Friday, December 31, 2010

When is it too late for DI recruiting?

RT Staff Note: The following is from NCSA and Brandon Liles. Go to for more articles.

Unfortunately, those athletes and families are asking the wrong question…

Before we address when it might be “too late” for DI, I want to point out that it is absolutely never too EARLY for DI programs to begin recruiting. There have been more early commitments this year than ever before. Some major programs have a full class of commitments before they are even able to call recruits. So the better question should be:

When is it too early? NEVER

When is it too late? That’s hard to answer. However, if you have to ask yourself whether or not you are too late, it might be a decent time to start worrying – or at least start taking action.

Why is the question hard to answer?

You have to keep in mind that recruiting timelines differ for every college program and every sport. Some coaches will not put an offer on the table until they have a chance to evaluate the recruit’s skills and the recruit visits the campuses. It is also important to understand that you need to be proactive and build a relationship with the coach. That is how recruits as young as 7th grade have already made a decision. They have called coaches, communicated with them, been evaluated, and visited many campus ALREADY.

It is typical that most DI coaches, as a general rule, will have offers on the table during junior year and be wrapped up by the end of the summer entering senior year. It is a domino effect from that point on with DII finishing next and so on…

For DI and DII programs, the offer is not official until you sign the National Letter of Intent. NAIA and JC programs have their own letters of intent. DIII schools are not allowed to use any form of a letter of intent. The recruit commits to a DIII program by accepting their financial package and putting down their deposit.

On the flip side, there are situations where a DI offer may not be given until after a student-athlete has already graduated high school. For instance, the Major League Baseball first-year player draft takes place in June each year and does affect recruiting for DI college programs.

Also, there is fallout due to some commitments not making the grades or not taking the correct core courses to be eligible through the NCAA Eligibility Center. If these situations take place, then there may be opportunities to take that recruit’s spot late in the process.

Finally, I want you to keep in mind that there are other levels to consider. DII, DIII, NAIA and JUCO provide excellent levels of competition and outstanding educations. Do not get caught in the “DI” name game. If a student-athlete continues to receive general responses from coaches or camp brochures as opposed to personal communications, then you might want to explore other levels of play.

In recruiting, you are never going to “start at the perfect time.” The reality is that you are either going to start early and get ahead or find yourself playing catch up late in the game. Which category do you fall under?


Thursday, December 30, 2010

The State Of Stats

How much do you think you really know about the game of baseball? How much do you really WANT to know? If you are the type that needs to break down the game ala the Jamesion style of quantifying before qualifying prospects, then we have the book for you. The Book...Playing The Percentages In Baseball...This isn't another book review...It's an opinion on why numbers can be important and maybe even timely.

You see, we live in a tweener time in baseball. That is, the time between the juiced era and a yet to be determined era...Well, maybe that future era is the "numbers" era. Instead of gaining an edge with just pure strength and brawn, how about if a player separates himself with the help from a scientific calculator and his brain? Don't stop those work-outs just yet...physical specimens are still needed and we aren't quite yet condoning all of this Geeky approach to baseball...but, it does make for interesting conversation. Just think if baseball just replaced those juiced up cartoon like bodies with sci-fi like intelligence of the game? Could that be the edge that defines the future of baseball?

Written by three esteemed sabermetricians, The Book continues where the legendary Bill James Abstracts and Palmer and Thorn's The Hidden Game of Baseball left off over twenty years ago.

They challenge the perceptions that we all think we know to be true. Is a sacrifice bunt really smart or is it sacrificing the teams chances? What does an intentional walk really prevent? Is anyone ever really fooled by the pitch out? Where should a coach put his best hitters in the lineup? Does platooning work? The information hits the reader with stats that WOW and is very useful for anyone that makes strategic decisions, or for that fan that just likes to dissect the game for what it is. From their web site, we have included some excerpts from their book...

Excerpts from The Book
Batting Order: If nothing else, we will consider this book a true success if all thirty teams were to never put a below-average hitter in the second spot. While the proper strategy will only gain you a few runs, why do something that is otherwise clearly wrong?

The Sacrifice Bunt: If you were to ask almost any manager whether he would rather advance the runner to second in exchange for an out, or have the batter attempt a sacrifice, how do you think he would respond? If you answered, “Take the guaranteed sacrifice,” we think that you would be right. What a poor decision that would be. It's not even close!

Batter/Pitcher Matchups: Luis Gonzalez, against the one guy he owned in the previous eighteen PA, the one guy that he took to the cleaners more often than any other pitcher he's faced, the one pitcher that any hitter has taken advantage of more than any other pitcher in baseball, crumbled in his sight for the next twelve

Good winter book to get those brain synapses firing in anticipation of a great baseball season ahead!!!

RT Staff

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be a Winner, Not a Whiner

Has your son ever been on a team that is full of a bunch of whiners on the bench because they don’t like the style of coaching or don’t get enough playing time and do nothing but bring the rest of the team down? We know a few kids that have had that experience. Here's what we think.

If You Don’t Dream About Baseball, Then Baseball is NOT Your Dream

The players that cared and performed well on teams are what we call diamond dogs. They all eat, breathe, sleep and dream baseball. Most of the time you will find that 100% of the starters and contributors on that team, coincidently played on summer college development programs that they had to try-out for. They were used to the competition…used to the pressure…and could handle the heat of a demanding and grizzly tempered coach. In fact, most players prefer ill tempered coaches to more laid back ones…Most stars on a team like the pressure of someone being on their butts all the time. And, it should be no surprise that these same players are the stat leaders on their team. Tough guys win in tough situations.

The whiners are usually recreational ball players. We define recreational ball as any community league, such as Legion. Now, there are Legion teams that are good in some smaller communities, and not all Rec ballplayers are like the players in our scenario. But, for the most part…in large markets and sun-belt states, Legion Ball can be a false sense of security and a safe haven for mediocre players. Sorry parents if you disagree. In large markets, the better players ARE playing on college development programs…there are very few exceptions to this…the rest are playing Rec ball. If you look at any D-I signee list, 90% of the D-I players played on a college development program...Enough Said.

Therefore, the whiners for the most part, get ample playing time in the summer months on their rec teams…which is an awesome thing…That part we like. The only way to get better is to play more. That's what that league is give baseball players that don't play at a high level, a chance to play more and possibly get better.

But, we all must put these things into perspective as parents. A star on a Rec team is not the same as a star on a Travel team…just as a star on a Single-A team in the pro’s is not the same caliber as a star on the Major League Roster. There are different levels of competition and different levels of success. High school is somewhere in between the rigors of travel ball and the watered down competition level of Rec Ball. It's a step up for the rec guys and usually a heck of a lot of fun for the Travel players.

Numbers don't lie. Travel Ball players have always put up gaudy High School stats.

On the other hand, as we stated earlier, the Rec ball player sees high school as a higher level of play. The stars in the Rec league…those guys that were putting up lofty numbers against lesser competition, often find it a bit tougher to put up those big stats on varsity. When they don't have that same success in High School as they did the past summer, they risk losing their confidence, cool, and passion for the game, because they had it so easy with Dad as their coach in Rec ball. They start to blame the coaches or others for their lack of success and unfortunately, so do many of their parents. If we heard it once, we heard it a million times…”My son hit .500 on his Legion team and he can’t crack the line-up on his high school team…the coach is a joke”. No parents, the league your son played on was not as competitive and did not properly prepare him for the level of play his HS league has. Although many rec players may indeed be good…and may someday develop into better players…the big fish in a small pond kid will have a tough time in the Ocean a majority of the time.

Back to the College Development Program players. They never had it easy. Each had to earn their positions, work hard to maintain their status on the team and prove that they were worthy to play day in and day out...and did so in front of pro scouts and college recruiters. That's a lot of pressure for a 16 and 17 year old kid.

