Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Two Types of Travel Baseball Players

Over the years, I have realized that there are two types of travel baseball families.  I say families because, at the younger ages, which category you fall into is often a direct reflection on the parents rather than the player.  Ultimately, it is the parent that pays the money, drives to the games and makes the final decision on for which team their child plays.

If you are playing travel baseball, or have a child playing, I am sure they are talented and enjoy the sport.  People have so much time and money invested that anything less would be a waste.  There are a lot of talented players.  There is always someone practicing when you are not.  However, talent is just part of the equation when it comes to determine what type of travel ball player and family you are.

The first type of player/family is selfish.  Unfortunately, this type seems to be more and more common.  The word “loyalty” is not in their vocabulary.  Sure, the kid plays hard and attends all practices.  However, his eyes and his parent’s eyes are always looking for something better.  Parents wonder if a different team could feature their son more.  The player wants to play shortstop instead of second base.  They want a trophy and don’t care who or what they have to sacrifice to get it.  The selfish player and his family are always on the lookout for what they think is a better opportunity and will abandon their current team at the drop of a hat to take advantage of it.

The other type of travel ball player is the team player.  This player plays for the name on the front of his jersey, not the name on the back.  Together with the coach and other families, the team player and his family enter into a relationship of trust and loyalty.  That coach will do everything he can to teach the player how to play the game of baseball the right way.  He will try to have a positive impact on the young man’s life.  The player and family will support the coach and other families on the team.  Everyone encourages each other and doesn’t constantly worry about where they play or where they are placed in the batting order.  They just want to help the team win.  They take satisfaction in working hard with a group of teammates to work toward a common goal.  The team player and his family genuinely care about everyone else on the team.

As a coach, of course I want to win games.  I enjoy watching the boys celebrate a tournament victory.  The smiles on their faces and realizing that their hard work and dedication paid off is what it’s all about.  But remember that those championship celebrations are twice the fun if you are celebrating with teammates…real teammates.

There are plenty of places to play if you are the selfish player.  If you are talented enough, I am sure you can find a place.  I have been fooled before and made mistakes with the teams I have coached. 

I won’t make those mistakes again. 

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The Professor 

Greg Maddux is my favorite pitcher of all-time.  He didn’t look like a professional athlete.  He didn’t even look like a guy you would see playing basketball at your local YMCA.  He is listed at 6 feet tall and that is probably being a little generous.  He would beat you with his mind, hence the nickname, “The Professor”.  Even though he looked more like someone who would do your taxes, Maddux is a hall-of-famer and firmly cemented as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

There are plenty of Maddux gems for us to re-live but let’s briefly look at a game Maddux started against the Chicago Cubs on July 22, 1997.  He pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and one run.  He did not walk a single batter and struck out six.  The best statistic is that Maddux threw 76 pitches and 63 of those were strikes.

Some other incredible Maddux stats…

  • In 1997, Maddux faced 893 batters.  He went to a 3-0 count on five of those batters.
  • He walked the leadoff batter in an inning 0.3 percent of the time.
  • Maddux faced 20, 421 batters in his career. Only 310 saw a 3-0 count and 177 of those were intentional walks.