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December 29th, 2015, 6:07 am #201

The facility that we use for hitting and pitching instruction is open to public, and so there are always people walking around watching kids do their thing. I'll come back to this.

Last night, G was having his lesson in the cage that has the video screen wired in. It's a lot like a golf tracker in that it shows on the screen what the ball would have done on a baseball field. His coach was working with him on pitch counts and plate discipline last night, and so had the programming set up to count balls and strikes. G is usually a very disciplined hitter, only swinging at balls that are really close and almost always being in tune with the count and game situation. Last night, he was chasing some. His focus wasn't what it usually is ans so his results weren't what they normally are.

When it comes to baseball feedback and instruction, I'm the one that gives it. His mother rarely talks ball with him other than to say "great job." Last night, after G has been chasing balls outside of the strike zone for a while, his mother chimed in with a stern "stop chasing balls, G!" The look on his face was priceless! He was stunned.

The result? He suddenly dialed it in and started crushed it like we're accustomed to seeing. Almost all at once, his focus sharpened and performance peaked. It was like a switch got flipped.

He then did what he normally does, which is crush the ball. The video simulation was showing balls fly all over the field (he's not a pull hitter, he sprays the ball all over the yard).

After his hitting lesson, we walked out back to get in some work with ground balls. We've been focusing on backhands lately and the process of establishing his plant leg on throws back across his body, and he's picked up it very well. He's always been very good with his glove but his athleticism is getting better and better and so his abilities are rapidly improving. He was making some eye-opening plays with his glove, and he was making some truly great throws. He enjoys doing that almost as much as he does hitting.

As we were leaving the facility, we were approached by a head coach of an established team. The guy asked about his age and offered him a spot on the team right there. Athletes have so many opportunities, don't they? I wonder what it's like to be a highly rated football player that's a junior or senior in high school? My son's eight and gets treated like a rock star. I could only imagine what it would be like to spin it forward ten years and switch the sport to football. Five star quarterbacks have to struggle to stay grounded.
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December 30th, 2015, 11:47 am #202

Lots of work at the field this morning.

Worked a lot on grounders with throws to first and second today. Then some long toss. Then some hitting.

He's getting smoother and smoother with his footwork and the transition to throwing. So fluid and graceful.

I showed him this poster earlier today:



He ate it up!
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January 1st, 2016, 7:29 am #203

My son's arm strength:

He throws a baseball between 44-46 mph, and does it with quite a bit of accuracy. His pitching coach believes he's going to add between 4-6 mph's over the next six to nine months (he turns nine in October).

The average for an eight year old is 39, with the range typically between 36-42.

If he keeps improving at this rate, he's going to be throwing 50+ before he turns nine.

The average for a nine year old is 44, with the range typically between 39-47.

His pitching coach believes he'll be throwing between 55-57 a year from now, and will likely be even higher than that during his nine-year-old spring season.

Lots of work ahead, including the long toss program and continued work on his mechanics.
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January 8th, 2016, 1:07 pm #204

I forget if I mentioned (and I'm not going to reread the thread to verify) but his team is partially sponsored by the baseball bat manufacturing company Combat.

The bat orders were placed yesterday, along with all of the uniforms, cleats, batting gloves and the like. Eleven kids, all-star types from the area, are getting a completely free ride. It's a long term project for a group that hopes to be together for a few years. It seems like a great group of families, too.

Here's the bat:



Depending on where you get it, it'll run between $400-$450. That's eleven bats, all brand new, for the team. You do the math.

Needless to say, he can hardly wait. It's killing him.
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January 14th, 2016, 11:33 am #205

So we're a few practices in with his new team, and two things seems certain:

1. G is the best player on the team and will start at short stop, and likely be the best pitcher. He'll probably bat third or fourth in the line up.

2. This group has a chance to be really good. It will probably start off with a few lumps but I'd imagine that this group will start to roll.

The "owner" is wanting to take this group all over the place in the future to play in the biggest tournaments. From what I see, of the eleven kids on the team only two are questionable talents (and both of them would have started on G's last team and probably batted in the five or six). And the thing is? You can't have eleven studs on a team like this because playing time becomes a big issue.

Determining playing positions is going to be difficult. Seven of the kids on this team have played predominantly short stop before, but only two guys are going to get reps there going forward.

This team has two GREAT catchers, seven guys that can pitch and a line up full of hitters. This thing could be a steamroller before too long.