There were no dads guaranteeing them a spot on the roster. There were no city boundries limiting them to a local team. The travel teams that they played on had a dozen guys just like them from all over the state competing for their spot…so it raised their game to a higher level…and it’s no surprise that they all are considered the nations best…because they competed day in and day out in the summer against the nations best.

To the travel ball player, high school is a bit easier…and as a result a bit more fun and rewarding…But they too realize that success in high school does not mean success in college or the pros. They are smarter and savvier than that…because they have seen that higher level of play and while they may be basking in the accolades that high school brings…it’s a whole new ball game at the next level.

If only whiners could take that attitude and treat high school as their next level and grind it out rather than grind everyone around them down…that team and others like that team would be a lot more fun to play for.

Guys, it’s usually not just the coach…It’s your attitude towards the game…the commitment to yourself…and your work ethic that will make or break your high school career.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Climate Changes

On Rivals College Baseball Message Boards a while back, a poster suggested the following:

Here's a revolutionary concept for you that I know won't be popular on this board. Why don't all the Ice Belt teams and all the smaller school teams UNITE in a voting bloc to use their superior numbers to force some tough changes.

There are a couple HUNDRED schools that participate in the current D1 level of the NCAA that have NO practical chance of ever reaching a super regional, much less the college world series. Many, many smaller schools, from the north AND south alike, are nothing more than third-rate sparring partners for the "players" who annually scheme, jostle and try to play their way through to Omaha.

The current D1 has TOO MANY teams, with too many diverse liabilities, to all be competing for that tiny piece of the pie we associate with success, especially here on Rivals. If 200 teams got together and squawked loud enough, it would eventually cause the "great divide". Hopefully, it would hurry up what in my eyes is inevitable--a split of the current 300 team field of Division 1 college baseball.

I do not want the LSUs, Texas, ASUs, Miami, Fullertons, etc. to suffer at all from the impossible tasks of trying to create some semblance of a level playing field. I love watching and following great, high talent elite D1 baseball teams kick and knife their way as high as they can go. They play a vital role in the growth of our sport. But...

More than half the current D1 teams don't belong there. They don't have the money, the school backing, the climate, etc. to compete with the giants. I live next to a huge northern university. We are six days away from legal, NCAA approved "skills practice" for the 2010 season. When I logged on this morning, there was a flashing weather warning calling for frostbite conditions on all exposed skin. Temp was nine below zero, wind chills 20-25 degrees BELOW zero. There is at least a half foot of ice and frozen snow covering everything.

Please spare me the crying towels, and I know the ballplayers can do limited workouts in the gym or armory. But is that hindrance in any way equal to what an Arizona or Miami will be putting up with next week?

We could cut the current D1 participants from 300 teams to 128 teams and still keep the 64-team NCAA tournament field. Still keep regionals, supers and the CWS the way it is. The other 170 or so teams would become a Division 1-AA with a little shorter season and their own playoff system much like 1-AA football has. The administrations could save travel and competitive scholarship monies if needed, and still offer a baseball team for their student athletes.

The 128-team D1 schools would be free to negotiate with the NCAA and each other about start dates, travel, scholarship numbers growth, TV rights, etc. They can do what is best for their situations, while not having to compromise because of the limitations of many of the current schools in D1.

I am convinced the change is coming anyway. I would just like to see it happen sooner rather than later. I think everyone would come out better off in the long run. And it is certainly better than schools having or choosing to drop baseball altogether.

Personally, we feel that this is a tremendous idea. Unlike basketball and football, many of the northern schools are just not committed to baseball because of the high cost of early season travel and little return on investment.

Why not have a warm weather division and a cold weather division that play at different times? Or...why not let the cold weather schools play a fall schedule that starts in Mid August and runs through late October? Fan attendance would be bigger, the weather more like real baseball and the travel is cut to a minimum.

Another solution is to let the cold weather states, split their season to September/October and April/May. Then, they can still participate in the College World Series...maybe with better results...because they can compete for better players since they are not playing or practicing in bitter cold weather.

What do you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Many Happy Returns

Those few days after Christmas are big return days for all of the ugly ties, sweaters and and odd trinkets that relatives that didn't know what to give you, gave you something that they didn't really like themselves, but for some reason felt that you would never notice. Yeah OK, it hardly makes sense...but then, neither did the gift.

And, speaking of returns...from a baseball perspective (the only perspective that matters on this site)...the Christmas break is a great time for underclassmen to return all of those college profile sheets that the recruiters sent you a few weeks back. Unlike the relatives "thought that counts" gifts, the coaches and recruiters sent your sons stuff that is really valuable and important to follow up on.

Get In Their Database
The most important reason to fill out those profile sheets is to get on the colleges regular mailing list. That mailing list will provide your son with some useful information about their team, coaching philosophies, player updates and games and weekend series results. This will allow your son to make an educated decision about what kind of team they really are. Those mailers will also inform your son about key camps to attend. If your son is interested in that college, then it may be a good idea to attend that particular camp.

What To Add
While the profile sheets will give the college recruiters some basic information about your son, they are but a fraction of what is needed for them to make any kind of judgement about his abilities. This time of year is somewhat of a downtime for the coaches and an opportunity for them to view SkillShow tapes, stats, read any recommendations from past coaches, review his travel ball history and accolades, or read his upcoming varsity schedule. Make sure your son accompanies any correspondence with a personal letter directed at one person and not an entire staff. Your son should never send out generic letters. That's something that coaches would expect out of their insurance company at Christmas , but not from one of their potential recruits.

Follow-up on the Follow-up
It doesn't end there! This process is like interviewing for a job. Persistence can pay big dividends. Have your son follow up with his work-out routines and any goals he achieved in conditioning such as 60 times, or increasing his 1 RM. As the season progresses and he starts to compile stats, send those updates or send the coach links to articles or school web site summaries.

But it all starts now. Send those profile sheets in. Do NOT procrastinate. There are dozens of stories from people we know that didn't follow up and well, neither did any coaches

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

The Staff at Rounding Third would like to wish every one of our fans and readers a very Merry Christmas!

Here's a parody on the night before Christmas we found on the web. Enjoy!

'Twas the night before baseball, when all through the park,
Not a creature was stirring, the lights were all dark.
The bunting was hung on the railings with care,
In hopes a World Series soon would be there.
The players were nestled in their beds for a rest,
Tho' some were out flunking a breathalyzer test.
And pennants and jerseys and team logo caps,
Were about to emerge from their long winter naps.

When out on the mound there arose such a clatter,
A noise like a child chanting "hey batter, batterŠ"
It rang Œcross the field and into the seats,
From the very first row to the luxury suites.
The stadium lights on the freshly mown lawn,
Gave the luster of afternoon baseball games gone.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a ghost telling stories for all that were near.

The little ole spirit so lively, so fast,
Was dealing out images hard from the past.
More rapid than eagles the memories came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.
³Now Mickey, now Aaron, now Babe Ruth and Ty,
On Branch Rickey's Dodgers, on Shoeless and Cy.
From the dugout below to the top of the wall,
Remind us, remind us, the great things about ball.²

As dry leaves before the wild hurricanes fly,
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky,
So up to my mind the memories flew,
First one, then another, another, then two.
First, springtime of baseball, best time of the year,
Transistor radios close by the ear.

There's Ott, Mazeroski, and Carlton Fisk's dance,
And Ozzie, and ³Tinker to Evers to Chance².
Dizzy and Daffy, the memories linger,
Of Larson and Berra and good ol' Three Finger,
Gibson and Seaver, the pitchers were plenty,
Mays and Cepeda and Roberto Clemente.
Steinbrenner's Yankees with Martin back when,
He fired and hired and fired him again.
There's some things you do to make easy rhymes,
Like just pointing out he was fired five times.

