ballistic and normal movements in activities of daily living. Internal/external Oblique and rectus abdominus are also critical components of core stability.
According to McGill, when all of these muscles contract in symphony, it creates stiffness far superior than any single muscle group4. These muscle groups must activate within milliseconds prior to arm movements and hip movements5, 6. Thus, we can conclude that stiffening of the spine by the core muscles precedes movements of the extremities. Furthermore, greater contraction is required if these movements are ballistic and abrupt.
Let's review the performance requirements for a baseball player. They need to possess explosive lateral movement, quick feet, seamless hand/eye coordination, power, flexibility, linear speed, and the reflexes of a ninja. All of these factors require that the body, particularly the core, create maximal contraction in a ballistic fashion. Translation, core contraction has to be explosive and powerful.
To create maximal amplitude and speed of muscle contraction, let's try and envision how a single leg bicep curl will create maximal and explosive contraction in the core. That's right, it doesn't. So get rid of your $30 ab roller you bought off of an infomercial, stop doing 500 crunches a day, stand on 2 feet when working out, and follow a well-guided core regimen like the one found on Jon Doyle's Unbreakable Abs DVD.
About Norman Eng, D.C., C.S.C.S
Dr. Norman Eng is owner of 14th Street Chiropractic based in Atlanta, GA, which specializes in the conservative management of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. He is a certified Graston Technique and Active Release Technique provider. Dr. Eng is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). In 2005, he coached the boys' Wethersfield High School 4x100m relay team to All-American status at the Nike Outdoor Nationals.
Friday, February 20, 2009
RT Staff Note: This is another post from Jim Giles at www.teachdgame.com. Enjoy...He has a lot of great things to say.
I wish I had a dollar for every time some coach has professed the wonderful words “There is no I in Team”. Heck, I have even used it myself at times. But as I sit back and ponder this thought, it occurred to me that there is an “I” in team. There has to be an “I”. The team is made up collectively of a number of “I’s”. So where are they? Where are they hiding in there?
They are invisible to the naked eye, but they are truly the most important aspect of the TEAM succeeding. They are at the very core of the success of the team. If they are not there, in no way will the team succeed. They are the glue and foundation by which the team is built and ensures the teams success. With that, I bring you the “Invisible I’s in TEAM”:
I MUST PREPARE. Every individual member of the team must prepare themselves to the best of their abilities to do their job. A team is only as good as its weakest link. A cliché yes, but true nonetheless. If every member of the team does not do their part in preparing themselves, there is no way for the collective team to succeed at the highest-level possible. At some point, in some way, every member of the team will be called upon to help ensure success.
I MUST SACRIFICE. Every member of the team must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole. The level of sacrifice will vary, but regardless, each member of the team must find and accept their role in the success. This sacrifice can be on many different levels. It might be playing a different position, it might be becoming a role player instead of a “star”, and it might be the support system for another player who needs you. Whatever it is, are you willing to do it for the good of the team?
I MUST LET GO OF MY EGO. The team is bigger than any one individual player. Regardless of their level of ability, there is not one player alive that can go out and compete by themselves in a team sport and be victorious. At some point, in some way, they need each and every other player on that team for them to be individually successful.
I MUST FIND JOY IN ANOTHER PERSONS SUCCESS. At some level, other teammates must succeed if we are collectively to succeed as a team. A pitcher can go out and throw a no hitter striking out every batter. But if we don’t score any runs, we will not win the game. We should not be jealous of another person’s success, but rather we should embrace it, support it and do everything in our power to HELP it.
So without the Invisible “I’s”, all you will be left with is a cute slogan that sounds good in a speech or looks good hanging on the wall. Without the Invisible “I’s”, you will not have the very basis by which this “belief” works and ensures everyone’s success. While on the surface this belief might be appropriate for your specific sport, there are also some things, which are far bigger than this. This same process and belief is also the very fabric by which our most important Teams are built - FAMILY and FRIENDS.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
RT Staff Note: We found this article on the web and highly suggest that those interested in improving their hitting techniques, go to Todd Williams web-site. Todd is a highly-sought after coach based out of baseball hotbed Spring, Texas. His website, www.BaseballsBestDrills.com, is a great resource for hitting, defense and baseball strategies.
By Todd Williams
There aren't very many baseball hitters that can walk up to the plate and be successful without some idea of what they're looking for in a pitch. And since the rest of us aren’t in that select group of players, we better have some idea of what we want to accomplish before we step into the batter's box. We better have a plan.
What should that plan be, you ask? Well, like most things in life, it depends; but here are some general things to consider when putting your plan together. The key is to have an image in your mind when you approach the plate so you can stay relaxed and focused. If you've got the visual image there, your reflexes and instincts will take over; because after all, you won't have any time to think about it when the pitch is delivered.
1) Plan on being aggressive. Aggressiveness is a key element to hitting successfully, and it can cover up apparent weaknesses. Besides, the aggressive baseball hitter simply has to decide one thing only at the plate: not to swing. What I mean by that is when you're thinking "swing" as the pitcher delivers the ball, if the pitch isn’t hittable, then all you have to decide is not to swing.
2) Plan on hitting the ball up the middle of the field. Consistent hitters with high batting averages always tend to use the middle of the field. You can be successful being strictly a push- or a pull-hitter, but you give away some of the advantage to the pitcher, because they can simply pitch to your weaker side.
3) Plan on controlling the outside half of the plate. Studies have shown that nearly three quarters of all pitches in the strike zone are over the outside half of the plate, especially in youth baseball. Take advantage of that information and control the outer half of the plate. Then, if you need to, gradually work from an area of the strike zone that you can control to an area where you have less control.
4) Plan on pulling the inside pitch, pushing the outside pitch, and hitting the down-the-middle pitch back up the middle. Take the pitch where it comes and go with it. If you're thinking "pull" and the pitch is delivered outside, you're going to have a much harder time getting that hit, and you'll probably ground out to a middle infielder. So, pull the inside pitch, push the outside pitch, and crush the down-the-middle pitch back up the middle.
