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 career...at 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 there...marketing themselves like a product on a TV commercial...and you know what? It works...

So...take the initiative...be 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 that...it'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 www.ncsasports.org 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.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Still The Greatest Sporting Event Of Them All

The news media seemed to take a great deal of joy in announcing yesterday that the 2010 World Series was down 25% in viewership...Why..because the Yankees weren't in it??? Please...or because there wasn't enough scoring??? Hey Mr. Fair Weather fan, go back to baseball school and learn the game.

I blame the media and coverage for the lack of enthusiasm for the pitchers duals and maybe even the status of down ratings in general. There are just too many people that just don't understand or are not passionate enough about the game well enough to understand that baseball is a game where drama is created with every pitch that is thrown. They think they want an offensive game...but the dual...the strategy and the drama is really in that low scoring contest.

All I know that in San Francisco, St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, the fans are some of the best fans in the game. All of these markets have some of the best announcers in MLB that break down the game pitch by pitch as well...Fans in these markets are educated and mentored about all aspects of the game as a result. St. Louis Cardinal Broadcaster and Fox national play by play man, Joe Buck went as far to say on national TV that the Giants Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper are some of the best play by play guys in the business. They don't just announce the game, they teach it...sell it...and make it extremely entertaining..That's one of the reasons why the Giants draw over 3 Million, have huge TV ratings and sell-out their games. Giants fans get it.

Likewise..The Cardinals, Buck and Mike Shannon...Joe Casiglione, Dave O'Brien and Jerry Remy of the Red Sox...and Michael Kay, John Sterling and Ken Singleton of the Yankees are music to the ears of those fans. These are true baseball markets, with bonafide baseball diehards...and if I didn't hate the Dodgers so much, I'd throw their fans and announcers in their as well...

Baseball in most all of the markets used to be that way...but lack of a true salary cap and revenue sharing ruined that. It wasn't so long ago that the Small market Pirates, Reds and Royals dominated their National and American league divisions. Lower revenue, means tighter budgets, less talent and decreasing fan interest. Therefore, this economic shift, pushed all of the talent into the big markets and out of the heartland where baseball flourished decades ago. Baseball's lower ratings are the result of its own greed..the trickle down theory that it's the big markets that people want to follow. That gets real old...For me, it was really refreshing to see two teams other than the Yankees and the Phillies in the WS. I want to see more and more non-traditional teams in the Series and bring back baseball to its roots...in which any team has a chance to be in the World Series.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Golden Spikes Battery Shuts Down Rangers

The Giants Series clinching Game 5 of the 2010 World Series was a pitching masterpiece and featured a battery of two Golden Spikes award winners (MLB and USA baseballs award for the best College Player)

Tim Lincecum (U of Washington) won it in 2006 and Posey (Florida State) in 2008...Another Giant, Pat Burrel (Miami) won it in 1998..His teammate on that Miami team was another Giant WS Hero...Aubry Huff...BTW...Will Clark works for the Giants and he won the Golden Spikes in 1985...Giants love those college players.

While Edgar Renteria deservedly won the WS MVP, this team got this point from its trio of Golden Spikes award winners.

Burrell had a disappointing World Series, but his contribution in the last half of the season and ALDS and ALCS were huge...Lincecum, after a rough August...picked it up in September and left no doubt during the past two months as to why he was the Cy Young award winner the past two years.

As far as Posey...He is poised, tough, focused...and able to handle that incredible pitching staff with ease in his rookie year. He and that pitching staff are going to be the face of baseball for years to come. Can you tell that I am a big Giants fan...Incredible pitching performance...Giants had the arms that shut down the best hitting team in the majors on its way to its first World Series victory since they moved to San Francisco.

P.S. Coach Manieri of and his fans at LSU probably hated the last two games of this series...pitching was too good and the scoring too light. Me? I prefer a low scoring...nail biting pitching dual over anything in sports...Give me torture til the last pitch...

Monday, November 1, 2010

World Series...Take it Seriously

I read today that the ratings for this World Series is down considerable from previous years. Folks...if you are not watching this years World Series...It's your loss.

If you don't want to see a 21 year old rookie pitcher spin a 3 hit shut-out over 8 innings and help the staff accomplish something that no other team has done to the Rangers all season..SHUT THEM OUT AT HOME...(that's right...no other team has shut out the Rangers at home this season) then you are missing great baseball my friends...He is the youngest pitcher to accomplish that feat...EVER...in World Series history...He is the 4th youngest pitcher....EVER...to start a World Series game...It was the first time EVER...that two rookies formed a battery in the World Series...Bumgarner and closer Brian Wilson made the Giants the first team to post two shutouts in a World Series since Baltimore threw three straight to close out the Dodgers in 1966. Matt Cain and the Giants won 9-0 in Game 2.

Madison Baumgartner, Buster Posey, and the rest of this remarkable team are something special and the world is missing out on history. This is a great baseball TEAM...team being the operative word here, managed by a coach that is making all the right moves and doing so against an offensive juggernaut in the Texas Rangers and so far...great pitching is trumping great hitting...That's the way it is supposed to be..right?

Folks...tune in...It's still baseball season until the first team wins four in the World Series. That could be tonight...Tune in...Another great pitching match-up in Cy Young winner Lincecum against top 2010 Cy Young award candidate Cliff Lee. Forget Monday night football...It's still baseball season!!!!