The Bombers, the Whiz kids, the Miracle Mets,
The pine tar that flows up the bat of George Brett.
The 20-cent soft drink, the one dollar ticket.
The grounder that went right through Bill Buckner's wicket.
The day when Lou Gehrig decided he's through,
McGwire and Sammy as they chased sixty-two.
Cracker Jacks, hot dogs and baseball park dinners,
Home runs and gold gloves and 20 game winners.

The 91 series and who would've thought it?
The 97 series and the man who had bought it.
The race for the pennant to the end of September,
All this and more, The Spirit remembered.
The Spirit remembered the things that were right,
And then it was gone like a breeze in the night.
It blew through our minds after leaving it's call,
³It's Opening Day; it's time to Play Ball.²

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The (Sun) Devil made him do it

RT Staff Note:Here is the article in the Arizona Central that details the Arizona State ban. Of course, my take on it is that the NCAA in all of it's infinite idiocy, screwed things up once again. The present staff and players are punished rather than the guilty parties. There were coaches and staff members that are now gone that should be punished, not a team of innocent coaches and players. I hope Arizona State appeals and wins.

The Arizona State baseball team is ineligible for the 2011 postseason under penalties imposed today by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

The committee found ASU athletics to be guilty of lack of institutional control for the second time in five years, making it subject to repeat violator penalties. A 2005 lack of institutional control finding was for impermissible financial aid to athletes in football and other sports.

Penalties in the current case are limited to baseball, including most previously self imposed by ASU. The baseball program is on probation for three years through Dec. 14, 2013.

Former head coach Pat Murphy is not prohibited from future college employment but received a one-year show-cause penalty limiting his recruiting through Dec. 14, 2011.

ASU and Murphy have the right to appeal the penalties.

"The violations were the result of poor record keeping, failure to monitor and a cavalier attitude on the part of the former head baseball coach (Murphy) to NCAA regulations," the committee said in its decision.

ASU plans to decide by early next month if it will submit an appeal of the postseason ban to the Infractions Appeals Committee.

"We disagree with some of the findings," said Virgil Renzulli, ASU Vice President of Public Affairs. "We think the postseason ban is excessive."

In a written response to the decision, ASU said the lack of institutional control violation is "inconsistent with the fact that overall ASU had and continues to have a very strong compliance program," as evaluated in the Pac-10 2009 compliance review.

"We admit there were problems and could have been tighter control," Renzulli said. "But a vast number of these things are sloppy record keeping. We think we had good controls, and they're better now.

"There is a rules education program (for coaches), and we were surprised to hear we're not educating our coaches because that program was in place."

Renzulli said the athletic compliance department now is reporting to Jose Cardenas, ASU Senior Vice President and legal counsel.

ASU President Michael Crow, Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love and baseball coach Tim Esmay are not making public comment on the ruling.

Renzulli said Crow is "in total agreement" with ASU's written statement and that Love and Esmay remain in good standing. "We're very happy with the current direction of the baseball program," Renzulli said.

ASU is the first Division I school with nine major infractions violations since 1953. It previously was tied for the most with Southern Methodist at eight.ASU officials and Murphy appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in a marathon session Aug. 13 in Seattle. The investigation into the baseball program, which began internally, has been going on since January 2008.

The Infractions Committee noted that ASU failed to self-detect any of the violations before the investigative process began. The case centered on impermissible phone calls, the recruiting of former ASU player Kiel Roling, players training at Athletes' Performance and working in Murphy's non-profit Sandlot program, and managers performing coaching duties.

The committee said Murphy failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance and that ASU failed to ensure adequate systems to monitor rules compliance and to provide NCAA rules education.

Murphy was terminated without cause as baseball coach on Nov. 20, 2009, one day after ASU received a notice of allegations from the NCAA. ASU admitted to two major violations in its response to the allegations and self-imposed penalties against the baseball program in April. Those penalties include vacating 44 wins and the Pac-10 title in 2007 and loss of two scholarships no later than the 2011-12 school year.

Murphy, 51, won 629 games in 15 seasons at ASU with four Pac-10 titles and four College World Series appearances. He has 1,000 career wins in 25 seasons. He is signed to manage the Eugene Emeralds, a San Diego Padres' Class A team, in 2011 but ultimately wants to return to college coaching.

ASU finished 52-10 in 2010, going to the College World Series for the fourth time in six seasons under coach Tim Esmay, who replaced Murphy first as interim coach. Esmay, who was Pac-10 Coach of the Year, learned he would continue at his alma mater before the postseason began and is under contract through the 2013 season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Compete Against The Best

We were at a tournament a few years ago where a coach complained that their team was in the toughest bracket. Honestly, if you are a coach of a travel team with legitimate prospects and there are scouts at your tourney you should be very happy that you were placed in the tough bracket. How else are recruiters going to get a good gauge on the true talent of your players if they aren't playing against the best competition. As a coach, you should be requesting the toughest teams...At the 2010 graduating class level and above, it's not about just's about getting better and getting seen.

BTW, you should not be entering tournaments if there are not at least some scouts and recruiters there. If your team has a warm-up tourney to get ready for a big showcase event...fine...but if your team is consistently entering tournaments for the purpose of winning that $5.00 piece of plastic...shame on you.

Your players deserve to compete against the best players at any tournament you are playing in. Recruiters would rather see the best teams play each other as well. That way, they can scout and assess more promising prospects at one game. Economy of scale...everyone wins.

This is a short post today...Real Job duties the rest of this week.

Monday, December 13, 2010

College Baseball Is Adding A Play Clock

Will The Majors Follow Suit?
Adam Fusfeld
Business Insider

The SEC will begin using a play clock during its college baseball games, according to USA Today.

The clock will give pitchers 20 seconds between pitches (hitters must be ready in 15 seconds), and 90 seconds between outs.

The clock figures to speed the pace of the game, and, hopefully make it more watchable. Considering Major League Baseball's well-documented declining ratings, it would be wise to keep tabs on how this initiative works out.

Obviously, baseball traditionalists wouldn't stand for this, and perhaps rightfully so. MLB's declining national ratings are countered by growing local audiences and the sheer number of games.

But, in talking to scouts, a main concern at the Winter Meetings was the sport's lack of traction with America's best athletes.

So if this increases the time spent actually playing the game, rather than adjusting jock straps, it could be worth trying out when baseball's dinosaurs move on.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not Dead Yet

RT Staff Note: Great article from Aaron Fit of Baseball America about the Baseball debacle at Cal. Never before in the history of athletics at any university, has an athletic director been so clueless and mismanaged a crisis as bad a Sandy Barbour. Read on....

Supporters of Cal Baseball Won't Give Up Their Fight To Save The Program

By Aaron Fitt
December 10, 2010

When California chancellor Robert Birgeneau shocked the college baseball world on Sept. 28 by announcing the school would cut baseball and four other sports after the 2011 season, he left little hope for saving the program.

That day, Cal coach David Esquer said the school's administration told him saving the program was not a realistic possibility, even if supporters raised the money to pay for it. At least one of the problems was that Title IX would dictate that the women's gymnastics and lacrosse programs would have to be saved also.

But that answer was unacceptable to many alumni and parents, who quickly organized the Cal Baseball Foundation and started a Website ( aimed at preserving the 108-year-old program.

Doug Nickle pitched at Cal in the mid-1990s and reached the big leagues with the Phillies and Padres. Now he works in the wine industry, but that hasn't stopped him from taking on a central role in the fight to save Cal baseball—which has become a full-time job in its own right.

"There was a cavalcade of people who were obviously shocked and angered by the decision," Nickle said. "But in any situation like this, my feeling is you've got to get the facts first. So pretty soon a number of us were able to gain an audience with (athletics director) Sandy Barbour, to let her know we were going to get this reversed, we just needed to know what numbers we had to hit. A little over a week and a half later I was able to get in and meet with the chancellor as well, because ultimately he's the one that makes the decision."

