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Beginner? Intermediate? Somewhere in between?

 
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TheLegend
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:19 pm    Post subject: Beginner? Intermediate? Somewhere in between? Reply with quote

I know you guys could never tell, due to my amazing ability to keep cool in stressful situations, Wink but I've become very frustrated with the play of my teammates over the course of the last two or three games i've played. I took some time today to try and figure out why that is. I suppose the obvious and logical conclusion is that I have been expecting too much of the players around me.

Now (while trying to toot my own horn as little as possible), I understand that I'm not only one of the more skilled players in our group, but also one of the most experienced, and I don't by any means expect everyone in our group to play at an expert/advanced (or whatever else you want to call it) level, and you'll notice that it's not usually the physical errors that bother me. I understand that we all drop balls, we all miss the cutoff man and we all strike out every now and then, I (generally) don't have a problem with these kinds of mistakes. The mistakes that have really been getting under my skin the last few weeks have been the fundamental, "head in the game" type mistakes... the REPEATED fundamental "head in the game" type mistakes. These kinds of mistakes baffle, and, as history has shown, frustrate and anger me.

I feel like the competative nature of our league (i think we can all agree that our group is more competative than the average pick up game) is to a certain extent at odds with our "everyone is welcome" philosophy. I've often times protested the inclusion of kids and I (along with many others) have often groaned when adults of a much lower skill level have been invited to play, but even this isn't the problem that's really bugging me now, as over time I've seen a lot of our "beginner" players step up their game, learn from the people around them and become intermediate or even MVP caliber players (Paul C., Richard J.). The players who are bothering me are the players who, week in and week out show a sort of... contentment with "beginner" status (as represtented by consistantly making what I would consider beginner mistakes).

My question is this: does our league have an expectation of... for lack of a better word... mediocrity? As I said before, I do feel like this is a competative (and therefore, not an instructional) league. I feel like we should expect the people who play with us to have a fundamental grasp of the game (or lacking that, a desire to acquire it) and that the same fundamental mistakes shouldn't be made from week to week.

Maybe I'm wrong... maybe everyone else's expectations are lower. Today Scott said to me "it's a pick-up game, dude"... but i really feel like we're more than that. I feel like most of us are fueled by a competative fire and we want to go out there and win... not just show up and swing a bat.

My point? I don't think it's ok to run into outs. I don't think it's ok to fall asleep in the field. and as long as we're a league that keeps score, keeps stats and celebrates victories, I don't think everyone should pretend like these things are ok.

Now, I'm not saying that my personal Bobby Knight approach to instructing is neccisarily the right way to go either... but I'm more ok with that than simply ignoring repeated fundamental mistakes in (what i have come to believe is) a competative league. I feel like our beginners should show growth. I think that's a natural result of giving 100% (is that expectation still a part of our rulebook?). I feel like people should learn from their mistakes (or, better yet, other people's mistakes) and if they don't, then it's only because they don't care enough to... which... as long as this is a competative league... is a big problem to me.

p.s. if you're not sure what to do- ask. If there's no one to ask then play it safe... pretty much by definition, over-conservative mistakes are less costly than over-aggressive ones.
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Baseball=Life
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, I think your post is pretty fair, Ken. And you quoted me correctly. It's interesting I said that, because as much of a peacemaker type guy I am, I think you'll agree that I'm also intensely competitive. I was thinking a lot about what to say to you even prior to reading the post. I definitely love that you try so hard, and play such a quality level of baseball. It's people like that that make a huge positive impact on the pick-up games we play.

Obviously, I want it to be an inclusive environment, however, since turnout is the over-riding, key, most important factor. It's so hard to get minimum 12 people to show up to play, blah blah, you know this argument. I'm always trying to grow the email list so that sporadic players will be able to fill in the gaps so we can play. There just aren't enough core players that show up every week. I can offset the lack of core and the need for the sporadics by keeping up a constant flow of new folks, but that's usually not enough in and of itself. So I think the sporadics are a key element to get to 12+. Anyway, I know one of the sporadics made the bonehead baserunning play today. I'm assuming it was a brainfart regarding the count and/or number of outs. Lame indeed. Actually, on the last play of the game, a webgem by me and Dan Rivera (ahem, cough cough), I think it's hard to blame Nick Z for that one. He had the 3rd baseman in front of him, and probably wouldn't have reasonably expected the SS to range all the way over to cover for the throw in such a short amount of time. I barely got there, actually. Wait, the point of me bringing up that play was I knew how frustrated you were so I even felt bad making that play. So obviously that's a bad dynamic when the defense has any sort of tentative feeling out there due to someone being mad.

