The value of the team-first mind

by Jason Kuhnnavy seal teamworkBrotherhood does not mean we agree on every last thing. It doesn’t mean we have to like each other all that much. It means we choose to set aside our differences to serve a cause greater than ourselves. This happens naturally in war. In its most raw form, the cause becomes to stay alive. Our differences become very silly when we’re driving into a gunfight. We commit ourselves to proper teamwork in service to our cause, because the cause is worth it. 

Whether combat or competition, we have all experienced the power in proper teamwork and do our best to communicate the concept to our team. Reflecting on my time on the baseball field and the battlefield, I now teach teamwork as the following: Continue reading

Training our young arms

1 (4)by Dan Olear— Pitching Coach/Instructor Cranford, NJ

I started my coaching career when I was 23 years old, a varsity assistant in high school.  By the age of 29 I was a head coach at a St. Peter’s (NJ) College.  I knew nothing about pitching and had no money in the budget for a good pitching coach.  Pitching wins games, I had no choice but to learn all I could about it, and how to develop strong, reliable arms.  That was 1998. 18 years later, I no longer coach in college yet I am still learning all I can about pitching and pitchers themselves. Continue reading

“Travel Ball Rules: A Look Into The Positives & Negatives”

article by Justin Brown

article by Justin Brown

Summer is a time when all ages are in action on the diamond, specifically within the ‘travel ball’ circuit, a scene that has grown within past ten years. Parents and players are drawn to the travel ball environment to play against high-quality competition and in front of coaches and scouts. These tournaments have created the need for rules and bylaws to help things run effectively and smoothly, but can change the way the game is played:

Pitcher Workload Management

There is a clear push to limit the overuse of young pitchers in the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) rulebook. Sets of limitations have been put into place to manage the use of a young athlete and with the rise of arm injuries, a set of guidelines for pitcher workloads is a much-needed asset:

“7.05.C.2 ONE DAY MAXIMUM: The maximum number of innings a player can legally pitch in one (1) day. Rule 7.05.C.2 Example: In the 7U – 12U age divisions, a player may legally pitch a maximum of six (6) innings in one (1) day. The player would be ineligible to pitch the next day. Similarly, in the 13U – 14U age divisions, a player may legally pitch a maximum of seven (7) innings in one (1) day. The player would be ineligible to legally pitch the next day. Continue reading

The need for speed in baseball

In response to the short attention span of the ‘need it now’ society that we live in, several sports are faced with decisions on shortening the length of their games.

As our national pastime is often maligned for being too ‘old-school,’ it has been taking measures to investigate whether speeding up the game is a reasonable objective. Major League Baseball’s pace-of-game committee came up with six experimental rules quicken the pace of its game, enacted in this year’s Arizona Fall League:

  1. Hitters must keep at least one foot inside the batter’s box at all times, barring exceptions like foul balls, wild pitches, or if the umpire grants him time out.
  2. Pitchers must throw a pitch within 20 seconds of receiving the ball. Clocks posted in each dugout will count down the 20 seconds.
  3. There will be a maximum break between innings of 2:05, with a clock keeping track. Hitters must be in the batter’s box by 1:45. If the hitter’s not ready, the umpire can call a strike. If the pitcher doesn’t throw a pitch by 2:05, the umpire can call a ball.
  4. Teams will have a maximum of 2:30 to change pitchers, with the clock starting as soon as the reliever enters the playing field.
  5. Teams are limited to a maximum of three mound visits per game, not including pitching changes. This applies to trips to the mound by managers, coaches, and catchers.
  6. Pitchers no longer have to deliver four balls for an intentional walk. The manager can simply signal to the umpire.

Starting on May 1, the MLB will begin to fine batters who don’t keep a foot in the box and pitchers who don’t complete their warm-ups in time. As with anything in baseball, the changes have come with mixed results:

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal. I really don’t,” said Indians manager Terry Francona in an AP article by Tom Withers. “It’s going to be that day and it’s hot and everyone’s a little on edge, that’s when you’re going to see something. But that’s what you see during the games anyway.”