It became apparent that the best way to save the baseball program was to combine efforts with the other four sports on the chopping block—rugby, men's and women's gymnastics and women's lacrosse. The tradition-rich rugby program, in particular, had significant fundraising capacity.

The problem was, and is, that nobody knows exactly how much money has to be raised.

"We're still waiting for a clear definition—have this money by this date and we're in," Esquer said. "We haven't received that, but that hasn't stopped a lot of really spirited people going forward."

The university says it cut the five programs in order to save about $4 million a year. According to Nickle, the administration said it would take between $80 million and $120 million to fully endow all five programs so they could operate without any university support. And Esquer said Birgeneau initially mandated that the programs must be fully endowed or cut altogether.

"Those are the ridiculous numbers," Nickle said. "That just seems like you're picking numbers out of a hat if the range is $80 million to $120 million—those are huge numbers, and that's a huge range. So it doesn't make sense to look at it in terms of an endowment yet because we've got to tighten up our numbers at the university level."

Birgeneau has since backed off his initial stance, but he told Nickle that it wasn't enough just to raise money. The school has to develop a plan to make the programs economically sustainable.

So the Cal Baseball Foundation set out to secure $12.5 million in pledges—$10 million by Jan. 1 and another $2.5 million by 2012—to pay to operate all five programs for the next four years. During that period, each program would complete a plan to achieve long-term stability. Nickle said it will be important for the programs to run more efficiently and explore commercial income and corporate sponsorships—areas that have been largely untapped by the athletics program.

"We've kind of approached it in terms of starting a new company, whose mission statement is to save all five of these sports, get them reinstated and have an economic plan that will run them into perpetuity," Nickle said. "I don't think the chancellor thought we could do it. I think he thought it was too tall a task, and we were just going to go away after difficult efforts trying to raise this money. But I told him, 'Unless we hear differently, we're going to come to you with $10 million by Jan. 1, and we'll have a viable business model to run these programs in a sustainable fashion.' "

The foundation reached out to Cal's major league alumni, including Jeff Kent, Lance Blankenship and Darren Lewis, and notable alumni in other fields, including some who did not play sports at Cal. Nickle said the baseball program alone raised more than $5.2 million in pledges through its Website, and this week the total fundraising effort for all five sports topped its goal of $10 million in pledges.

Nickle and his group will meet with Birgeneau next week to present their plan. If all goes well, they hope the chancellor will commit soon to reversing his decision to cut the programs.

'Nowhere's Like Berkeley'

In the meantime, Cal's players are in an awkward spot. The players and coaches have bonded together and become "fiercely committed to each other," in Esquer's words. At the same time, the underclassmen who want to continue their baseball careers after 2011 must look out for their own futures, in case the efforts to save Cal's program fail.

"We were put into an extremely tough situation," said sophomore outfielder Tony Renda, one of the team's top underclassmen. "On a lot of teams, guys would put their heads down and pout about it and feel bad for themselves, go, 'Poor us,' and not work as hard because—'Who cares? There's not going to be a team next year.' But not a single person now on the team has done that. If anything, the guys are working harder. We have a lot of extra motivation on the team. Part if it is to go, 'Screw you, we deserve to be here, and even if you guys don't think we do, we're going to prove it to you.' "

It's an unusual dynamic. Players are forced to funnel their feelings of betrayal by their own university into resolve to compete for that same university. And in light of Cal's ongoing $321 million football stadium renovation project, the decision to cut five programs to save $4 million a year is particularly galling to the baseball team.

"How does it make us feel? I don't think I could explain it in ways you could print," Renda said. "I don't know, it's pretty unbelievable. It's poor management of money and funds. Honestly I don't think it should have ever gotten to this point. Before they started making decisions to cut programs from kids trying to make it, they should have gone to alumni and the programs themselves to try to figure it out. I don't think the administration was thinking about the kids, which is what their main focus should be. That's how I feel about it. It's pretty ridiculous."

Two players have already announced they will transfer after the fall semester. Backup infielder Brett Bishop will go to Fresno (Calif.) CC, and heralded freshman righthander Eric Jaffe will transfer to UCLA, where he'll try to get a waiver from the NCAA to gain his eligibility for 2011. Players who leave when and if the program is cut in 2011 would not have to sit out a year like other players who transfer from one Division I school to another, but Jaffe decided not to wait.

"We're disappointed with that because we thought he could give us three big outs late in the game at this early stage in his career, and maybe work into more," Esquer said of Jaffe. "He's just a physically gifted and talented player. We're not happy with that, but that's the kind of shrapnel you get when the barn explodes."

Star sophomore lefthander Justin Jones isn't going anywhere until after the spring, but reports have surfaced that he will transfer to Oregon next summer. Renda said he has made a visit to Eugene to meet with the Ducks, and he is planning another to Southern California.

"It's kind of an awkward situation," Renda said. "You're talking to coaches that you're going to try to beat into the ground this year, so it's awkward. I personally would like to stay in the Pac-10, but I would like better to not have to go anywhere else but here. Nowhere's like Berkeley. People say Eugene is a lot like Berkeley, but it's not. I don't think those people have ever been to Berkeley.

"More than anything, I don't want to have to split from these guys, from the team. The work ethic, the people we have, the personalities, you just can't really beat it. I don't want to have to change. We're all optimistic that (the program) will get saved, but you can't bank on it being saved, you can only hope it does. But personally, I'm 100 percent into the team this year, and as long as there is a program at Cal, I will be here. A lot of people on the team feel the same as me."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Great Article

RT Staff Note:We have been off the radar for a while...but I just saw this post from Rivals Baseball and think it is one of the best I have read in a long time...I hope that the NCAA makes these type of changes.

Crystal ball: Ten things college baseball needs

By Kendall Rogers

The landscape of college baseball has greatly changed over the past two decades. It has evolved from a sport dominated by two specific regions to one that is seeing programs in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest become prominent players on the national stage.

It's safe to say the sport is always changing. However, in the case of some things, the sport simply hasn't changed quick enough.

With the sport slated to welcome a sparkling new facility in downtown Omaha next June that will host the College World Series, it's time to analyze ten things that could be done better or added to college baseball to make the sport better.

Let the debates begin.

More national television games

There was a time when college baseball was on ESPN at least once a week during the season, but that was two decades ago. Now, the SEC is trying to put the sport back on center stage from a television standpoint by announcing last week it will televise an "SEC Game of the Week" on ESPNU several Thursdays next season. That's certainly a step in the right direction, but we'd prefer see those games played on actual ESPN, not ESPNU. Either way, we give credit to the SEC for at least trying to give the sport more television exposure. Good ratings on ESPNU could mean big things for college baseball's television future. So, even if you're a casual fan, be sure to watch the games.

More marquee non-conference matchups

There are plenty of programs that make efforts to schedule solid non-conference opponents, but there also are those that make a point to stay at home and play weak schedules. By the way, you know who you are. For the good of college baseball, we're all for teams putting together marquee non-conference matchups, series that extend out of your comfortable region and engage programs in other regions of the country. The Big Ten/Big East Challenge is a fantastic idea. What would be better, though, is if the SEC/ACC had a challenge and the Big 12/Pac-10 put together a challenge, too. Hey, one can dream, right?

Increase scholarships

Speaking of roads we've traveled down before, it's a no brainer that college baseball should increase its scholarship totals. As has been the case for years, most programs have scholarship totals of 11.7. However, there's no question the sport is shafted from a scholarship standpoint when compared to other comparable Division I sports. The argument against increasing scholarships is many programs still aren't at 11.7. However, increasing scholarships, in most instances, would force administrators to make a greater commitment to the sport. It's a win-win for most.

