Hello Michigan baseball community. I wanted to start the new year by adding a new blog to discuss the great game of baseball. I’m hoping to share thoughts as a parent, coach, former player and fan. While my perspective has changed over the years, and will undoubtably continue to evolve the one thing has remained constant is my love of the great game of baseball.
The plan here is to promote the players and teams in our great state! Michigan has truly been in a baseball renaissance over the last 10 years. As a lifelong Michigander, I grew up loving the game along with many others. But it was difficult to really dedicate myself to the game because I could not play and practice year round. Now that has changed, baseball players can be dedicated to their sport from an early age. That statement may raise some eye brows, as a lot of folks – and may start somewhat of a debate (talk about it here: http://www.mibaseballtalk.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=595 ) but the landscape has changed.
With the number of professional trainers, training facilities and baseball academies available to today’s players it is becoming harder to be a 3 sport athlete as the higher level teams expect a more and more off season training. As well as provide opportunities for more “offseason” competition in the form of fall leagues, winter tournaments, hitting leagues and in some cases out of state travel.
This new landscape has its pros and cons. On one hand the serious player can work on his game nearly all year. Those dedicated players will continue to improve as they progress through the playing ranks. This progression puts pressure on the “cusp” players – they can either choose to devote more time to baseball to “keep up” or they can take their chances and work on other sports. Perhaps becoming a more well rounded athlete in the process.
Which leads to the drawback – the players who choose to essentially become baseball specialists have put all their eggs in the proverbial basket and may not get the opportunity in high school to play another sport at a high level. Obviously ,this is not a certainty. There will be true 3 sport stand out athletes for many years to come, but those will be the true athletes. 20 years ago marginal athletes with a great work ethic could excel in 3 sports, now those marginal guys will very likely have to make a choice. They might still play 3 sports, but they will choose which sport to excel in. The 3 sport standouts will truly be the best of the best.
That’s my prediction for the future – if my prediction pans out where does it leave the baseball player?
Things will not change much for the top tier of baseball players, those guys are the one who just have a God given talent to excel at the game. Those players will still have many opportunities. They will continue to set the bar. What will change though is that the “trickle down” training will continue. Already, between the Internet and the dedicated training facilities young players have access to professional level instruction and training. In the next few years the area’s top player will be expected to be more prepared as they enter the next level. Coaches in high school and on top travel programs will look for players with strength and stamina training, better knowledge of their position (especially pitchers and catchers), a nutrition plan, etc. These things will be key indicators that the player is dedicated to the sport, has a good work ethic.
What changes the most is for the middle tier and the weaker players. Today those players have more opportunities than ever to improve and progress. 20 years ago the travel team tryouts were in March. If you were selected you got an extra month or so of training and if you were cut the only option was house ball, and maybe some extra reps on the all star team. Back then high school freshman teams were rare – so making the jump from house ball to JV was even more rare.
Now baseball players have several levels of travel teams to aspire to. Besides allowing for a better experience (at the expense of the house leagues) players on any level of travel team can expect winter workouts and extra training. The winter training is getting better and better as more facilities and clinics are opened. Ten years ago, those travel teams worked out in school gyms and make shift cages. Today there are indoor domes, fieldhouses, cages, and dedicated baseball training centers that cater to the travel scene. Often those facilities have professional training available to the teams as well. Players who are looking for even more work are exposed at those facilities to other coaches for private lessons, as well as group camps.
Bottom line is there are now more opportunities than ever to play baseball. The top guys cannot rest on their laurels as hungry players have able opportunity to hone their game in order to catch up.
Anyway – thanks for visiting!