It's an All Star team, for sure.
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January 21st, 2016, 6:04 am #206

First games are this weekend, but I'm not sure we're going to have enough pitchers to make it through four games. Three, for sure. Maybe not four.

There is a pitcher on the team that throws gas. I mean this kid probably throws 8-10 mph faster than most anyone else, but he's terribly inaccurate. He pitched to the kids last night at practice. His line? He faced eight batters, hit four of them (making three cry - he caught one kid right to the kidney, and I wouldn't be shocked if he's pissing blood today), struck out two and walked two. He's going to be interesting to watch, that's for sure. He was skipping them, hitting the backstop, throwing behind kids and right down the middle.

The coach seems to think that he's going to settle down and strike everyone out, but I just don't see it. I don't think that a switch will suddenly turn on and change him from Charlie Sheen's character in the first part of Major League into Roger Clemons. Perhaps, but I doubt it.

Not totally sure what the lineup is going to look like, or who is going to start where. I'm pretty sure that G will play middle infield and pitcher and bat third or fourth, but we'll see. They've been switching kids around at certain positions, which I think is good for everyone.

We'll see soon enough.
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January 23rd, 2016, 6:13 am #207

Today's game were canceled (not enough teams signed up).

That helps the team in terms of pitching.

First up is a game against one of the better teams in the area. They've won a couple of tournaments and are 17-11 over the last three months. Not bad when you consider the competition they've played against.

Game two is against a new team. The coach to that team damn-near begged me to put son on his team. I think they will be a decent team, but we'll see.

G will be the opening game starter, and bat fourth (both games). Game two he will play first base (an attempt to save his arm after throwing what will likely be 45 or so pitches).
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January 25th, 2016, 8:31 am #208

My youngest completed her first downhill race yesterday. She was mid pack in the results, but I was really proud of her. It was pretty steep and icy, and she stuck her edges and never let up.



This is on a flat section right before it gets steep. I was a course judge, and skied down through the course when it was over. Pretty cool scene.
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January 25th, 2016, 8:58 am #209

That's great!

That's an impossible sport for a Floridian, but one I think I'd enjoy.
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January 26th, 2016, 6:29 am #210

The first set of games are in, and mixed results are the verdict.

The manager most likely could have won the first game. The team was winning 8-5 going in to the last inning and he decided to put the worst pitcher on the staff into the game. He promptly gave up 5 runs, and the team lost.

The second game was in the bag but the manager, once again, mismanaged the pitching rotation and cost the team its chance at a second win.

At this level, the "norm" is that kids should throw no more than 50 pitches in a game. (A kid could throw 20-25 on Saturday and then again on Sunday, but even that's not optimal.) The first pitcher threw 48 in game one and should have been done for the weekend. The manager wanted the win in game two, and so put that kid in to close it out. He threw another 30 pitches, but wasn't accurate and promptly walked several kids.

Not good.

He also brought in two other kids that pitched in the first game. He didn't ask about G, I guess he knew better.

Bad game management. Bad "athlete management."

G didn't have his best games, either. He was missing that "spark" that he always has. Strange. He was very, very excited to get going. Oh well, he'll bounce back.
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February 3rd, 2016, 4:40 am #211

The team has a big tournament this weekend. All but one of the area's best team are going to be giving it a go.

We had a scrimmage on a weekday last week and beat one of the top three teams from this part of the state, and it wasn't really all that close. Plus, we were missing three of our better players.

The team added another pitcher, which gives them three top-flight talents at that position.

We have a tournament this weekend - two pool games and then straight to single elimination. We're going to save the better pitchers for Sunday and not really worry so much about pool play. I think we have a chance to get it done.

Should be a lot of fun.
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February 3rd, 2016, 4:55 am #212

My wife called me and said my oldest daughter has been placed into gifted math. When i was a kid "gifted" were the short bus kids. I thought this mobilization had screwed my kids up. Turns out gifted is a good thing now. Of course, in East Tennessee that may mean she can just count all her toes (beat you to it).
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February 3rd, 2016, 4:57 am #213

DocVOLiday wrote:My wife called me and said my oldest daughter has been placed into gifted math. When i was a kid "gifted" were the short bus kids. I thought this mobilization had screwed my kids up. Turns out gifted is a good thing now. Of course, in East Tennessee that may mean she can just count all her toes (beat you to it).
Obviously, she takes after her mother. ;)
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February 3rd, 2016, 6:02 am #214

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February 4th, 2016, 6:46 am #215

Bats (everyone has their own) and cleats came in for the team.

Still waiting on embroidered gear bags, which should be coming in the next couple of weeks.

