So, I am sitting in the parking lot after practice tonight and up pulls a kid in a little white car. I hear, “is that Mr. McBride”. After confirming my presence, a proud voice announces, “thought you would like to know that a DeBary Little League Alum just got an offer for a scholarship today”. Upon further investigation, I learned that the scholarship was from a quality mid-major school in South Florida and the scout had seen him play this last weekend in a tournament game.
He went on to tell me that he chose not to play high school baseball this year because he felt he had a better opportunity playing on a showcase tournament team than on a high school team. I don’t know, don’t really care either way, that is an argument for another time not fit for an article really, but more a four-hour debate at Mickey Finns.
What did I take from this interaction? First, the kid sought me out because he was PROUD of what he had accomplished. Second, the kid was only a junior! Third, he carved out his own path. He has no idea if he will accept this offer or if he will pursue other offers, but he knows whatever he does, it will be done on his terms, not on anyone else’s! We should all learn a life lesson from this young man!
Every day I hear “you have to do this to get on the high school team” or “you have to do that to get into college” or “you have to play on this team to get onto high school” or “if you don’t play on that team you don’t have a chance to do this or that or the other”. Know what they all are? EXCUSES!
Ever hear from someone who didn’t make a team? Those with egos that don’t allow them to be responsible for their own failures usually say something along the lines of “you have to be friends with him or her to get on the team” or “you have to have played on this team to be on that team”. All wrong. Hell, there are people in our league who say the only way to get on the DeBary Little League All-Star team is to play on the DeBary Dynamite, our tournament team! Nonsense! You really think that the coaches of the all-star, high school, or college team care who or where you played before? They want the nine best players they can get! Period! End of story!
Now, you don’t have to agree with their choices. That is the great armchair debate, but don’t tell me you have to play somewhere to end up on a particular team. That is nonsense! All-star coaches aren’t even paid, so you are going to tell me that a paid high school or college coach cares about anything other than your skills? Their job is on the line! You think they are not going to teach you how to play the game the way they want the game played? One thing any good coach knows is give him an athlete and he will teach him how to play the game. So pick a coach you think will teach you the most where you enjoy playing and stick with that team!
If you want to play high school, play high school. If you want to play tournaments, play tournaments. If you want to play college, figure out how to get in front of the coaches. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, do what you want! Nobody can be responsible for you but YOU! Why be miserable somewhere else when you can have fun playing where you want to and STILL get to where you want to go!
So from now on, don’t tell me you have to take a certain path to success. Figure out where you want to go, figure out how you will get there, then execute your plan flawlessly! Don’t let others intimidate or bully you, do it YOUR WAY. As
Frank Sinatra said, “I did it mmmmmyyyyyyyy wayyyyyyyyy”.
In our area an umpire’s “association” has popped to serve the local Little Leagues in the area. Now if this association were formed with the kids in mind, as Little League is, then they would simply organize the best staffs, perform the proper background checks, provide training and equipment, and distribute the talent where needed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As with any organization, profit is the motive.
The Little League guidelines specifically prohibit paying umpires. Umpires that want to get paid can join associations that provide officials to high schools, travel programs, and various leagues that are not volunteer community based. Or basically, anything that isn’t Little League!
Of course, where does this association go to get their officials? They dip into and steal the local umpires that are so generously volunteering their time for their community. The kicker is the small stipend they pay for a game. Yet, umpires are shunning their local league and entering other league’s boundaries just for a few dollars. Have we forgotten that every $1 we give, we receive $10 in return? This is truly the case.
I am the first to admit that I accept every paying umpiring job offered to me that is NOT Little League. I have no problem w/ that, those organizations have no desire to be volunteer organizations, nor do they pretend to be. I have umpired USSSA and AAU, but have not had time for High School. This association tried to recruit me as well, I told them, “I will never accept pay for umpiring a Little League game”. It is wrong on so many levels.
