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Old 05-01-2011, 09:20 PM   #1
Barkeep49
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
Fear of Failure - A RL Coaching Dynasty

This will follow my efforts to coach a B-level 11U travel baseball team. I’m going to try the dynasty thing again, mainly because having a place to process my thoughts is important given the insecurity inherent in the name of this dynasty. My plan is try and write less than I used to, but this first post will be a long one as I give a lot of information.

Background

I enjoy working with kids (I am a school administrator career wise) and am competitive so coaching is a natural fit for me. I have done a fair amount of coaching at the middle school and below level given that I’m only 29.

I coached 4 competitive travel basketball teams over 3 years. I stopped 2 years ago because of a combination of burnout, failure, and lack of time due to my career. My teams had mixed success, with one even winning the championship and another finishing the regular season in 4th place, but I would say that I had a mostly negative experience with it.

More positive has been my Science Olympiad coaching. Obviously non-athletic, but over the past two years I have had kids in an event I coach win a medal at the State level. Also successful has been my recreational baseball coaching. My 7 teams have had good years and tough years, but even in tough years it was mostly a positive experience, as my baseball coaching partner, Steve, and got the most out of our teams. My team last year was a talented one and we finished in a close second.

Perhaps the worst coaching experience, but one I’m somewhat proud of, is when I tried coaching competitive travel baseball. My 9 year-old team didn’t have much talent. The parents were obnoxious. By the end of the season we’d progressed from horrible to mediocre. But there was a LOT of losing along that journey. A lot. Granted by the end there was quite an improvement, and that’s why I’m proud. But the losing took a toll on me and on the parents who took it out on me and Steve.

Part of the problem is that the parents weren’t completely off base. Neither Steve or I played baseball above the Middle School level. So while we do certain things well, there is enough of a lack of knowledge that I really worry that we might simply not be up to the task of coaching competitive baseball. Hence the title of this dynasty.

The Setup

Through a co-worker of Steve’s we were hooked up with a job in the next suburb over from where I live and where Steve and I grew-up. This program, unlike the program we coached in last time, is well run. The parents are helpful, but also have a respect for the coaches that wasn’t present, even before the losing started, last time. If things go south with the parents it won’t be because of them, it’ll be because of us.

The program being better means several things. It means that we have more coaching time than we did last time. It also means that we won’t have to deal with kids missing because of travel soccer like last time. Despite a much more intense schedule, which has us playing/practicing 5 days a week between now and the middle of July, kids are allowed 4 discretionary absences, period. There’s simply a commitment by the players and parents that wasn’t there last time.

The Team

And then there’s our team. The team has been largely together for 3 years now and it shows. They have good chemistry and an ease about themselves. They also have a commitment that’s admirable. Today one of our players didn’t show up in the practice uniform, due to his shuttling between two houses in a divorce. More than one player, when seeing this out of uniform player, said “Well we deserve to run today.” As a teacher I’ve seen lots of different groups of kids and can say that I think this one is special. Here’s the team, in our rough batting order:

Alex - Our starting shortstop, at least for the moment. He is obviously a good fielder and good hitter (hence his leading off). He’s an unassuming kid, who I think is nervous in social situations so taking charge at short will be difficult for him and so we might flip him and Jordan just because of the leadership demands we ask of our shortstops. He’s also our 3rd best pitcher at the moment.

Jordan - By far our best player. He had been a benchwarmer with the A level team last year, but should be a star for us. He is one of the 3 best hitters, fielders, throwers, and runners. I also have him ranked as our #1 pitcher. Currently we have him playing second, when he and Alex are not pitching because he can be a touch slow to react sometimes. Steve and I buy the research saying the best hitter should go 2, which is why he’s hitting here.

Aaron - This kid has personality oozing out of his pores. At our first practice after hearing that I was a teacher explained that most teachers don’t like him. I believe it, but that’s because most elementary teachers are women who don’t always enjoy boys with personality. He’s our starting catcher. He announced today he wanted to try pitching and showed some good stuff in a bullpen session. At our next practice we’re going to see how he does against live batters. Steve is more impressed with his baseball skills than I am.

Danny - He’s slooooooow, but is our best power hitter. He’s a kid who is going to do whatever is asked him with a smile, even when he doesn’t like it. Due to a good arm and good reflexes he’s our starting 3rd baseman. He’s not going to overwhelm you with pitching speed, but he should be pretty acurate.

David - He’s got a good throwing arm, but doesn’t quite have the pitching mechanics down yet so he’s not a part of the rotation at the moment. He’s also a very good first baseman, so that’s his primary position. However, when we needed a 3rd catcher (Steve and I always believe you can’t have too many catchers) he was willing to step-up. Due to his good arm, I could see him competing with Aaron for time behind the plate should he want it.