Looks like the team is about to lose a player. He's on the bottom side of the roster and so his loss won't really be felt in terms of competitiveness. His parents just aren't in to the commitments required in terms of traveling. It's a bitch, I get it, but it's what you signed up for. In order to compete at the highest level you're going to need to seek out better competition and are going to have to work harder than most. That should get the roster down to 12, which is still one too many.
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February 8th, 2016, 5:54 am #216

Played a big tournament this weekend. They did very well, losing in the semifinals to perhaps the best team in the state but also getting a big win.

Pool play on Saturday included two games against really good teams (one from Orlando and one from Tampa). Our strategy was to save our best pitchers for single elimination on Sunday, and so we threw guys at the back of the roster and to not worry about the results. We were also going to bat all 13 kids on the roster and give each of them some playing time. It was good experience for all of the kids.

We lost both games, but they were close. They were also completely irrelevant. They were basically scrimmages.

Yesterday was a lot of fun. It was a completely different approach, batting only nine, starting the best pitchers and going hard for wins. Best on best.

In game one, our pitcher was on. He just mowed right through their lineup. He threw 59 pitches and was in total control. He was a monster. The team hit, fielded and played aggressively the entire way. We won 14-2. (G made three very good defensive plays at 3rd, but got walked three times.)

Game two was another story - we got hammered 18-0. That team won the tournament by scoring a total of 57 runs and allowing only 3. They are a machine. This is one of the teams that have been recruiting my son, and after the game the coach said he was going to give me a call this week. That coach is really good friends with my son's hitting coach, and so he's got the "inside scoop."

G was the starting pitcher, but he had an awful outing. Not so much by giving up a lot of runs (which he did) but just in terms of his command - it just wasn't there. He's 8, and that's going to happen. He's better than that, but that team was likely going to hit him even if he was in total command.

The other team had an AMAZING pitcher, too. He worked G silly with his first at bat, but G battled hard. He went fast ball inside (ball), change up away (strike), fast ball inside (swing an miss), change up away (foul ball), fast ball inside (foul ball) and then change up away (foul tip/ball caught/strike out). It might be hard for some of you to appreciate, but I think I'm more proud of that at bat than any other he's ever had - AND IT WAS A STRIKE OUT. Loved it.

Good times this weekend, for sure. Lots of fun, lots of experience and lots of growth. The rest of the season should be one helluva ride.
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February 15th, 2016, 5:59 am #217

Four more games this past weekend.

G went 5-7 (a triple, a double and three singles), had two walks and was hit in the head once.

He pitched yesterday against a good team. He went four innings, allowing one run, striking out seven and walking three. He was very effective, throwing only 61 pitches (he had a seven pitch inning and an eleven pitch inning).

He played third base, short stop and a bit of center field.

The team went 2-2, but probably should have won all four games. The talent is certainly there, and it's starting to come together. The kids are having a lot of fun and are starting to "get it."
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February 28th, 2016, 5:35 am #218

Two more games, two more wins - this time by a combined 21-4 score.

G pitched two scoreless innings, and threw just 24 pitches.

He went 1-4 with a double, a 6-3 and two strike outs. The K's were painful because the pitcher was tossing meatballs up there. He wanted to kill them, but was WAY out front and missed terribly.

He only had one chance to field a ball all day, and converted the play from short to second.

The team is starting to roll. The pitching is starting to look really good, the hitting is coming on and the kids aren't making dumb errors with the ball. I doubt this team challenges seriously in top notch tournaments, but it's going to be a tough out for just about anyone on the schedule.

Fun times.
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February 29th, 2016, 5:21 am #219

I spent the weekend at the state swim meet breathing chlorine and sweating. Once again Merritt was smarter than me and went to a dance recital that probably lasted an hour.
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March 5th, 2016, 7:34 pm #220

Well, the team entered a top notch tournament this weekend.

So far they're 2-0. The defeated the number one ranked team in the state in their age bracket today, and then went on to crush the number 8 ranked team in the state.

Maybe I spoke too soon when I said they wouldn't compete in top notch tournaments?

G pitches tomorrow. We'll see.
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March 6th, 2016, 12:50 pm #221

Eliminated in the first game.

Damn.

Such a good start to a heavyweight tournament, too.

Oh well. We play again next week.
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March 8th, 2016, 11:35 am #222

Through 15 games, G is batting .475 with five doubles and a triple.

Not bad.
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March 12th, 2016, 5:02 am #223

Two more games today, including one against their biggest rival. (It's funny how sports has a way of creating rivalries, isn't it? Even at eight years old.)

