Friday, July 30, 2010

Do You Ride The Confidence Rollercoaster?

RT Staff Note: is a great resource. I encourage all players that are struggling with confidence to buy or download his videos and books.

By Patrick Cohn

Doubt is the number one killer of your baseball confidence. You might think, “Can I get a hit off this pitcher?” or “Don’t walk this batter!” Your doubts cause you to lose confidence, question your ability and get down on yourself. Without confidence and a strong mental game, you crumble under pressure, play tentatively and under-perform in games.

Doubt isn’t the only challenge for baseball players though. Many players have fragile self-confidence. When you have fragile self-confidence, your confidence varies widely based on what’s happening during a game. When you get a hit, your confidence goes up. On the other hand, when you make a mistake, your confidence drops. We call this the confidence rollercoaster. Your confidence changes from moment to moment depending on your immediate performance.

Monday night’s game with the L.A. Dodgers and Houston Astros is a prime example of how self-confidence can benefit your game. Dodgers’ pitcher, John Ely, in his fourth career start, gave up one run and five hits striking out eight batters. Ely contributed to the 6-2 Dodgers win over the Astros.

“I’m just out here doing what I have always done. I just have complete confidence in what I bring to the table and the fact that if I execute my pitches the way I want to, I feel like I have the advantage. That is the way you have to feel every time out. If you doubt yourself, you’re going to give up hits,” said Ely.

Every time you go to the field, you want to have confidence in your game. Your confidence must not waver because of your opponent or the quality of your practice that week. A stable level of confidence is developed over years of practice and training.

Use your practice, training and preparation to develop the foundation of your confidence. After mistakes, you’ll want to remind yourself of why you deserve to feel confident. Is it your work ethic, your improved curve ball or your ability to come back after mistakes? Remember your strengths to help you feel confident.

“Ely’s going to make you hit it; he’s going to make them do the work. He changes speeds so well, I think that’s really the biggest reason why he’s had the success early on. He’s not afraid to throw the fastball any time. And behind in the count, he’s not afraid to take a little off,” said Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre.

Your mental game of baseball tip is to base your confidence over years of practice and play. Don’t wait until something good happens in the first inning to feel confident. Likewise, don’t allow a single mistake to shake your confidence. Rely on what you can control, such as your practice and preparation to keep your confidence when things don’t go according to plan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mental Battle: Get Out of Your Own Way

By Patrick Cohn /

Your mindset can be an asset or a determent to your performance. If you doubt yourself, lose composure after mistakes or over analyze your performance, your mindset can hurt your performance. You can be your own worst enemy. In these situations, it’s hard to bounce back with confidence and composure during the game.

Many baseball players struggle with these mental game challenges. Cleveland pitcher, Justin Masterson is aware of the mental battle with himself. Masterson helped the Indians beat the Red Sox 11-0 last Wednesday night.

“You get a little excited, but once you get on the field, it is game time. Half the time, the battle for me is with myself,” Masterson said.

Half of the battle is fighting with your own mind. Many ball players sabotage their performance; they can’t get out of their own way. They set high expectations for their performance. If you expect to perform perfectly or not make any mistakes you are setting yourself up for failure. When you don’t achieve those expectations, you become frustrated with your performance.

You can also sabotage yourself by adopting negative self-labels. Negative self-labels are confidence-busting names you use to describe yourself. You might tell yourself you’re a streaky hitter, for example.

Even though you may engage in self-sabotage, you can improve your mindset. First, let go of any expectations you have for your performance. Instead, focus on what you need to do in the moment to execute, such as seeing the ball well. Next, change your negative self-labels into positive ones. Instead of calling yourself a streaky hitter, tell yourself you’re a consistent hitter.

If you feel like you’re losing the mental battle, stay patient–you can improve your mental game with practice. Take time to become aware of your mental shortcomings and work to improve your mindset. A strong mental game can only benefit your performance.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Differences Between Division I,II and III

Division I
Division I member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender. Each playing season has to be represented by each gender as well. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria.

For sports other than football and basketball, Div. I schools must play 100% of the minimum number of contests against Div. I opponents -- anything over the minimum number of games has to be 50% Div. I. Men's and women's basketball teams have to play all but two games against Div. I teams, for men, they must play 1/3 of all their contests. Schools that have football are classified as Div. I-A or I-AA. I-A football schools are usually fairly elaborate programs.

Div. I-A teams have to meet minimum attendance requirements (17,000 people in attendance per home game, OR 20,000 average of all football games in the last four years or, 30,000 permanent seats in their stadium and average 17,000 per home game or 20,000 average of all football games in the last four years OR, be in a member conference in which at least six conference members sponsor football or more than half of football schools meet attendance criterion. Div. I-AA teams do not need to meet minimum attendance requirements.

Div. I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. I school cannot exceed.

Division II
Division II institutions have to sponsor at least four sports for men and four for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria -- football and men's and women's basketball teams must play at least 50% of their games against Div. II or I-A or I-AA opponents.

For sports other than football and basketball there are no scheduling requirements. There are not attendance requirements for football, or arena game requirements for basketball. There are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. II school must not exceed. Division II teams usually feature a number of local or in-state student-athletes. Many Division II student athletes pay for school through a combination of scholarship money, grants, student loans and employment earnings.

Division II athletics programs are financed in the institution's budget like other academic departments on campus. Traditional rivalries with regional institutions dominate schedules of many Division II athletics programs.

Division III
Division III institutions have to sponsor at least five sports for men and five for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are department’s spectators. The student-athlete's experience is of paramount concern. Division III athletics encourages participation by maximizing the number and variety of athletics opportunities available to students, placing primary emphasis on regional in-season and conference competition.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parents That Get It

We have a unique reader base. Our readers are the parents that get it and are constantly in search of more information and education about baseball for their son. They understand that there is only one way for their sons to achieve success and that’s through hard work, a great attitude and an undying passion for the sport. If they don’t have those three attributes, along with their talent, then their chances of success will be greatly diminished.

Most of our readers have sons that play on College Development Programs and through that experience, they understand that there is always a better player ready to take their sons position…many parents want their son in that position…it’s an incredible life lesson…because in the real world, there are tons of obstacles, thousands of competitors, mounds of stress and grizzly, man eating bosses and executives ready to churn and burn your ego. My son loved those hard nosed coaches…still does. They motivate, exhilarate and create a desire to be better…not to mention make life very interesting.

The parents that need this the most don’t read this site. They don’t care to. They live in their overly protected world and create drama for those that dare trespass into it. They don’t want competition, they want democracy. They don’t want their son to have to put up with a grizzly coach…they want Ward Cleaver. They protect their son, but in the process leave him so vulnerable to the realities of the outside world. They only want to win, if their son is part of the victory..,otherwise, they are the type of parent that loves to see a .450 hitter strike out and then say. “See, he’s not that good, my son could do better than that.”

