Here’s a topic worth writing down in your notebook. An issue that finds itself on every single club at the JV and Varsity level (high school) and your other talented levels.
Let me set the stage for my comments here by eliminating two (2) myths:
1st myth: Winning and losing pitcher – there’s no such thing in amateur baseball. This issue is strictly for statistic and scorekeeping purposes and goes not further. If not – we’d consider the rest of the eight embers on the field to be nothing more then cardboard cutouts. (no wise cracks now… be nice)
2nd myth: Good pitcher, bad pitcher – there are no good and less then good on an amateur ball club. You’re all the same …. but, with some bringing a better package then his/her contemporaries. No one on a town league’s high school, Legion, AAU, All-start roster has the compliment of professional assistance to the degree that is matched in kind, with comparable fielding expertise.
Now consider this:
Obviously there are youngsters that have talent over and above others – that’s a given. The only qualification to that statement is the time and place of that talented youngster where he/she is at that moment. Pluck that youngster out of that space in time and drop him/her elsewhere … even at the same level of play… but with a different fielding unit and you could run into a horse of a different color. If fact, more often then not, this IS the case.
Amateur baseball does not address the time and resources to match fielding – pitch by pitch, like the highly skilled college game and definitely not like the pro’s. Even some of the most hapless Minor League clubs have skull sessions where the fielding units are coached on being WITH the pitch at the moment. In other words, there should be no surprises for anyone on the field at any point in time when a pitcher is about to release his delivery. And this comes about by a coaching staff in conjunction with the level of talent that has been screened, reviewed, cut, traded, reassigned, re-reviewed, re-screened and so forth. So a short stop has a better than average chance of getting the fielding position right and what’s going to happen next so he’s in the right spot for the right play 95% of the time… if the batter makes contact. And when the pitch is to hit… he/she BETTER be at the right spot 100% of the time. If not… he’s/she’s gone – period.
So, enjoy your amateur town ball either at the high school, Legion or other level because it’s only a game. The youngsters out there are not coached to be on the same page as you, nor are they under pressure to perform or their gone. These youngsters, like yourself, have other things in orbit that’s appropriate for their age… and your age too I might add. Also, I know of no team that anyone is a member of on THIS WEB SITE that practices the defense for a typical batting order… and why, or
practices as a team… what are the pitching and relative outcomes for at least five game scenarios with and without runners on…… runners on the corners… or four of the basic batting stances and hand postures with and without runners on…. and on the list goes.
How do I know this?
Over the years I interview prospects for the clubs that I’ve been with and I expect a certain level of proficiency with respect to knowledge of this craft of ours. And year after year I am disappointed in the competency with the player population. In fact, when I’m asked to sit in on a hash-session with fielders I’m left wondering… “what are these kids learning out there?” Even the simplest question like… “you’re a third baseman, and the catcher moves tight inside on a right-handed batter with an open stance, hands held shoulder high, and this player is sixth in the order and is a regular roster player, and there’s nobody on. It’s his first at bat … so you have nothing to go on from prior innings. Where would you want to position yourself? Tell me… deep in on the grass, midway on the skin, deep on the skin, how many feet off the bag (3rd) , do you move in relation to short, where, why?”
Year after year I’ve sat in the background and I’ve watched a blank expression … like a deer in the headlights…… and this from a guy who was the best of the lot that showed up!
Now some advice to those of you have experienced some less than stellar performances from the crew behind you: It’s gonna happen whether you like it or not, and there is very little if anything that you can or will do about it. I know it’s frustrating, but it’s not a job, you’re not contracted, you’re not on a trading card whose value is plummeting as we speak, … it just happens.
So don’t go ripping up friendships, making guys feeling worse than they already are, and causing a stink.
I was an assistant coach with a club that though we had a dynamic roster of all the tools. We ended up 62- 5, and if you think anybody could have been more disappointed… well, there wasn’t. And all the reasons of being a very young team, low on resources ($), a lousy stadium, a very poor market base, and a ton of other reasons made the feeling any better … they didn’t. And the more I thought about it at the time… the amateur playing field where everybody went home afterwards regardles of the outcome, didn’t seem all that bad.