Two more games tomorrow, too.

G's is going to pitch but I'm not sure if it's today or tomorrow.

His velocity is consistently 47-48, which is up a bit from a couple of months ago. I don't put a gun on him very much as I don't want him to overdo it (and hurt his arm trying to hit a big number), but I do think it's good to know what's going on and that seeing where he's at is important from time to time. His accuracy is pretty damn good, too. He'll paint corners believe it or not, working inside and out.

His change up has improved a lot, too. It's a devastating pitch for batters, really. He throws it around 41-42, which is a huge difference from his fastball, plus it has late movement down and in to a right handed hitter. It's nasty! He's been throwing it now for the last few months, but his accuracy with it has greatly improved over the last few weeks. He'll still airmail one from every once in a while, but not nearly at the rate he used to. It's starting to become so reliable that he can throw it no matter the situation (i.e., count, base runners).

He's starting to throw a cutter as well, but he's still learning it. The movement with it isn't as consistent as we're wanting right now. Sometimes he'll move it six to eight inches, but more times than not it's only two or three inches. His ability to throw it for a strike is getting better, but it's not where it needs to be to throw it in a game yet. It's coming.

The team has three exceptional pitchers, and G's is obviously one of them. The other two guys are freaks of nature, both throwing in the low to mid 50's 9they are the tow fastest pitchers at this age level that I've seen). Neither of them have the control that G does, but they're close enough. Neither of them have secondary pitches, either (although one is trying to learning a change up).

When he's in his groove, G is like an artist out there. It's damn fun to watch, I'll tell you that.

Pretty cool to have an eight year old pitcher throw three different pitches effectively, huh? He's not quite there yet, but that thrid pitch probably isn't a month or so away from becoming part of his arsenal. The great part about it is that we have a tremendous little catcher on the team that really understands how to use his body and how to frame pitches. He's phenomenal behind the plate.

We're in the process of buying a new home (been renting for about three years as we've moved around the state for the wife's employment). One of the items of the checklist is whether or not I can build a batting/pitching cage on the property. We have three options going right now, and one of them is perfect for what I'm wanting to do. It's at the top of the list. We'll know something in the next several days.
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March 13th, 2016, 6:13 pm #224

Four more games, four more wins.

This team is CRUSHING it right now.

They beat a highly regarded team 7-3 to start things off on Saturday. It was their second game of the day and they saved their best pitcher for us. He was pretty good, but got a few runs off of him. We pitched a kid named Julian, and throws nothing but heat. They had no answers for him as he just mowed right through their lineup. My on blasted one off of the outfield fence with a laser shot, which ended up a long single. Hardest hit ball of the day.

The second game was against the big rival, and we skull fucked them. 10 runs after four innings with none allowed (it was called). Our pitcher allowed one base runner the entire game (bloop single). My son hit two triples in this game, including a walk off blast that plated the run that ended the game. Sweet.

The third game of the weekend we played a team that saved their best pitcher for us as well. He was good, and only gave up four runs. We outlast him and won 5-4. We gave a kid that doesn't pitch much an opportunity, and he was okay. Good experience for him.

The fourth game was against what was probably our best opponent of the weekend, and we beat them 15-2. G started and pitched four scoreless innings, striking out 11 and walking one. He threw his change up quite a bit today, and it obviously worked.

So, four games, four wins and a total score of 39-9 against what was good competition. This team is on a roll. They are KILLING people, and doing it while usually facing the other team's best pitchers.

Good times.
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March 16th, 2016, 6:03 am #225

We did some "advanced scouting" last night - we went to watch Team Florida practice, which is likely the best 8u team in the country. (They've played five tournaments so far this year, winning all five by a combined score of something like 285-13. They KILL people. They're undefeated. In fact, they played the Super NIT in Atlanta this past weekend and blew everybody away.)

The take away? We have a lot of kids on our team that make that team and contribute. There's absolutely not a gap on the top half of the roster, we match up quite well and might even be a bit better. The bottom three or four kids on our roster wouldn't come close to making theirs, and that's the difference - and those guys all pitch, which is a HUGE deal at this level. Going forward, that's what we need to address. That and getting more efficient and consistent on defense. We need to find "homes" for the kids and let then focus on playing a couple of positions instead of cross training for all of them.

We got to talking to some of the parents about their success. They knew who we were by team name. They said after we beat the Legends (technically the number one ranked team in the Florida), that they started to follow our schedule and results. We've won 10 of 11, and by a big margin. Once they figured out who we were, they said that we would have been a real threat to go deep in that tournament.