So send a copy of our articles to a parent that doesn’t care to read what we have to say, but has to…Who doesn’t think that what we say is of any importance, but is important for them to know that there are others who don’t agree with them…to a parent that will read this and feel real uncomfortable and hopefully find comfort in our message. Then send it to your coach and tell them that we have their backs…and so do you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Youth Baseball Training

RT Staff Note: Here's another article about working out, from Jon Doyle. If you want to see more articles on Jon Doyle, go to his web site at Baseball Training Secrets

By Jon Doyle - MA, CSCS

Youth Baseball Training is a simple, yet very complex topic. The information floating around these days leaves little to be desired. The goal of this article is to teach you how young athletes should train for maximum effectiveness, optimal performance and utmost safety.

Obviously, the term “youth” is very broad. The term can refer to any individual 18 years or under. The scope of this article will cover the ages of 6-18 years of age.

When an athlete is a beginner he/she needs to learn proper movement patterns. Overlooking this crucial element is the biggest mistake I see with youth baseball training. Everyone wants to put a barbell, dumbbells or medicine balls in the hands of these individuals before they have learned proper movement patterns.

What’s the point of doing a squat with weight on your back before you have learned how to squat correctly with just bodyweight? Why would anyone bench press before they have learned the proper movement and built up strength in the pushup? These two scenarios make absolutely no sense but I see it happening everyday.

The key is learning proper movement through specific movement patterns. Everyone and anyone can benefit greatly from these movements. If you don’t have a copy of “The Ultimate 7-Minute Dynamic Baseball Warm-Up” I suggest you pick one up immediately.

Not only will this DVD teach you how to move properly, but it serves as a form of strength training. In order to have strength, power, speed and flexibility that transfers over to the baseball diamond the body must be taught to move properly.

It does not matter what age the player is. Age 6 or 18, these movements serve as the foundation. If these basic fundamentals are not developed an individual will never even come close to their potential. The great thing is this all can be done in 7 minutes per day.

Also, for those athletes that are certainly too young to start a strength training program with barbells and dumbbells these movements will build strength, power, speed and flexibility through what is called neurological adaptation. Basically this means that the connection between the brain and the muscles will work much, much better. Common improvements that occur are increased overall body coordination, more fluid movements, the game “slowing down” as well as aforementioned strength, power, speed and flexibility.

After these basic movements have been learned the individual can move to classic strength training. The best movements to use are what we refer to as “Focus Lifts. They are as follows:

• Power Clean
• Power Snatch
• Squat
• Deadlift
• Bench Press
• Push Press

These should be taught first because these are the lifts that have the most carryover to the diamond and everyday life.

To learn how to do each Focus Lift in extreme detail check out the Power/Speed Development Series. Here you will learn the specifics and how to teach each Focus Lift quickly and easily for a price that is less than one personal training session with the kid down at the local gym.

If an athlete learns how to move properly and then is taught the Focus Lifts he/she will be a force to be reckoned with!

Proper youth baseball training will make all the difference in the world for your young athletes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Synergy Part 5

When a company like Apple Computer wants to introduce a new product, the timeline to bring it to market involves a synergistic relationship between several departments within that corporation…From research and development to engineering to IT and software development to manufacturing to finance and finally to marketing…The process involves each department communicating and handing down data and specs to bring a product to market that is consistent with what was conceived by the research and development teams that originated the idea….like the iPhone.

Doesn’t this analogy say it all? Imagine a world where we didn’t communicate with one another for a common goal. We wouldn’t allow this to happen in our places of employment, yet in some cases there adults that are letting it happen in the development of a child. Whether it’s a math teacher communicating a students weaknesses to a private tutor or a coach giving his assessment to a private instructor, open lines of communication will create a more consistent and successful result.

This series on Synergy has been controversial to some and an eye opener for others. We at Rounding Third definitely have strong opinions about this subject and we do it all without hidden agendas. We don’t run or own a CDP club, batting cages, hitting/pitching instruction business, or are presently high school or travel coaches. We do have sons that played ball and have been heavily involved in all of the aforementioned activities. We have seen the good and the bad of both sides of the fence and the only side that anyone should be taking is the side that benefits the player the most. And, that side involves all sides communicating and handing down facts, data and evaluations from one coach to another and another so that the end result can be a consistent with what was conceived by the teams, coaches and instructors that originated the initial assessment and goal of the player.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Synergy Part 4

Holistic Synergy sounds like a New Age practice found off the shores of the California Coast. In fact, it was a suggestion from a reader on the cooperation that all coaches should have with everyone involved in the development of a top rated player. Actually, it also sounds sort of redundant, but that's what baseball is all about...Repetition, repetition, repetition. Players need to keep in baseball shape year round and with the seasonal state restrictions on HS coaches and the geographic difficulties in seeing CDP coaches, players need to seek out extra help. That increases the need for High School and CDP coaches to have a ongoing relationship with hitting, pitching and conditioning instructors. Like our past three posts, this is another one of those instances where the lack of communication gets in the way of results.

Instead of being long winded on this topic...we are going to be a bit more blunt...Coaches...You need to talk with the private instructors and instructors need to talk with the Coaches.

Baseball players aren't industrial patents...there are no ownership rights of their impending successes to brag about. We hear too many times about instructor "Smith" claiming that Player "Jones" was the result of his "Innovative 8 Step Program"...Blah, Blah, Blah. Guess what? Forget about which instructor did the best job...Everyone is responsible...The high school coaches, the CDP coaches, and the instructors...The end result however could be even better, if all of your sons coaches stopped working independently of one another and worked together. Communication handed down from one coach to another will help that player use the information and build a successful career with it.

Again, everyone wins and maybe, just maybe, coaches and instructors could learn something along the way. Face it coaches... After the high school season they will play CDP ball and after that they will seek out hitting and pitching and conditioning instructors during the's an ongoing cycle and it's a smart way to keep the mechanics top of mind and build muscle memory...Everyone needs that type of consistent training.

Work together guys. It's the "New Age" of total communication for the Betterment of Baseball!!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Synergy Part Three

Every year around the beginning of November, many of the top college coaches meet one on one with their players and give them their summer assignments. The Top players are assigned to leagues like the Cape Cod, Northwoods, Great Lakes and even Alaska. College coaches from all over the country work in direct contact with officials from the National Baseball Congress(NBC), National Association of College Summer Baseball (NACSB) and the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League(ABCCL) and other smaller leagues to get their players placed. Click on those links for a look at the leagues and their teams.

One of the mission statements of the NACSB is:

"To foster better relationships between collegiate coaches and the NACSB in conjunction with the ABCA".

The ABCCL's mission statement is:

* To serve as a convenient, accessible and quality resource for college baseball players to strengthen their skills and compete with their baseball peers.
* To provide college baseball coaches with an organized, constructive extension to their school programs during the traditional summer "off-season".
* To act as a venue for all college players to improve and showcase their talent before intercollegiate and professional evaluators.

Now That's Synergy!

Then it occurred to us...what if the high school coaches and the College Development Program (CDP) coaches took their communication to this level? Their college counterparts want their players to continue at a high level of competition...The leagues themselves (according to the ABCCL website)...are designed to improve the players by maximizing playing opportunity. As a result, they will improve their performance upon returning to school and increase their awareness among the professional scouting community.

