“Change up” the Season

FODspring15Instead of warmer temperatures and sunshine earlier this spring, Mother Nature taught the majority of the country a new vocabulary word- polar vortex.

Waves of arctic air dropped high temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below average across the United States, and subzero temperatures were recorded in parts of 26 states in March. Record lows were also set in several southeastern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Also known as the Siberian Express (the suspected origin of the air mass), the polar vortex shattered 647 record lows across the U.S.

For years, there have been a few voices calling for a change to the season to late spring/early summer. After the coldest early spring (by far) since college baseball’s common start date in 2007, those voices are getting a little louder.

Minnesota head coach John Anderson proposed the idea a few years ago for the Big Ten alone, believing that it would be the best move for the conference even if its schools would’ve essentially been eliminated from consideration for NCAA Regionals and ultimately the College World Series.

Recently, West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey has come up with his own proposal for pushing back the college season.

“The fan interest is so minimal compared to Major League Baseball,” Mazey said of the college game in a recent D1baseball.com podcast. “[We’re] not even on the radar; the interest in lower levels of minor league baseball is better than the highest levels of college baseball.”

Mazey’s proposal would make the college season look much more like a professional one- with pitchers and catchers beginning training in mid-February, hitters starting around the second week of March, and opening day penciled in for the first week of April. The proposal is even complete with a “rivalry week” during July 4th weekend to finish the regular season. Continue reading

USA Baseball and MLB team up to help young players reduce arm injuries

pitchsmart screenshot

The MLB and USA baseball recently launched Pitch Smart, a comprehensive resource for safe pitching practices that features a series of practical, age-appropriate guidelines to help parents, players and coaches avoid overuse injuries and foster longer, healthier careers for youth pitchers. The education program, offered online at pitchsmart.org, is intended to teach parents and coaches about injury risks to baseball players, particularly with youth pitchers.

The initiative is a result of the growing number of elbow injuries to pitchers at all levels of baseball, particularly in Major League Baseball. It was originally ordered from former Commissioner Bud Selig.

“You start to appreciate how comprehensive their concerns are,” Arizona Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony LaRussa told MLB Network, speaking of Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. “You recognize that at the professional level, the incident of injuries and surgeries is up. We’re now realizing that part of the reason is that young kids are making mistakes that affect their health and their future.” Continue reading

Slugger retires P72 in honor of Jeter

(L to R) Lawrence Writer, James Sass, Holly Clark, Rick Redman, John Hillerich and Lisa Hillerich all with Louisville Slugger make the presentations to Derek Jeter (photo courtesy New York Yankees)

(L to R) Lawrence Writer, James Sass, Holly Clark, Rick Redman, John Hillerich and Lisa Hillerich all with Louisville Slugger make the presentations to Derek Jeter (photo courtesy New York Yankees)

by Rick Redman

First times are rare when you’ve been in baseball as long as Louisville Slugger®, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball®. But the storied company did something at the end of the 2014 season that it’s never done in 130 years in the game. It retired a bat model in honor of a player.

In an unprecedented display of respect and admiration from a sporting goods manufacturer, Louisville Slugger announced it was retiring Derek Jeter’s famous P72. The company surprised Jeter with the announcement in a private pre-game ceremony in Yankee Stadium on September 24.

“We didn’t do this for Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron or any of the other great players we’ve been associated with dating back to 1884,”said James Sass, Director of Professional Baseball Sales for the Louisville, Kentucky-based company. “Derek has swung one bat model from one bat company his entire career. He made over 12,500 plate appearances in his 20 seasons in MLB, and every single one of them was with a Louisville Slugger P72. With Derek’s retirement, we thought it was fitting to retire his bat model in recognition of his brilliant career. We are grateful for his enduring and unwavering loyalty. Louisville Slugger won’t be making the P72 anymore – in honor of Derek.”

Louisville Slugger officials gave Jeter an award to commemorate the retirement of his bat model. A P72 Jeter model bat was mounted on a three-foot base inscribed with “The Last P72” to commemorate the company’s decision.

“I signed out of high school and I was looking for a wooden bat,” Jeter said. “Louisville Slugger, it goes without saying, how reputable they are, how long they’ve been around, how much success people have had with it. In terms of the model, I just picked the bat that was shaped like my aluminum bat. It was the P72, and, in my entire career, I’ve never swung another bat.” Continue reading

From the Bleachers, Fall 2014

Rob Manfred (Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Rob Manfred (Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Will Pete Rose be reinstated?

With Rob Manfred set to become baseball’s new commissioner in January, Inside Pitch took to social media to ask, ‘what would YOU do if you called the shots?’

via Twitter

@insidepitchmag end All-Star game determining World Series home field advantage.
Chris Miller @CoachMiller12

@insidepitchmag make the schedule 120 games. Every game would mean more. Players stay healthy. Pitchers have longer careers.
Mike Stawski @MikeStawski

@insidepitchmag Pete Rose to the HOF
Matt Marziale @recball43 Continue reading

3 up, 3 down

Baseball’s past commissioners

When Rob Manfred takes office in January 2015, it will be the first time since 1992 that Major League Baseball will have a new commissioner. For this issue’s 3 up, 3 down, we decided to take a look into the past three MLB commissioners:

giamattiA. Bartlett Giamatti (April-September, 1989)

Before commissionership: Attended Yale, taught at Princeton and Yale. Also served ten years as president of Yale.

