Drafts and Delays

With my son having just finished the obligatory annual skill Evaluations for our local league I have some thoughts to share. In our organization, mandatory player evaluations are performed one or two weeks immediately preceding the draft process which involves all the coaches. Evaluations are the same as try-outs, except that in our case there are no cuts; all registered players will be assigned to a team, but the evaluation process provides an objective set of data to both support the draft process and balance the talent across the all the teams that our town fields in the larger district.

As there is no creation of A,B,C-level teams for our town, it provides some competitive disadvantages when competing against other town’s teams that have been assembled to concentrate talent using a tiered system. It also can limit the amount of individual challenge and development that advanced players will receive compared to weaker players, as it is a truism in all types of education that the slower or weaker learners can limit the pace for the whole group. On the flip side, there are clear developmental advantages for the weaker players by playing on a mixed team which includes having an equal chance to play on a team with a successful record. Given that this program is recreational in nature, I think overall this is a healthy and positive philosophy to have. The advanced players will still have the opportunity to play at a higher level during the All-Star tournament season that begins in June.

All of this said, the annual Evaluations/Draft process that our town follows seems to always “re-invent the wheel” with the result that the entire player pool and coaches are remixed and matched from scratch each year. Players do not know their coaches or team assignments until at least the first week of April, and do not begin practicing until at least mid-April (weather permitting). This leads to a slow start for the season and generally the kids don’t actually fuse as a team until late in a very short 8-week season (with 1 practice and 2 games per week). Likewise, the All-Star team rosters are not officially “finalized” until late in this season, although it is already known that the rosters will be the same as the year before (since the same top players continue progressing each year as 10U, 11U, 12U).

In other communities, once the teams are formed at a certain age level (such as Majors), the rosters remain the same for 2-3 years with a few players cycling in and out based on whether they are moving in/out of the division’s age level. This way, the coaches and teams are already pre-established and the Evaluation/Draft process is only used to assess the skills of new players coming in to distribute them accordingly. The advantage here is that coaches already know their players, can more effectively plan their practice strategies, and can get at least the core of their teams working out sooner (using indoor gym time if necessary). The same is done for the All-Star teams which have clearly been practicing together far longer than ours have by the time the actual Tournament Season begins. This extra practice time makes all the difference where the District, State & Regional Championships are concerned and should be starting in parallel with the regular season for these players who will be actually trying to advance in a national competitive format of play.

 Tell me what you think is the better or more effective approach.

Bats Not Allowed in Little League: Part 2

I have just received a new email from Little League International today which further addresses the question of non-wood bats which are not allowed for future use despite being available on the market and marked as “Little League Approved.” Once again, this email is authorized by Little League International for redistribution so I have reproduced it here in its entirety (with emphases added) for interested readers. I will continue to post the updates as I receive them as this is clearly still an evolving story. Again, the bottom line is to check your bat bag and be sure that any new bats you purchase are clearly marked “BPF 1.15.”

March 26, 2009

NOTICE TO PARENTS, PLAYERS AND LEAGUES: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING THE PURCHASE OF A NEW COMPOSITE METAL BAT FOR USE IN LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL (Major Division and below), BE SURE THAT THE BAT YOU ARE PURCHASING HAS THIS MARKING: BPF 1.15 ON THE BARREL OR HANDLE OF THE BAT. IF NOT, IT WILL NOT BE ALLOWED FOR PLAY IN LITTLE LEAGUE GAMES.

Little League officials are aware that there are bats for sale in stores, online or that may have already been purchased that are Little League approved, but do not have the required bat performance standard (BPF) markings. In fact, some of the bats on the Little League approved bat list may not carry the required BPF 1.15 marking on the bat, depending on when they were manufactured and licensed. Currently manufacturers are conducting an inventory and re-testing of all approved bats. The results of this study / retesting is to be finished by March 31, 2009. We are building a list of certain bats that are approved, but do not have the BPF marking due to special circumstances. For these bats, we are extending eligibility for play until December 31, 2009. As we are made aware of bats that meet our criteria for this extension, we will add them to the list. Please check this list regularly for updates. HOWEVER, ONLY BATS WITH THE BPF 1.15 MARKING AND THE BATS ON THIS LIST WILL BE ALLOWED FOR PLAY IN 2009.