Michael - I haven’t quite figured him out yet. He’s good enough to be our second infield utility man, plugging holes due to kids sitting out or pitching. Unlike just about all the other kids on the team, I haven’t quite pegged either how much talent he has now, or his potential.

Ryan - The other kid besides Jordan to come down from the A team this year. He sometimes becomes disrespectful, sometimes without meaning to. He is our #1 infield utilityman and will see a fair amount of time at second when Alex or Jordan are pitching or sitting out.

Andrew - One of 3 sixth graders on the team, including his twin brother Justin. He’s definitely the best natural athlete on the team. He’s our number two catcher and has surprised us with how quickly he’s gotten better at the position (see natural athlete above). I also have him ranked as our #2 pitcher, but could easily see him surpassing Jordan before the season is over. He is also our best at fielding flyballs on the team, taking nearly great angles to the ball, so when not pitching or catching he’s our #1 centerfielder.

Justin - Andrew’s twin. Where Andrew is more serious, Justin is more laidback. Not quite as talented as his brother, he is a hard worker, whose positive nature is of benefit to the team’s good chemistry. He’s an outfielder who will play center when it’s not occupied, but see more time in the corners. He’ll be an emergency pitcher for us.

Nate - Nate didn’t play on our team last year, instead playing for a team put together by his father. He fancies himself a first baseman. Unfortunately he’s not good at catching the ball, so while he’ll keep getting chances to be at 1st during practices, I don’t envision him there during games. He’s the only kid I don’t ever want the ball hit to as he tends to lose focus, and isn’t particularly fast. More promising is his pitching. While I have him ranked as our #4 pitcher right now, it’s because of his inability to consistently locate the plate. He is a lefty who throws ¾ with great movement. If he can learn to regularly find home plate, he could be our best or second best pitcher.

Ross - I want this kid to be good. He works hard. He’s got a great attitude and a good amount of baseball IQ. The talent just isn’t there. He expressed some interest today at catching, which would be great, but I don’t think he’s got the arm to throw kids out, so so much for that. He’s a kid who will make some of the plays required of him, but not others. Like I said I’m really rooting for him.

Brett - Our 3rd sixth grader. He does a bunch of things right, but more things wrong. His baseball IQ is also -5. Nice kid, who will work hard though. His fundamentals are good enough to combine with height befitting his being one of the older kids on the team to make him our back-up first baseman. He won’t make some of the plays David will, but he’ll make all the routine ones.

The Year So Far
The weather interfered greatly with our ability to practice during April. However, we got in 11 practices which was more than enough to have me feeling good for our first game. I knew our pitching was weak, but I felt good about our fielding and our hitting.

So of course we lost our first game yesterday 7-2. It wasn’t the score which gave rise to my insecurities as much as how we looked doing it. There were definite first game jitters as our bats didn’t come alive until the 5th inning and Jordan and Alex, who pitched 4 out of the 7 innings, had trouble finding the strike zone. The real issue were things like having 2 kids picked off at first due to not paying attention. Things like having a kid take second on a walk because we weren’t paying attention. I think it made me and Steve look like idiots. Steve says we’re not under as much scrutiny as we were in before, which is true. But if we don’t win, we will be.

There was some good out of it. Andrew pitched well striking out 2 while allowing no runs and, combined with his getting the first hit of the season for the team, earned the game ball. Danny in his last at bat rifled the ball down the 3rd base line and needed only 11 pitches to get 3 outs in the 7th.

More exciting were the 3 putouts we recorded, and barely missed out on 2 others. By the end of the game they’d become much more cautious running, knowing that our outfielders would be able to make the throws to get them out.

So that’s where we’re at so far. We have another game tomorrow and will be relying on Nate and Andrew at pitcher, as Alex and Jordan are inelegible due to the pitch count rules. Managing our not fantastic pitchers will be one of the seasons challenges for us, but if Aaron turns out to be a pitcher for us, I feel a lot better about our chances to do that.

Thanks for reading.


Last edited by Barkeep49 : 05-01-2011 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 05-01-2011, 10:44 PM   #2
Izulde
Head Coach
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
I love your coaching dynasties and always get nostalgic to get back into it when reading them.
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #3
Barkeep49
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
We had our second game Tuesday and despite the 12-11 defeat I feel better about this than our first game, mostly because only 4 of the 11 runs we allowed were earned. And quite a few of those unearned runs can be chalked up to poor defensive play at third base. Ryan, in his role as utility man, had a couple of plays that a player of better talent would make. Danny, our #1 third baseman did not have a good game, having 2 first inning errors and letting a fiedable by him. Another performance like that and he won’t be our #1 third baseman anymore. In better news he proved a strike machine, pitching 2 ⅓ solid innings, though he did pick-up the loss (on an earned run none-the-less). He’s a pitcher good players can use like batting practice, in that they’ll see a strike to hit, but he doesn’t have enough velocity for the ball to go too far generally. Players like this will get chances to pitch on our team.

