Here Comes the Summer: A Primer For Parents and Players.
The summer landscape has changed radically in the last 5 years. League play has vanished and in it’s place are a non-stop barrage of weekend tournaments where “exposure” is the primary goal as opposed to winning and losing.
The reality of summer baseball is that most tournaments do not bring out the crowd of college coaches that most of you expect. This weekend usually draws a very light group of coaches consisting of local schools and perhaps the WAC coaches in town for their conference tournament.
The sweet spot is generally from the middle to the end of June, when coaches are here for the USA Baseball Events and Connie Mack World Series Qualifier.
The problem for most players is that the schools that you likely profile to do not have the travel budget to fly to AZ to recruit players. As a result, the exposure piece is way overblown.
Nevertheless, if you are out there playing here are some things to remember:
First off, if you expect to get much bang for your buck at these tournaments, you will hopefully have been communicating with colleges beforehand. If not, you won’t be on a follow list, and you generally become so much background noise.
This is so cliché, yet at the same time so true: You never know who’s watching.
Even at an event that has few to no college coaches, there may be someone in attendance who can have an impact on your future. The baseball world is a small place, with relationships that stretch across the country. Don’t make the fatal mistake of taking pitches off.
Catchers: I say this every year, and yet this remains one of my biggest pet peeves. Please show me your arm in between innings. You may not have a live game opportunity to flash that hose, but in between innings we are paying attention. Chuck that rock like your life depends on it.
This also goes for infielders. We don’t see you in pre game like in high school, so in between innings show off that cannon.
Please run out ground balls. It’s amazing to me that in an event that is supposed to be a “showcase” , I continually see players half-assing their way down the line as I stand there stop watch in hand. Running times are a vital piece of the evaluation process, don’t ignore this.
Body language is another incredibly important piece of the puzzle. Remember, baseball is a game of failure. Players that fail in MLB 70% of the time are called All Stars. The key is how you respond to failure.
Throwing your helmet, tossing your bat in disgust etc, are sure ways to get your name crossed off by coaches.
Pitchers: it’s inevitable that you will encounter an umpire with a postage stamp sized strike zone. It happens in college too. However, the worst thing you can do is to react negatively to a questionable strike zone. Treat it like it is a part of the game and show that you are in control of the situation.
Act like you are serious about the game. College coaches have a job to do. Their job is to win baseball games. They are looking for players who can help them do that. If you look like you are not a serious player, coaches can’t treat you seriously. Don’t goof off in the dugout. Many of you look like you are only out there to hang out with your buddies and have a good time. Play the game and conduct yourself like you mean business.
Parents: It’s amazing to me how things have changed in regard to ballpark decorum. I watch the way parents interact with their players during games and I just shake my head.
If I were to design a baseball field, it would have dark shades from dugout to dugout to prevent parents from placing their chairs right next to the on-deck circle. Unfortunately, virtually all the fields in the summer are wide open, and mom and dad have been sitting there for tournaments for the better part of a decade.
If you insist on being that close to the action, please try not to interact with your son during the game. He doesn’t need coaching. He doesn’t need you to break down the pitcher for him.
Your player should be mature enough to ensure that he has proper hydration for the game, so you shouldn’t have to hand drinks and snacks to junior in the dugout. It’s just a really bad look.
Don’t be that parent who constantly complains about balls and strikes and questions every call on the field. We will find out who you are and who belongs to you. Again, it’s also a bad look.
Finally, acting like a fool during a game puts unneeded stress on your young player. Baseball is a very difficult game to play. It becomes almost impossible when a player is nervous or stressed out. Don’t contribute to this.
See you at the yard, RB