Substitute the word professional with collegiate and that same synergy could exist with high school players. Again, we can not reiterate enough...the communications lines between the High School Coaches and the CDP teams and leagues needs to come from both sides...and now is the time to make that contact! There is absolutely no reason why this can't happen...It's a huge win-win for both programs and an incredible upside for the players.


RT Staff

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Synergy Part Two

There have also been many discussions on various national and regional message boards about the role of the high school coach when it comes to promoting players to the next level. So over the past several years, we have heard just about every argument and opinion, good and bad. Everyone seems to have a personal story, some of them extremely touching and some not, about an experience they had with a high school coach. Therefore, everyone seems to have an opinion about what the HS coaches role should do we.

In our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to coach, develop and communicate. Now, let's define the term "coach". High schools coaches see their players nearly every day of the school year...depending on their status at that school. By that, we mean many head coaches are also teachers. So those coaches influence on their players are in many cases, a bit more involved.

Despite the restrictions many state High School associations have on off-season practices, a full time teacher/coach will encourage his players to buckle down in school, practice on their own, and open up the facilities for off-season conditioning. During the season, the role of the coach is dedicated to molding his players into fundamentally sound, disciplined, smart, competitive ball players. His job is to make sure that those players taking the field are the nine best players he has seen in action at that point.

Those nine can and probably will change throughout the season because good high school coaches will always create that kind of competitive atmosphere. And, no matter what combination of nine players are on that field, they will be the most competitive nine at that given time. That's what high school baseball is all about. High School coaches are a huge influence in the development of baseball players and the better coaches take this role very seriously. This is a full time job that is not only emotionally draining, but these decisions often come with the baggage of over-zealous parents and other critics as well.

So with that in mind, we do not think his role should be that of recruiting facilitator on top of all of the aforementioned duties. It doesn't mean he is not a part of the process...he is, but just in a reduced role...more later...This is usually where the critics seem to disagree. If this question was asked 25 years ago, we would have said, sure...the high school coach should be involved.

Today however, the rules of the recruiting game have changed. The high school season is not a time when college recruiters can realistically observe players. Most college recruiters are assistant coaches and are too busy with their own schedules to find the time to go see a high school game. There are exceptions in areas like Houston, the North Carolina Research Triangle area, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area where their are 6 or more D-1 schools within an hours drive. Even then, unless it's a big time tourney like Southern California's Phil Nevin Classic or Florida's Lincoln National Spring Break Invitational, which features a multitude of potential recruits, it isn't cost effective for a recruiter to take the time away from his own teams duties to go see one or two players.

Therefore, the job of recruiting coordinator falls upon the families themselves, with a boost from their College Development Programs (CDP's). Families must remember, if baseball wasn't in the picture, the application process would be 100% on the student. The same should apply WITH baseball in mind. That doesn't mean that parents shouldn't seek out additional help.

For instance, many good showcase or CDP's have great databases of college recruiters e-mails and snail mail addresses available. Players and their parents should also ask the CDP coaches to help assist them with the proper format for a profile sheet. Many of the top CDP's will even send out material for their players prior to a big showcase and while at the tourney, do a little tub-thumping on behalf of their players. However, student/athletes still need to send out their own letters and e-mails to every school on their wish list. A player must take that initiative...if for no other reason, to show the coaches that he has a vested interest in the recruitment process.

Now, here's where the high school coach comes back into play...and where our article yesterday needs to be taken seriously by both the HS and travel coaches...

If a college recruiter has an interest in a player, there are two references he WILL phone or e-mail. One is the CDP coach...the other is the High School Coach. A good CDP's M-O is to get their players placed, so that phone call is a no-brainer. The unknown in many cases is the reaction of the high school coach. It's not his fault...he didn't see his player play in the summer showcases...But, he should either seek out or be given that information.

For instance, a player may not have had a great High School season, but really showed his mettle during the summer against better competition that really impressed a college recruiter. Depending on the High School League, some top players actually under perform at the plate during the HS season because they are ahead of or are over swinging at the slower and inconsistent pitching. The opposite also occurs, where a player may hit his stride and be MVP of his High School team, but can't come close to catching up with the faster, more controlled pitching of the travel tourneys.

So, in our opinion, the role of the high school coach is to follow-up with the CDP coaches to get assessments of his players progress. A high school coach must know that the high school season is half of that players time on a field. He needs to know about the other half or summer season as well, so when he gets that phone call from a college recruiter about one of his players, he can base that particular players assessments based on all of the facts...or at least give the college recruiter an idea of his players progression. A High School Coach should never say a player is not ready for the next level based on half of that players season...especially when that recruiter saw him play in the summer and the HS coach did not...and evidently that has happened on occasion, based on e-mails we have received.

Bottom line...A college recruiter wouldn't even waste his time calling a High School Coach if that recruiter didn't see something positive in that particular player. These guys know what to look for and know what they want. At the very least a high school coach should talk about potential or that players projectablity if he doesn't want to talk to CDP coaches for whatever reason. But, we feel that it is in the best interest of all parties for all coaches to know all of the facts before they say anything to a recruiter.

And, likewise, we also feel that it is equally the responsibility of the CDP organization to help break the ice and call the high school coaches and give them an assessment of their players progress and interest from colleges throughout the summer. And, as our last article suggested, this contact between the two should happen before the summer season starts as well. Once that is done...then hopefully it will become an annual ritual...all for the betterment of the player and baseball in general.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Synergy. Working together towards one common goal. Most good high school coaches do understand the advantages of their players going on after the high school season ends and playing on college development programs. That said, there are some coaches that don't communicate with their players summer coaches. For the betterment of he players, it would make it easier if everyone is on the same page, so that the two parties could work closer together and take an interest in each others role in the development of the players that they have in common.

We don't know how these coaches feel about one another in your neck of the woods, but around here, the relationship between HS and CDP coaches is pretty good. In fact, they realize the ultimate success of their players revolves around the two of them working together to produce smarter, mentally tough, fundamentally sound ball players.

High School is about daily repetition, mental toughness, playing in front of crowds, and discipline. Summer ball is about putting that extensive training to the test against top competition and in front of recruiters. So to us, it would be highly beneficial to both coaches if they talked with each other about the progress, abilities and potential of their players with each other, so that the players can improve upon their game in the forthcoming seasons. Bottom line, they both see each others players enough to exchange valuable information to one another. A HS coach will conduct about 60-70 practices and 30+ games with his players and a Travel coach about 60+ games and 20 practices. Coaches that spend that much time with players, know what their players can and can't do, and should communicate those points with each other for the betterment of the players.