5) Plan on the next pitch being over the middle of the plate and up in the strike zone. Then, make adjustments from that basic pitch. It's easier to adjust down than it is up, and you'll hit fewer pop-ups when you adjust down. If you're looking for a ball over the middle of the plate, you won't have as far to adjust if the pitch is inside or outside. However, if you're looking in, then you've got a larger adjustment to make if the pitch is outside.
6) Plan on hitting the fastball. Make every effort to hit the fastball, because it's easier to hit than the curveball, and you'll hit it better than you will the curveball anyway.
Editor’s note: Here is a drill from Todd’s book "Baseball Best Drills - Tips & Strategies"
Hit the Stick Quick Drill
Take an old broom handle and attach about a 3 foot section of an old garden hose the end of it. Then stand at about a 45-degree angle in front of the hitter, point the broom handle into an area of the strike zone, and have the hitter try to hit the tip of the hose.
To develop a short, quick swing you should slowly move the tip of the hose when the hitter swings, making it harder to hit without a short, quick stroke.
Note: Don't make it too difficult to hit the tip of the hose. Simply reinforce the need for a short, quick stroke.
Todd Williams is a highly-sought after coach based out of baseball hotbed Spring, Texas. His website, www.BaseballsBestDrills.com, is a great resource for hitting, defense and baseball strategies.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Major League Ball clubs are already talking about how the economy will affect their ticket sales this coming summer. Well, they kind of created their own mess of sorts. Gone are the days of $1.00 bleacher seats and $2.00 hot dogs. It costs well over $125to take a family of four to the ballyard these days. At an average of $15 a ticket(twice that at the "new retro" stadiums), $10 to park and $50 to buy food, it adds up quick.
For the price of parking at your favorite pro franchise, there is a great alternative and it can be a step up to the college game, depending on where you live. It's called the Summer Collegiate League.
Summer Collegiate Leagues are designed to give freshman and sophomores the chance to hone their skills against other top collegiate players from around the country. It's a lot like the minors in that the players live with host families, and their expenses are 100% paid for by the franchise or League. Like the Minors, the Collegiate Leagues use wood bats.
It's a great opportunity for pro scouts to see these top players perform under conditions that are very similar to the pro ranks. Most of the top college pro prospects were rated as a result of their performance in these Summer Leagues.
The greatest thing about the Leagues is that they provide great baseball for the fans. Many of them draw thousands to every game. For instance, the Madison Mallards in the top rated Northwoods League draws over 6,000 to every game. The LaCrosse Loggers, in the same league and in a smaller stadium, draw over 3,300 a game. An All-Star Game in Chatham of the Cape Cod League in late July turned out to be a spectacular event. Over 8,600 fans attended the contest that was broadcast live on the New England Sports Network (NESN).
The top leagues in the Collegeiate Summer League are The Cape Cod...where many of the top pitching prospects gather...The Northwoods League...home to many of the best offensive players...The Alaskan League and The California Collegiate. There are others like the Cal Ripken Senior League in Maryland and Virginia, just outside the DC area, The West Coast Collegiate in Oregon and Washington, and the Jayhawk League in Kansas and Missouri that provide great competition as well.
Want to find out where your local Collegiate League is? There's a small blog called College Summer Ball that has links to each of the leagues that we list below.
Alaskan Baseball League
Atlantic Baseball Confederation
Atlantic Collegiate League
Cal Ripken Sr. League
California Collegiate League
Cape Cod Baseball League
Clark Griffith League
Coastal Plain League
Collegiate Baseball Of The West
Eastern Collegiate Baseball League
Florida Collegiate League
Great Lakes League
Great South League
Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League
Horizon Air Summer Series
Maryland Collegiate Baseball League
Mountain Collegiate Baseball League
New England Collegiate Baseball League
New York Collegiate Baseball League
Pacific Southwest Baseball League
Sierra Baseball League
Southern California Collegiate League
Southern Collegiate League
St. Louis Metro Collegiate League
Tar Heel Summer League
Texas Collegiate League
Tri-State Collegiate League
Triple Crown League
Walter Johnson Baseball
West Coast League
Western Major Baseball League
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
As we stated yesterday, the financial crisis has taken its toll on fans. The cost of many professional franchises are becoming prohibitive for a growing number of families. Yesterday, we suggested going to high school games. Today, we will talk about how incredibly exciting and affordable the college game is.
Most major metropolitan areas in the United States have at least one Division I college in their area and chances are they have a baseball team. Even if they have not been very good, we bet that they compete in a conference that has teams that are competitive and have a handful of players that will go on to play in the professional ranks in the future.
If recent drafts are any indication, college players are more coveted by Major League Clubs than in years past. College players are mentored by top notch coaches, have to endure the rigors of a 56 game schedule in just 12 weeks, practice, condition and strengthen their core every day of the school year and play in summer leagues with wood bats. That provides a great training ground for the Big Leagues.
It also gives the fans a glimpse into the future...much like college basketball and football does for their pro counterparts. Fans that want too see the next Tony Gwynn, Reggie Jackson, Pat Burrell and Evan Longoria can watch them for just over the price of a high school game. Students are free and many season tickets plans can be bought by adults for under $100.
The Leagues that will provide the best competition are the SEC, PAC 10, Big 12, Big West, ACC, West Coast Conference, Conference USA, WAC, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Big South, Southern, Big Ten, Sun Belt, Southland and Big East.
That's nearly 150 schools to follow in those conferences alone. When you add in all of the other conferences, Division II, D-III and JC's, there are thousands of college teams that provide great entertainment value. In our opinion, if a schools is within a 100 mile radius of your hometown, it is worth the trip to take your family to watch an entire weekend series for the cost of one MLB game.