More commitments to building programs

Many programs continue to make stronger commitments to their programs with renovated or new facilities. However, making stronger commitments will continue to be a goal as long as an institution such as California is considering dropping its baseball program. Furthermore, Coastal Carolina has given the little guys hope they someday can become one of the big national players. Programs are making stronger commitments, but there's never an end in this department.

Eventually move to wood bats

The NCAA raised plenty of eyebrows this fall when it mandated programs must begin using the new BBCOR bats. Well, the BBCOR bats certainly act more like wood than any bat used in years. So, that begs the next question, why not just move to wood bats? Some coaches and pundits argue that aluminum bats make the college game unique. But, you must remember the mere presence of aluminum bats also turns off many casual baseball fans. Some say who cares about those fans, but those are the fans that will determine if college baseball becomes a big-time sport. As much as some dislike the idea, moving to wood bats has a better bottom line.

Move up the MLB draft signing deadline

There's a very good chance this happens when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is voted on next year, but it's important to reiterate our stance. There were several college coaches anxiously waiting by phones on Aug. 16 to find out if their prized recruits were signing pro contracts or going to college. That's all fine and dandy except the fact school had already started for some of those coaches, meaning if a player signed they could be unable to fill his spot. Many believe the signing deadline will be moved to July 1. That would be perfect for college baseball, but I'd be surprised if the new deadline wasn't in the middle of July. That would be a good compromise.

Develop a fall baseball schedule

This is something that must be done. The NCAA allows softball programs to play fall contests with no penalty during the sport's spring season. Baseball programs have games removed from their spring schedule if they play games during the fall. There's something wrong with that picture. The NCAA should allow baseball programs to play a four or five game fall schedule that do not count against your 56-game regular-season schedule. Many of these games could be played between rivals on football game weekends to generate more interest in the sport.

Less regionalization of NCAA Super Regionals

There's a reason Major League Baseball would prefer in most instances not to have teams from the same area in the NLCS, ALCS or World Series. It brings down television ratings. Somehow, the NCAA hasn't figured out the popularity of college baseball will increase long-term by putting together intriguing national matchups as opposed to pitting regional teams together like they did with Cal State Fullerton-UCLA, TCU-Texas (for the second straight season) and Miami-Florida last season. We're of the belief that super regional venues will attract thousands of fans no matter who the home team is playing. Not everything must be regional in nature.

Get the northern programs more involved

We've never been champions of making sure other regions are involved in the landscape of college baseball, but now is the time to get the northern programs more involved. There are plenty of northern programs that head south during the early part of the season. But in many instances, these programs aren't playing the marquee southern and western teams. That must change for the landscape of the sport to improve. It also would help if programs in big conferences such as Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina would occasionally make midweek trips to the northern part of the country. College baseball will continue to gain popularity, but doing a better job of attracting the north is the final piece to the big puzzle.

Weaker transfer rule

We've been on this soapbox for over a year now, and we're still of the belief there's something wrong with the rule that states you must sit out for a year if you transfer to another Division I institution, barring a special exemption. Again, it must be reiterated, college baseball is not the same as college football and basketball. Unlike those sports, baseball is not a full scholarship sport and shouldn't be treated as one. If a player is with a program that can't give him more scholarship money than another program, he should be allowed to transfer with no penalty for financial reasons. Deep down, we're not fans of players freely transferring all over the place. However, having a loose transfer rule is one of many ways to get the NCAA more involved in increasing scholarships.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Core Value

Core strength is the most vital aspect of baseball training. Top strength and conditioning coaches that understand baseball, know that core conditioning is where the emphasis should be throughout a baseball players training regimen.

Here’s a small sample of what you should know about core training:

1.Did you know? The core is comprised of nearly 30 different muscles that basically wrap around your body in the area between your hips and rib cage. This area connects your upper and lower body so it can function as one. ...crunches ain’t gonna do the job.

2.Baseball/Softball Hitting and Pitching power comes from the core....The core is fundamental to all body movement. You hardly make a movement without engaging your core whether it be walking up the stairs or bending down to pick something up.

3.Hitting Posture? Pitching Posture?...A strong core provides balance and stability, a necessity in athletic movement for baseball or softball.

4.Your core is the basis for all athletic movement. When you hit, throw, twist, swing or run you are relying on core strength to transfer power.

5.A strong core reduces your chances of low back injury which is quite common, especially in baseball players.

6.Your core includes both abdominal muscles and lower back muscles..front side core muscles don’t do the job.

7.If your core is weak, your movements will be weak and you will
not reach your full athletic potential = no power or velocity

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Juggling Academics with Athletics

RT Staff Note: This is a article from Rivals. Student athletes take note. Without school, there's no athletics. Good luck in finals the next few weeks.


While the average student has classes, homework and a job to balance, a student-athlete also has a rigorous training and playing schedule to add to their daily routine. The life of a student athlete is a balancing act and can be completely overwhelming at times. Juggling sports with academics is a challenge and can almost be seen as having two full time jobs. Not only do student-athletes have pressure to perform in the classroom, but have the added responsibility of performing as a successful team member.

In order to be a successful student-athlete effective time management is required. Players must learn that to be the successful you must be organized and willing to sacrifice. Busy playing schedules means missing classes and lots on time of the road. As a student-athlete many resources are made available to you and it is vital that you make the effort to use them. Surround yourself with fellow teammates and people who follow a similar schedule as you do in order to help yourself stay on track and stay motivated.

Although making every deadline, class or practice may seem difficult to do; it is very possible. Missing class to make up for lost time may seem like a great idea, but will only create more work for you in the long run. Reward yourself for following your schedule and completing all of your work and training. It's important to not only schedule the things that you have to do, but make time to do things that you want to do. After completing your training and homework, reward yourself by watching an hour of TV or talking to a friend on the phone.

Everyone manages their time differently; it's a personal style that you must develop. The more effectively you are able to do so, the more it will help you not only in high school, but as you make the transition to university. The more effectively you are able to manage your time, the more time you will have.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The "Invited" Walk On

RT Staff: A lot of parents and senior players are getting e-mails and letters from coaches asking them if they would be a recruited or invited walk-on for the 2010-2011 year. Many of our readers are confused about this. We did some research and the best explanation we found for baseball is on our favorite web site High School Baseball Web. This article was written by their resident genius, Bob Howdeshell...Enjoy!

The "Invited" Walk On Player
by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

There are several significant differences between being a walk-on college baseball player and in being an "invited" walk-on player. When a college coach contacts a high school player and invites him to walk-on at his program he has a "real" interest in that player. We take a look at the topic.

The typical walk on player is one that comes out in the fall of the year. Usually after seeing a notice for baseball try-outs. (Many schools still require their programs to hold try-outs)

The "invited" walk-on is the player that a college baseball coach specifically calls or invites in person, to come and be a part of their program as a walk-on. Those players are the focus of this article.

As funding for college baseball programs continues to get tighter and tighter and team rosters seem to be getting larger (numbers) at many schools each year, the walk-on is becoming more and more important.

This is especially true when the player is an in-state student.

An invited walk-on player almost always has a chance to earn some scholarship money as he continues to contribute to his team. Invitees also are usually given a much longer "look" by the coaching staff. This may involve getting to play in mid-week games, etc.

Keep in mind that the walk-on player will have to be clearly better than the scholarship players at his position to get significant playing time. This is just the way the world works. It's not always fair.

In many cases the invited walk-on player is given the use of the same resources as the scholarship players. Things such as weight room usage times, training staff, dorm assignments (the walk on will pay a dorm fee (board), use of the athletic dining room (again the walk-on will pay), athletic department tutors, athletic department academic advisors among other items.

NCAA non-scholarship players do not sign a National Letter of Intent. The LOI comes into play only when scholarship monies are involved.

The same is true for NAIA and NJCAA letters of intent.