Here's an example: Let's say a HS team has an underclassman with projectable skills, but he is a bit apprehensive at the plate and in the field. The HS Coach however, sees a hidden potential in this kid. Towards the end of the season, this kid gets more confident and contributes more to the team. In other words, the coach was right, this kid will be a big contributor to the team next year. Now, here's a perfect opportunity for that coach to contact that players summer coach and give him a full report on this kids progression, strengths, weaknesses and communicate what his player needs to continue to work on. It's a win-win for both the player (the most important benefit) and both teams. If they don't communicate, the summer coach may not see what the High School coach saw and the player regresses rather than improves that summer season. The opposite happens from summer/fall to the HS season. Why does this happen? We don't know, but for the sake of the players, open communication and synergy between the two programs is paramount to the progression of a players abilities. What are your thoughts? Click the comment button just below this post and communicate your opinions on this issue.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Case For College Development Programs

RT Staff Note: Every year, the same questions get asked about whether or not travel ball is worth the time, money and effort. The following is my answer to that ongoing issue.

First of all, I have been through the "travel ball" experience. ( I like to call them College Development Programs or CDP's.) I wouldn't change much about my sons experience. Neither would many of my colleagues or friends...and they have all become very close friends BECAUSE of my son and his experience with the CDP's he was involved in.

For instance...If you are like most CDP baseball parents, you just spent the weekend watching your son play either in a local tournament or in some far away place that required lots of driving or an expensive flight. People at my office thought I was crazy when my son went through this, but when I asked them what they did over the weekend, it wasn't that much different. Their weekend involved dinner and a few drinks with friends and some yard work. Some saw a movie, others a concert. Some had weekends in Vegas, Tahoe or some other far away place. Mine involved dinner and drinks with the parents of my sons team mates and some ball-yard work. Some of those weekends were in SOCAL, Sacramento, Arizona or East Cobb GA. Substitute the concert, movie and weekend leisure travel with a lot of baseball games locally or to other far away places and in my mind, we had similar weekends.

This post is about how we have altered our lifestyles, to give our sons a chance to be the best they can be at baseball. The questions that we always hear are, after all of the travel and nights away from the rest of the family, work, friends, costly lessons, tournament fees, coaches per diems and $350 bats, are our sons better baseball players? Do they understand and love the game more? And, is it their passion or ours?

To me and the friends I made going through many years of CDP ball...It definitely was well worth the experience. All of our sons have or are still playing college ball...some are playing MILB and one is in the Bigs already. We think that if they had taken the route that most of their friends took, and had relied on their high school coaches and the local leagues to get them to the next level, our sons would not have had the offers or the opportunities to play D-1. Now we know that there are exceptions. Some of our sons friends that took the rec ball route, have had a chance to play JC ball and stepped up their routines and became more serious about the game. They learned that rec and high school did not prepare them nearly enough...but had good enough JC coaches that showed them what it takes to play at the next level.

But the one thing our sons had early on that their other friends did not, was a passion, self discipline and serious attitude about baseball and the knowledge that the game requires a devoted work ethic both in the off season and in pre-game preparations that we have witnessed many rec ball athletes do not have. It's not their friends fault. That's the way they were taught. There are distinct philosophical differences in the way a CDP coach develops his players and a Babe Ruth coach develops his.

Nevertheless, below we have listed some characteristics of CDP's to look for and even some things we would have done differently based upon our last 10-12 years of travel.

What is a good CDP? Our definition is a team that has it's total focus on the development of the players and not just on winning that $5 piece of plastic for the sake of the coaches egos. The costs of a good CDP can be daunting, but make sure that your team is going to the right tournaments and showcases that will:

1.)Get exposure for the players first and foremost. Many of the top high school tournaments will have scouts in attendance and you want your team to be there. There are many so called travel teams that beat their chest because they win a lot of local and regional tournaments. While it's great that they are playing good ball that is probably a step up from the rec alternatives, when you weigh the costs versus benefits, what was accomplished by winning that trophy that's bound for an old box in the garage?

2.)Works with the tournament organizers to make sure your team is playing against the best competition. While winning is great for the psyche of the team as a whole, it's not always going to benefit them if they are playing patsies to get to the championship round. Some people will disagree with us on this, but we strongly feel that your sons will gain more grit playing the good teams early. And, if your travel team has a great reputation, you'll get more scouts at those early games against the better competition.

3.) Be Organized! Be wary of the travel programs that don't have their summer of 2010 schedule completed by January...Yes that's right...January!!! Many of the top tournaments and showcases like the USA Baseball and WWBA tourney's are invitation only and if a newer organization wants in, they will have to campaign to get their team in the tournament early in the year. Other showcases tournaments have deadlines and they are usually very early. A lot of planning and logistics go into these national tournaments and they usually don't accept late entries unless there is a cancellation.

4.) Have 90% of their roster in place by December of the previous summer. Many of the top clubs will have their try-outs this fall for the 2011 summer season. It's important that a club knows it's roster so that it can have the spring to create their own player profiles to send out to college recruiters. This does not negate your sons efforts to send out letters and profiles however. Your son needs to do his own marketing on top of what his coaches are executing.

5.) Has a reputation as a winning, professional organization with the college and pro scouts. Look at the travel clubs web site and look at their alumni page. Many of the better organizations will have a section of their web site dedicated to former players that have gone on to college or even the pros. That says volumes about their dedication to player development. Many college coaches look to these organizations for help and player profiles. Also, ask them if they are communicating with college coaches and where they feel your son fits in with the type of colleges they will be contacting.

6.) A payment plan that precedes the season. It is our experience that if a club has a payment plan that is paid prior to the season, then that team gets 100% participation with its players. These payment plans are usually monthly and more reasonable to budget for. These clubs also have travel agencies that they work with and their web site is like a one stop shop. If you have a good, competitive club and they don't have this set-up...have the coaches get it done this way. It's easy and web site set-up costs are usually free or very inexpensive. There are other clubs that have a pay as you go policy and they are the ones that usually are scrambling for players before every tournament. Those type of clubs are usually very frustrating and costly experiences.

7.)Coaches as teachers. The best organizations have coaches that work with each individual player to help make him a better player. They have practices and aren't just winding kids up like a toy and letting them play the weekend tourney's. They are also the teams that gather as a group every inning before their at bats, going over the decisions that the players made in the field, talking about adjustments that need to be made at the plate and getting them in the right frame of mind. Most of these coaches really know the game and love spreading that knowledge to their players. That's the type of added value that makes a good travel team worth the investment for your son.

8.) It's Not A Free Ride
We have heard time and time again that travel ball is for rich dads that want to live vicariously through their kids. Not true! Yes, there may be a good number of parents that fall into this category and a good number of travel clubs that will accept any ones money to feed that parents desire. But, for the most part, good travel clubs are about developing and giving players the opportunity to take their game to the next level. And, those top travel clubs have a cost. And, we as parents are whipping out that check book like it was a sure stock tip.