But, if you are one of those bandwagon types, then here's a list of the top rated college teams as rated by RivalsCollegebaseball.com. There's some great clubs in this group and most are spread out in the areas that most of our readers are from. Many of these teams could be battling it out in Omaha in June.
Rivals.com Top 25
1. North Carolina
3. Texas A&M
4. Cal State Fullerton
7. UC Irvine
10. Florida State
13. Georgia Tech
14. Oklahoma State
15. San Diego
22. Arizona State
24. Oregon State
Monday, February 16, 2009
We are living in an unprecedented period of financial hardship. I hear stories of families that have had loss of income, are behind on their debt payments and worse. Yet, with all of this financial hardship, we as parents are still responsible to our children and their well being. In our world of sports oriented activities, part of that bonding experience with our kids is to take them to a ball game.
But because of our financial crisis, there are many in the Northeast that will have to sacrifice that trip to new Yankees Stadium (Those ticket prices are criminal in our mind anyway). Well don't despair, there are other much, much less expensive options to keep the spirit of this great game alive.
That option is amateur baseball. And it starts with the local high school scene. There are a lot of great high school teams out there with top rated talent...many of whom you will be reading on this very web site in weeks to come.
Despite our sometimes over the top support for College Development Programs, we have great respect and enthusiasm for the high school game. It's the high school game that really gets the players in shape to get seen in the summer. In high school, players practice everyday, from January to June and it's here they get their reps, strengthen their core, hone their skills and mechanics and of course, get the local press that puts them on the radar.
And, high school ball is great drama, especially during those high profile pre-season tournaments, league play and the play-offs. And, in most parts of the country, it is free or at least less than $4.00 for adults...Kids are usually free. That's a bargain any way you look at it.
If you have a young son or daughter that is still in middle school or grade school, going to a high school game will be a great experience for them. To them, those teenagers are bigger stronger athletes any way you look at it. They probably can identify with them a bit better too, especially if it's a school in your area. Your kids probably know the players or know someone who knows them.
Of course in the southeast, we don't need to tell the fans about the high school game. There are schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Florida that attract hundreds and hundreds to every game.
So, if you are in a warm, weather state, and feel the need to see a ball game this week, take the time out of your day to take the family to a high school game. It's cheap, it's great entertainment and you will feel better about it than spending a few hundred dollars to see a pro game that is beginning to have too many personal problems to justify the costs these days.
Friday, February 13, 2009
On a day where we exchange flowers, candy, heart shaped balloons, cards and for those who are more fortunate...little felt boxes filled with bling, we dedicate this blog for the love of the game...In case you readers haven't noticed, we are filled with passion for the game of baseball. The following lists the many reasons why we love baseball...
We love that of all the things to do in America and of all the distractions being fed to us, minute by minute...baseball is still called America's past time.
We love the oddities of the game...For instance, it's the only sport where the offense never has the ball...and when on offense it's one guy vs. nine.
We Love the Smell of the Game...
The smell of burnt wood on a foul tip off a wood bat...
The smell of a leather glove.
The smell of the field...the dirt and the grass...and the way it stays with you throughout the day.
The smell of ballpark franks, popcorn and a bag of seeds.
We Love the Sound of the Game...
The sound of an umpires called third strike call.
The sound of the pop from a catchers glove.
The sound of a slide.
The sound of chatter from the bench.
The sound of a rousing chear from the stands.
The sound of groans on a bad called strike.
The sound of a third base coach pumping up his hitters.
The sound of a good announcer pronouncing everyones name right and on cue.
The sound of a wood bat on ball...and because we have to...even the sound of aluminum on ball..especially if it's our kid.
We Love the Sights of the Game...
The sight of a well groomed field.
The sight of a double play ball.
The sight of a diving play in the hole.
The sight of a over the head catch in the outfield.
The sight of a pick-off play at first.
The sight of a 6"5" lefty taking control of a game.
The sight of a teams reaction from a game winning hit.
The sight of a nasty slider or curve ball.
The sight of a batter pounding a ball over the fence.
We Love What Everyone Else Doesn't Understand About The Game...
We love the drama of a low scoring pitchers duals.
We love the hit and run.
We love the way a catcher calls a game.
We love the double switch.
We love the sacrifice fly.
We love the sacrifice bunt...sometimes...
We love the stats like OBP, OPS, RISP, LIPS and DER.
And, like the masses...
We love the home team when they win or just play hard.
We love a power pitcher facing a power hitter.
We love how truly hard it is to play this game.
Happy Valentines Day To Everyone!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Baseball is in full swing in the southern/warm weather states. Many teams have anywhere from 2-3 games under their belts. This is usually called the pre-season and although the games count on the win-loss record, they don't carry points that determine who is going to the state and regional play-offs at the end of the season. It's a good thing usually. Many teams have basketball players on their roster who are still playing, and young players taking the spot of last years graduated seniors with little varsity playing time, that are bound to experience a some jitters. These games are a bit sloppy like first basketball or football game and don't always measure a teams true talents.
It's a real exciting time for a lot of families, players and fans. However, it gets next to zero coverage in the newspapers, message boards and other various high school web sites. And, there is usually no pre-season predictions. We understand that there are basketball playoff going on, but the dailies, weeklies and local county papers are already covering spring training for the pro teams and we have even seen coverage of local college teams. Is it too much to ask to cover our country's past time, when it starts? They cover basketball when it overlaps with football, they could also cover baseball even though it is overlapping with basketball. It's called multi-tasking, and we at Rounding Third would like baseball to be treated like the big three sport that it is. There always seems to be rumblings that youth baseball is declining in some areas...well, that could be because high school baseball doesn't get nearly the press it should. There's no awareness, no top of mind, no drama created by league rivalry's like there is in football and basketball. Like we said earlier...Baseball is America's Past Time, let's get the newspapers to cover it more enthusiastically from season beginning to end.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Here's the latest in a long, long list of NCAA curious decisions.