Bats with the special exception include the following:

  • Adidas Vanquish Blue design: (There is a newer model of this bat, also named the Vanquish and it has copper and black markings. It contains the proper labeling and therefore is not subject to the one-year rule).
  • DeMarini: Black Coyote, Rogue, Distance, Rumble, Tengu, Mach 10, Patriot
  • Easton: LZ-810, LZ-800, Stealth Optiflex LST 1
  • Louisville Slugger: YB31
  • Nike: Aero

Sincerely,

Little League International
P.O. Box 3485
539 US Route 15 Hwy
Williamsport, PA 17701-0485
Phone: 570-326-1921
Fax: 570-326-1074

How To Be A Better Baseball Coach #2 by Chip Lemin

PART 2 OF A 7-PART SERIES…

LAUGH AND HAVE FUN

Do you ever just stop and laugh with your team when someone makes a silly mistake in practice? Well, you should. It is still just a game, and outside of your small circle of family and friends, no one really cares what your record is or if you lost a close game! I love to win, I think everyone does. It always feels good to play the game well and win. But we must always be able to lose also, maybe a lot if we don’t have a strong team. That is why we must have fun and laugh a little with each other to take the edge off and not get too serious. If you have a young team without many skilled players, you must keep it positive so that losses will not let players give up.

I don’t mean laughing at players to demean them, I mean to help take the edge off, and not be so serious. If we can have fun and laugh at each other in a fun way at practice we can do it in games to stay loose and focused. Kids want to have fun, and they put losses behind them alot faster than adults do. One of my son’s coaches was a very knowledgeable baseball coach, but he was too serious and critical. Thus the players did not respond to him the way he expected. He commented that the players must not like baseball, but nothing could be further from the truth. When he decided to go to another team to coach, none of the players were very upset. You see, he didn’t seem to enjoy himself around the players and they sensed that. This is not the major leagues. Kids want to win and have fun doing it.

Here’s an example: The team is working on a second base pick-off drill and the ball gets by everyone into center field. Instead of getting upset and criticizing, sometimes I will just laugh and ask in a joking way if this is the first time we ever tried this drill. Don’t be so deadly serious all the time and chill out once in a while. The team may relax a little and possibly perform better next time. More importantly, the team will see your less serious and more “human” side. After all, they are just kids playing a kid’s game.

I have learned the lighten up and the whole coaching staff will try to keep any one of us from getting too fired up about any one situation. Sometimes we just need a little reminder from other coaches to cool it, especially when we are dogging our own child, which I have been known to do. Fun to me however, is not a coach who lets the team run all over them, out of control, with no structure. Most players don’t like playing in a non-structured situation where there is not a lot of supervision.

INTERACT WITH YOUR TEAM

I like to interact with my team by telling tall tales about how good I was when I played ball. I will playfully tease them about their skills compared to mine a long time ago. I ask about some school stuff or if anyone is practicing at home. I like my staff or myself to join the kids in our stretching drills or running drills, racing the kids to let them see that we like being around them. This is also a good time to heap on plenty of praise for all their hard work. This is also a good time to ask baseball questions to see if they are learning the game. Ask them if they were watching the professional team from your area on TV and if they saw a certain play.

What I am saying is get to the level of your players from time to time, even if they haven’t been playing well. Relax them and show them that you like them and care about them no matter what. I made that mistake early in coaching days, thinking it would make them play better. Kids respond to positive input just like adults. You don’t need to act like Billy Martin with your team. They are kids wanting to win games and have fun doing it. Relax, have some fun with these youngsters and teach them this great game of baseball. Some of them will end up coaching later in life themselves. It would be good if they remembered something you taught them years before.

CONCLUSION

So far we have covered being a positive role model and a relaxed, fun role model. I know you won’t always be in a great mood at the ball yard, so that’s why it is so important to have several good coaches to help you. Keeping yourself from being overwhelmed is much easier with plenty of help: Someone on the staff will be ready to take charge and save the day. Don’t fall into the trap of having to be the only one to run the practice. Let others run your approved drills and stations. Encourage whoever gets there first to start stretching and warming up the team. Foster the idea that you have a self-motivated team willing to work. As always, tell your team that you expect them to practice at home. The less time you have to spend on the basics of throwing, catching etc., the more time you will have to scrimmage and work on advanced skills. Spend a couple of minutes and get yourself mentally prepared to have a good time with some kids playing the best game in the world… BASEBALL.

Coming in PART 3: How would you like to have a fun, effective practice that keeps everyone focused? Vary your drills and find the ones your team seems to like the best. Make sure these drills challenge them and refine their baseball skills. Your choice of drills should be getting players to work hard during practice, so they will do the same during games.

Remember that incessant yelling or criticizing during practice is really counter-productive. Most kids want to be challenged to work hard and have fun doing it. If kids seem bored with what you have going on, try something different such as a skills game to liven it up!