In other good news our bats came alive, though we were assisted by quite a few errors from our opponents as well. Someone whose bat did not come alive? Alex our (former) lead-off hitter who has still yet to put the ball into play. On the whole not a good day for him, as he decided to try and get an out at home at one point rather than getting the easy out at first. Not only did the runner he was trying to get out score, but so did another runner, after the ball got by our catcher. Oh and he got picked-off at first as well. At our practice yesterday he showed he can rocket the ball as a hitter, but until he does it in a game, he’ll probably be batting 5th or 6th. Andrew will be our new lead-off hitter, with his speed and spray hitting, classic lead-off hitter qualities.

Both the description of Danny and Alex seem brutal when reading about them. I will say that in both cases the player was handled with dignity. And simply explain that the team is meant to be competitive and so we’re going to try and put our players in the best position to help the team win.

On the whole the reason that this loss bugs me less than the first one, is that errors are par for the course with a team like this. If they didn’t have deficiencies they wouldn’t be on the B level team. That’s a far cry from making poor decisions. We’ll work to help the players improve the areas where they need more help, but the poor decisions demand a level of accountability. We’ve had 3 different kids picked off and it’s because in all of the situations they zoned out before the pitcher’s first pitch.

We were also required to submit a list of players who are not to pitch in house league, a list of players who can pitch in house league, and a weekly list of what the other players are allowed to do. Our list looked like this:

Do not pitch list:
Jordan
Danny
Nate
Andrew

Can always pitch freely:
Brett
Ross
Ryan

This week can pitch freely:
Justin

35 or less today, rest Thur-Sat:
Alex
David
Michael
Aaron

We have two games this weekend and I expect our 4 don’t touches, plus at least 2 of the 35 or less crowd to pitch. If I had to wager a guess the 2 from that list to pitch would be Aaron and Alex, though Michael looked good pitching during practice yesterday.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Izulde View Post
I love your coaching dynasties and always get nostalgic to get back into it when reading them.

Obviously I get frustrated at times, but the success of helping a player get better and making the right call to tilt the balance of a game means that I keep trying despite the failures.
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Old 05-07-2011, 12:13 PM   #4
Barkeep49
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
One thing that Steve and I put a lot of time into is creating our line-ups and so I thought an entry on our process might be interesting.  There's a combination of trying to do what's best for the team by having the best players at the position playing, but also doing what's best for each individual. Sorry for the poor formatting, but I wanted to be able to show what the lineup looked like at various points.



The first thing to decide is our batting order.  As I mentioned in the last entry, Alex had been batting lead-off but hadn't been producing, so we decided to move Andrew up to #1 and put Alex in the 6 spot.



We always start with who our pitchers are going to be.  Our kids have mandatory rest times based on how many pitches they throw, but because we haven't had a game since Monday and our kids are limited in how much they can pitch in house league, all of our players were eligible to pitch.  As we have a game again today, we decided to split our 4 best pitchers at the moment (in no real order), Jordan, Andrew, Danny, and Nate between the two games.   We put Jordan and Nate yesterday deciding each would pitch 2 innings, with Nate starting and Jordan closing.  Nate got the starting nod since were he to pitch efficiently we were OK with the idea that he could go into the 3rd inning.That left 3 innings of pitching left to do.  We decided it was time to see Alex again (who I was very high on before the season started, but had a rough first appearance) and to look at David and Michael in a game situation for the first time.  



Then came catchers.  We had felt that some of our other catchers were coming close in skill to Aaron, our primary catcher, especially on throws to second base, and so we decided to catch Aaron 4 innings, play him at 3rd an inning because we're still not completely sold on Danny, and rest him two.  As we have 12 players, 3 players must sit each inning.  Steve and I divide the sits roughly equally so each kid sits twice, except for our three best fielders, Jordan, David, and Alex, who all sit once.  We wanted Andrew to catch two innings and David to catch one inning, preferably after he had pitched.  We put Aaron at 3rd during one of the times Danny would sit.  So after doing pitchers and catchers this is what we had:




































































































































1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Andrew

C

C

Jordan

P

P

Aaron

C

C

X

3B

C

X

C

Danny

X

David

1B

1B

1B

P

X

C

1B

Alex

P

Michael

P

Ryan

Justin

Brett

1B

1B

1B

Nate

P

P

RF

Ross


As you can see we had filled Brett in at first when David wouldn't be playing it.  We then took care of the middle infield as we knew when Alex wasn't at short we wanted Jordan there meaning Alex was going to have to rest when Jordan wasn't pitching and vice versa.  For simplicities sake we had Alex rest in the 1st and Jordan rest in the 2nd.  After Jordan, we like Ryan next best at second so we plugged him in there.  However, in order to make Ryan's sits non-consecutive, which we do to try and keep them in the game, we had to give Michael an inning at second.