The one thing we would have done differently, would have been to get our kids way more involved in the fund-raising aspect of their travel team. Many of these kids have it too easy and we as parents are guilty of making it easy for them. I know of several Georgia, Florida and Texas teams that raise 100% of their travel costs and coaches fees through candy drives, car washes, raffles and bake sales. Their kids are a part of that fund raising process. There's nothing wrong with parents bringing those candy bars to the office...that's usually pretty easy money...but so is a group of athletic looking kids in baseball caps going door to door or sitting up at the grocery store selling cookies, candy, and raffle tickets to help pay for that trip to East Cobb, Orlando or San Diego. This discipline also gives them ownership of their team and their accomplishments. It also keeps costs down for you, because depending on the organization, the total summer expenses for a high school travel team that is entered into all of the top tournaments and showcases can be expensive.

However those costs can be cut drastically if you room with another family and opt to go to the grocery store and barbeque by the hotel pool (much cheaper, healthier and more fun in our opinion)instead of eating out every night. My sons and my best friends were made on those nights by a hotel pool BBQing and tipping a few cold beverages...(I of course had the adult cold beverage) Also, the advantage of having a travel team that plans ahead will allow you to shop for airfares and hotels well in advance and take advantage of discount rates.

Anyway...that's my take...I write about this stuff everyday and have many more opinions on this subject...Bottom son and his friends still talk about those days when they see each other before a college game, see each other at a summer collegiate league game or communicate on Facebook. I do the same with their parents when I see them. What a wonderful experience it was. We wouldn't have it any other way.

One other the people who say that the best players will be found..How do you know he is a good player if he is not competing against the best players? There are exceptions and I am sure many of you can name a dozen or so...but college baseball recruits thousands each year...not a few dozen...these tourney's help the college recruiters in many ways...they are a one stop shopping experience that they need given budget cuts and decreased travel allowances. They also can help you as a parent put things into perspective as it relates to your own perception of your own kids talent. And..for the record...even Bryce Harper as sure as a bet he was as a prospect...played on a variety of very good development programs...usually above his age group...always pushing to be a better player...and guess worked for him.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Two Wolves

RT Staff Note: This is another great Thought For The Day we found on the TeachdGame web site run by Jim Giles. Enjoy!

By Jim Giles
I recently ran across a small little thought in an article I was reading. The thought went like this:

There are Two Wolves fighting within each one of us. One embraces pride, burning ambition and desperate to win and gain honors at all costs. The other is humane, compassionate and eager to teach or learn life’s lessons. Which one will win? Whichever one you FEED!

I think this is a very important aspect to think about whether we are a player or coach. It also can serve us well as our athletic careers dwindle down and we move forward in our lives. While difficult on the surface, to be truly successful and reach our full potential today as an athlete, tomorrow as a coach or long term as a human being, we must learn to FEED BOTH in equal parts to survive. If we only feed one and ignore the other, that “wolf” will die. Feed only the ambitious one, you may succeed but quite possibly you will be left lonely and incomplete. Feeding only the humane or compassionate side could leave you achieving less than your full potential.

As athletes, you must be and remain hungry. You must have ambition and embrace the pride and challenge to succeed moving forward to the next goal. Otherwise you will not push yourself to greater things. How often have you seen someone have a good performance, only to follow it up with a less than stellar one? Whether it is at bats, or innings pitched during a game, you have to continue to push. Get a hit in your first AB, wonderful, now what will you do in your next. As a Pitcher you get through the first inning or two fine, but how will you finish the game. In the end it is how you finish that matters.

This same concept carries over as you approach games or your season. Start off in preseason just fine, but then you have to keep things going into your league season. As you enter the end of the season and move forward toward the playoffs, you now have to step things up. How will you continue to “feed” this desire to move forward as the weaker teams are eliminated and each game get’s progressively more difficult? Coaches, how will you continue to “feed” your team game to game, week to week, to keep them hungry and continually striving for more?

You must continue to avoid becoming complacent with who/what you are and failing to strive to achieve more. If things are not going well, how will you find the ability within you to not give up and continue to “feed” the wolf of desire, ambition and pride to turn things around and get better. Coming off a bad game or season, you need to find this inside you to move forward and improve to avoid spinning in the other direction.

Contrasting that, you cannot go about life with a win at all costs mentality and forget the humane side of things. If you do, you will win but will have no one to share the success with. Part of the joy of succeeding in athletics and in life, is having someone around when it is all said and done to share the celebration with. It is also about having respect for and being respected by those you have encountered along the way. At the end of the day, we should all seek not just the victory or success, but the respect that comes from going about it in the right manner. If we reach the end of a journey, only to look around and see no one there wishing to share it with us, then what joy does that bring.

Greed is Good ----- the good is in continually striving for more. Be Greedy, continue to strive for more out of your life experiences and out of yourself. The good can also be in how we handle this desire to achieve. Achieve it in a positive and compassionate manner and you will have a wealth of people around to share in these successes with. In the end, you must find a way to FEED BOTH THE WOLVES. Only in doing this, will you find your greatest potential while achieving it in the right manner and gain respect along the way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Timing Is Now

We had a friend travel with his son (a Senior at the time....since graduated) to see a few schools this past spring and they happened to visit a very small D-1 school that told him that one of their position player recruits had to have major shoulder surgery and in all likelihood, would not be able to play next year. Because this visiting player had a near perfect GPA and SAT score, and also played for a top rated travel program, the coach at this university told him timing was everything and made him an offer. He had almost given up hope that he could play college baseball. That brings up a good subject for today's post. This player took a different approach and visited colleges he wanted to attend. And, if you have the time, this is a great way to get to know a school that you may be unsure of. Just because you haven't heard of a school or aren't that familiar with a school, doesn't mean it's not a good school. This player was surprised by the beauty of the schools he visited. Interestingly, many small D-II, D-III and NAIA colleges look very picturesque...more so than their big D-I counterparts. And believe it or not, school aesthetics are a big part of many decisions to go to a school.

However, most players don't have that luxury or time, but there is a lot you can still do from your home to help you get noticed by colleges that still have needs.

Timing is only everything if a players name is top of mind with that coach at the time of the need. In other words, if a player is a unsigned senior, one letter to your target colleges won't do. You need to step up your creative and supply them with a bit more than what you previously have given them.

For instance, companies advertise to attract consumers to their stores and buy their products. You must do the same. Do you have a video of your skill? If you are a position player, provide an edited video of you fielding your position from various angles. Video yourself at the plate...preferably at a 90 degree angle (facing the batter), then from behind the plate. Time and film your throws to first if you are an infielder and to third from right field if you are an outfielder. Pitchers parents have tons of game videos usually, so edit the best performances. Do a brief intro of your name, grade, height, weight, side you throw and bat, high school, travel team and send it off to one of your target colleges with your complete profile.

But be smart who you send it to. As a senior, letters to Top 50 D-I programs are probably not realistic. Our friend's scenario at the top of this post is the exception. Barring injuries, most top D-I's have completed their recruiting and as we stated yesterday, the colleges with needs are the smaller D-I's, most D-II's, D-III's, NAIA and JUCO's. That should be your target.