No more HR celebrations at home plate and no dog piles!
Rule 5-2C and 5-2D...
For the purpose of celebration, players are not allowed out of the dug-out on a live ball or dead ball that does not end an inning. This would include after a home run or during a pitching change. Recommended increased emphasis in penalizing for orchestrated dug-out actions designed to distract or intimidate opposing teams under the unsportsmanlike conduct violations.
We aren't making this stuff up folks. The NCAA keeps on giving us new material and we will continue to write about it. This ruling is senseless and pretty laughable. This is one of those rules you see T-Ball parents make so that their kid won't have to experience defeat and have a so called better self esteem. We are surprised that a separate rule didn't get introduced that gives trophies to the losing teams players and another that states that mommies must bring only healthy snacks to players after the game and refrain against Ho Ho's and Juicy Juice.
What's the point of this rule? Imagine that the score is tied in the top of the 9th, 1 out, nobody on and the 7 spot is up. He blasts a laser over the right field wall and the dug-out goes crazy. The natural reaction of these players on a team that experiences such a game changer is to crowd the plate and congratulate their hero. It's been like this since the late 19th century...that's baseball....always been that way. With the new rules, if such a celebration occurs, the player could be ejected and the score would remain tied.
It also seems that dugout chatter is not allowed either. This is the part of the game I sort of enjoy. Especially the college game. There are some funny guys in some of those dug-outs and they keep the fans in stitches at many games. There are some basic rules a dug-out must adhere to and coaches know when a player has crossed the line...but do we need extra rules?
We have thought about this rule and are trying to think of why a home plate celebration of a home run is such a bad thing. It's not like home runs occur every inning and such a celebration would delay a game. Home plate celebrations occur because 4 baggers are rare.
I'd hate to think that the NCAA would put this rule in place due to sportsmanlike violations. Since when is congratulating a player on your team unsportsmanlike. If there is any player on an opposing team that has their feelings hurt because a player just hit a homer off of your star hurler, then their skin needs to thicken a few inches.
So this year, when a game changing home run or run is scored, players in the dug-out must sit on their hands and stay in the dug-out...BORING! Come on NCAA! What other restrictions are you going to impose on baseball players? The NCAA already has an embarrassing 14 scholarships that have to be divided amongst 30 of the hardest working athletes in all of college sports, makes them play up to 5 games a week, imposes a stricter APR standard, and has forced teams to reduce their rosters. Now they want to restrict having fun? WOW!!!!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
RT Staff Note: This is another article from Youthbaseballinfo.com and Olan Suddeth.
Raise your hand if you have ever uttered one of the following phrases in a close or important game:
"This is it... it's do or die time!"
"The game is on the line!"
"We win now, or we go home."
"We've got to have some runs now!"
"Jimmy, we've got to have an out right here."
Now, the rest of you liars raise your hands.
Yes, we're all guilty of it - adding artificial pressure to a game situation. We want our players to realize how important this game/inning/at bat is, but we end up instead reducing their chances to perform well, thanks to the added pressure we just placed on them.
I once read a very enlightening article by Jack Stallings, who at the time of his retirement was the winningest active baseball coach in the NCAA. Coach Stallings spoke about performance in the clutch, and how baseball was a percentage game. If a player performs at regular levels in clutch situation, he is absolutely a clutch player. The key behind this is to remove the outside pressures associated with a clutch situation. After all, the rules don't change - a batter still has to hit the ball, a pitcher still has to throw strikes, a fielder still has to scoop and throw.
How many times have you heard coaches moan that "if only their team could play as well as they practice"? Did you ever wonder exactly why the team did so poorly in those situations? Sure, the other team has something to do with it, but a team that fields well in practice should still field well in games. A pitcher who throws strikes in warmups should do so in clutch situations. A batter who has a good eye and makes solid contact in laid back situations has the ability to do so when the game is on the line.
The secret is to get your team to not look at the scoreboard, to not think about what is at stake, and to not worry about the other team. Baseball comes down to a distinct set of skills, and in practices, those skills are all you care about. Now, translate this to game situations.
Keep your players loose. Focus your coaching on the technical aspects of the game, just as you do in practice. Don't get upset or tense - these emotions are conveyed to your team. Reinterate that they are playing the ball, not the other team, not the scoreboard.
If you can reduce the pressure that kids (and coaches) place on them in "clutch" situations, you will see drastic improvements in their results.
Go forth and follow this advice! I promise that I will try to do the same.
Monday, February 9, 2009
RT Staff Note: In this tough economic time, the strain on finances will be tougher in the upcoming summer season. More than ever, fundraisers will be needed to pay for the cost of summer travel. But be smart with the type of fundraisers you engage in. Some successful ones for us were bake sales, brewing our own StarBucks coffee and selling it in big corporate office parks and See's candy sales. This is an article from Youthbaseballinfo.com and Deb Yeagle.
If you are part of a travel baseball organization, then you are no doubt familiar with the costs of fielding a team. Tournament entry fees and umpire expenses are the primary costs associated with a travel team. While most teams charge each player monthly dues, fundraisers are used to offset the monthly charges or to raise money for special events such as trips to Cooperstown, Disney’s Wide World of Sports, or the Ripken Baseball Complexes to play in the ultimate tournament experience.
We have participated in many different types of fundraising events for our teams over the years. The key to a successful fundraiser is finding an activity that is high on profit margin and low on time investment. Following are some of the biggest moneymakers you should get involved in and the biggest timewasters you should avoid when planning fundraising events for your team.
One of the biggest moneymakers are team sponsors. Players, with the help of coaches and parents, can canvas local businesses to ask for donations. If the team establishes levels of giving prior to requesting donations, which provides benefits to the sponsor commensurate with the donation, then these businesses will be more likely to support the team, knowing that they receive something in return. Requesting flat donations is not as an effective fundraising tactic.