Next we did 3rd base.  Danny remains our primary third baseman and we like Michael next best at 3rd so we did Danny's second sit when Michael was available and filled in Danny for the rest.  That left our infield complete.







































































































































1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Andrew

C

C

Jordan

SS

X

SS

2B

2B

P

P

Aaron

C

C

X

3B

C

X

C

Danny

3B

X

3B

X

3B

3B

3B

David

1B

1B

1B

P

X

C

1B

Alex

X

SS

P

SS

SS

SS

SS

Michael

3B

2B

P

Ryan

2B

2B

X

X

2B

2B

Justin

Brett

1B

1B

1B

Nate

P

P

RF

Ross


Centerfield is the most important of the outfield positions, so we that was our next focus.  We like Andrew the best in Center, so we put him in there and figured out where he would rest.  We also like Ryan in CF so he got an inning there.







































































































































1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Andrew

CF

CF

C

C

X

CF

X

Jordan

SS

X

SS

2B

2B

P

P

Aaron

C

C

X

3B

C

X

C

Danny

3B

X

3B

X

3B

3B

3B

David

1B

1B

1B

P

X

C

1B

Alex

X

SS

P

SS

SS

SS

SS

Michael

3B

2B

P

Ryan

2B

2B

X

CF

X

2B

2B

Justin

Brett

1B

1B

1B

Nate

P

P

RF

Ross






At this point it was just about filling in the gaps we had and figuring out where Michael, Justin, Brett, Nate, and Ross would sit.  Generally speaking we move Justin around the outfileld, while we put Nate and Brett in right and Ross in left.  Hence a short time later we had our final line-up:





































































































































1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Andrew

CF

CF

C

C

X

CF

X

Jordan

SS

X

SS

2B

2B

P

P

Aaron

C

C

X

3B

C

X

C

Danny

3B

X

3B

X

3B

3B

3B

David

1B

1B

1B

P

X

C

1B

Alex

X

SS

P

SS

SS

SS

SS

Michael

X

3B

2B

X

P

LF

RF

Ryan

2B

2B

X

CF

X

2B

2B

Justin

X

RF

CF

RF

CF

X

CF

Brett

RF

X

LF

1B

1B

1B

X

Nate

P

P

RF

X

RF

RF

X

Ross

LF

LF

X

LF

LF

X

LF


Last edited by Barkeep49 : 05-07-2011 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 05-08-2011, 02:22 PM   #5
Barkeep49
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
We didn’t have a lot of hope entering Friday’s game. The team we were playing was 3-1 and they’d won some games by a large margin. Steve and I even had a brief discussion about saving our pitching for Saturday but ultimately decided not to do so.

And it was a good thing we didn’t because the game was a back and forth affair. We started Nate for 2 and then pitched Alex, Michael, and David for 1 each. Out of those players only Alex didn’t look good. He has a real hard time pitching out of the stretch so once that first player gets on it’s not good with him. Michael had looked good at practice, but in a real game wasn’t quite as good. David looks better but has some flaws we have to fix.

Our hitters looked pretty good with everyone getting on base either due to a walk or hit except Nate and Andrew. Of course we’d moved up Andrew to the lead-off spot so that wasn’t so great. I think he just put too much pressure on himself batting lead-off and so we’ll drop him back down some. Our runners weren’t nearly as aggressive as they could have been on the basepaths. In fact basically the only time they stole was when I told them to. We got two runs when their catcher over threw 3rd which was a nice present.

We held the lead as late as the top of the 6th. Jordan, our final pitcher, allowed 3 in the 6th, only 1 earned, and we did manage to score 1 to tie it up on the 6th. He looks good in the 7th and I’m feeling good about our chances heading into the bottom of the 7th. However, despite having our 12, 1, and 2 players at the plate we go down in order to send the game into extra innings.

This creates a little bit of a dilemma for us, as we’d gone through all the pitchers we’d wanted to pitch. So we ultimately decide to send Jordan up there to face their last four guys, and hopefully he can do so with the 14 pitches he has left before he hits his pitch maximum. He retires the first guy, but walks the next batter who advances to 3rd on stolen bases. He is then squeezed home. Jordan gets the second out of the inning on his last batter. We bring in Danny to get us the last out. We also agree that if the game goes into the 9th we’re going to use Justin rather than burn Danny for Saturday.

The bottom of the inning goes our way as the pitcher doesn’t have much control. We load the bases on a combination of hits and walks. Unfortunately there are some very generous strikes called, like one which nearly hit the plate, and Ryan, who’d been 3 for 3 with 3 runs and who would get the game ball, gets struck out to end the game. Sad thing is a base hit wins it for us as they’re not holding Alex on 2nd base and so he’s leading off nearly half way to second. Oh well, it was a valiant effort, and our best game yet.