About The Author:
Chip Lemin has been involved in Youth Baseball for over 30 yrs as a player, manager, coach, and now a parent-coach on the travel/tournament baseball teams of his two sons who play in Northeast Ohio. Chip’s personal mission is to promote good sportsmanship and positive attitude training for players as well as coaches, managers and parents.

Author Links
This series is reproduced with permission and can be obtained in original e-book form by free subscription at http://www.baseballecourse.com.

Please also visit Chip’s expert EZine Articles here for more great articles on all aspects of baseball play and coaching.

Re-lacing a Baseball Glove by Rob Murray

Tools to Re-lace a Baseball Glove

Tools to Re-lace a Baseball Glove

TIME FOR SURGERY

Re-lacing a baseball glove could be right up there with trying to perform open heart surgery. In a way it is surgery. Glove surgery.  No matter how minor or major of a repair it is, re-lacing a glove is a difficult task. If you’re brave enough, here are some tricks of the trade.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Prior to starting this seemingly impossible task, you will need some very important tools:

  • Rawhide Lacing: Make sure that you have enough lacing to complete the job. There is nothing worse then getting close to finishing  a section and run out of leather. Choosing the right color of lacing is a personal preference.
  • Ice Pick or Leather Tool: Either one of these tools are vital to complete this process. Without these, trying to re-lace a glove is almost impossible. These two tools help guide the lacing through the small holes in the glove.
  • Needle-nosed Pliers: Once the lacing has been guided through the holes by the above mentioned tools, the needle nose pliers are able to reach in and grab the lacing to pull it through.
  • Knife or Scissors: Either one is needed to cut out the old lacing so it can be removed.

GETTING STARTED

First thing that you want to do is to either take a picture of your glove or try and sketch out the pattern of the lacing. Trying to remember the lacing pattern is very difficult, if it has not been documented prior to starting. This is the most complicated part of re-lacing. DO NOT take out the old lacing without knowing how the new lacing should go in! (I have done this and it’s not pretty).

If you are going to try and re-lace the whole glove, you should start at the bottom and work your way up towards the fingers. The palm and the bottom of the glove are probably the easiest to do. When feeding the new lacing through the glove, make sure that you have tied a knot at the end of the lacing so you don’t accidentally pull it all the way through. (Been there, done that!)

Trying to re-lace the fingers is very difficult because of the criss-cross pattern that is involved. This is where making sure how it looks prior to starting is very important. Also, the lacing that holds the fingers together is the same lacing that is attached to the webbing. Making sure that you have enough lacing to complete both sections.

Trying to re-lace the webbing is also very difficult especially if you are trying to re-lace an “H” web or a “trap-eze” web. Both of these webs involve intricate lacing.

As you are pulling the lacing through the glove, make sure that you pull the lacing tight prior to putting it through the next hole. Trying to go back and get some more “slack” is a pain and not always possible.

Once your re-lacing job is complete, make sure that you oil the new lacing to prevent it from drying out.

Good Luck and Be Patient!

About The Author:
A former professional baseball player, Rob Murray operates The Hit Barn, a 4-season baseball training facility in the Greater Boston area where he works individually as a pitching and hitting coach with players of different ages ranging from 11-16 years old. Visit The Hit Barn Blog under DirtDog Sports Links or here at http://hitbarn.wordpress.com

A 3-time Dual County League High School All-Star, Rob played for Ithaca College in the 1993 and 1994 NCAA Division III World Series. After college Rob played professionally for the Richmond Roosters (Frontier League) and the Bangor Blue Ox (Northeast League). Rob continues to actively play baseball in an Over-30 Baseball League in Lowell.

Curt Schilling Retires…

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

The only thing I hope I did was never put in question my love for the game, or my passion to be counted on when it mattered most. I did everything I could to win every time I was handed the ball…

Curt Schilling retires from Major League Baseball at 42 years old after 3 World Series titles and “zero regrets.” His impact on the Boston Red Sox and heroic contributions to the 2004 World Series cannot be forgotten.

Amazing Adam Bender

I found this amazing video and had to share it. It says it all about inspiration, courage, character and how Baseball is Life…

Adam Bender, 8, is one of several kids who play catcher in Southeastern’s rookie league at Veterans Park. What makes Adam stand out is that he plays one of the toughest positions on the field with only one leg. Because of cancer, he had his left leg amputated when he was one. Adam doesn’t use a prosthesis, and only uses crutches when he reaches base for the Astros.

[Video by Charles Bertram, Lexington Herald-Leader.]

Nuf Ced!