Monday, July 07, 2008
On the very first day I ever played The Great Game, the learning process began (I remember being six years old and being taught how to bat).
On the very last day I ever played a real hardball game--at Age 34 while still playing Semi-Pro Baseball, that schooling never stopped.
Now--nearly 15 years later--I find myself still studying the great game of baseball.
Never have I stopped. Never do I EVER want to stop learning. Never have I not CARED.
So, why is it that some Major League Players today have never understood the game?
Over my entire career playing baseball--I probably played in a few thousand games and practices--covering 28 years. A Major League Player with five years in The Bigs--has most likely competed in over twice that many games and practices in his young career. Cal Ripken, Jr. most likely played and practiced baseball over 10,000 days. Cal understood how to play the game--because he cared and was taught properly. He worked at it--to improve. Thank You Cal!! That's why I have always loved you so much!!
Yet, so many players today don't possess the same qualities. Not even close.
And let's be perfectly clear, this issue of baseball players being unable to make the fundamental play is League Wide, both American and National. This is not a problem solely at the feet of Our Washington Nationals.
Why is it that so few can not square around to bunt the baseball? Why are so many continually jabbing at the baseball why trying to lay one down? Why can't today's players not keep their bat still and let the ball hit it?
Why is it that so few players are patient at the plate? Why is it that so few batters can take a pitch? Especially with an opposing pitcher in trouble?
Why can't fielders cover the proper base? Why do so many not backup plays? Why is the cutoff man often missed?
Why do so many pitchers only throw? Not Pitch?
It's a game. Let's learn how to play it Guys. It's not that difficult.
Sorry, but when I grew up in the 1960's in Alexandria, Virginia, even Our Little League Coaches taught EACH AND EVERY PLAYER THESE BASIC SKILLS. My T.J. Fannon Little League Team may not have been The Best, but we could make The Routine Play. The same holds true for my High School Years at (The Famous) T.C. Williams and then in college ball. Learning the fundamentals came as a youngster. Enhancing my learned skills and talent was what professional ball was all about.
Unfortunately, injuries curtailed my career.
But for so many others--they don't have that excuse.
Why is it that many of today's Major Leaguers can't play the game--properly?
Are there not enough youth coaches out there who actually understand the game?
Are there not enough High School and College programs with competent instruction?
Are there not enough youngsters and adults that want to play and teach the proper ways of baseball?
Or, has the all Glory of Fame and MONEY made too many players--too one dimensional--thanks to agents and handlers having their own personal wants and desires over the talent?
This coming August, my age will reach 49 years. No, I am not as physical, agile or adept as my younger years--although I still work out regularly--swimming 12,000 Meters per week. Age catches up on you, whether I want to admit it or not. But, I will guarantee you that if Our Washington Nationals asked me to advance a runner up one base--I could execute it--more times than not--with a solid bunt.
If a ball was hit into the gap--I would know where to stand for the cutoff throw (I played first base).
If an opposing pitcher was in trouble, you could bet I would patient at the plate--not guaranteeing a hit you understand--but at least I would make the honest effort to work the count.
That's how you play the game. That's the sixth sense learned early on and developed over years and years of play by me.
Instincts and Basic Knowledge missing from some Professional Players today. That's disappointing. I just don't understand it. Who is teaching these guys? Do some of the players just not care? Or is it all just about the money?
It's a legitimate question--not laid just on Our Washington Nationals.
Since that very first days as a six year old in 1965 holding a baseball bat in my little hands--I cared about the game. 43 Years later, I care just as much. Unfortunately, I get the feeling others do not.
Yet, they call themselves, Major League Baseball Players. For them, it's just a job. A place to earn a paycheck.