If you can't visit these colleges, many have virtual tours on their web sites. Some are quite good and provide 360 degree views of the campus and it's main attractions. Look and see if the targeted school has the educational curriculum that interests you... Go to their baseball site and look at who they play, their record, who they graduated and who they have signed thus far. If everything looks good, send them the packet. It's tedious and time consuming, but so is college life, so this is a great exercise to tackle.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Get Exposed Early

There are many parents out there that are very concerned about the current recruiting situation for high school baseball players. Well, it goes both ways folks. The coaches have as much concern as you do. Many coaches at major colleges are pressuring more and more players to sign early and are telling players that if they don’t sign now that they risk losing their scholarship offer.

Is this right? It doesn’t matter…it’s the state of collegiate sports today. It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, track, basketball or football, coaches want their roster spots filled early, so that they can concentrate on the upcoming season at hand. They have a well paying job to justify and the sooner they can reel in a top recruit, the better the chance they will be able to build on that for other pitchers, and position players of alike ability.

Some people think that it’s the kids that get hurt. We are not sure that is true. The day you as parents, first signed your sons up with a travel team, showcase, camps etc, you knew what you were getting into. Parents of travel players should be used to this routine. Travel ball pits the best against the best and that’s exactly the situation collegiate coaches want to see your sons in. and…the more they see good players in that competitive situation, the easier it is for them to make a decision of whether or not a player is worth the risk.

Once college recruiters are completely convinced that the talent matches their needs, they will go after that player with a vengeance…That’s why we think it’s so important to get your son exposed early. The earlier you go through the rounds of showcases, camps and the plethora of showcase tournaments….believe us….you will WANT to get it over with and sign early.

Seriously, it is so important for you to get your son ready and exposed as early as after their freshman and no later than after their sophomore year. You DO NOT want to wait until after your son’s junior year to start the recruiting process. You will be very disappointed if you wait that long.

Early exposure makes the inevitable decision your son will make seem like it is wasn’t a quick decision. He also won’t have any feelings of dissonance later on if you start early enough and weigh your choices or at least your desired choices carefully. It’s so important to really do your homework as early as the summer after your freshman year because there is no turning back anymore. The NCAA has put a penalty on transfers. Yes, a player can still transfer, but not without sitting out a full year.

There are certainly other issues and irrational rules that the NCAA has imposed lately. The later start date and new roster limits the most controversial. But, none of us are going to change those rules at least in the upcoming year…so we as parents have to learn how to work around them.

Our advise…just have your sons keep playing a lot of highly competitive ball…get him exposed…make a list of realistic prospective colleges…go visit those colleges…then… have your son work hard…very hard…because parents…the bottom line is that playing college ball is extremely difficult and coaches are only going to want players that have that hard work ethic and the intense desire to play the game.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Incoming College Freshman...GET IN SHAPE!!!

If you are a graduated senior that is headed to play D-I ball, do you engage in the same everyday reps that you had in high school knowing that the next three or four years of your life (school year AND summer) will be dedicated to school and baseball?

Very good question. Here's our answer. Many of you received your letters or e-mails in early June detailing the running, strength and conditioning programs your coaches wanted you to work on. That should have been your first priority.

Have you followed that plan? We know, we know, it's your last summer with the guys and girlfriends before heading off to college. We get that...Mom and Dad get that...but Mr. College Coach doesn't care much. He is giving you a deep discount on a college education and would like for you to come to school in serious shape.

Getting in shape and being in top condition is extremely important. Many of you will look malnourished compared to your future collegiate team mates and the strength and conditioning coaches will be putting you on a fast track to get you to at least 80% of their strength and body mass in a hurry.

If you aren't in great shape by the time school starts, you will be susceptible to injury. The first week of school consists of physicals, paperwork and classes that introduce you into the world of NCAA sports. After that, your college life will be very planned out for you. The second week of school starts with a 6:30AM strength and conditioning wake-up call and 90+ minutes of some of the hardest conditioning you have ever experienced in your lives. That is followed by school and then a 1:30-4:30 practice. After practice you will break for dinner and then, will report to 2-3 hours of mandatory study hall. That gives you about an hour to yourselves before you have to start the whole routine all over again the next day.

So, back to our question. Should you take daily batting practice to keep your swing intact? We understand that you have nothing to prove and have already committed to a college, but for pride and to get used to the insane routine you will have in less than a month in college...get back in the cage and start hitting NOW! Show those underclassmen on your summer team that you deserved that scholarship. Set an example and show them what it takes to succeed. Be a leader and teach them that you have to be a self starter in the summer and that there is no substitute for hard work. So, if your stats are way down from your high school season, there's a reason for that...YOU ARE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH!!!

Get in shape, get it together and get yourself ready for the months ahead. Don't worry, you won't miss out on anything the rest of August. There's 24 hours in a just need to organize them accordingly.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If You Play It Safe, You May Be Out

These are tough economic times no doubt. Families all over the country are watching their expenses and scrimping on the very things we used to take for granted.

One of the budget cuts in many families are the cost of going to showcases and playing on elite College Development Programs. Many families have to make sacrifices. But be careful. Don't play it too safe or your son may be looked over. I know several families that have cut out showcases altogether and are relying on their son's success in high school, a local rec team and the local Junior College as a steppingstone to the next level. That could work out if the proper steps are taken to continue to expose the player to 4 year college coaches.

If your son goes to a JC, then make sure you make the targeted 4 year coaches know that. Send them updates, videos and encourage your son to talk to his JC coach and tell him what 4 year colleges he is interested in. Many JC coaches are great at placing kids in 4 year colleges...some aren't. Make sure your son is at a JC that has a track record of success.

But never assume that they 4 year coaches will just come to your son. Unless he is the second coming of Bryce Harper, that won't happen...That said...the Las Vegas JC Bryce played for was inundated with player requests to play there. That's proved to be a great strategy for the many high school players that got drafted in this latest 2010 draft. There were dozens of scouts practically camping at the stadium gate waiting for Harper to take the field.

Bottom line...stay aggressive. E-mails, letters, and DVD's don't cost money. Keep your target coaches informed. You don't have to outspend to get your shot...just outsmart them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Coaches Want

RT Staff Note: This is Part Two of our recruiting series. Thanks to San Gabriel Valley Arsenal and TeachDGame for the content.

If you are ready to commit to the demanding schedule and stress, you should know that coaches watch your conduct off the field before and after games, your academics and athletic desire or “heart”. Sometimes intangibles will make the difference over pure athletic skills.

There are literally thousands of outstanding players in in any colleges recruiting area. College Coaches therefore have a lot to choose from. They DO NOT desire to recruit athletes who will prove to be problems to their team or institution. Therefore, they recruit as much on PERSONALITY TRAITS as they do ATHLETIC. They want quality student athletes as well as the best baseball players they can find. Your behavior and academic standards should reflect the same level of attention as your athletic abilities on the baseball field.

They notice and ASK about everything. Be prepared and aware that you are being scrutinized not only as an athlete, but as a person too.

Recruiting Basics
1) Please understand the following statistics – out of the hundreds of thousands of kids that play age group/high school sports only 3% will participate on a college varsity sports team, only 1% will receive any type of college athletic scholarship.