Anyway, another practice tonight and then again tomorrow.
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March 21st, 2016, 1:36 pm #226

Apparently one of the top three 8u teams in the area has just blew up.

The parents were upset that the team had lost three straight tournament championship games, and demanded a change be made to the lineup. Seriously, they made it to the final game of three straight tournaments and got pissed that they couldn't take home a trophy. It supposedly got really ugly after the

Parents are nuts.

Their head coach called ours last night to talk about his son joining our team. He wants to completely quite the coaching gig. His son is a good defensive player, but probably wouldn't crack the starting lineup as his bat isn't all that good. And we have a really good thing going, and so there's no need to rock the boat. (If he were a dominant pitcher, then w might have something to talk about.
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March 28th, 2016, 6:09 am #227

We changed the schedule up a bit. We're now going to play three straight weekend tournaments.

The first two are as good as they get. One is a state championship tournament and the other is a super regional. Win either and get an automatic bid to a national tournament.

The third is the championship for the league the team is based out of. that should be a cake walk.
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April 3rd, 2016, 6:20 pm #228

Well, the team is the "Unofficial State Champs."

The tournament got rained out yesterday for pool play, then they decided it would be best to cancel altogether. (A few games were played, but not enough to establish seeding.)

So, seven of the teams decided they would play it anyway today. It was a random draw for seeding, and then single elimination based on the seeding.

We got the 5th seed.

Game 1: We run ruled a team 15-1 after four innings, and we HATE that team. They're nowhere near our level, but their parents are assholes and so we enjoy kicking the shit out of them.

Game 2: This was really the title game. It clearly had the best reputation going in, and had won its two pool games by a combined 31-3. It was a very good game, one with really good pitching and defense. We won the game 3-1. My son made five put outs a short stops and went 2-2 with a double and a run scored.

Game 3: We skull fucked a really good team for the title. This was one of the better teams in the area, and had played them once before winning 3-2. Their coaches had been talking a bit of smack by saying that we got lucky that day. Well, we blew them out 21-2! It was an absolute beat down, and it was from the very start. My son was the starting pitcher. He only pitched three innings, but struck out eight and made the put on the other out. Zero runners allowed on base.

So, it's an unofficial state championship. It has no bearing on other tournaments or rankings, but means a lot to the players.

This team is really good. Really good. They very well could be the best team in the state.

This is a lot of fun.
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April 3rd, 2016, 6:33 pm #229

Oh yeah, the second game that we won was against the number 6 ranked team in the country.
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April 10th, 2016, 3:21 pm #230

Ugly tournament for the team.

They split in pool play and then lost the first game of single elimination. (The pool play loss was the first in well over a month.)

The defense was okay, the pitching was pretty good (not spectacular like it usually is) and the hitting was solid but untimely, and that's what cost the game. Today, we left 12 runners on base in a six inning game, and lost a one run game. I'm not sure how many we left yesterday, but it was a lot.

Base running errors killed us today.

G was 2-3 with two doubles, but didn't have any runners on base with those hits. He grounded out with guys on second and third. No RBI's. He made an error at short receiving the ball from the second baseman - he just wasn't on the bag when the flip got to him.

Oh well, that's baseball.

There's another tournament next weekend.
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April 16th, 2016, 5:20 am #231

I'm not 100% sure, but I think G is batting .490 through 24 games played (he missed one). He's just been murdering the ball.

I've lost track of his doubles but I know he has three triples. No homers and a boatload of doubles.

He's a machine.

His swing is just so pretty. We're after the perfection that is Miguel Cabrera. We take practice golf balls (the foam kind that you can hit 30 or so yards) and work them with soft toss. His focus is more about swing plane, tilt and follow through than it is contact. It's an easier way to work on mechanics while at the same time not losing confidence. If he hits a foam ball poorly, so what? If he hits a baseball poorly, that has a tendency to bother him. Great training tool.

He hit 51 on the radar gun on Thursday night. He was routinely at 46-48, but took a jump the other night. Not sure why, other than he's getting bigger. I think he's in a growth spurt where he's getting taller, lankier and a bit leaner. Going to have to keep the nutrition up.

His defense is the next area of major focus. We kind of play whack-a-mole between pitching, hitting and defense, and defense seems to get left out. He's really good, but we need to double down and take him to the next level. He's predominantly playing short and third at this point in the season, and does very well. His arm is a real strength in that he knows he has "extra" time built in getting guys out a first.

