Berkeley Fall Ball

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Second baseman position on a baseball diamond

Image via Wikipedia

I co-run baseball fall ball clinics for local high schools.  It lasts for about a 12 wks and the purpose is to receive baseball instruction and repitition during the off-season.  The players have games on the weekends and spend 3 days during the week working with us.

Yesterday the agenda was at 6-7pm (optional defensive work) and at 7-8pm (optional hitting)…Tuesdays and Thursdays are the preferred days that all players come.  Getting to my story – yesterday for optional fielding only one students showed up.  I was fairly surprised – these kids need work!  I was happy that the one player was actually a first baseman – freshman, large frame but very “raw.”  Who knows where he’ll end up in 4 years but as of now, he’s truly a freshman (a big freshman).

Yesterday we worked on footwork while turning two – playing behind the runner.  Many young players make all infield play two fold – first they field the ball flat footed then make a jump turn to exchange and throw.  At this point there has to be a transition where they are making this play in one motion…speeding up their side of it giving the middle infielder a chance to make a play.  The key for young first baseman is the round the ball and plant your left foot slightly in from of the right as you are fielding so that your body is in position to make that turn and throw (with momentum towards your target)…His ability to mimick increased – I think it says something about his ethic that he put in the work.  I asked him about his classes and grades…he has a 4.0 and is taking Algebra Trig already — I think he’s got the right mind frame.  Whether or not that transitions to success in baseball, his work ethic is off to a good start.

Oh Yeah….at 7pm — 11 players showed up to hit.  If you can’t play in the field – you won’t be hitting.  High school DH’s don’t last long.

Freese

By that sound off the bat we knew it was gone. What a feeling! What a game! If this ain’t what they play for, then what is? Witnessing that walk off we all knew the Rangers had no shot. Yet again the hottest team with the best bullpen prevailed.

I hate that Washington lost again but he brought another good team to compete. Solute to LaRussa…the Bay Areas own held it down.

CJ Wilson

All this talk about how he was dealing all year long and now this post season he’s been trash…let’s see what happens tonight. I think he’s going to get it done – plus the rangers are going to put up some runs tonight.

Is it me or should Pujols get the Barry Bonds treatment? He looks like he’s liable to go deep every time. That man can swing it.

Going Deep

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The title you would think addresses Napolis bomb which allowed the rangers a commanding lead – but isn’t about homers…it’s about pitching. Going 8+ in a world series game is beyond major. Just look around and see now a days how many starters even go 6, very few. To give your pen a break and compete at level for that long against some of the best is something to be noted. We saw what type of numbers both teams can put up.

Beltre might I add was stellar at 3rd…gold glove caliber for sure. A lot of balls were hit hard his way and he made them all, made them look easy too.

I was working with a high school freshman who plays first and pitcher earlier today and we were talking about an approach. Last week I was hard on him for not remembering the pitches he got hits and ones he got out on. We discussed the importance of knowing how you were successful, with success becomes self knowledge – which then we begin developing a plan at the plate. Players can learn where they like certain pitches, and what they are capable of doing with it. Today, I scolded him again, but this time it was about knowing what pitches he got players out on and what pitches he gave up hits with. He forgot if he even walked anyone… He knows me well so I can afford to give him grief about these things without it impacting his self esteem/confidence.

The kid is 14 so in reality of course I don’t blame him, he’s a kid! BUT he is capable of applying more detail to the game. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to have him keep a little note book where he records his at bats and his mound appearances.

The sooner young players pay attention to detail, the smaller their learning curve will be.

Napoli’s Error

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That’s a game changer. Bases juiced with 1 out…he throws home on the run and it costs them 2 runs. Looks like it’s over already in the 4th.

For my coaches and players…what could he have done different? In my opinion, he should have just set his feet and got one at home. He made the right read by charging and coming home but he was trying to turn it instead of letting the catcher turn it. Sometimes on the corners there’s this pressure to feel like we have to be quick – it’s just not true. Always make sure of one and you’ll
Iive to see another day.

Oh and by the way…the ump that call – terrible! Too big of a game to mess that up.

Assessing Talent

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Working with these freshman players is pretty fun but it’s also petty challenging. Besides the obvious, many aren’t very good, many are physically just 9th graders. All the developmental stuff you know either will work in their favor or they’ll be finding another sport to play.

What I hate is that fact that some players just aren’t “there” yet – but who knows what they might be in a couple of years…how can you buy time as a coach?

Holding tryouts and determining your team is a tall order. There are the obvious no-doubters who make the squad but what about the player who is fundamentally sound yet they may not be ready for the big field yet?

What I look for when I’m assessing talent is their make up. How well do they present themselves off of initial contact? From their hat down to their shoes. Then I look at how they throw and catch (can they do those basics with a purpose?). More important than their results is their approach – both defensively and offensively.  Are they shifting from pitch to pitch, player to player. Are they thinking about pitch sequence or situational hitting if need be.

Now I know that these are just 9th graders…but now is when the game becomes real. Technically they can compete with 18yr olds and they have to be able to hang. For you players out there, learn the game — observations, questions, and experience will tell/teach you a lot. Trust what you see and feel is instinctual. From a coach and educators perspective, we can always live with players making aggressive errors – shows us they’re confident and decisive. But there’s little tolerance for uncertainty and fear to mess up.

Trust yourself.

Texas Is In

I’m happy Ron Wash is going back! He deserves it and his team is hitting like crazy! I wouldn’t really want to play them right now…they’re hot. Oh yeah, and why couldn’t the A’s hire him again?
Anyway, now it’s time to watch who they’re going to play – I’ll say the Cards…their poise is pretty special.

Flying Bats

http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?v=GW2u06hOyaI

I remember sending one into the stands but my bat connected with this dudes face and he needed a bunch of stitches…felt terrible. It was a rainy game the pitcher had me fooled with something off speed. Next pitch though I went up top!

Dude tried to sue the team too…had to interview with the insurance folks – crazy ish. Signed bat from a minor leaguer wasn’t enough? Ha!