Not only is it wrong, I have a couple of issues that must be addressed by the association, though I know they won’t reply in public.
1. If Little League’s are boundary specific, how can umpires cross those boundaries?
2. Every volunteer “in regular contact” with the children MUST have completed a volunteer application. How does the association accomplish this since the local league performs the checks?
3. Am I being asked to put my children on fields w/ umpires who have not been properly screened when we visit other locations? This troubles me as the parent of teenage girls and young boys. Is there any proof of this documentation?
How can I know that my children are safe on the fields, in the parking lots, and in the bathrooms of Little League facilities if proper due diligence is not the norm? Are you as a Board of Directors that pays an association to provide you with umpires willing to accept the personal liability that comes with an incident God forbid? It would be “easy pickin’s” for even the least experienced of attorneys.
What we must do:
1. Terminate any league membership of any umpire that gets paid to umpire a Little League game.
2. Not allow any umpire that gets paid to umpire a Little League game to umpire ANY all-star or special privilege games.
3. Terminate all relationships with any associations as Little Leagues.
4. Recruit and train volunteers within our organizations to be the best they can be. You will be surprised who will say yes if you simply ask them.
5. Inform existing umpires if they leave for pay, their membership in the league will be terminated. This means they will never be able to coach, manage, serve on the board, umpire, vote, or volunteer in any way, shape or form, within the organization.
6. Recognize and embrace those willing to volunteer. Award them, provide them gear, drinks, and a pat on the back.
7. Do not antagonize or constantly criticize their work. They are doing the best they can.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. One of my best friends is our Umpire in Chief, and I hear every day about the struggles he goes through to get our games umpired. I don’t envy his position. But paying umpires is NOT the solution. Besides, we are a small league, but we play more than 10 games a week or so at home. That means $350/week for umps or about $3,500!!! How can you say you are being a proper steward of the people’s money if you are simply taking the easy road?
How do you feel about paid umpires in Little League?
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This is a travesty. Why would we cut out the one thing that the kids truly love about school? I believe that sport builds character, no matter what sport, eliminating it from schools is horrible. I see tons of fat around schools that could be trimmed w/o cutting out JV sports.
I remember my first year of Soccer in High School. My friends and I were all on the JV team and were very good. We actually won the JV championship, it was sweet! A few of us were selected to move up to the varsity team for the last few games, and though we never even saw the field, the experience was life altering for me!
We had to come to the varsity boys practice, fit in, earn their respect, and train as hard as they did. Talk about life lessons learned! We want to take this away from our kids? This makes not sense at all.
See the article about this here:
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I am putting this out there to try and determine how to overcome issues that come up all the time. At all levels of ball there is always more than one way to skin a cat. Different techniques for accomplishing this task, different ways to attack a situation, or different solutions to a problem that may exist. It seems everyone knows how to do this-or-that and everyone has a way to fix something. Often, there is more than one way to do something, and a conflict exists at the coaching level. How do we overcome this?
One of the most common things I hear parents and less experienced coaches tell their kids is to “keep your elbow up”. I used this only as an example, while this is not the worst advice in the world, it is wrong. The elbows should be relaxed and the hands high. Raising the elbow simple increases the swing plane and increases the time from the point the hands release to the point of contact with the ball. What we really want is hands to the ball as fast as we can with the most possible bat speed. This is accomplished by having the hands high, pulling with the lead elbow, and whipping the bat through the zone. Having the elbows relaxed facilitates this.
Another point of contention is the bunt, how to stand, should the batter square up? How should the feet be positioned, should they be running at contact? There are a number of ways to teach this, none in necessarily wrong, but everyone, including myself, thinks they know the perfect way to do this. I still see old school high school coaches to this day having their batters square all the way around and face the pitcher to bunt, this is wrong, but I see it daily.