We have a drill called 4.1 that we use. Very few kids are capable of getting up the first base line in under 4.1 seconds, and so our goal is for him to cleanly field and throw to first under 4.1 seconds. It's great work in that in builds an "internal clock" and gives him something to compete against. Competition is key, even if it's against yourself.

We were scheduled to play a tournament this weekend but it was cancelled. There was a rain out a couple of weeks ago, and it through the tournament schedule up in the air all across the area. Back to work next weekend.
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April 23rd, 2016, 4:38 pm #232

Tournament this weekend, and as usual Saturday is pool play and the day that decides seedings for the main bracket on Sunday.

The team went 2-0 and allowed only 3 runs. So they get the first seed and a bye.

G pitched a scoreless inning, and was 1-2 with 4 walks. He cannot seem to get kids to throw him the ball much lately.

Good times.
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April 25th, 2016, 5:41 am #233

Champions!



Two games (they had the bye after allowing only 3 runs in pool play).

First game was won 13-2. G was 2-2 with a walk. Strangely, they had him play first base. It was only the second time all season.

The championship game was was 10-3. G hit the fence once (just missing a homer), going 2-3 (with a double). Perhaps the hardest hit ball of the entire tournament came off of his bat, but it went directly to the center fielder on a line who I don't think moved an inch to catch it. He started at pitcher, going three innings and allowing a run.

The celebration was fun to watch - the kids had a blast, of course.

For the tournament G was 5-7 with 5 walks. Last I checked he was hitting somewhere near .490, and so I guess he's up over .500 at this point. He's crushing.
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April 25th, 2016, 6:16 am #234

Congrats. That is awesome!
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April 25th, 2016, 6:36 am #235

Six more tournaments through June, and then it's over.

I think I'm going to pull him from the pitching rotation at the end of May. Lots of information out there suggesting a few months off from throwing a baseball will help his arm stay healthy. Try outs would happen in late July, so that would be a two month break. And then I'd put a halt to his pitching again in November and December. That would be four months a year with little to no pitching or much throwing.

I'm currently researching appropriate exercises for pitchers as they relate to the shoulder and arms. I know there's a lot to consider and different schools of thought. He's eight so it's not like he's going to be hulking up, taking protein shakes and trying resemble a muscle builder, but he's an athlete and I have a responsibility to make sure he's healthy and able to perform.

Lots of stuff out there about loss of range of motion in the scapula with pitcher. And then you hear about all of the arm surgeries that are are happening nowadays. Have to be careful.

Side note (and a really worrisome development over the weekend as it relates to the team):

The coach allowed a kid to throw 141 pitches over three appearances. A couple of weeks ago he let a smaller kid throw 79, and that kid had a sore arm the next day. A conversation is going to be had about being competitive versus developing players skill sets. Trophies are nice, but so is the ability to play the game when your 12. No scholarships get handed out to eight and nine years olds, but they can sure as shit be lost.
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April 25th, 2016, 8:21 am #236

The coach allowed a kid to throw 141 pitches over three appearances.
Yeah. That is no longer acceptable. Here is a link to the American Academy of Pediatrics current stance on the issue: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/c ... l.pdf+html. If you don't want to get loss in the minutia Table one shows the current recommendations for maximum pitches per game and Table 2 the minimum resting period between pitching. I have seen too many kids lose their careers over overuse at your son's age. You really do not want angry growth plates.
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April 25th, 2016, 8:33 am #237

Thanks for that link!!
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April 27th, 2016, 1:19 pm #238

So the kid that pitched 141 times over the weekend is now complaining of a hurt arm. Who'd a thunk it, huh?

I don't know how bad he's hurt. It might just be soreness, or it might be more. I guess time will tell.

It's going to be interesting to see which parents (if any) are upset about it. We have practice tonight, and so I'm sure it's going to be an issue that gets discussed.

Sad, really. The perils of youth baseball.

By the way Doc, I was recently given a pitching program called 3X (by an extremely well respected coach in the area). It's based on three factors, one of which is an Olympic weightlifting program. The program's foundation is to build strength in the legs and through the core. Do you know much about Olympic lifting? Does anyone? My kid is eight, so things need to be kept in perspective. I'm interested in learning about it as it could (or if it should) relate to my kid. If it's worthwhile, shouldn't it be considered?