2) The coach’s “recruiting game” - a school may be in contact with as many as 250-350 players per year; 40-50 seriously(handwritten notes & letters, the one call per week, etc.); 6 to 12 all out; top 3-4 they will ask for early commitments. Recruiting is a serious business and most college coaches do a VERY GOOD JOB of it. They are selling their institution and experience. Like anything you are buying, always be aware and evaluate your alternatives.

3) If you don’t have stellar grades, your athletic skills are even more important, as they may help you get a spot on the team or even just into an institution!

4) Make an effort to watch a practice and games of the schools that interest you.

5) Consider what you know about the head coach and the coaching staff.

6) Ask the schools if you may contact former and current players and/or parents.

7) Do YOUR homework. Evaluate the schools you are interested in current Rosters. Where are their current players coming from? High School or JC’s? If there is a large number of JC transfers, you need to factor this into your decision to attend as a Freshman. Is the coaching staff showing a practice of bringing in transfers if they feel their current players are not going to win games for them. What is the composition of the team by graduation year (i.e. Frosh, Soph, Junior & Senior). Remember, some Juniors will be drafted and sign.

8) Ask about players in the program that are NOT on the roster (i.e. Redshirts, other players). There can be hidden individuals you may not even be aware of.

9) Evaluate the OTHER PLAYERS being recruited by the specific school. Do they play the same position you do or could they be moved into your current position. Schools will over recruit Shortstops knowing that there are many high school Shortstops that end up playing different positions at the collegiate level. Shortstops in high school are usually some of the best athletes on the team. They can move multiple places at the collegiate level.

10) Have the college coaches explain their interest in you and why they want you in their program. Even go so far as to ask them to compare / contrast you with other players you know have committed or are being recruited.

11) Determine if you would attend this school even if you had a career ending injury and could not play.

12) Remember you can have five paid visits and add and drop as you go. Enjoy the experience. What does the player need to know about the College, Coach, Team, and Scholarship options?

Know The College:
1) Does the college offer the academic program the player would ultimately hope to pursue? Are athletes given priority registration?

2) Where is the college/university located? Will the locale be good for the player in terms of weather and distance from family/friends?

3) What is the general campus like? Social aspect of school?

4) What is the expected enrollment of undergraduates and graduates? What are the class sizes?

5) What are the schools strongest degree programs offered, which are the best academic departments?

6) What are the student housing options? Do most students live on-campus or off? What transportation is available?

7) Do the members of the baseball team room together? Live in special dorm facilities?

8) What are the majors of most of the baseball team members?

9) What is the academic calendar? Quarter / Semester / Trimesters?

10) Is tutoring offered to student-athletes? Is there a fee?

Know About The Baseball Coach and Team:
1. In what division and conference does the team play? The top conferences in baseball are the SEC, PAC 10, Big West, ACC, Big 12, Conference USA, West Coast Conference, WAC, Missouri Valley, Sunbelt and Southern.

2. What was the team’s record in the past? What are the coach’s goals for the team?

3. What style of play is desired for the team? Is the player comfortable with the coach’s style?

4. How many players will be on the roster and how many will travel with the team? How
many trips are planned for the coming season?

5. What are the pre-season and post-season schedules?

6. How often is practice during the season, and post-season?

7. Where do most of the players play during the Summer? Are there expectations of playing in collegiate Summer Leagues?

8. How will the team composition change with seniors leaving and redshirt players returning? What known transfers are coming in?

9. What is the normal composition of the team? Developed from Freshman year to Senior year or high level of Junior College transfers each year?

10. What position is the player being recruited for and how many others are already playing there or are being recruited?

11. Where am I in terms of your recruits? (Really listen carefully to how this is answered, let silence work for you and don’t be too quick to move on to another question.

12. Have you seen me play? Which of my coaches have you talked to? What other scouts/individuals have you spoken to about me?

13. What are the next steps ?

Scholarship Concerns:
1) If not offered a scholarship, is the player a candidate for admission as a Walk-On player?

2) If offered a scholarship, what expenses are covered, what is the duration and how can it be terminated?

3) If offered a scholarship and the player is injured and can’t play, will the scholarship be lost?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

5 Things College Baseball Needs to Implement

1. More scholarships. If the college game wants to produce more excitement and attract more players, they need to become a fully funded sport. The game needs more Garret Cole's and Stephen Strasburg's. Bryce Harper would look great in an Arizona State Uniform, wouldn't he?...but, there's no incentive in free education to entice the best players to want to go to college. Why would any top prospect that had a chance to go pro want to dig in their pockets and pay up to $10,000 to play ball? 11.7 scholarships is a total frickin embarrassment.

2. Which brings me to #2. If the NCAA allows more scholarships, they need to eliminate the high school draft. If baseball was fully funded, the the scenario I painted above would be more desirable for a high school top prospect. I think most kids would benefit greatly by going to college anyway. Once change to make it even more enticing to the top prospects and keep them from going to a JC...make players eligible after their sophomore season.

3. Conferences need to push for TV contracts. Why the Pac 10, Big West, WCC and WAC don't have TV contracts is beyond me. That needs to be their number one priority...Listen up conferences...You all work at a the Marketing 101 professor and ask him what to do if you don't know yourself. It's an easy formula...Make your awareness...fill the seats...Done.

4.Test wood...or at least wood composite bats. Give it a try for at least one year. Yes, stats will suffer, the scores will get lower...maybe...If all of the top prospects end up going to college instead of going pro, it will even things out...The college game would then mirror the pro game. I think it's ridiculous that on some of the better teams, there are nine guys batting over .300 with metal bats...Folks, that's not reality. Look at your favorite pro teams stats. How many per team are batting over .300? Two...maybe three guys at best? That's reality. Look at the Cape Cod, Northwoods and Alaska Summer leagues. As I wrote last week, those teams are all like All-Star teams, yet only one or two per team at best is batting over .300. Does it affect the interest of the fans? The Madison Mallards average 6,600 fans a game...the rest of the league averages anywhere from 1,500-4,000 fans...that's more than many college teams..outside of the SEC and any college in the state of Texas. So the answer is...No...wood doesn't affect fan interest in any negative way.

5. Finally, the NCAA needs to step up and eliminate the dogpile in all sports. Actually, I can't believe coaches haven't already done so already. Why do they call it a dogpile anyway? Dogs don't do that. Dogpiles are idiotic and always result in some sort of injury....always...Some are publicized...some are not...but believe me...someone always sustains an injury. Stop them now, before an injury that is really serious happens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

College baseball honors century of success

Inducts 10-member Hall of Fame class from different eras

By Steve Gartner /
07/02/10 1:17 AM ET

LUBBOCK, Texas -- College baseball's all-time winningest pitcher, the first College World Series Most Outstanding Player and Baseball America's National Community College Coach of the Century were among those inducted into college baseball's 2010 Hall of Fame Class.

The ceremony held Thursday at the United Spirit Arena gave an 11-member class a chance to remember their college careers and thank those who influenced them.

