Monday, March 26, 2012

Beginners Need Baseball Hitting Basics By Jeffery A Wise

Baseball is an all-American sport and it is loved all across North America. It's even becoming more popular in other countries, such as Australia. From a young age, kids develop a love for baseball and they start playing on teams and in leagues. Just as with everything in life, the thousands of yearly baseball beginners need coaching and instruction. They must learn the baseball hitting basics before anything else.
A balanced batting stance is important to learn very early on. A child should stand with their feet shoulder length apart and their knees should be slightly bent. Make sure they put their weight on the balls of their feet instead of their heels. When weight isn't properly distributed, it causes kids to swing off balance.
Another thing a beginner must learn is how to hold the bat. They should line up their knuckles and grip the bat with their fingers. The bat should be held firmly but not too tightly. Make sure they also don't hold it too loosely as they may drop the bat as they swing or make contact.
Of course, having the right bat is important too. A child's age, size and experience will determine which bat is the best for him or her. Allow them to practice holding and swinging several bats to see which size and weight is the most comfortable.
Kids also need to constantly be reminded to keep their eyes on the ball and their head down. They will only be able to hit the ball if they are watching it. Teach them to be focused at the plate and to keep their eye on nothing else but the ball.
As baseball players learn these important baseball hitting basics, they should then learn how to shift their weight during a swing. During the hitting process, a player's weight should shift from the front, to the back and then to the front again during contact. This technique really helps with power and bat speed. While this can be a difficult technique to learn, once you get it you're guaranteed better hits.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What To Look for in the 2011 World Series

This year's World Series is going to be pretty good. The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals will face each other in the Fall Classic. Of the eight teams that made it the postseason, Texas was the only one to make it back to both the Division Championship Series and the World Series. There will be a new World Series Champion this year: the reigning champion San Francisco Giants, despite injuries and a few players whose production fell off this season, finished with an 86-76 record, second place in the National League West, but eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and four games back in the Wild Card Contention. For those who missed out on the playoffs, here is a brief synopsis on how both teams made it to the World Series:
Texas Rangers:
After a brief setback in August, the Rangers were able to fend off the Los Angeles Angels to win the American League West Division for the second straight year. In the Wild Card Series, after losing the first game, Texas won three straight games to get by a very competitive Tampa Bay Rays ( a team that lost a bunch of players through free agency and trades in the off-season, yet Tampa made a serious charge in September to catch up and take away the Wild Card from the fading Boston Red Sox.) In the American League Championship Series, the Rangers defeated the evenly matched Detroit Tigers in 6 games ( Detroit, who won their first division title since 1987, has a really good team and it's great to see the club bring a spark to a city that has experienced some hard economic times.)
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are a team that no one thought would have a winning record this season, let alone made it to the postseason. In June, the Cardinals was in first place in the National League Central, by the end of July, the Milwaukee Brewers took over the top spot after St. Louis started to fade away. On September 1, the Cardinals was 9 games out of the Wild Card, but slowly, the team start winning games, eventually catch and take the playoff spot from the Atlanta Braves ( as a Braves fan, it was tough to watch my team lose the wild card spot!) In the first round, the Cardinals did the impossible, beat the Philadelphia Phillies, a team with the best record in Major League Baseball and the odds on favorite to win the World Series Title. In the National League Championship Series, St.Louis was able to defeat the young and upstart Brewers in 6 games ( Milwaukee has a great team and it would be messed up if All-Star slugger Prince Fielder, a free agent, decided to leave the team.)
The World Series
The Rangers are making their second straight trip to the World Series. Last year was a series of firsts for Texas: the 1st time they won a playoff series; the 1st time; the 1st time they won an American League Pennant; the 1st time they played in the World Series. However, when Texas made it to the World Series, it looked like the team used up all its energy in getting through the first two rounds and San Francisco preceded to win the title in 5 games. This time, the Rangers, led by Ron Washington (my choice for Manager of the Year, enough through Jim Leyland had a great year as the skipper for Detroit Tigers) want redemption and win their very first World Series title. By the way, the Rangers are the first American League team to make back to back appearance in the World Series since the New York Yankees (1998-2001) and the first team since the Oakland Athletics (1988-89) to make it back to the Fall Classic after losing the Series a year earlier. The manager of that great Oakland Athletics team was...
St. Louis
...Tony La Russa, the current manager of the Cardinals. St. Louis is making its 18th World Series appearance and their third one since 2006, the year that they won it all against Detroit. Also, the Cardinals are looking for its 11th World Series Championship, the most in National League history and second overall, the New York Yankees hold the top spot at 27 titles. St. Louis has been on a roll since early September, taken teams apart in their path and if they don't win the title, it will be a huge disappointment.
It's going to be a fun and interesting World Series to watch. Just because the marquee teams are not in it this year (New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies etc.) doesn't mean that people should not tune in. Whatever you are a big or casual baseball fan, you have to watch this year's World Series.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baseball, Money and Loyalty