Following are sample levels of giving and associated sponsor benefits:
• $100 – Plaque
• $250 – Banner + Plaque
• $500 - Advertisement on Team Website + Banner + Plaque
This fundraising activity is also a learning experience for the players. If they participate in the letter writing campaign and follow up with prospective sponsors, then they can learn / practice basic writing and communication skills. This also helps instill team pride in each player who participates.
Another big moneymaker is doughnut sales. It is possible to clear $500.00 in 3 hours of sales, provided you select a high traffic location (e.g., WalMart, Lowe’s, grocery stores). Keep in mind you must obtain permission from the owner of the location at which you intend to sell doughnuts to their customers. Very little time is required in advertising the event, and time required to pick up the doughnuts varies depending on the arrangement with your doughnut supplier. We have used Krispy Kreme Fundraising (http://www.krispykreme.com/fund) for all of our successful doughnut sales.
Another good fundraiser, if you don’t have more than 2 sales a year, is Joe Corbi’s pizza and cookie dough products (http://www.joecorbi.com). A team can easily make $1000.00 on a sale, but having more than 2 sales a year will result in oversupply and decreased fundraising.
Gift card sales are also potential moneymakers. Escrip.com (http://www.escrip.com) is a good source of retailers that support fundraising through gift card sales. The percentage donated to your team varies by retailer. For example, Food Lion gives back 5% of all gift card sales. Based on our experience with gift card sales, grocery store cards are the best seller (since everyone needs groceries).
Hit-a-thons and car washes are time intensive events that result in very little profit. Hosting tournaments is a time intensive effort, but it is possible to turn a healthy profit. Selling concessions is a worthwhile fundraiser for tournaments, but is hardly worth the time and effort for single day events such as doubleheaders. Rental or purchase of vending machines requires little or no time, but involves a significant investment of funds up front.
The most successful fundraisers for our baseball team have been team sponsors, doughnut sales, pizza sales, and gift card sales. Very little time is required for these fundraising activities, but the profit potential is high. Setting expectations for participation in fundraising events by both players and parents is a must. This should be done by either the coaches or a parent volunteer fundraising coordinator at the beginning of the season. When the team sets a goal of making a trip to play in a tournament at Cooperstown, Disney World, or the Ripken Experience, it’s a good idea to establish the fundraising goal at the same time to help defray travel costs for the team and ensure a successful tournament experience.
Friday, February 6, 2009
On February 14th, baseball lovers everywhere will appropriately converge upon the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in Florida and Arizona.
Two pages were even dedicated to the local baseball teams in our metro daily this week. What other sport has such a loyal following during it's pre-season where fans will travel hundreds...even thousands of miles to watch and critique their teams prospects for the upcoming season? Let me answer that...No Other Sport...Yes, many of us travel to Florida or Arizona to relieve us of the winter doldrums that set in this time of year...but that doesn't diminish the fact that year after year, we yearn to hear the crack of the bat, the dust fly, the sound and smell of leather balls and gloves and converse with a resident expert about the talents of a new rookie or free agent. Baseball is part of our yearly cycle. Whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, when we hear a sports talk radio host proclaim that pitchers and catchers are reporting, it can only mean that warmer weather is closing in. It gives us hope that new life will spring out of the dead of winter.
On a local level, high schools in warm weather states are in their third week of practice. We live in a warm weather state and we have combed the local colleges, JC's and high schools and have had the pleasure of watching a fair share of pratices and scrimmages. Actually, we couldn't wait. This is our spring training ritual...and much cheaper than a flight and hotel to Arizona. For us, it's about the baseball. We already have the weather...we don't need to escape the cold or snow.
But, for those that are still waiting for the weather to make up its mind, teasing people with Indian summer one day and wind chills of zero the next, if a trip down south isn't practical, then a drive to the local batting cage could provide just the cure. When I was growing up in the cold, upper midwest, there was one batting facility owner that used to promote spring training in January and February by playing Jimmy Buffett, serving up smoothies and placing potted palm trees around his facility. His place was so busy that the wait to get in just 50 swings was hours long. But, we didn't care. We just liked to hang out there to get in the mood for baseball and to get out of the cold...and sit back and dream about having a post game Cheesburger In Paradise. We and the hundreds that were regulars there were true baseball fans and players.
And that brings up another point...The state of the game...the state of the true fan and player...We at Rounding Third are seeing a resurgence in the passion for the sport of baseball....especially at the youth level. While some cynics may cry that the steroids scandal will ruin the sport...our take is that it will strengthen and unify players, parents and organizations...especially at the youth level. We see a movement to bring back the purity of the sport..much like the memories I have of listening to "Come Monday" in a faux tropical setting. That was so innocent...so pure and solidified for me, my love and passion for the game. Even today, I think of that batting cage owner and how fun he made batting practice in the middle of winter..and every year at this time, I'll turn on a little Jimmy Buffett, buy a Jamba Juice and head on out to watch some ball. I did it this past weekend.
We also see more batting facilities, multiple field complexes, travel teams, rec leagues, web sites, books, DVD's and physical and mental training tapes than ever before. Pro Attendance is up, Collegiate attendance is out the roof, and high schools are getting more than just mom dad and the girlfriend out to their games. A few of us live near baseball complexes and there is nothing more soothing than hearing the loud cheers of hundreds of fans rooting for their teams...And each year, the crowds seem to get louder and louder..music to our ears.
