Friday, December 31, 2010

When is it too late for DI recruiting?

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

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

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

When is it too early? NEVER

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

Why is the question hard to answer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, December 30, 2010

The State Of Stats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RT Staff

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Be a Winner, Not a Whiner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Climate Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Many Happy Returns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The (Sun) Devil made him do it

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

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

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

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

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

ASU and Murphy have the right to appeal the penalties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Compete Against The Best

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

College Baseball Is Adding A Play Clock

Will The Majors Follow Suit?
Adam Fusfeld
Business Insider

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not Dead Yet

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

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

By Aaron Fitt
December 10, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Nowhere's Like Berkeley'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 6, 2010

Great Article

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

Crystal ball: Ten things college baseball needs

By Kendall Rogers

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

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

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

Let the debates begin.

More national television games

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

More marquee non-conference matchups

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

Increase scholarships

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

More commitments to building programs

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

Eventually move to wood bats

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

Move up the MLB draft signing deadline

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

Develop a fall baseball schedule

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

Less regionalization of NCAA Super Regionals

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

Get the northern programs more involved

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

Weaker transfer rule

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Core Value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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