Monday, October 15, 2012

D-I vs. D-II

If you want to play baseball at the next level, don't put all of your eggs in one D-I basket. If a D-I school doesn't come calling, don't give up...D-II baseball is a great way to continue with the game you love, get a great education and experience a similar college lifestyle. Here are a few pointers to go by.

Quality of Baseball...It depends on where you play. There are some California, Texas, Georgia and Florida D-II's that would be very competitive with small conference D-I's in the Midwest and Northeast. UC San Diego comes to mind. While D-I is better overall from a talent standpoint, there is some great ball being played at D-II.

Quality of Coaching...Again, there have been and are some very good D-II coaches that can flat out coach. Andy Lopez at Arizona coached at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Dan O'Brien at Santa Clara had great success at UC San Diego are just a few examples. There may be more quality coaches at the D-I level, but D-II coaching has recently been a great stepping stone to the next level.

Quality of Scouts...No Doubt, more scouts hang out where the talent is more abundant, but if a player can play, they will be found. A case in point, SF Giants Ryan Vogelsong played at a D-II...and here locally, Sonoma State has had quite of few players drafted in recent years...more than a few California D-I's.

Quality of Education...In my state of California, I can argue that Cal Poly Pomona, UC San Diego, Cal Baptist, Azuza Pacific and I am sure a whole lot more in other states that are better than most D-I's academically. There is a lot of parity academically between Fresno State, San Jose St, Sacramento State, Long Beach, Fullerton and Northridge and their D-II Cal State counterparts. Education is why you are going to college in the first place right? You may be surprised at how much better a D-II education can be.

Quality of Facilities...Here in California, there are a few D-I's that don't measure up from a facilities standpoint...For example, there aren't many facilities worse than USF and UCSB...regardless of the Division.

Northridge, Bakersfield and San Jose States Blethen Field (part time with Muni...which is a great stadium) are very mediocre and there are many D-II's that are at least equal or better. But, for the most part, D-I's have the better facilities because football money brings in the revenue. But again, no school is going to 100% perfect...Measure all the positives before making a decision.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Teaching Moments

I am feeling up for a new post today...and will rev up the old laptop for many more to come. For the past 5 years, I have had this blog and lately, I have been feeling a bit complacent about contributing because my sons season and career is over in baseball...Kind of....

You see, he has been asked to be an college assistant coach and he now is teaching the same disciplines he was asked to perform as a player and it turned something on in his brain that said..."Now I get it"...

The other day, he called and said, "I know now, what I should have known then and...I have set up a couple of Major League baseball try-outs...I am not done."

It is not that much of a stretch...He did start all through a D-I college and has the skills...just not the type of numbers he would have liked. Whether or not he achieves his dreams, it gave me this idea for an article.

If every player put himself in the shoes of a coach, or mentored a undergrad or prospect, would that help that player understand the game better and make the type of adjustments that are needed to succeed?

I think so. In business, we are asked to shadow and are given managerial duties and as we get better, we get more responsibility, more protegees to mentor and so on until we reach the top of the managerial heap.

In baseball, it's all about repetition...but if we take that repetition a bit farther, and allow that player to preach to others what he has been practicing, will that process sink into a players mind indelibly and become more of a natural ability rather than a rote exercise? I think so.

As a manager I have had many teaching experiences to my staff that have become learning experiences for me too. Sometimes, something just clicks.

If your player seems to be struggling mentally, (baseball is pretty much all mental...just ask A-Rod come play-off time) maybe he needs to take the role of teacher, and repeat what he has learned and practiced and teach to others in order for it to sink in to himself. Teaching someone else can also help increase self esteem, confidence, leadership and increase the ability to make the right decisions quicker. That's about 90% of baseball right there.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Feeling a Bit Nostalgic Today

I haven't written a post in months and I am sorry for all of those readers that supported me over the past several years. My sons college baseball career is coming to a close in three weeks. I have gone to every weekend series this year...including traveling down to a few Tuesday games. Of course, I work too, but opportunities to watch your kid play a collegiate sport come around only once...and it goes by very fast. Work can wait.

It seems like only yesterday I was dropping my son off at college for the first time. That was a very emotional time and in three weeks, my wife and I will see another chapter of our life come to an end. That will be much harder to cope with.

Baseball and softball have been part of our lives since the kids were three...both playing tee-ball. Back then I couldn't wait for baseball and softball season to start and neither could our kids. 19 years later, I still can't wait to watch a game, but after his last game on May 27th, I will more than likely never see him play at that level again. There's a slight chance he will try to hang on with an independent league, but he is already moving on to the next segment of his life and is a few hours short of getting his degree and wants to spend the summer finishing out school.

He talked to us a few weeks ago at a road game at dinner and said that his baseball career didn't pan out as he had hoped, but my wife and I totally disagreed with that. We told him that we could not be more proud of him. He has done what 99% of boys that have ever picked up a baseball bat never had a chance to do. He started close to every game for three out of his four years at a D-I school in a top conference and at a great academic school. How cool is that?

He also will get his official degree in the fall. Most players take 5 full years to graduate because of the rigorous baseball schedule and limited units that can be taken in the fall and spring due to practices and games. He will have done it in less time. To me, that is a victory in of itself.

Nevertheless, it will be tough going out on the field for senior day listening to the announcer read his stats, congratulate him on his contributions to the team and knowing that in the next 9 innings, it will all come to an end at his home field...our favorite place to go anywhere in this big world we have traveled.

The saving grace for us is that we have a daughter that plays college softball...but next year, her senior year, at this time, we will be having the same emotions..."What the heck are we going to do now?"

Oh, we will figure it out...but the memories of traveling to odd, surprise hotels we found on HotWire, the jubilation of his many outstanding defensive plays, multiple hit days and that up and down feeling of success and failure in the same weekend series week after week, will be gone. Many of you have gone through those same feelings.

If your son or daughter is still playing....savor it...embrace it and go to every game you can...because when it's over, at least you have those memories indelibly etched in your mind that "I was there too" that you can share with your kids forever...