As the weeks pass, we will be pre-viewing our picks for the top high school teams in the country. And, as the season progresses, we will feature players, accomplishments, stats and records. Coaches, players and parents, feel free to e-mail us a firstname.lastname@example.org any of your local high school teams accomplishments and how they rate in their metro area. We have a pretty good network of correspondents, but we can always use more info. Play Ball!!!!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
RT Staff Note: For the past three months we have stressed the importance of off-season conditioning. The past few weeks we have written about the need to be in tip-top shape when Day One of High School Practices start for many in the upcoming weeks in the Northern States. Here's a training facility in the state of Washington that is doing its part to help top players reach their training goals...There is a great quote in the first paragraph that really sums it all up... “There’s no reason to start Day One looking like you’re starting Day One,” Enjoy!
FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM — Don’t let the recent chilly temperatures or winter rains fool you. This is baseball season ... or at least it’s time to start getting ready for baseball. “There’s no reason to start Day One looking like you’re starting Day One,” said Matt Tagman, baseball operations manager at Extra Innings in Bellingham.
“What I’m saying is that it’s so important on Day One of practice to be ready right away, especially for freshmen trying out for their first high school team. That’s why Tagman came up with a new idea at the two-year old Bellingham indoor training facility. Tagman and another instructor, former Washington State University player Brandon Hundt, both 26, are directing the first High School Hitters’ Boot Camp at Extra Innings. It’s a six-week program designed to get players ready for the start of the season. The camp, which meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, conducted its first session last Friday.
“There’s still plenty of time left and 10 hours of instruction,” said Tagman said, and there is still space remaining for interested participants. The camp is similar to a pitchers’ camp that began Jan. 14. Both camps are for serious high school players who want to make a good impression when spring practices open.
“Our camp prepares both the body and mind,” Tagman said. “We stress developing a powerful and repeatable (consistent) swing, through specific drills and exercises. We’re working on proper swing mechanics and the mental and physical approaches needed to excel.
“We are really stressing the mental aspect of the game. Our theme is we want players to be hitters, not hackers.” Tagman said too many high school players take too long to get going. “High school practices and tryouts start Feb. 25 this season,” he said. “It really is a short season. In many schools, freshmen have only three days of tryouts, so it’s absolutely important to be ready right away. “Two weeks of practice before games start is definitely not enough,” he said. “And if you haven’t swung a bat or thrown a ball, you’re already well behind players who have been preparing early.”
Tagman batted .648 as a junior while leading Olympia Capital High School to a state baseball championship in 1998. However, he focused on getting a jump start on his coaching career while he attended Western Washington University.
A serious skiing injury as a high school senior — he originally wanted to become a pro skier — helped convince him his future was in coaching. Tagman assisted Sehome coach Gary Hatch in 2003-05, before Extra Innings owner Bruce Tipton hired him when the facility opened. Tagman also coached a local Junior Legion team in 2004-05. “I learned a lot with Gary Hatch,” he said. “I just happened to be lucky enough to have called him when he was having a preseason meeting because they needed an extra coach. ‘Come on down,’ he said.
“I’m really proud to have helped coach seven seniors who led Sehome to the state (Class 2A) baseball championship last season.” Hundt, a former Bellingham Bells pitcher, said that since he has extensive experience as a catcher and later a pitcher, he can provide insights for hitters from an especially useful perspective. “This boot camp for hitters is a cool thing,” said Hundt, who pitched two seasons for Washington State and one season in the minor leagues. “I think this will give high school kids a great opportunity to step up their game early. We’ll cover all aspects of hitting.”
Tipton says high school players will enjoy working with two gregarious coaches who aren’t that much older than they are. “It’s their enthusiasm we love,” he said of the two instructors. “They’ll take the time to reemphasize things and to make sure the kids get it.
“I’m excited about these camps. This is a new opportunity for serious local players. We’re keeping the player-to-coach ratio at 5-1, so we’ll bring in more help if needed.” Tagman recalls having nothing like these programs while he was growing up in Olympia. “I would have given anything to have opportunities like these,” he said.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
RT Staff Note: In keeping with our theme of coaching and youth teams this week, and our articles on dedication and passion last week, there is another issue that an exceptional athlete can experience...complacency.
If you are a coach or an involved parent...don't let this happen under your watch. Nip any sign of "I'm better than thou" attitude in the bud before it is too late. Here's another article from Youthbaseballinfo.com that addresses some solutions to a very common youth issue.
Every league has one or two - superstar players who don't put in their full effort, or who reserve that effort for games only.
Perhaps you have one of these on your team. As the coach, you were excited to land one of the "top" players in your league. And then, when you started practice, you discovered that your star shortstop doesn't seem to take practice seriously. He has been told all his life how good of a player that he is - and he has the all star jerseys to prove it.
So he goofs off in the batting cage, since he can hit the ball without even trying. Likewise, during infield practice, he showboats a bit, missing routine plays more than he should, while making up for it with a spectacular throw or backhanded stop. Yes, he might pick up a bad habit or two while doing this, but during actual contests, he has his game face on, and still manages to play at a high level.
So what's the harm? He can still help you win a championship, right?
If that's your line of thinking (along with 90% of youth coaches out there), you should seriously rethink what your motivations as a coach really are. Should you want to win? Absolutely. As a coach, you should put the best team on the field that you can. But your first responsibility is to help each and every member of that team to develop into a better player than they were when you met them.
So don't be afraid to discipline that superstar. Try talking to him first, privately. Let him know that you realize he has great talent and skill. Let him know that you realize he turns it on during the game. But explain that he is letting his team down by not putting forth his best every time that he steps on the field - his teammates look up to him, and if he dogs it, they may, as well. Furthermore, if he does not practice hard, he gives up the chance to improve as much as he could have, resulting in limitations to his game that simply should not exist.
You can try small discipline steps - give the player laps the instant you see him lagging in practice. Make him pick up trash afterwards. Give him push ups.
If he still does not respond, pull him from your infield and play him in right. Or better yet, let him start a game on the bench. Drop him to the bottom of the batting order. Explain why you made this decision, and make it clear that the requirements for every team member are the same - all players should be expected to give 100% all of the time; everyone is expected to earn their position. If your star is exempt, you are a hypocrite.