Hopefully soon we can get over the hump and actually win one. We had adjusted our batting order before Saturday’s game, including dropping David down at his own request, so hopefully we’ll be able to put together some runs and see our pitching be just good enough to hold them off.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:54 AM   #6
Barkeep49
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
We had one of those classic pitcher's duels Tuesday. Final score: 17-16, with an extra inning. It was not going to be a good day when Nate gets two outs in the top of the first and then loses his ability to get the ball over the plate. Nate was supposed to pitch two, but Steve and I pull him and put in David. Who gets the ball over the plate so well that they rock him for 8 runs on 7 hits. Our other pitchers all pitched alright, but all allowed runs.

Fortunately our offense was able to keep up with theirs. It was also the first time we consistently acted aggressive on the basepaths. We got some base runners in the first and I had them run wild, leading to 3 runs scored because of passed balls or wild pitches.

The first couple innings were tough on Steve. This team we were playing wasn't good and the prospect of losing, and maybe by a lot to them, pushed him over the edge. I tried to be upbeat about it at first, but in the end I quietly, but very firmly had to give it to Steve. It's the joy of having a life long friend as a co-coach because with most people I wouldn't have been able to go quite as far as I was with Steve. And as the game went on, and he saw that we weren't going to get blown out, he calmed down. That fear of failure is clearly weighing on him as well, as he made a comment, "I can't go through another season with a team that can't win."

It was a back and forth game, but they were in control most of it. But then they ran out of pitchers. And their pitcher in the 9th, with us trailing by 2, couldn't get the ball over the plate consistently. And we managed to load the bases. Andrew smacked in two run single to tie the game, but a couple of infield flies and a grounder right back to the pitcher later, we strand runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs, unable to get that winning run.

Good news is that we have Jordan waiting in reserve. And he looks not just good, but great. He strikes out the first guy, induces a guy who hit a homer off us earlier in the game to pop it up WAY up which Ryan fields cleanly at second, and strikes out the 3rd guy.

Ross leads off with a walk. Brett lays down a BEAUTIFUL bunt, which since I had Ross running with the pitch means that by the time Brett gets out, Ross is at 3rd. Nate hits the ball to the shortstop who can't make the play at the plate, and we dramatically win our first game.

We'd been close the past two and so to finally win one? It felt great.

Other notes:
David got his first hit of the season and had a great piece of baserunning going from 1st to 3rd on a wild pitch, when there was a play at the plate...Andrew got beat up, having a couple of hard balls hit off him while catching, and bruising his knees quite badly when he slid into their pitcher on that play at the plate, though in addition to that clutch single he also threw out a couple guys stealing at third...Alex looked like the guy we choose to lead off, going 3-4 with a great double...Justin had the best hit of the season to date with a LONG triple which could have been a homer if the ball hadn't been stopped from rolling by a hill...Nate continues to not look good in the outfield, as he takes bad angles on balls, which frequently get by him... Brett on the other hand continues to look good, making a good catch again...Jordan while playing second stretched about as far as a person can stretch to catch a weakly hit line drive...

Last edited by Barkeep49 : 05-12-2011 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 05-15-2011, 04:08 PM   #7
Barkeep49
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
For our first away game we had 9 kids on a miserably cold and rainy day yesterday.

We lost the game because of a disastrous 4th inning care of Nate and David, who once again had trouble locating the strike zone. It looked like David was going to get out of it only having allowed 1 or 2 runs, and getting 2 outs, but then the walks kept coming. We brought Nate in relief with the bases loaded which wasn’t much better as he let up a base clearing triple and then a run or two on his own before.

We were in danger of getting slaughtered heading into the bottom of the 5th, needing a run to avoid the slaughter. Due to a lack of available pitchers and a dearth of hitting, Steve and I are OK with losing and ending the game. So of course, Aaron gets on base with a walk and after having had Steve and I independently get on him a little about not being aggressive enough on the basepaths proceeds to steal the next 3 bases, so we avoid the slaughter heading into the bottom of the 5th. Of course they need only 1 run to clinch it.

So, wanting to save Jordan, who was originally scheduled to pitch the last 3 innings, for today (which wouldn’t have mattered thanks to a rainout) we throw Ross up there. Ross who we had no intention of ever pitching, Ross. So what does the kid do? He strikes out the first batter. When he allows a hit, I figure that is the start. Naturally then, he picks the kid off first to record the second out of the inning. A walk later, as the runner makes a jump for second Ross picks-off a SECOND batter, after a short rundown (which was actually our second correctly executed rundown of the day). He throws at batting practice speed, but he gets strikes and clearly he can pick people off, so he’s going to get to pitch again.