"For the people that are on stage this evening, this is truly baseball heaven," former Texas pitcher and inductee Richard Wortham said. "We've finally been recognized for the things that we have hopefully accomplished in our careers."

Each member of the 2010 class was given a portrait that depicted them during their careers, an induction ring and a Texan belt buckle.

Although 10 players were in the 2010 class, former Wichita State pitcher Darren Dreifort was also honored because he couldn't attend last year's induction. Dreifort played for the Shockers from 1990 to '93 and won the Golden Spikes Award for college baseball's best amateur player his final season.

"I'm truly grateful to the College Baseball Hall of Fame for inducting me," Dreifort said. "I couldn't think of a better honor."

Dreifort was one of two former Wichita State players honored. Don Heinkel, who pitched for the Shockers from '79 to '82, has the most wins in college baseball history with 52. Dreifort and Heinkel become the third and fourth Wichita State players to be inducted. Former Wichita State coach Gene Stevenson said Heinkel's maturity on the mound stood out the most.

"He was tremendously consistent," Stevenson said. "He had tremendous ability to focus on what he needed to do next."

Before Heinkel set college baseball's record for most victories, Wortham owned it with 50 wins. He pitched for Texas from '73 to '76 and led his team to a College World Series title in '75.

"He pitched really the game of his life," former teammate Mark Griffin said. "He was a big-game pitcher."

Arizona State also added to its Hall of Fame player total with the induction of former shortstop Alan Bannister -- the sixth Arizona State player inducted. He almost signed with the California Angels out of high school, but thought college would be better for his career. He didn't regret that decision and played with the Sun Devils from '70 to '73.

"The path I chose was fabulous," Bannister said.

Former Louisiana State first baseman Eddy Furniss echoed Bannister's sentiments on the importance of college baseball in shaping his life. Furniss played with LSU from '95 to '98 and won the '98 Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's Most Outstanding Player.

"I never had aspirations to be a Hall of Famer or an All-American," Furniss said. "I just wanted to be the best you could be."

Former Alabama third baseman Dave Magadan was another former Player of the Year, winning the Golden Spikes Award in '83. Magadan was the top voter-getter in the 2010 class and serves as the Red Sox hitting coach. He said his career took off when he was inserted into the lineup his freshman year because of an injury to a teammate.

"I couldn't have done it without my teammates," Magadan said.

Former North Carolina catcher B.J. Surhoff never got the chance to play in a College World Series like many of his fellow inductees did, but he put together an impressive career in Chapel Hill, which culminated with him winning the '85 ACC Athlete of the Year. He will always look back fondly on his college career as the best time of his life.

"None of the relationships I had in pro ball come close to what they were in college, Surhoff said.

Former Michigan player George Sisler has passed away, but grandson Peter Drochelman honored his legacy by speaking for Sisler. While at Michigan in the early 1900s, Sisler impressed his teammates with his ability to strike batters out, once striking out 20 of 21 batters faced in a game. Although stats were not kept in his time, he reportedly lost only one game in his career.

"One of the things that was impressive about him was he never told any stories about himself," Drochelman said of his grandfather.

Inductee and former Wake Forest second baseman Charles Teague also has passed away, but associate director of development in the Wake Forest athletic department Mike Buddie spoke on Teague's behalf. Teague played for the Demon Deacons from 1946-50 and was the first Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series.

"Charlie physically was always the smallest guy on the field," Buddie said. "But what he lacked in size he made up for in hustle and ability."

Players weren't the only ones honored, either. Former Fresno State coach Bob Bennett and Cerritos College coach Wally Kincaid were also inducted.

Bennett posted more than 1,300 wins and had 26 consecutive winning seasons for a career that spanned from 1977 to 2002.

Kinkaid was named the National Community College Coach of the Century by Baseball America in 2000 and had a .806 winning percentage at Cerritos. Both coaches left their marks on their programs.

"He is undoubtedly the greatest coach in junior-college baseball history in any state," Texas coach Augie Garrido said of Kinkaid.

While Omaha is home to the College World Series, all of the inductees agreed that Lubbock, which is home to the College Baseball Hall of Fame, has an important place in college baseball history.

"This is what history is all about," Wortham said. "Hopefully we'll be able to do those little things right."

Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Game Would Be Better With Wood

I have been following many of the wood bat summer leagues in Alaska, Northwoods and Cape Cod...These are all the best leagues with all of the finest college talent...dozens of All-Star Teams playing each other...Now, you'd think that with all of that offensive talent and with pitchers and their pitch counts being closely watched, the scores and averages would be stratospheric...But, the opposite is true.

On average, at the end of each season only 8 players in the entire Alaskan Baseball League bat over .300...Through 26 games thus far (they have a 68 game schedule) in the 16 team Northwoods League, only 23 of over 200 eligible position players are batting over .300. In the Cape, just 13 players representing 10 teams are hitting over the .300 mark.

Now compare that to the college season when they are using metal bats. Just in the Championship game alone, UCLA and South Carolina, members of the two toughest conferences in the country, had 12 starters between them batting over .300. There are hundreds of college players with inflated metal bat stats.

The difference between the summer leagues and the college season is obvious. There are a lot of cheap hits puffing up averages and egos with metal bats. I felt sorry for Garett Cole in that first Championship game. South Carolina played well and I give them a ton of credit, but many of those hits were metal manufactured. If those batters had swung at those pitches with wood, they would be standing at the plate with the handle in their hand and the barrel flying down the first base line.

Metal bats give players a false sense of security. I won't name names, but there are more than a few players that were first team All Conference during the college season that are batting at or below the Mendoza line with wood. Why the difference? Hitting a baseball is hard...hitting with wood forces players to hit it square on the barrel. After a season when any type of contact with their TPX's or Voodoo's would result in a base hit, these college players are realizing just how tough it really is to hit a ball square on the barrel.

This is why I think the college game needs to switch to wood. I want to see good, honest baseball from good, hard working talented players. Wood will make them better and as a result, it will make the game much more enjoyable to watch. It also makes it easier for scouts to find out who the real prospects are.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Best of The Best

I have been to two Super Bowls, Two Final Fours, Three BCS Bowls, 3 different World Series emcompassing 14 games, and four College World Series. Guess which one I think is by far the most exciting championship game...Of course...the CWS.

Don't get me wrong, The two Super Bowls were a blast, the World Series always a treat, but the BCS and Final Fours were way too was the Super Bowl a bit...but the CWS is pure amateur competition...without the overbearing sponsorships and accompanying media hype...although, I wish there were way more media coverage without the hype. The major Northern California papers in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland barely mentioned the series at all.

And, it shouldn't be that way. Did you know that the CWS outdraws the Final Four 6-1 and has more total attendance that the top four BCS bowls combined. Nearly 300,000 fans stormed the gates during the week long contests and that's the kind of crowds that you'd think would raise the eyebrows of media moguls.

Oh well, maybe next year when the CWS moves to one of those corporate sponsored, squeaky clean parks, the corporate crazy media will finally take notice..TD Ameritade is a sponsor...the networks would love to have their ad dollars too.