Some schools require all players to sign a "code of conduct" type of agreement, this applies to both scholarship and non-scholarship players. This agreement is a "one way" document that allows the school to terminate the players involvement with the baseball program for violations of team rules.

The signing of one of these "conduct" agreements does not prohibit a player from transferring to another school.

In the case of ALL invited walk-on players the acceptance of the initial offer to be an invitee is a verbal commitment. There are no binding written agreements involved. A player is free to sign a scholarship offer with another school after verbally agreeing to walk on at the first school. I will leave the moral and ethical debate on this issue up to the individuals and their families.

As we have discussed on this site before -- Being a walk-on player can be a great experience for some, for others it is not. I suggest that the player and his family research a school's, and the head coaches history of playing walk-ons before agreeing to do so.

In some cases it is better to get a small scholarship at a lesser baseball power or a junior college than it is to be a walk-on at a major college baseball program.

The name of the game is "PLAYING TIME", all players ultimately want to play, not sit on the bench. Being invited to walk-on makes a big difference, just be sure to do your homework.

I suggest reading the High School Baseball Web article entitled Walking On as well as this article.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Putting Things Into Perspective

We wrote a few years ago about a conversation we had with a mom about how ridiculous the lengths parents go in travel baseball. She went on to say that the money spent on travel, coaches, tournaments, was out of hand and that she would never do that for her son. Her son, although a good athlete, preferred music. My colleague then asked her how she supported her son's passion for music. She replied that there were music lessons, acoustic and electric guitar purchases, travel and fees to battle of the band contests, music camps and a college recruitment expert to help them apply for the right music scholarship. After her reply, she defended herself and sheepishly said..."But what we do is different". My colleague gave her a look and they both knew...There was absolutely no difference between what he contributed to his sons passion to what she contributed to hers.

Ask any parent that wants the best for their son. Whether it's entering their son in a Battle Bot Contest, golf tourney, tennis match, optimists clubs, debate teams, volleyball select teams, etc., We all want the best for our kids. Don't feel guilty that you are doing too much for your son. You are only doing too much, if your son never wanted to do what you signed him up for. In other words, if it's your passion and not his, you are wasting your money. Ask him what HE wants...and if it's to be a great baseball player then pursue that route. If it's to be an computer engineer, then pursue that.

Readers that regularly browse Rounding Third are baseball fanatics...Heck, the people that write this blog are baseball MANIACS...but we wouldn't have started this site if we didn't have sons that had an incredible passion for the sport. You probably wouldn't be reading this blog if we didn't have that in common with each other. Because our sons had that passion, it made us realize what it really takes to succeed, and we think you all should know as well.

It takes an incredible work ethic, a love for the sport, and a desire to be a winner to have a chance to play at the next level. If your son has all of these qualities, then investing in him is a must. You'd do the same if he was a math wiz, chess master, artist, musician, actor or computer programming genius. The parents of all of those kids will do what it takes to make sure their kid has a chance to succeed at the next level. So should the sons of baseball players.

Go back and read some of our older posts in October and November and you will see the lengths it takes to play at the next level. Yes, it is very involved...and all so very necessary. The camps, showcases, travel teams are part of the process and whether or not he has the chance to pursue baseball as a least he will know whatever road he takes post high school or college will require the same amount of work ethic and desire to succeed...and that will give him all the edge he needs to get ahead in life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Recruiting Process is Like Finding a Job

When a person graduates from college, gets a degree and sets out to tackle the real world, employers aren't lined up at his front door looking to jump at the chance of hiring him. Not in this economy. A graduate has to create a resume, send it out to hundreds of potential employers, call and set up the interview, secure the interview, nail that interview, and then follow up several times until he gets an answer....and keep doing this time and time again until he gets lucky enough to land that job.

Ditto that for the recruiting process. A high school athlete must create a recruiting profile complete with video of his skills, send it out or more preferably, create a web site or web based recruiting system to make it as easy as possible for many coaches to view. He must then follow up and call those coaches to see if they received it and if so, thank them for viewing it. This can happen anytime in the recruiting process. While NCAA rules prohibit coaches from calling or e-mailing recruits prior to July 1 after their junior year, there are no restrictions for a recruit to call or e-mail a coach. In fact, it is smart to get the attention of the coaches early...get on their radar...let them know that you have no fear in calling and letting them know of your desire to play at the next level...just be prepared to back it up.

After you have had the chance to "interview" with coaches, start a e-mail campaign to keep them informed of your progress, increased work ethic and dedication to being better throughout your High School and summer season. Then, continue to play hard and often, because that is how it will be in college. There is no down time in the college baseball season. You will be on the field or in the weight room from the first day of school to the last...then be assigned to a collegiate wood bat league that summer. Show a coach that you can handle that while still in High School, and have consecutive productive seasons, then an offer or offers could be in the cards.

Like finding a job, a recruit needs to be proactive and contact the coach, because unless you are a high profile blue chip that everyone knows about, chances are the coaches will not know about or seek you out. There are just too many other players out there today proactively marketing themselves through College Development teams, showcases, camps and recruitment web sites...getting their name out themselves like a product on a TV commercial...and you know what? It works...

So...take the a self starter and be proactive and start contacting the coaches...but only if you have the talent level for that coach and his team...more on this later....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Uncommitted Seniors...Focus on April 13th, 2011

Today is the last day a senior can sign his letter of intent in the early signing period. As much emphasis as we are putting this week on signed players, we know that not everyone reading Rounding Third is committed to a college. This site is dedicated to helping all baseball players realize their dream...So, we are re-visiting a subject that we touched upon a few years ago. That particular and very popular post last month, stressed that uncommitted Seniors should not give up on their dream and continue to market themselves.

Recently, we encountered some statistics to support why Seniors should step-up their recruiting efforts. Did you know that when you take into consideration D-II, D-III, NAIA and JC's, that there are more college scholarships awarded in April signing period than in November? Also, 75% of all baseball opportunities are outside of D-I. Yes, most of the majors and some mid-major D-I's will have fullfilled their needs in the November period. However, most of the D-II, D-III, NAIA and JC's sign their players in April.

That should be encouraging for most of the unsigned players. So, knowing's time for uncommitted Seniors to change their focus and target the schools that may or may not have been on the original lists. Forget the major D-I's at this point. While there certainly will be exceptions, they are done recruiting for the most part. Start to research other options and go after them as aggressively as the original list of colleges.

As a start, if a player was a big contributor on their high school or travel team last season, they should ask both coaches to write a letter of recommendation. Then, write a personal letter and, along with the profile sheet, recomendation letters and video if one exists, send them out to a whole new list of smaller colleges. This time, make sure to follow it up with a phone call. Seniors should not hesitate to ask the college coach or recruiter if there is any interest. Don't be afraid to call and do not wait for a written response back. That response is somewhat hollow anyway. When players send out letters, they will get a letter back in most cases....However, a response letter is not an indication that they are interested. It's basically a confirmation that they received the letter. Some college coaches will include an invitation to a winter camp. Again, a camp invitation is not necessarily an indication of interest. I should not have to say this, but the call must come from the player...NO PARENT INTERVENTION!

Now that the April signing period is the new goal, the emphasis on a players senior year in high school takes on more importance. Step up the off-season conditioning program. Send the college coaches high school schedules. Work hard to ensure a spot on the team. If players are unsure of their role on the school team this upcoming season, ask the high school coach for advice on what he wants from you as a player...and then DO WHAT HE SAYS!!! Just because a player talked with their coach doesn't mean they are off the hook. It means that he is going to look at that player a bit differently to see if they followed through on his advice. All Players must step-up the work ethic several notches.

In the warm weather states, most high schools will already have 15 games under their belt by the beginning of the April signing period. E-mail stats and any local articles that might have been written and send them to the targeted colleges to get an early jump. But, don't worry frost belt players, the late signing period is quite a bit longer than the one-week November signing period. The late signing period is from April 13,2011-May 18,2011. The longer signing period gives players an opportunity to continue to play out their senior year and improve.