Ideally, you can identify this issue before the regular season starts, and have the chance to clear up any issues during the preseason. Even if not, know that the life lessons you teach this young man - and everyone on your team - are more important than the victory or two that might be in question because of your move.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
RT Staff Note: In our week long series titled Foul Play two weeks ago, a reader commented on our part 4 article. His comment is posted in the comments section, but we thought it was profound enough to re-print for today's posting. We really feel for parents like this. We also really are very sympathetic to the plight of the collegiate baseball player that has a year round practice and game schedule that is the most grueling in all of collegiate sports. We have stated in many posts that their schedule is the equivalent of a low minimum wage. Our reader below goes a step further and says it's like a third world countries wage structure. We agree. Any comments?
A friend told me about your site and this weeklong rant you had against the NCAA. As a father of a NCAA D-I baseball player, your proposal is the most sensible I have heard to date.
My son will more than likely get drafted, but it is unlikely that he will graduate with a meaningful degree due to the time constraints of baseball. Summer school was not an option due to his assignments in the Cal Ripken Sr. League and Cape Cod after his freshman and sophomore year. He felt he had to do it to secure a spot on the team, increase his draft status and improve his game.
In the meantime, my wife and I have struggled to keep up with the $9,000 tuition that was left over from what the scholarship did not cover. Other parents that are in our financial situation have their non-athlete students do work study and have college jobs to help make ends meet. Our son is unable to do that due to his 24/7 schedule.
It would really help if colleges would help baseball players a bit more. My son says that football players don't have nearly the time demands that the baseball players have, yet 100% of the teams players are all on 100% scholarships, even the kickers!!!
As much time as my son spends with baseball, he IS getting the equivalent of a low third world minimum wage. The system is really messed up and NCAA baseball really needs to get its act together and reward these players for all of their hard work.
Monday, February 2, 2009
RT Staff Note: February 1st was the first "official" day of practice for NCAA D-I colleges. In addition, high schools in warm weather states have already been having their unofficial outdoor practices for a few weeks, but officially started over the weekend. On February 14th, those that LOVE baseball should take note that pitchers and catchers report to spring training as well.
So, that caused us to get a bit nostalgic and psych us up for another season by printing some of baseballs greatest quotes over the years. Yes, this is a long post, but worth it. If you have any more that we haven't printed, reply below in the comments section. Enjoy!
"Baseball is 50% from the neck up"- Ted Williams
"When they knock you down, you not only have to get up, but you have to make it clear that you won't be knocked down a second time." -Carl Yastrzemski
“Nobody ever said, "Work ball!" They say, "Play ball!" To me, that means having fun.”–Willie Stargell
“Well, there are three things that the average man thinks he can do better than anybody else. Build a fire, run a hotel and manage a baseball team.”-Rocky Bridges
"When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing. I told him I wanted to be a real Major League baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he'd like to be President of the United States. Neither of us got our wish."-Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the USA
"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."-Rogers Hornsby
“If you're not having fun in baseball, you miss the point of everything.”-Chris Chambliss
"Baseball is, I think, the greatest game in the world."-Babe Ruth
"Love the game of baseball and baseball will love you."-Babe Ruth
"Well, baseball was my whole life. Nothing's ever been as fun as baseball."-Mickey Mantle
"When we lost I couldn't sleep at night. When we win I can't sleep at night. But when you win, you wake up feeling better"-Joe Torre
"Give me five players like Robinson and a pitcher and I'll beat any nine-man team in baseball."-Manager Charlie Dressen on Jackie Robinson
"I am not concerned with being liked or disliked. I am concerned with being respected -Jackie Robinson
"Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he's losing: Nobody wants to quit when you're ahead."-Jackie Robinson
"The trouble with baseball is that it is not played the year round."-Gaylord Perry
"As long as I've got one chance to beat you I'm going to take it."-Leo Durocher
"Fans don't boo nobodies.”-Reggie Jackson
"I would be lost without baseball. I don't think I could stand being away from it as long as I was alive."-Roberto Clemente
"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."-Rogers Hornsby
"You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you.”-Roy Campanella(Dodgers catcher 1948-1957)
"Awards mean a lot, but they don't say it all. The people in baseball mean more to me than statistics."-Ernie Banks
"Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer."-Ted Williams
"I'm just a ballplayer with one ambition, and that is to give all I've got to help my ball club win. I've never played any other way."-Joe DiMaggio
"That space between the white lines, that's my office. That's where I conduct my business." -Early Wynn
"If my uniform doesn't get dirty, I haven't done anything in the baseball game."-Ricky Henderson
"The ballplayer who loses his head, who can't keep his cool, is worse than no ballplayer at all."-Lou Gehrig
"A boy cannot begin playing ball too early. I might almost say that while he is still creeping on all fours he should have a bouncing rubber ball."-Christy Mathewson
"I don't make speeches. I just let my bat speak for me in the summertime."-Honus Wagner
"Whether you want to or not, you do serve as a role model. People will always put more faith in baseball players than anyone else."-Brooks Robinson
"One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to reach down and prove something."-Nolan Ryan
"I ain't ever had a job. I just always played baseball."-Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige
"The greatest thrill in the world is to end the game with a home run and watch everybody else walk off the field while you're running the bases on air."-Al Rosen(Indians 3rd baseman 1947 - 1956)
Quotes on Hitting
"Think. Don't just swing. Think about the pitcher, what he threw you last time up, his best pitch, who's up next. Think."-Ted Williams
“If you get fooled by a pitch with less than two strikes, take it.”–Ted Williams
"Good hitters don't just go up and swing. They always have a plan. Call it an educated deduction. You visualize. You're like a good negotiator. You know what you have, you know what he has, then you try to work it out."–Dave Winfield