But what do we do when there is a conflict between the coaches? The worst case is that one coach teaches it one way, and the other another. Then the kid is all confused. Should a coach who feels strongly about their position teach it w/o regard to the other coach? That seems counterproductive. Hopefully a strong manager will step in and make a ruling, but what if they don’t know for sure either?
I once had a 9/10 all-star team comprised of about 75% of players from my team. They were very good, they knew what to do and had been coached by me for 3 months. I had an assistant from another team who taught hitting differently than me. He was teaching an advanced method of hitting that I did not teach until the kids got to 11/12. Most of the 9/10′s had just started playing, so the goal was to keep them still and have them turn into the pitch. He wanted to teach them to rotate and explode right away, they couldn’t handle that yet, they weren’t at that skill level yet.
Even though I asked him not to continue it, he decided it was his job to teach every girl on the team a new way to hit in less than two weeks. Asinine. He screwed up every girl on the team’s swing and we went from scoring 20 runs a game to 3 or 4. Needless to say, we didn’t win the tournament. This is a tough situation to be in and one that often arises at All-Star time. Hell, I have daily battles w/ my regular season assistants, but that’s just it, we have battles, sometimes arguments even, but we work it out and everyone respects the other’s position, then we move forward.
I don’t have the answer to this situation. It happens in life every day. How many times have you been at work, come up with a plan, assigned tasks, and a week later, everyone shows up w/ whatever they felt like doing, or felt was best to do, rather than what the plan originally called for? You see this in the NFL all the time. When a team is winning they seem to flow like a well oiled machine, but when they are losing it seems the parts are fighting each other.
I guess this is what makes great leaders. Creating an objective, defining success, mapping a plan that offers the best path to success, and getting everyone on the team to buy into it. I have a friend who is a master at this, he is always positive, always encouraging, and always letting everyone know what they are supposed to be doing to achieve success. He is clear, simple to understand, and very motivational. Care to guess where his teams always finish?
Anyway, I guess my solution to any conflict resolution is listening and understanding, but making sure never to stray from the stated objectives. Where most coaches and leaders break down is never having clearly defined objectives in the first place. If we don’t know what we are striving for, how can we work to attain it?
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Received a call today from a mother of our Juniors team. They just made it to the championship of our District Tournament of Champions! That makes 2 out of our 4 teams! Not bad for one of the smallest leagues in the country! We have only 300 players, 2 major baseball teams, 2 major softball teams, 2 junior baseball teams, and 1 senior softball team.
Just to compare. The league I came from in Virginia had 119 teams, 14 major teams, 2 charters, and it was ONLY baseball! Our 300 consists of 7 softball teams! We are blessed with fantastic coaches, training, and parents. One should never take that for granted.
We Need Lights
The power company was changing our light bulbs last year on one of our older fields and noticed that woodpecker had hollowed out many of the light poles. They immediately had to be taken down! We have since converted this field to a second softball field but can only use it for t-ball during the week because we don’t have any lights on it any more!
We need lights! Any corporations willing to donate to a fantastic program? We offer very creative long term corporate sponsorships if someone were to step up.
A Productive Board
We have had a productive board this year! Here is a list of the large projects we accomplished:
Batting cages at one park
Hit-away stations at all parks
Public Address Systems on all 6 fields
That is the short list. I am proud of what we accomplish every year and when you look back it is amazing what a dedicated group of volunteers can accomplish.
Heading into All-Stars
Now we being our 2nd season. It will be a long time before the rest of the the world sees the little guys on TV playing in the World Series, but it all starts on June 15th. The day all-star teams are able to be announced and begin practicing. The road to the World Series is excrutiatingly long and of the 30K or so teams that set out to make it, only 1 ends their season w/ a victory! The
NCAA has nothing on Little League ! Good Luck to All
Good luck to all heading into all-stars. Those that don’t make a team keep working, you will one day! Remember, Michael Jordon was cut from his High School team the first time he tried out!
Anyone have any good all-star memories? Let us know about them.
