Monday, July 28, 2008
Practice Makes Perfect
When players practice and put in the time they become better ballplayers. A good example of that might be Nate McLouth of The Pittsburgh Pirates. When this centerfielder first was brought up to The Big Leagues, most every scout in the game, and even his very own team--thought McLouth would be just a 4th or 5th Outfielder.
In 2008, Nate was a National League All-Star. With a little more luck, he might have been The Game's MVP. Flipping around the channels on DirecTv's Extra Innings Broadcasts tonight--McLouth hammered OUT OF PNC PARK and into the Allegheny River--A Mammoth Shot off The Colorado Rockies' Luis Vizcaino. After rounding the bases, and while The Pirate Centerfielder was cooling off in the Pittsburgh Dugout--The FSN Pittsburgh Broadcasters went out of their way to discuss how, each and every day, no matter the circumstances, Nate McLouth is out on the field, in the batting cages, watching tape, asking questions--trying to improve himself.
Nate McLouth cares about the game and how it is suppose to be played--correctly.
Nate McLouth does not wait to be told what to do. Nate McLouth does not want to be a one dimensional ballplayer. Nate McLouth strives to be a COMPLETE BALLPLAYER. Unfortunately, many others don't feel that way.
The problem in The Great Game today is that too many players are groomed as specialists. Closer, Set Up Man, Slick Fielder, Designated Hitter--Slugger. From an early age, many youngsters are not taught the game properly. They don't learn how to bunt. No one teaches how to run the bases properly. The DH so prevalent, many young pitchers NEVER BAT.
That was not the case when I was growing up. Every single player, on every single team I EVER PLAYED FOR--was taught the fundamentals of the game--at every single level of development. No one was ever left out. Those Baseball Basics--which many times these days--seem to be a Lost Arm Form.
Find a Slugger that can crush the ball, or a Pitcher that can throw High 90's today. None of whom may know how to play the game properly, but that's what most teams seem to relish these days. And it's what gets these players on SportsCenter. Fewer players these days, wish to become complete players. That's a shame.
But remember, the responsibility to be the best you can be--is not just the sole duty of the player. The Talent certainly must have the drive, but this commitment must also come from The Manager, The Coaches, and the entire Organization. The Support System. This OBLIGATION BELONGS TO EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Baseball is a team game and each must work together. Yes, you need a willing student, and you also need a coaching staff--willing to provide. There is no way around that fact.
Nate McLouth has succeeded expectations because he cared while soaking up the instruction. Something every single person, both on and off the field for Our Washington Nationals should strive for, each and every day. Unfortunately, that's not been the case--at times. Our Players should not only be proud to wear Our Uniform, they should willingly accept tuteledge from Our Organization. They must take every opportunity to improve their game, at any age, from every single source of help. They are suppose to be Professsionals. They should act like ones.
Nothing else is acceptable.
Practice Makes Perfect, but you will never get there--if you don't put in the time--and try.
Honestly, if you have the talent to play Professional Baseball in the first place, these basics of the game should not be that hard to master.
No, not at all. Besides, they are suppose to be Athletes--playing a game.
PS--And talking from experience at Spring Training in Viera, Florida. Sohna and I have only attended Spring Training when Our Washington Nationals are practicing on the fields--not playing actual games. Over the past two February's, Our Manager Manny Acta is ACTIVELY participating in drills on the field. Whether fielding, hitting, bunting or pitching--Our Number 14 is pretty hands on. That experience alone--tells me that Manny is making the effort--more than some may realize. Manny's not sitting in the Golf Cart--just watching.