So, we hope we have shed a little light and given baseball players hope that there is still a lot of time to fulfill your dreams. Just work hard, play smart, continue to contact coaches and excel in the classroom and many will fulfill their dream to play at the next level.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DII commissioners take a crack at wood bats

November 12, 2010 By Dave Pickle

An important Division II baseball constituency recently took another swing in the wood-bat arena. Time will tell whether it was an extra-base hit or something less.

At its October meeting in Phoenix, the Division II Conference Commissioners Association agreed on the following language:

“The D-II Conference Commissioners Association endorses and supports the idea of wood bats, with the intention of NCAA Division II moving toward a wood bat-only division by 2012-13.”

So, what does that mean?

In short, the commissioners are trying to move their conferences toward wood for regular-season competition in 2012-13. If they are successful, they hope the Division II Baseball Committee would mandate wood for Division II postseason competition beginning in 2013.

baseball batsDivision II Baseball Committee chair Jeff Schaly of Lynn said he has not heard from the commissioners since the committee met at the Division II College World Series last May. At that time, the committee expressed a reluctance to mandate wood bats for any region and said that such change would have to come from the bottom up rather than being nationally required.

With that in mind, Peach Belt Conference Commissioner Dave Brunk and Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Commissioner Dan Mara made the pitch for wood at the October meeting of the DII CCA, citing myriad benefits, including a return to the roots of the game; lower-scoring, shorter contests (with more time available for student-athletes to pursue social and academic experiences); better marketability to fans; and better training for hitters who aspire to play professional baseball, where only wood bats are permitted.

Nineteen of 22 commissioners were present and voting at the CCA meeting, and the vote reportedly was 13-4 for wood, with two abstentions, although at least some of the “no” votes might have indicated skepticism more than opposition.

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Commissioner Butch Raymond said the CCA commitment, while significant, is merely another step in the process.

“We didn’t necessarily say that we’re definitely putting wood bats in for 2012-13,” said Raymond, who chairs the commissioners’ group. “We’re going to start working toward that process. We feel like we’re going to have to work from the bottom up. In other words, we’ll probably have to go region by region, conference by conference.

“We support the concept. We have all agreed to do what we can working toward that, but it’s certainly not a mandatory thing for 2012-13.”

After the CCA vote in October, the commissioners reported back to their conferences. One commissioner reported that a straw vote in his conference was 8-7 in favor of wood, with the principal concern being that wood bats, because they break, will prove to be more expensive than metal over the long term. Some coaches also believe that quality wood is in short supply and that the “good wood” will be taken by professional baseball.

Additionally, some coaches have deals with metal-bat manufacturers, although the proponents of the change believe that most Division II arrangements are not that substantial and that alternative deals with wood-bat manufacturers would be available in an all-wood environment.

“That was really one reason why we were discussing 2012-13, to give conferences time to perhaps get their own deal, or DII-wide deal or institutional deal,” Brunk said.

The change, if it is implemented, would not require a division-specific playing rules exemption since the rules permit both wood and metal. In inter-division play, the type of equipment can be determined by mutual consent of the competing teams. Under the commissioners’ approach, wood composite bats would be permitted in practice to reduce breakage, but they seek to use actual wood – defined as “a single piece of wood, from a tree” – for competition.

If Division II chose to go use wood-only, it would have no effect on how the other two divisions approach the game. ESPN reported earlier this year that sentiment at the top levels of Division I are decidedly pro-metal. For the upcoming season, all bats will be required to meet more wood-like standards.
NCAA Insider is an occasional take on college sports issues, as viewed by NCAA communications staff member David Pickle. Opinions are his alone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rules, Rules, Rules

Rule, Rules, Rules. There are plenty of them to consider when going to college and even more to consider when you are a student athlete.

First, there is the recruiting. We are now in what is considered a contact period. What’s a contact period you ask? The NCAA web site has all of the following on their web site, but we thought we would explain in a little more detail about how these rules are interpreted by the schools and the organizations that run the showcases and camps. The NCAA definition from their web site is in regular type and ours and additional info we gathered from scouring through the rules and regulations manuals is in (parentheses and italics.)

Contact- A contact occurs any time a coach has any face-to-face
contact with you or your parents off the college's campus and says
more than hello. A contact also occurs if a coach has any contact
with you or your parents at your high school or any location where
you are competing or practicing.

Contact Period - permissible for authorized athletic department staff members to make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations. (The coach may also watch you play or visit your high school. You and your parents may visit a college campus and the coach may write and telephone you during this period. Schools can have face-to-face off-campus contact with prospects and parents...usually at showcases and camps...and prospects can take part in activities designed for evaluating athletic and academic abilities.)

Dead period - not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on- or off-campus or permit official or unofficial visits. (Seems self explanatory, but schools may write or telephone prospects during this period.)

Evaluation- An evaluation is an activity by a coach to evaluate
your academic or athletics ability. This would include visiting your
high school or watching you practice. (Or compete in a camp, showcase or other major national tournament event such as the WWBA, BCS, Junior Olympics, etc.)

Evaluation period - permissible for authorized athletics department staff to be involved in off-campus activities to assess academic qualifications and playing abilities. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospect are permitted. (These are usually showcases and camps as well, but the schools may not have face-to-face contact with prospects and parents at all. A coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time.)

Quiet period - permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the member institution's campus. (The coach may not watch you play or visit your high school during this period. You and your parents may visit a college campus during this time however. No contact or evaluation may be made off campus.)

Official visit- Any visit to a college campus by you and your parents paid for by the college. The college may pay the following
• Your transportation to and from the college;
• Room and meals (three per day) while you are visiting the college; and
• Reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest.

Before a college may invite you on an official visit, you will have
to provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript
(Division I only) and SAT, ACT or PLAN score and register with the
NCAA Eligibility Center

Detailed information about recruiting is available in the online edition of the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What Is Your Intent?

Congratulations to all Class of 2011 baseball players that have received their National Letter Of Intent this week. You all should be proud of what you all have accomplished thus far in your lives. It’s really an honor to play a sport in college…and hard.

As you sign your Letter of Intent…Ask yourself what IS your intent? Will you strut around feeling full of yourself, or will you continue with that same hard nosed work ethic that got you here in the first place? Well, we along with your parents, coaches and future coaches encourage the latter, because it certainly won’t get any easier for you.

Each step in your life just keeps getting harder and more competitive. You may be the best in your high school or league, but next year, you will compete against all the best players in all the best leagues in your state or region of the country. College Development Programs certainly helped you prepare for this moment, but now size, strength, stamina and heart are the wild cards to compete against and strive for. It’s time to get serious, be the senior leader, and show your future coaches that they have a lot to look forward to.

The same work ethic needs to extend into the classroom too. There really is no comparison between high school and college. Bottom line, college is much harder and just as you would train your body for a long grueling season ahead, you need to train your mind and prepare it for the rigors of higher learning.

Parents, savor this moment as well. It’s not too corny to break out the digital camera and take a few pictures of the signing. In fact, it will be a great moment. We even bet that as you drive away from his new surroundings next fall and head for home with the nest a bit emptier, you’ll break out those signing pics and your mind will rush with all of the memories of snack shack dinners, long drives with noisy players in the back, muddy floorboards, smelly socks, Motel 6’s when nothing else was available, diving catches, and the blur of acronyms like RBI’s GWH’s, HR’s, K’s, BA’s, OBP’s, ERA, SLG’s, and wonder how it went by so fast.

Congrats 2011’s!!!! Play Hard and Smart…Make us all proud!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NCAA's Poppe likes look of Omaha's new CWS stadium


The NCAA's man in charge of the College World Series stood on the concourse at Omaha's new downtown stadium, looked out at the freshly laid sod and gushed.