The Final Season
The Final Season and I have to admit that it wasn’t very good at all. Which is a shame because we grew up w/ Sean Astin and I really like a lot of stuff he did in the past. In fact, when I went to see Grease, starring Rosie O’Donnell , w/ my wife and son at the Ford Theatre in Washington, DC , he was there w/ a few other celebs. That was the night that President Clinton and Chelsea were there to see the show also! In addition, Don and Mike, local DJ’s were in attendance. It was a star studded event I would say! Roanne
I also have to worship him a bit, because when he was doing teen movies back in the day when I was way way younger, he had a last scene where he woke up w/ a nekkit woman. That was Roanne, a girl that used to date Brian from Child’s play and hang out in the Baltimore/Washington club scene that we were so intricately involved in. Obviously, we were all jealous of him at that time!
Anyway, sorry about that, I know this is a family forum. The move dragged on way to much, didn’t really ever get going and the climax of winning the final championship wasn’t really even enough to keep my attention. This is a great story about a small
high school in Iowa that had only 100+ students, yet won 20 straight state championships! How did they do it? Fundamentals according to the coach in the movie.
A story so great could have been told so much better. This is no
Bull Durham , that’s for sure!
Anyway, if you have nothing else to do, give it a look, otherwise, skip it!
Anyone else see this movie? Let me know what you thought.
Yesterday I had my SmartMoney Magazine interview! It went very well! The interview was conducted by the author of the piece, Anne Kadet. She was very friendly and very interested in how the youth baseball programs functioned. The article will publish in the July issue which will be released in June. (Don’t ask me, I just report, you decide)
I, of course, was uniquely qualified to provide her all the information she needed! My 18 years experience w/ Little League and brief experience w/ travel ball and its effect on Little League was what interested her. She delved deeply to gain a true understanding of how each program worked and how they worked together. She was also interested in where they created conflicts.
Will Your Child Fall Behind?
The point she was most interested in was “do you feel your child will fall behind if he does not participate in the travel programs”? What a great question! She asked, she said, because a hockey parent she had interviewed the day before had stated that they felt their child had no shot at a high school team unless they participated in the travel leagues. I had to agree that those that play in travel leagues definitely have advanced skills.
Quality of Play
She then asked, “Do you feel the quality of play in the ‘elite’ travel leagues is coming down since anyone can start a team and there are more teams available now”? Another whopper of a question! I had to admit that yes, as the numbers increase, it was inevitable that travel teams quality of play decline. I also pointed out that travel ball is for play, not for gaining fundamentals, nothing can replace Little League for that.
This is an interesting concept though. Many of you know that I used to be a hardcore metal head in my younger days. I used to complain to my super-cool boss at the time (he tolerated my late nights and frequent early afternoon departures as well as my unique travel schedule) that radio stations never played the kind of music I liked. He used to say, “if the radio stations played it, then it wouldn’t be cool to listen to it any more”. I didn’t agree then, but wisdom has taught me what he meant.
I think this might be a decent analogy to travel ball. If everyone is playing, is it really an elite travel league any more? Or is it simply a league of the same kids playing Little League circumventing the draft process?
What does the Future Hold?
Of course everyone doesn’t play travel ball, and Little League provides a home for EVERYONE. But I have to wonder what the face of travel ball will look like in 10 years? They certainly do not have the money that Little League has, nor the corporate sponsorship or media coverage. ESPN’s multi-million deal to cover every division of Little League’s World Series on TV will certainly boost participation.
This will be an interesting topic that I will visit often over the next few years.
What effect do you feel that travel ball is having on Little League? Is it positive or negative? What would you change about the current situation? Post a comment below and let us know about it.
Check out some prior posts that may interest you:
Variation of the Around the Horn Drill
New Pitching Drill
Blowout, Pitching Questions, Resume for Article
SmartMoney Magazine Interview
It’s All About the Fundamentals
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