Reputation: Earned a reputation for preserving baseball’s traditions and values, emphasized the need to improve the environment for the fan in the ballparks.

Noteworthy: Created a deputy commissioner position, appointing Francis T. Vincent, Jr. Entered into an agreement with Pete Rose on August 23, 1989 that essentially resulted in Rose’s lifetime suspension. Giamatti died suddenly of a heart attack eight days afterwards, approximately five months into his tenure.

vincentFrancis T. “Fay” Vincent, Jr. (1989-1992)

Before commissionership: Attended Williams College, received law degree from Yale. Was President and CEO of Columbia Pictures, Senior VP of the Coca-Cola Company.

Reputation: Led the way in baseball’s investigation of the gambling allegations against Pete Rose. Made it known that if he had the chance, he would eliminate the designated hitter.

Noteworthy: Had been in office only one month when the San Francisco Bay area was struck with a massive earthquake, disabling the City of San Francisco and post-postponing the World Series between the Giants and Athletics. Announced first expansion since 1977 (Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins).

seligBud Selig (1992*-2014)

Before commissionership: Attended University of Wisconsin, served two years in the armed forces, worked in auto business upon return. Eventually became president of Milwaukee Brewers.

Reputation: Reached a labor agreement with the clubs and the MLBPA without a strike or lockout (first time in 30 years). Baseball will have gone 16 years without a strike or a lockout by the end of the current CBA, the longest period of labor peace in baseball history since collective bargaining. Also introduced drug testing policies as an effort to rid the game of PEDs.

Noteworthy: Unbalanced schedule, interleague play, revenue sharing, three-division formats, extra tier of playoffs/wild card(s), realignment, home field advantage in World Series to league that wins All-Star game. His 22-year tenure will be the second-longest in MLB history (Kenesaw Mountain Landis).

Selig was elected Chairman of the Major League Executive Council when Vincent resigned, giving him authority to rule over the MLB in the absence of a commissioner. He was officially elected commissioner in 1992.

Love the game more… by playing it less

by Darren Fenster Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox | Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC @CoachYourKids CoachingYourKids@gmail.com

by Darren Fenster
Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox
Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC

Major Leaguers have always been the poster example. Their every move is followed, from how they swing the bat or throw a ball, to how they wear their uniform or walk up to the plate. This all makes sense, as they are at a level of the game that amateur players dream to one day reach. While each action on the field is mimicked to a tee, it’s off the field where today’s amateur players need to take note.

Our game has changed. Over the past ten years or so, sport specialization and the explosion of travel organizations and exposure events has completely altered the way amateur baseball is approached. Between camps, clinics, lessons, showcases, travel teams and their accompanying training programs, never before have there been so many opportunities for players to play and hone their craft. Those opportunities have enabled them to play more and develop faster than they ever have in the past, which is a very good thing. But with more opportunities to stay on the diamond, there are some very concerning drawbacks that can take away from what could be done off of the field.

The 162-game Major League regular season ends roughly on October 1. Another 30 games in spring training plus 10 to 20 more in the post-season results in some big leaguers being a part of more than 200 games over an eight month period. That kind of activity takes its toll physically and mentally, and forces the vast majority of the league’s players to not even think about picking up a bat or ball for at least two months or more in the off-season. They give their bodies and minds a much-deserved and much-needed break from the game before getting ready for the next season at some point in December or January. Professional players understand the value of rest and the role that it plays in allowing them to stay healthy and refreshed when they finally do decide to put the spikes back on.

In creating all of these relatively newfound opportunities to play and train essentially nonstop, a vitally important aspect of player development is being lost: NOT playing. Getting away from the game keeps guys enthused about starting back up, while allowing achy elbows and shoulders to recover and get back to full strength naturally. Think about it… if those Major Leaguers who are best conditioned to play the game year round, then how can anyone in amateur baseball justify working at their game without a prolonged break? Continue reading

Enjoy the ride

article by Keith Madison

article by Keith Madison

It’s October. That means post-season play for Major League Baseball and “fall ball” for college baseball and travel teams. It also means another informative and entertaining issue of Inside Pitch magazine.

One of the themes of this issue is near and dear to my heart…recruiting. I was intrigued to read the comments about recruiting from some of the top coaches in college baseball. It’s obvious that even though you must be a highly skilled player to compete at the next level, academics and intangibles such as character, attitude and respect for the game are extremely important, as well.

One year in the recruiting process, I had a partial scholarship reserved for an outfielder. After evaluating dozens of outfielders, I narrowed my search down to two players, both left handed hitters with similar skills. On their visits to campus, one of the recruits made my decision easy. While in my office talking about a particular game I had seen him play, his very quiet and very pleasant mother made a comment. This young outfielder proceeded to tell his mother that she didn’t know what she was talking about. His lack of respect for his mother helped me to offer the other outfielder the scholarship. In the end, integrity, competitiveness and respect will make a positive impact on a college coach. Continue reading