"It's starting to look like a baseball stadium, isn't it?" said Dennis Poppe, the NCAA's director of baseball and football. "It's amazing. You put the sod down, and it almost looks like we're ready to play."

TD Ameritrade Park is 75 percent complete by Poppe's estimate and is everything the NCAA wanted as the new venue for the Division I baseball championship. The CWS was played from 1950-2010 at Rosenblatt Stadium, about three miles south of downtown.

Under an agreement between the city and NCAA, TD Ameritrade will host the event for at least the next 25 years.

Workers put down the sod a week ago, and even with cold weather nearing, officials are confident the playing surface will be ready by spring. Though a crisp breeze blew through the concourse as Poppe spoke to reporters Thursday, the grass appeared to be in midseason form.

A late addition to the building plan included a system that blows warm air into the soil to enhance grass-growing conditions. The underground system also can be used to cool the bluegrass blend in the summer and assist in drainage.

"Bottom line: we could have a beautiful stadium, but if the field isn't in good shape, we're in trouble," Poppe said. "That field has to be the best it can be."

The stadium will seat 24,000 and includes 30 luxury suites and 2,500 club seats. Seats have been installed on the first and second levels along the first-base side. Some seats have been bolted down on the second level of the third-base side.

Poppe has said that for players in top programs, Rosenblatt was a step down in terms of quality. That won't be the case with the new ballpark, which he said will be as good or better than any in college baseball.

"I hope they feel this is truly the home of the College World Series," Poppe said, "and it should be the best facility they play in all year."

The players won't be the only ones who enjoy the ballpark, which features an open-air concourse wrapping around the perimeter.

"God bless, I love Rosenblatt and I have a lot of fond memories there," Poppe said. "But it was a challenge to get through the corridors and the concourses there on a hot, muggy night. You can walk the entire (new) stadium and keep your eye on the game. Just the openness of it all, you'll find this an enjoyable place to watch a baseball game."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Congratulations to all NLI signees today!!!

Today is the first day that the Class of 2011 can sign their NCAA National Letters of Intent to play College Baseball...It's a very exciting day for all high school students...I know it was for our son...His Letter of Intent is still framed in his old room...along with the dozens of school jerseys, caps, and T-shirts we felt obligated to buy that day...

Parents and players...cherish this moment....Being a student Athlete WILL change their life forever...But... Athletes...Don't get complacent...Now is the time to step it up to the next level.

Many probably think that the pressure is off for a senior player once he signs that NLI right? Hardly. Expectations are high and the pressure to perform like a future collegian will transcend to all aspects of his game this spring. Coaches will expect him to be a team leader. Team mates will look for him to be the man in the clutch. Pitchers will alter their approach when he comes to bat.

All the more reason to not get complacent. The good news is that most of the players that will sign today and the remainder of the week got to this point in their lives by having an incredible work ethic. But, it is human nature to relax after a big accomplishment. Just don't relax too much. Players need to go into this spring with the mind set that they will dominate and have a work-out plan the rest of this off-season that will give them the edge that they need to achieve success. Players...just keep on working hard and make it a habit...because after this year, you will all go back to the beginning as a freshman again.

College IS like starting all over again. There will be 9 positions on the field at a given time, and not one of them is an automatic like it may have been at the high school. For each position, there are two to three players waiting in line with the same all-conference and all-metro and All State honors waiting to take their turn. All it takes is a bad week of practice or a bad series and the depth chart is shuffled. Is it un-fair? NO! It's life! The only advice anyone can give a player in this situation is to work hard, smart and never give up. It's the perfect life lesson for what the real world will throw at each and every student athlete when they is handed his diploma.

RT Staff

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Is a TEAM

The Bleacher Report...By
Richard Leivenberg

As a die-hard Dodgers fan, it is hard to say the words "The Giants are World Series champs."

Yet, not only were they champs, they made the rest of the MLB, and especially the Dodgers, into chumps.

They showed what a real team is all about. It is not about how much money you have to spend, and not about free-agent mercenaries like Manny and the like, and not about individual performance or dictatorial managers and selfish rich-guy management.

It is soley and purely about teamwork. It is about what we are supposed to teach our kids every day when they head out to play teeball and Little League.

As we hopefully leave the steroid era behind, we can perhaps gain a glimmer of hope from San Francisco's new champs. First, you gotta hand it to their general manager. We Dodger fans can only squrim at the idea of an ownership who will go out and get the players necessary to fill voids in the lineup and on the field.

You have to marvel at and applaud the Giants ability to scout and then sign such players as Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum (who the Dodgers passed on, by the way). These guys came out of their system, an almost passé way to view team-building. The Giants proved that this old-school way of building a team is a great way to build a foundation.

A lot of teams pooh-poohed Lincecum, the slight pitcher with the huge stride who is on his way to the Hall of Fame. As for Posey, well, he truly is "The Natural," and bravo to the Giants for finding him and signing him...then bringing him up this year. Without Buster, the Giants would be...a bust!

You cannot say enough about the entire Giants pitching staff, from outstanding starters to strike-throwing middlemen to tough and obviously eccentric closers...the best staff in the bigs.

You gotta love the makeshift yet somehow glued-together nature of the Giants team. It may start from the top with Bruce Bochy, who made swift moves (benching Sandoval for instance) to shore up his infield, or maneuvering and empowering his fantastic pitching staff.

He knew that he didn't need a lot of runs per game with a staff whose ERA was record-breakingly low, but somehow he got the key hits and the runs to edge the Padres, beat the dynastic Phillies, and then crush the wannabe Rangers with the impressive line-up.

Huff, Uribe, Renteria, Rowan, Burrell, Ross, Sanchez...are you kidding me? Then again, why not? Each has a pedigree of his own. Each has shown in the past that he can hit. Sanchez has won batting titles. Renteria has been with World Series Champs before. Huff has always been a solid hitter, and so has Burrell and Rowan and Ross. Put them together and you have Giant Goulash...a stew that comes together in a delectably winning fashion.

These "misfits" roughed up Halladay AND Lee...take that!

Some have said it is the worst lineup to ever win a World Series. Better to say it is the best "team" to have won it in a very long time. They gelled like no other team has done in quite a while, and they were a juggernaut that few saw coming.

Now, when you think of the word Champion, you can think of this year's Giants team.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ask Coach Taylor

RT STaff Note:The following is from NCSA and Coach Taylor. Go to for more info.

Coach Taylor – All my friends are talking about taking “unofficial” visits to colleges. How can I set those up?

This is a great question that I’m sure a lot of people are wondering. Unofficial visits are a great way to be able to talk to a coach in person, and see if the team and school is a good fit for you. Also, you can take an unlimited amount of unofficial visits, and coaches are more than happy to give them to you because it doesn’t take away from their recruiting budget.

However, coaches don’t usually give unofficial visits to kids who are not a potential prospect for their program. So first, you need to develop a relationship with a coach that you are interesting in playing for. The visits will come from there. Expressing your interest is key, and it is not a bad thing to say that you are free for a weekend and would like to come for an unofficial visit. Then from there you will work on both party’s availability.

Coach Taylor – I’m getting some emails from college coaches, but there are strictly generic and not specific to me at all. What does this mean?

I understand that it makes you feel a lot more important when you receive a personal email from a college coach. They feel the same way! It’s important to realize that these coaches received your Recruiting Profile and then chose to proactively contact you. They know that your Recruiting Profile goes to a lot of coaches. They are not sure right off the bat whether you will be interested in them. There is no way for them to know what type of athlete you are or anything about your character. The coach is going out on a limb to contact you! So do not be surprised if the first contact the coach makes is a questionnaire or generic form letter. That is completely normal and to be expected! That is how coaches recruit. The personal emails and correspondence begins after you respond and the coach gets to know you a little better.