“It’s a work in progress,” MLB umpire Tom Hallion added in the same article. “It’s the first game and we’ll go from here. It’s going to take some work. It’s a change for everybody. It’s not going to get fixed on the first day.” –MLB umpire Tom Hallion

Other baseball leagues around the country have also experimented with pace of play rules. The Atlantic Independent Professional Baseball League has enacted several rules over the past few years, including calling the ‘high strike,’ a pitch clock and 90 seconds between innings. Further, any game that lasts more than two hours and 45 minutes requires a written report to be filed by the umpires, managers, the official scorer and home team general manager and sent to the league office explaining why the game took so long.

If that wasn’t enough, the Atlantic League has also experimented automatic intentional walks, closer enforcement of the traditional strike zone, batters keeping a foot in the box, mound visits and offensive timeouts, a 12-second pitch clock and six warm-up pitches between innings instead of eight. Continue reading

The shift is on!

shifts2

The phenomenon of the defensive shift has been making its rounds through the higher levels of baseball.

Many collegiate teams are employing Diamond Charts, a company that has streamlined the process of creating spray charts at the NCAA level. During their first season last year, more than one-third of Division-I programs used Diamond Charts, who sends spray charts of clients’ opponents each week during the season. Included in the charts are left and right split sprays, pitcher per plate appearances, ground ball-to-fly ball ratios and more.


Diamond Charts
Founder Kellen Hurst shared his thoughts on defensive shifts with Inside Pitch:

Diamond Charts sample“As shifts prove to significantly reduce the BABIP [batting average on balls in play] of dramatic pull hitters at the major league level, we envision college teams slowly adopting these more aggressive shifting methods.  However, due to lack of pitcher command at our level, dramatic defensive shifts will be used less.  Other factors (e.g. runners on-base, hitter speed, bunting ability) should be considered when deciding to dramatically shift or not.  I think the ultimate future for dramatic defensive shifts in college baseball is that it will be used sparingly for only a select few players, similar to what we’ve seen recently.”

“We’re continuing to grow approaching the 2015 season.  Our system is more focused on saving coaches’ valuable time while preparing scouting reports as we provide data to help make more decisions than simple shifts; our data helps with areas such as pitching strategy, hitting approach, platoon/substitution match-ups, game strategy, and more; however, we have had feedback that marginal shifts, against certain players, have shown to gain a couple of outs each game.  Sometimes this is the difference in one-run games.”

There are a wide range of opinions out there when it comes to shuffling the defensive deck, including some who wonder if shifts should be allowed at all. MLB Reports chief writer Hunter Stokes is calling for a rule that prevents the third baseman and shortstop from being able to shift to the other side of second base (and vice versa). “With the new approach of the players not caring about strikeouts,” Stokes adds, “it would cause them to make an out on a more frequent basis than just trying to plow through the shift.” Continue reading

New Approved Hit by Pitch Rule Could Change Approaches

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Former Arizona State star Andre Ethier is the Dodgers’ franchise leader in HBP (Click here for Los Angeles Dodgers tickets)

By Justin Brown

“Hold up!”

This spring there could potentially be a drop in one statistic across the country. How significant remains to be seen, but there is a new interpretation taking place that could effect on base percentages across the college landscape- the hit by pitch.

In previous years, if a batter was hit by a pitch while in the batter’s box, he was awarded first base by the umpire as long as the pitch was not deemed to be in the strike zone. This allowed the batter to lean in to pitches in an attempt to reach base. Often in the thrills of a close game if an inside pitch just missed the batter, chants of “wear it!” riddled the hitter as teammates in the dugout wished the batter would have actively attempted to get hit by the pitch in order to reach base, keep the rally going, and score runs to win the game. This is known by many as “taking one for the team” or “wearing” pitches. Continue reading