(I don't want to create a baseball playing robot, either.)
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April 27th, 2016, 1:40 pm #239

I really don't know much about that other than we are told to discourage too much muscle mass especially during the peak growth velocities after puberty. Again, it goes back to those fragile growth plates. There is some evidence too that body building at that age can stunt growth.
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April 27th, 2016, 6:38 pm #240

Yeah, it's a tricky thing. I'm thinking that I'll probably just push some sort of modified yoga and stretching program. That, and have him play red soccer over the summer.

I'll check around, but I have a hard to time thinking that a weightlifting program is even defensible at his age. Who would it be for, really? I want what's best for him but I doubt he's going to want to lift weights. Batting practice and baseball? Sure. Lifting weights? Probably not.
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April 28th, 2016, 5:44 am #241

Pure weight lifting is not my thing plus kids makes it more complicated, so take this as just my observations.

I think there is a lot of pressure for success in elementary school sports and that pressure is really bad for a kid's development. Don't get me wrong, playing hard to win is great. I'm talking about having the kid's self worth come from success on the field and the need to win trumping the risk of injury. I've watched it in swimming where a kid is fast when they are young, but they don't develop or they get injured. Your son's coach needs to win in order to make his team more marketable, and he isn't the only one who will take a risk with your son's health to better themselves. I'd be on guard.

So, I wouldn't do any heavy weight lifting. Instead I would focus on the core, cardio fitness, and flexibility. Be careful with flexibility though because a lot of people get injured stretching, plus there is very little real world evidence that it works. i.e. most elite adult athletes never stretched growing up. They generally do as they try to prolong their career. fwiw, The neighbor kid who made the best travel team at East Cobb Baseball (one of the best in the SE) did a shit ton of sprints in the offseason. Obviously, there are advantages in fitness and technique, but I think this was because a kid can run sprints over and over with a low chance of an overuse injury. Especially an overuse injury in the shoulder. "save it for the season"
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April 28th, 2016, 6:09 am #242

I'm going to do my best to completely get his brain off of playing baseball once the season ends. Probably some sort of soccer or flag football or something. Not sure, but something completely unrelated.

Plus, I'm shutting his arm down at the end of May - no more pitching. In fact, I've already stopped bullpen sessions altogether.

The coach knows damn well not to cross me on pitch counts when it comes to my son. I've had the conversation very clearly, and so there's absolutely no wiggle room for him. I count his pitches, and they know that. I'm probably not the "best" parent from the perspective of the coaches, but that's not my concern. If you don't show your ass a little, you might get taken advantage of some.

In terms of the weight lifting and strengthening of his legs and core, I think that playing soccer and/or flag football can help some - those sports engage different muscle groups, and that's what I'm looking for. Plus, I like the idea of sprinting and (cautiously and judiciously) running stadiums. There are no hills in Florida, and so finding inclines to run on is next to impossible. He's going to do work, but I hope it doesn't feel like it.

It's tough figuring out what's right for the athletic development of a young athlete. The more you know, the more you realize you don't know. And the more you read, the more you realize that there are multiple schools of thought and no clear answers.

Yes, I'm stressed the fuck out!
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May 3rd, 2016, 5:42 am #243

Well, the "dream team" might be falling apart. The drama surrounding the 141 pitches has started some infighting on the team, and it's caused hard feelings and people taking sides. It looks like there are two groups forming, one that is supportive of the decision to allow the kid to throw that many and one that was against it.

The story is too long to type out (and probably boring, too) but it looks like it's getting really nasty.

The group that supported the "owner's" decision to let the kid throw that many times are parents of four kids on the team. One of those kids is really good - he's one helluva pitcher.

The second group (which I guess I'm a part of) is made up of parents for seven kids, and this group is the heart of the team.

A few weeks ago there was a very good team that just about broke up, but they stuck it out to get through the season. It's still an "uneasy truce" but they're getting by (barely). At this point, it looks like there's a pretty good chance that the group we're a part of (on the current team) and the core group from the other team might join up and create an even better team. The coach is a good guy that is well respected, and has the kid's best interests at heart. It wouldn't be a sponsored team and so the kids would have to pay their own way, but its not all that much money in the long run.

Too early to tell, but things aren't looking too good right now. It might work itself out, but I'm not betting it's going to go down like that.

The drama surrounding youth sport is odd, isn't it?
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May 6th, 2016, 5:48 pm #244

The state championship tournament is this weekend.

Should be fun. Big opportunity.
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May 7th, 2016, 2:46 pm #245

Well, that was ugly.

Going into the tournament we had won 18 of 21 games, and most in impressive fashion.