We score another run in the top of the 6th, so we end up throwing Jordan out there. Jordan lets up a few hits, and the “winning run” gets to 3rd, but looks like he’ll get out of it thanks to two strikeouts. Except the second strikeout was a dropped third and David bungles the throw from Aaron, letting the run score and making the game over.

Not a good day, but out team is appropriately upset without being depressed, which was good. I think the loses are weighing much more on Steve than on me at this point, because despite the losses I feel like our team is showing glimpses of being very good, we just have to learn to avoid the big inning.

Notes:
We were at 9, because Justin, Andrew, and Brett were on a school trip Friday and Saturday..David is having a crisis of confidence on the mound and I’m looking forward to working with him on pitching at practice this week...Danny also is doubting himself, especially with his fielding at 3rd base, where he’s allowed his share of errors...Michael’s been looking good at 3rd and which is putting pressure on Danny. We were in the pitching jam because Michael pitched 2 innings today when he was supposed to pitch none, but he will be eligible to pitch tomorrow, if needed. Michael got the game ball thanks to two great throws from CF leading to outs...We are having a real hard time rescheduling last Thursday’s rainless rainout.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:02 PM   #8
Barkeep49
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
Alright it’s been a long time since I’ve updated last. With school over for me I have more time to write, and I regret not having my chronicled my evolving feelings on our season up for the last few weeks.

Losing

Essentially that’s what we did between my last update and our tournament that was held Memorial Day weekend. There was another blow-out loss in there. There were some difficulties with parents which arose and lingered longer than necessary. Fact is we didn’t play well. We lacked pitching or we lacked hitting or both. Just bad news all around.

The Tournament

Memorial Day weekend we played a tournament. And it went well. Really well. It was a B-Level tournament so we knew we’d have a fighting chance. And sure enough on Friday for the first game of the tournament we come out and slaughter rule the other team, 12-2. It was a pretty good feeling.

Game 2 on Saturday? We scrape by against an inferior team, winning 8-5.

Sunday we are scheduled to play the last team in our pool, who has also proceeded through 2-0. Unfortunately there is bad rain Sunday afternoon, so the game gets canceled. No worries, we think, they’ll just cancel our 4th game, to be played against a team from another pool, and move on. Except that they end up just calling the whole tournament. No matter that Memorial Day was 90 and Sunny. So we leave the tournament in a good place, if a bit frustrated.

Post Tournament

So first game post-tournament we promptly revert back to our to our losing ways. We had been down 15-10 and claw our way back to 15-15, but our pitching just can’t hold and we end up losing 17-15.

Before our next game we decide to do our first overhaul of the lineup. We’d gradually tweaked the lineup over the course of the season, but this was the biggest wholesale change.

New Line-up:
1. Ryan (Originally 7) - The kid has an unbelievable On-Base Percentage, currently at .667. He walks a whole lot (about 25% of the time) and when he’s not walking he’s getting base hits. He’d hit 4th most of the season until this lineup reshuffling, but how do you not start the game with a kid who lacks big power but will get on base ⅔ of the time?
2. Aaron (Originally 3) - We put our best hitter in the 2 slot and Aaron is definitely our best hitter
3. Michael (Originally 6) - Though Michael has given Aaron a bit of a run for his money lately
4. Alex (Originally 1) - Alex had started off 1 and dropped as low as 7, before settling in at 4
5. Justin (Originally 12) - We knew Just wasn’t the worst player when we batted him there the first game, but we thought he belonged in the discussion. We were wrong. He has the second most base hits on the team, after Michael.
6. Danny (Originally 4) - He’s been pretty solid lately and it speaks more to how well we’re hitting that he’s not higher than a reflection on him.
7. Brett (Originally 10) - There’s a pretty big drop-off between Danny and Brett. Brett still hits too few balls in the field (75% of his at bats have been either walks or strikeouts), but when he does connect he can really hit it hard. We’re hoping to see some more consistent contact from him.
8. Andrew (Originally 8) - He’s ended up where he started, but took the scenic route to get there having moved up for 1 game to lead-off when it was clear Alex wasn’t the right kid there, but dropped back down to 8. Arguably he might deserve to go ahead of Brett, but since Brett walks a fair amount and Andrew puts the ball into play a fair amount, this works better since even if Andrew gets out he’s likely to move Brett along.
9. Jordan (Originally 2) - We’d quickly realized that Alex wasn’t the right lead-off hitter and Aaron was better than Jordan, but Jordan had been our lead-off for most of the season. That was a HUGE mistake. He looks good swinging the bat. And during practice he swings as good as he looks, but he was not producing in games. We started talking with him during the tournament about the need to improve, and he has as he’s now walking more than he’d done before. We’re going to give him a little time to figure things out before dropping him into the bottom of the order carousel which is where he should bat based on merit.
10, 11, 12 - Rotation of Nate, David, and Ross
So that the same kid isn’t batting last every game we rotate this kids, who are all about the same statistically, through the bottom three spots. Some games one or to of them will have a good game before reverting to the mean. David’s been particularly frustrated as he’s another batting practice hero. He’s lately seen some improvement, so who knows.