The business side of baseball has always been about money, evidenced by the world series scandal involving the Chicago White Sox, aka Chicago Black Sox. Gambling had nothing to do with the "fix," it was only an avenue to the money.
When his career ends, Albert Pujos quite possibly may be considered the Greatest Baseball Player of All Times, and arguably is the best player in baseball at this period of time. There is little doubt if anyone deserves to be paid an enormous amount of money for playing, it is Albert.
When the media throws out dollar amounts of 200 million for a ten year contract, with or without a no-trade clause, or whatever other little tad bit they want to insert, I'm not fool enough to think that's the entire agreement. You can't purchase a $10,000 automobile without signing a half dozen papers, I'd reasonably assume a $200 million contract would be a little more complex.
I was born and bread in St. Louis and was sucking on a St. Louis Cardinal pacifier when I exited the hospital. As a kid when I cut myself, my blood was always a little redder than other kids', a sort of Cardinal red. So don't think this article is going to be a debate between the Cardinals and a player, it's not. It's an honest search for an answer to a question.
"When, or does, money stop being the only factor involved in baseball?"
We've already established Albert Pujos deserves to be the best paid player in baseball. The media reports there are 3 to 4 teams making contractual offers, Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Anaheim Angles and of course the St. Louis Cardinals, all indicating the dollar amounts are quite similar.
Assuming their accuracy is close, why would a player hesitate to resign with the team that gave him the opportunity to play baseball and whose fans have adopted him and his family as their own? This is the situation which is driving me crazy.
If there was a 5 - 10 million dollar difference in contract offers, well... I might have to think real hard about where my loyalties lie. No matter how thankful I may be to an organization, my family and their well being comes first, period. But, how many millions does it take to have security? Much of that answer depends on what you're accustomed to, as a millionaire would prefer a billion dollars, but the minimum wage worker would be ecstatic with a million.
Making it to the major leagues is a long and difficult road and a player with a silver spoon in his mouth is no better off than a kid from the hood. Long bus rides, lousy motels and the constant fear of playing against someone better than you gnaws at you all the time.
So do you deserve big bucks when you prove you're the "best of the best"? Of course you do, but do you owe anything back, is the next question. Do you owe the organization which chose you out of 50,000 other players to give a chance, or the coaches you met along the way who taught you the finer points of the game, which made you just a little bit better than the next guy. What about the fans who flocked to see you play wearing $200 jerseys with your name on the back, trying to emulate you.
Does a ball club owe a player who makes them money, and does the player owe 100% effort for the money he's being paid? There's no debate here, of course. But where does money stop being the sole factor in determining where a player chooses to play? There has to be more involved than just money, isn't there?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sports Management Tips - How to Find Sponsors