(Recall the nastiness surrounding the pitching? It hasn't gone away, and it has "infected" the vibe of the team.)

Today we lost both games by a combined score of 29-2.

We got skull-fucked!

The team made five errors in the first inning of the first game, and it never improved. It was an awful showing.

Single elimination tomorrow. We still have a really good chance if it's talent that you're using to make the odds, but something's going on with the team and I bet we get bounced after the first game.

Sad.
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May 9th, 2016, 4:56 am #246

Epic. Fucking. Failure.

After going 0-2 on Saturday, losing 29-2, the team fought back yesterday.

They beat a very good team 6-5. Problem? Remember the kid that through 141 pitches a couple of weekends ago? He threw 91 pitches and was responsible for 14 outs.

Fast forward to the second game.

We are killing a team, something like 13-2 in the bottom of the 4th. We send a new pitcher into the game who promptly lay eggs, walks four and then gets pulled. What does the coach do? Of course he puts in the kid that has already thrown 91 pitches to finish the deal. So, he quickly gets three outs. And then he comes back out for the next innings and quickly gets two outs. Then the other coaching staff protests his "out count." (At this level, kids are allowed 18 outs in a day and 27 over three days.)

The game was called and our team lost by way of break the damn rules! Gotta love it, huh?

The team was starting to roll again. They would have played an outstanding team that we've played twice before (going 1-1 against) for the state title. The kids would have received rings, trophies, medals and a few other odds and ends. It was a really big deal.

What a fucking joke it's becoming.
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May 9th, 2016, 5:26 am #247

When I coached girls lacrosse it was kids about your son's age. At that age, and especially girls, it's all about teaching solid fundamentals. The problem is that you don't win by coaching solid fundamentals. You win by taking advantage of the rules. I watched this for years and it drove me crazy. The adult ego needing a win was more important than setting the girls up for long term success. My teams did really well though. We won a few tournaments, and always finished near the top. That was the only reason they kept me as a head coach. Even my own parents couldn't see what I was working on as valuable. I even had a few parents of kids I had coached earlier come back and talk to my current parents. I still caught a lot of shit post loss for not playing this kid more or bending the passing rule a bit at the end to get a W. Basically, you have to make 2 passes before you can take a shot on goal, but what constitutes a pass is wide open.

Anyway, your son has a team that wants to win no matter what to make the parents feel better and help the coach get better players and sponsors. That's not a great place for him. Personally, I'd look for a decent coach and team, but a place where he can make some tight friends. Those pals are what will keep him interested through the rough times, and there will be rough times. You can still get the A+ coaching on the side.
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May 9th, 2016, 5:42 am #248

Agree completely.

There's a chance that the sponsor is about to get ousted. (The how is a long story, and I'll spare the details.)

I think that's the only way we stick with this team. My wife wants out now, but I have a thing against quitting. She argues that there are special circumstance that allow it, but I'm not sure that my son would appreciate the "special circumstance" and would just see that quitting is okay.

I think there are four more tournaments.

I'm going to start the search for a new team soon.

I hate that this process has to start all over again.
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May 11th, 2016, 1:24 pm #249

Mistakes are a part of the game...but mental mistakes in coaching have to be the most frustrating...especially at that level.

Mattingly did this while coaching the Dodgers...made three trips to the mound and ended up having to take his closer out of the game.

Out count...probably should be pitch count...but how well is that tracked.

Good luck realist!
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May 14th, 2016, 5:36 pm #250

They do out counts because it's easier for umpires to track. I agree that pitch counts are much safer (and better). (Trusting coaches isn't a good idea, and the umpires can't manage it and the game.)

The drama is nuts. It's been one helluva crazy week behind the scenes. Two separate team meetings, an almost-coup, a sponsor being asked to step aside and the kids having three crazy-tough practices this week and we find ourselves in a strange spot. We were going to do the big Disney tournament Memorial Day weekend, but kicking the sponsor aside killed that. We're piecing the rest of the schedule together now.

The team consists of 7 or 8 core players and a few that fill in the gaps. It looks like the core group will do whatever it takes to stay together, but nothing is certain. Another good team wants to merge, but I've heard really bad things about that direction. It apparently never works because you end with two short stops, to center fielders, two good catchers and a lot of overlap of players, and then you end up with lots of animosity. So that direction won't work.

Who knows.

I'm going to shut it down completely in short order. He needs a break. He's going to have played close to 50 games in five months, and that's a lot of baseball for an 8 year old. He's physically getting run down at this point, and we still have a ways to go.
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