Wouldn’t you know it having a kid who is 3x as likely to get on base as the previous lead-off hitter helped get things going? We come out strong and build up a 10-2 lead heading into the 5th inning (out of 7). At which point we collapse. Errors, hits, and general disaster means we head into the 6th holding a 10-8 lead. No worries though as we have our best pitcher, Jordan, ready to go. So naturally he doesn’t have his normal exemplary command and we blow it. Kids were in tears and Steve and I didn’t try to make them feel better, as we wanted them to use this feeling as a spur to play better.

And wouldn’t you know it? They did. Our bats continue to perform for us, and our pitching was great as we slaugher another team 15-3. It’s pretty incredible that a 4 win team has two of its wins thanks to slaughters. Just shows that this team could be good, we just need to start playing consistently. And hopefully this will be the week to do it, as we play the 1st team we beat again tonight and then on Wednesday have a rematch against Sunday’s victims. Here’s hoping for a winning streak...
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:41 PM   #9
JonInMiddleGA
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Behind Enemy Lines in Athens, GA
Missed this thread until now. These are usually interesting to follow because of the multiple levels of thought that go into coaching youth sports, this one is no exception.

Among the things that throw me a little here is the notion of a "B-level travel team". Honestly I don't think I realized that, at least not as I know them, there were travel teams that were anything other than what would have been the equivalent of an all-star team back in my playing days (circa the 1970's).

Trying to improve my understanding of the team a bit better, when you say "travel team" are we talking about "plays a number of 'next town over' opponents" in home & home games or "regularly plays teams from 100-1000 miles away" kind of "travel team"? It's the latter that I'm more familiar with today, lots of tournament format play. The former sounds more like what we informally called "town ball" and was more like a regular league format, just one that had teams formed based on geography rather than the draft-style common to Little League/rec ball/etc.

In any event, write these up when you can, I'll be trying to follow along.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:07 PM   #10
Barkeep49
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
Scary incident tonight as Aaron, our 1st inning pitcher, took a nasty one hopper in the eye. Steve is a paramedic and administered aid until the ambulance arrived. He received 10 stitches and made it back just as we were leaving after the game. Aaron showed no signs of a concussion, though obviously will be monitored for one. I will write up the game itself soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
Missed this thread until now. These are usually interesting to follow because of the multiple levels of thought that go into coaching youth sports, this one is no exception.

Among the things that throw me a little here is the notion of a "B-level travel team". Honestly I don't think I realized that, at least not as I know them, there were travel teams that were anything other than what would have been the equivalent of an all-star team back in my playing days (circa the 1970's).

Trying to improve my understanding of the team a bit better, when you say "travel team" are we talking about "plays a number of 'next town over' opponents" in home & home games or "regularly plays teams from 100-1000 miles away" kind of "travel team"? It's the latter that I'm more familiar with today, lots of tournament format play. The former sounds more like what we informally called "town ball" and was more like a regular league format, just one that had teams formed based on geography rather than the draft-style common to Little League/rec ball/etc.

In any event, write these up when you can, I'll be trying to follow along.

What you describe is the system in place around here for Basketball. There are teams called travel teams, but the serious ones play beyond just a local distance.

In baseball, around here, travel means something like our league. I've known a couple players who ended up getting drafted and they all played for a team which might play in our league (though some teams do play heavier/longer schedules). We are pretty smack dab in the middle so don't have any distances above an hour to travel, but teams on the extreme ends do spend some time in a car, but all is played with-in the same metropolitan area (our team does do one out of state tournament, which is coming up this weekend).
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Old 06-07-2011, 02:54 PM   #11
Barkeep49
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
Coming off a great performance on Sunday, we entered a game which was very winnable, as when we’d last played this team we’d earned our first victory. We knew going into the game, as it had been on Sunday, that heat would be an issue, but our kids, with an assist from the parents, did a great job of staying well hydrated.

The game, as I noted last night, had a rough 1st. Aaron, who wasn’t pitching parrticularly well, got hit on a one hopper right back at him that led to an ambulance carrying him off. You never know how kids are going to respond, and that experience was definitely on everyone’s minds the whole game.

Fortunately Nate came in looking good and was able to finish the inning.

For most of the game we were comfortably, but never commandingly, ahead. Knowing the score of our last game was 18-17, we knew this was a team which could hit. Heading into the 4th the score was 10-5. So we promptly exploded for 10 runs. It seemed like every kid went up there and hit the ball hard. We held them to only a couple runs in the bottom of the 4th and promptly won via the slaughter rule 20-7.