Obviously everything in life changes, constantly evolving, sometimes for the better, other*times not so much. One such issue which has undergone immense changes in the last 40 years is little league baseball, and not only by the improved equipment and coaching techniques, but the typical day to day operation of youth league associations.
I remember as a kid playing organized baseball, the only new piece of equipment afforded players was a cap. The association provided the teams uniforms, which were handed down from the 1 year older team to the year younger team and so on and so forth down the ladder.
I vividly remember my mother repairing tears in the uniform knees and sewing a patch of fabric with a sponsors' name crudely stenciled on the back of the jersey. If you had a rip or hole in the stirrups, well you were just screwed because they couldn't be repaired.
I have no idea what the cost of registration was at that time, probably $2 - $3 from what my dad remembers, which still wasn't chump change when wages were $2.25 - $3 an hour, but the 1950s were a time of austerity.
As society changed and the middle class became more affluent, parental attitudes changed dramatically and the idea of their boy or girl wearing a hand me down uniform became quite unacceptable. The chance of contracting a disease, which was a very weak excuse, but a good scare tactic, females entering the workforce in droves and the inability of mothers to sew, all contributed to the changing of little league procedures.
Baseball associations, attempting to please the parents, began changing their methods of using uniforms no more than two years before discarding them, but the only method of financing such a dramatic change was to raise registration fees.
This method worked until the inevitable occurred, the fees became too high for the normal family, especially with 3 or 4 children playing to afford. Many associations, not too long ago, charged $150 for the first child, $75 for the second and $50 for each additional player. Expectantly, cries of too many kids not being able to afford to play baseball were heard loud and clear.
Associations faced returning to the past and begin reusing uniforms or continue to raise fees, both options ruled unacceptable, leaving only one alternative. Make the Coach responsible for providing uniforms.
If you play in a wealthy area, where most of the parents are lawyers, doctors or business owners, locating a sponsor who will foot the bill of new uniforms is not a problem, as the monies spent are an advertising tax write off.
However, live in small communities, or in a city where population cluster vastly outnumbers businesses and the coach will face a huge financial dilemma. I coached in, what at that time was a smaller community, so I developed a few ideas for obtaining a sponsor I'd like to pass along, especially to new coaches.
1. Look at your immediate ring of friends and co-workers. Do any of them have a business which could benefit from the exposure of sponsoring a little league team? If not...
2. Go to the next level with friends and co-workers. Ask them if they know of anyone who may be interested. Your co-worker's brother-in-law may own a heating/cooling company he never spoke of until you asked.
3. Have a team meeting with the parents and explain the situation. One of the parents may own or work for a company which may be interested. Send them on a mission to help find a sponsor, also dropping a hint the money may have to come from them if no sponsor is found.
4. If you're not a salesperson this may be difficult for you, but you must meet face to face with business owners in town to request their help. Letters, no matter how eloquent, will end up in file 13. It'd easy to say "no" to a letter, not so easy to a face to face meeting.
5. Begin early!!! I can't stress this enough. Begin searching for a sponsor immediately after New Years eve. Christmas time is too hectic and believe me March is too late.
6. If a person says come back in a week or two... come back. They may have no intentions of helping and are just trying to get rid of you. However, they may have wanted to talk to their tax advisor first before committing. Don't stop looking during those 2 weeks.
7. You may need to get 2 sponsors to split the cost. Unions are usually quite willing to offer financial assistance to youth associations, but are normally limited by law or by-laws of the amount they can contribute. Present a written request to the union hall spelling everything out in detail and requesting any funds possible. In my experiences, if they OK the request, they will automatically contribute the maximum.
8. Last but not the least, you may have to consider a team fund raiser. There are countless methods available for teams to raise money, such as car washes, bake sales, donation buckets and etc.
I found selling candy bars to be the Easiest method to raise money. Between friends, neighbors and co-workers it normally doesn't take long to get sell the entire inventory. There are numerous companies which will work with you in setting up a program, but be careful of scammers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What Most Hitting Trainers Won't Teach You

In this article, I'm going to go over an issue that most hitting trainers are not aware of that can greatly affect the effectiveness of your baseball training. That issue is when you're taking batting practice you need to be aware of commercial batting cages in which the batter's box slopes down.
At many commercial batting cages, the batter's box is sloped down so the balls can roll from out of the back stop and back to the pitching machine on their own. However, hitting trainers need to realize that having a batter's box that slopes down towards the pitching machine messes up your stride and weight transfer since it causes your body to go forward. In a regular game, the batter's box is level so your body does NOT get pushed forward and weight does not get pushed forward due to the slope of the batter's box.
Therefore, in your training for baseball, you need to be careful which batting cages you go to for batting practice, because if it's one that the batter's box slopes down in front so the balls just roll back down to the pitching machine, this might end up causing a bad habit of your weight going forward and lunging at the ball which is bad. Obviously, if you're a baseball player that already has this bad habit it's not going to do any good to correct it by continuing to go to these types of batting cages for batting practice.
It's a shame most hitting trainers don't pick up on this, as it is not conducive to conditioning the proper hitting mechanics into a baseball swing. Whether you're a ball player yourself, hitting trainer or parent of a child that plays baseball, avoid these types of batting cages that have the batter's box that slopes down and look for batting cages that have a level batter's box.
What this will do for you by taking batting practice at batting cages that have a level batter's box, is it will allow you to strike out much less and give you the sound mechanics in your swing necessary to generate hit after hit. You will be able to stay back on the off-speed pitches, such as a curveball or change-up, longer and not end up being too early with your swing on these pitches. In all, you won't be fooled by the curveball and similar pitches as much.
As a hitting trainer, I will tell you that if you have a habit of going forward with your body and even lunging at a regular fastball, taking batting practice at those batting cages that have level batter's boxes will help tremendously to eliminate that bad habit. By eliminating this bad habit of lunging for the ball or going forward with your body in your baseball swing, you will see a measurable difference in the amount of power you are able to generate in your swing.
Note there are some good hitting trainers and some not so good hitting trainers; make sure you do your homework before picking out a hitting trainer for you. Take these hitting tips and start applying them today!