Optimism abounds as we start any new season, but what are the prospects? Let’s look for a few things that have seemed to be key indicators over seasons past in determining who wins and who loses. These tend to be things that are aside from the purely physical. So, which ever team has the most raw talent, or the most power in the batting order, is overshadowed by TEAMS that understand how to play this game.
Does your pitcher cover first effectively when required? Does he backup and cut-off effectively?
Do your outfielders hit cutoff men automatically without holding the ball and looking around while runners take extra bases? Do they hustle to back up plays?
Do your cutoff men line up and relay quickly and effectively?
Can your second baseman turn two?
Can your first baseman take a throw for an out and throw out a runner from third at the plate?
Do your hitters hit the ball well to the opposite field? (not by accident!)
Now, these are things that many might consider off the “primary concern radar” of “catch ball, throw ball, hit ball” philosophy. However, these are all things that are absolutely fundamental to playing this game well. And, I guarantee, if you show me a team that does these things – I’ll show you a winning team.
People who can do one thing well are role players. “PLAYERS” are the ones who have expanded their game and even on an off night, they contribute in many positive ways and will help your team find a way to win.
Forget New Year’s resolutions, try a new season resolution, “I will be a better hitter. I will hit to the opposite field and raise my batting average by .150 points, simply through this effort.” And that’s a conservative estimate.
Think about this the next time you see: One out, a man on first, hitting team down a run. Does the hitter drive a single to right, moving the runner to third where a simple fly ball gets you the critical run? OR, does the hitter take a big cut and fly out, leaving the runner stranded at first (maybe second, if lucky) with two out? In this case you better hope your next hitter is a “player!”
And, almost painfully laughably, this happens nearly every game night!
Off the Umps!
I was umpiring a game and a very close call occurred on a play that caught me a bit by surprise so I was running to get in position to make a call. I blew the call. I didn’t know until it was too late to correct it. The call didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it did end an inning. I felt worse than anyone on the field. Have you ever had a similar experience?
No one goes onto the field to umpire with anything but the best intent to call a sharp game. Why are these umpires doing this? Because they love the game, they’re contributing to the game and they are a part of it. People, you know it is not for the money! If you ask, and an umpire tells you he’s doing it for the money – then you can climb all over him if you want, he’s just doing a job. But, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find one in these leagues or tournaments.
Bear in mind: Nobody’s perfect, and they’re doin’ it with their hearts, just like you.