I have to say that the coach of the other team, a parent, was an example of bad youth coaching. In the 3rd Andrew stole third base and the ball was overthrown. The left fielder wasn't paying attention and Andrew was able to score. The coach then laid into the player in front of everyone. Same thing when the 3rd baseman later in the inning made an errant throw. The sad thing is that the errant throw was the pitchers fault since the 3rd baseman was simply trying to throw it over the tall pitcher's head.

Having a victory, especially one that felt so good, was just what we needed after the trauma of Aaron’s injury.

Notes
Justin had a good first pitching performance which we tried to stretch into a second inning, that didn’t take...The area where Aaron, our starting catcher mind you, hurts us the most is 1st base, because our 3rd string catcher, David, is light years ahead at 1st of our back-up first baseman, Brett...Andrew will be our primary catcher until Aaron recovers... Michael's dad volunteered him to catch and, if Michael is OK with the idea, are going to give him a look at tonight's practice... Before Sunday’s game I made a suggestion to David about the timing of his footwork which has seen him get 3 hits in the last two games after only having had 3 hits the whole season until then

Last edited by Barkeep49 : 06-07-2011 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 06-09-2011, 03:23 PM   #12
Barkeep49
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
Would we be able to start a win streak by winning our third consecutive game? The odds were certainly in our favor as we’d just demolished this same team on Sunday.

Andrew had even more success than he’d had when we played last, allowing only 1 unearned run and just generally overpowering their hitters. Danny also looked good with his characteristic ability to throw strikes. Ryan, throwing between those two, didn’t look as good, but did manage to consistently throw some strikes and get hitters to hit some easily played balls.

Unfortunately our offense was slow to get off the board. We just didn’t play with intensity. I’d felt intensity during the game we’d blown at the end as well as the past two games, but yesterday that intensity was missing. In the end it didn’t matter as we had our break through in the 4th for 5 runs and another 4 in the 6th to give us a comfortable lead.

Comfortable enough we tried pitching Justin again, without much success. He had large control problems and we ended up having to yank him in favor of Michael, who finished off the last 1 ⅔ innings to give us our 3rd victory in a row. At this point I think Michael might be our best pitcher after Jordan.

Notes
Speaking of Jordan, both his parents independently came up to us and spoke about what crisis of confidence he’s having at the plate. Steve and I (but mostly Steve) talked to him and expressed our confidence and faith in him. Jordan responded by hitting 2 doubles, including a ball that was really really well hit, and racking up 4 RBIs... Nate pop-up at the first pitch during a 1st & 3rd situation leading to a double play; we have a standing take order in that situation and Nate failed to pick-up my sign to him which would have said the same... Our offense did especially well considering that our two best hitters in the game, Ryan & Michael, went 1-8... Aaron was on-hand for the game and will be playing in the tournament we have this weekend
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Old 06-13-2011, 03:32 PM   #13
Barkeep49
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not too far away
We played our “away” tournament this weekend, going about 2.5 hours away and staying in a hotel. Due to rain Friday’s games were canceled so we went from a guaranteed 3 game tourney to 2 guaranteed games. It also meant that if we won 1 of our games on Saturday we’d move onto the Championship Round on Sunday. That would be fun.

Game 1 we were completely outclassed. They had a kid throwing a curveball. None of our kids had ever seen it before. It didn’t end well. They slaughtered us in 4 innings, 12-0. They were a team of such a different caliber that I decided not to even count the game in our official statistics. The only kid who this hurts is Brett who can certainly launch the ball when he makes contact, as he had a double. Of course he strikes out over half the time...

Game 2 was a game against a team of our caliber. We were ahead most of the game, despite blowing a couple of chances, like bases loaded 0 outs which netted us no runs. In the end the decided play of the game turned out to be Andrew missing a throw back to him as the pitcher which allowed the go ahead run to score.

We couldn’t manage to tie it up in two at bats and we lost to a tie we easy could/should have beaten. I feel like if we’d played the second team first, or at least had a longer than 30 minute lay-off between games, we’d have won the second game.

But oh well. Disappointing, for sure, but not end of the world.

Notes
In between games Nate approached us about moving higher in the batting order. While he has been hitting better, and we told him so, he’s still in the right spot in the batting order, namely one of the bottom 3, which was a tough bit of news to deliver... Danny needed only 29 pitches to pitch 3 innings and threw only 3 balls... Ryan now gets incredibly upset himself whenever he gets out; he’s going to burn out of baseball if it continues... For this coming weekend our organization hosts a wooden bat tournament. There is a homerun derby and we are thinking of entering Alex and Michael, though no final decision has been made... Speak of Michael he pitched a very strong inning in our second game and is probably our 3rd best pitcher behind Jordan and Danny at the moment.
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