"To tell the truth, I never think about a homer. I'm just thinking of the situation and what I've got to do when I go to the plate."-Sammy Sosa
"Guessing what the pitcher is going to throw is eighty percent of being a successful hitter. The other twenty percent is just execution."-Hank Aaron
"I get a kick out of watching a team defense me. A player moves two steps in one direction and I hit it two steps the other way. It goes right by his glove and I laugh."–Rod Carew
"The key to hitting for high average is to relax, concentrate, and don't hit the fly ball to center field."-Stan Musial
"I'm seeing the ball well. I'm not trying for home runs. I'm trying to hit to right field more. When I do that, the home run comes."-Sammy Sosa
"Every great batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher."–Ty Cobb
Quotes on Success in Baseball
“You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possible be – in baseball and in life.”–Pete Rose
“Fundamentals are the most valuable tools a player can possess. Bunt the ball into the ground. Hit the cutoff man. Take the extra base. Learn the fundamentals.”-Dick Williams
"What a player does best, he should practice least. Practice is for problems."-Duke Snider
"If you can do that - if you run, hit, run the bases, hit with power, field, throw and do all other things that are part of the game - then you're a good ballplayer.”-Willie Mays
"If your not practicing, somebody else is, somewhere, and he'll be ready to take your job."-Brooks Robinson
“I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give.”-Roberto Clemente
"If you don't think baseball is a big deal, don't do it. But if you do, do it right."-Tom Seaver
“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”–Joe Garagiola
“Don't be afraid to take advice. There's always something new to learn.”–Babe Ruth
“I'm not only a player of the game. I'm a student of the game. I watch and learn.”-Roberto Alomar
“Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat."–Lou Brock
"I had just turned 20, and Jackie told me the only way to be successful at anything was to go out and do it. He said baseball was a game you played every day, not once a week."- Hank Aaron, on Jackie Robinson
"The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey. The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front. The new ballplayer cares about the name on the back."-Steve Garvey
"I worked real hard to learn to play first. In the beginning, I used to make one terrible play a game. Then, I got so I'd make one a week, and finally, I'd pull a real bad one maybe once a month. At the end, I was trying to keep it down to one a season."-Lou Gehrig
"I don't know how anyone can put on a uniform and not care about winning."-Dave LaPoint
"If you could equate the amount of time and effort put in mentally and physically into succeeding on the baseball field and measured it by the dirt on your uniform, mine would have been black."-Mike Schmidt
"In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end."-Tom Seaver
"Different people, different backgrounds, different ideals... We walk in different doors at the beginning of the day, and we walk out of different doors at the end of the day. But when it is time to go out on that field, we all go through the same door."-Scott Rolen
"Anything less would not have been worthy of me. Anything more would not have been possible."-Boston's Carl Yastrzemski
"A good base stealer should make the whole infield jumpy. Whether you steal or not, you're changing the rhythm of the game. If the pitcher is concerned about you, he isn't concentrating enough on the batter."-Joe Morgan
"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."-Bob Feller
"There are only two places in this league, First Place and No Place."-Tom Seaver
"If you've ever been around a group of actors, you've noticed, no doubt, that they can talk of nothing else under the sun but acting...It's exactly the same way with baseball players. Your heart must be in your work."-Christy Mathewson
Quotes on Pitching
“The pitcher has to throw a strike sooner or later, so why not hit the pitch you want to hit and not the one he wants you to hit?”–Johnny Mize
“Nobody likes the ball low and away, but that's where you're going to get it from me. I been pitching it there 50 years, away from them. That way they can't hurt you. You keep the ball in the park.”-Satchel Paige
“It helps if the hitter thinks you're a little crazy.”-Nolan Ryan
"I'm working on a new pitch. It's called a strike."-Jim Kern
“Pitching is the art of instilling fear.”-Sandy Koufax
“Believe me, I would much rather get three outs on three pitches than three outs on nine pitches, because that's going to make me that much stronger at the end of the game. My pitching philosophy is simple. I believe in getting the ball over the plate and not walking a lot of men.”-Bob Gibson
"I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it."-Sandy Koufax
“Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don't move.”- Satchel Paige
"Put the right pitching mechanics together with good health, and there's nothing surprising about lasting a long time."-Nolan Ryan
“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.”-Warren Spahn
“My job isn't to strike guys out; it's to get them out, sometimes by striking them out.”-Tom Seaver
"A pitcher's got to be good and he's got to be lucky to get a no hit game."-Cy Young
"A pitcher will never be a big winner until he hates hitters."-Early Wynn
"One rule I had was make your best pitch and back up third base. That relay might get away and you've got another shot at him."-Lefty Gomez
"It's no fun throwing fastballs to guys who can't hit them. The real challenge is getting them out on the stuff they can hit."-Sam McDowell(Indians Pitcher 1961 - 1971)
"The only time I really try for a strikeout is when I'm in a jam. If the bases are loaded with none out, for example, then I'll go for a strikeout. But most of the time I try to throw to spots. I try to get them to pop up or ground out. On a strikeout I might have to throw five or six pitches, sometimes more if there are foul-offs. That tires me. So I just try to get outs. That's what counts - outs. You win with outs, not strikeouts."-Sandy Koufax
"The good rising fastball is the best pitch in baseball."-Tom Seaver
"The two most important things in life are good friends and a strong bullpen." -Bob Lemon(Royals, White Sox, Yankees Manager 1970-72,1977-79,1981-82)
Quotes on Fielding
"The phrase 'off with the crack of the bat', while romantic, is really meaningless, since the outfielder should be in motion long before he hears the sound of the ball meeting the bat."-Joe DiMaggio
"I'm a Major League 3rd Baseman. If I have to play in a parking lot, I'm suppose to stop the ball."-Brooks Robinson, when asked before the first game of the 1970 World Series if he thought he'd have a problem playing on astroturf for the first time.
"The test of an outfielder's skill comes when he has to go against the fence to make a catch."-Joe DiMaggio