Baseball season all across the country is now underway. I’ve had the opportunity to watch several college and high school games already this year and I’ve had some interesting observations.
As a result, I’m calling this week’s newsletter, April Foolishness. I know I’m going to rub a few people the wrong way and I also know that much of what I’m about to discuss has been going on for years and likely won’t change but that doesn’t keep it from being foolish.
My initial thought in preparation for this article was to start with some observations of fans/parents but I changed my mind thinking many readers might take offense and not read any further. So, I’ll save that for another day.
Instead, let me begin with some players’ activities that simply are mind boggling to me.
#1. The all too common lackadaisical pregame and pre-inning warm-up. For starters, there’s the warm-up in which players don’t play catch past 90 feet. Tell me, how many throws in a game are greater than 90 feet? Can we agree on at least 50%? Is there a problem here? I consider this foolishness.
#2. The players who, between innings, take every groundball from the same spot on the field and nonchalantly or casually loft the ball across the diamond. THEN when game speed takes over and a play needs to be made, the groundball is either booted or the throw is erratic. It’s foolishness!
It has become all too common to just go through the motions. Some might say it becomes a little monotonous, especially if you’re playing 162 games. My response, do something about it!
For example, Cal Ripken, Jr. made a game out of taking groundballs between innings. He called it “the game within a game”. He would compete against his other infielders to see who could have the best throws to first base. They would keep tally during the game and whoever had the highest number would get paid by the other infielders at the end of the day. It got to the point that Cal won so easily, he actually had to spot everyone else several points. I don’t think he would say it was monotonous. In actuality, he used the time to get better and even helped his teammates to do the same. This is a perfect example of our mantra, if you want to improve something, measure it. You can always find a way to measure something, as illustrated by the Ripken example.
#3. The plays where no one backs up. It might be the pitcher on a play to the plate, a middle infielder on the ball back to the pitcher, or any other position when necessary and it’s almost always necessary as a player should be moving somewhere on every pitch. It might not seem like a big deal and doesn’t hurt you for the first 9 times but then that 10thtime, it turns out to be a difference maker. It’s foolishness.
#4. The ‘not knowing’ where to go with the ball and holding onto it, or going to the wrong base. And believe me this doesn’t just occur in high school baseball. From the time I was young, it was instilled in me; know what you’re going to do if and when the ball comes to you. For a player not to run through this before every pitch is foolishness.
The real kicker for me on all of these is that I often witness NOTHING being said about them. This too is foolishness!
I started this week’s article saying these things have been going on for years and probably won’t change. Although that might be true, I believe ALL of these areas I’ve written about can be and, in my opinion, should be addressed. They are not hard to fix. It simply takes a little awareness, initiative and expectation.