Here's the best advice I think, and the best response to what again was a thoughtful and fair post. I think someone like yourself is a perfect candidate to show some leadership pre-emptively. For instance, I imagine you having a team meeting in the 7th inning when Dan R was finally off the mound and you got to face those scrubs Scott L and Richard J. Basically, you give the message that "we're down a bunch of runs so we CAN'T, we CANNOT, take ANY baserunning risks! Play it safe so we can inch our way back into this!" And then the 2nd part of this leadership would have been to make sure there's basecoaches to enforce this theme. I would say you're doing all the other stuff such as encouraging players during at-bats with specific guidance. Maybe with this approach we can minimize the boneheadedness and thus the frustration.
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Joe shmoe
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott, that is a very good point about turnout.

This league, to me, is about having fun with people that I consider very good friends. That will be the biggest thing I will miss about the league; playing baseball, joking around, having an occasional beer, smoking, etc. Now then, of course, i want to win, and play as best as I can. And I think that friendly competition is a great thing. It pushes people to be better, but in a good way. Some jackass bitching and moaning about every (maybe every other) mistake his teammates make just takes the fun out of the game. I mean there is no championship, no trophy, no bigger contracts for winning. We have an MVP race, which helps fill that void and makes every player accountable to themselves.

There are real leagues out there where winning is paramount, and teams are made up of 10 to 12 guys who all want to win the championship, and when you do the math they are very affordable (5 to 10 bucks a game). The level of play is higher and errors are fewer. Ken, when I talked to you about leaving Eccolo and starting at Rendezvous, you said "You gotta do what makes you happy," and I think you were right on the money. Maybe joining a more competitive league would give you a more enjoyable baseball experience.

Now then, I am not saying "quit park baseball," but there is NO EXCUSE for talking to and treating people the way you have been over the past month.
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TheLegend
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In response to Scott

Quote:
Obviously, I want it to be an inclusive environment, however, since turnout is the over-riding, key, most important factor. It's so hard to get minimum 12 people to show up to play, blah blah, you know this argument


I definitely agree that getting a game in every week is ultimately important and understand that that, at times may mean playing down to the lowest common denominator. However, I also feel like there is strong evidence to suggest that playing down to the lowest common denominators is exactly what has alienated some of our higher calibur players. There was a time when we had 10,12,14 guys every week who could really play and I think a part of the reason some of these guys don't come out anymore is that they share my frustrations.

Quote:
Here's the best advice I think, and the best response to what again was a thoughtful and fair post. I think someone like yourself is a perfect candidate to show some leadership pre-emptively. For instance, I imagine you having a team meeting in the 7th inning when Dan R was finally off the mound and you got to face those scrubs Scott L and Richard J. Basically, you give the message that "we're down a bunch of runs so we CAN'T, we CANNOT, take ANY baserunning risks! Play it safe so we can inch our way back into this!" And then the 2nd part of this leadership would have been to make sure there's basecoaches to enforce this theme. I would say you're doing all the other stuff such as encouraging players during at-bats with specific guidance. Maybe with this approach we can minimize the boneheadedness and thus the frustration.


I agree again! I do feel like I can (and therefore should/will) do more to represent a possitive leadership role at our games. I will make more of an effort to ensure that we always/whenever possible have base coaches and that my teammates in the field always know the situation/gameplan.

Richard

Quote:
Now then, of course, i want to win, and play as best as I can. And I think that friendly competition is a great thing. It pushes people to be better, but in a good way. Some jackass bitching and moaning about every (maybe every other) mistake his teammates make just takes the fun out of the game. I mean there is no championship, no trophy, no bigger contracts for winning. We have an MVP race, which helps fill that void and makes every player accountable to themselves.


I think I fundamentally disagree with you. I think in a team sport (even a casual one) your accountability to your team is much much much greater than your accountability to yourself. I feel that everyone who shows up out there has a responsibility to their teammates to try their best and pay attention. As I said above, it's not when people make physical errors or even bad decisions, but only when players fall short of these fundamental minimums that I get upset, and even then, it's usually not until the 3rd or 4th exhibition of "i don't give a fuck"ism that I do lose my head.

Quote:
There are real leagues out there where winning is paramount, and teams are made up of 10 to 12 guys who all want to win the championship, and when you do the math they are very affordable (5 to 10 bucks a game). The level of play is higher and errors are fewer.


Point me in the direction of a league that costs about $5 a game to play in and I'll be all over it. My research has only come up with 10-12 game leagues costing $200 and up, which, would not be worth it to me even if I did have the money (which, as you well know, I don't).

Quote:
there is NO EXCUSE for talking to and treating people the way you have been over the past month.


Again, I fundamentally disagree. The worst that can be said is that I've been yelling. I haven't been talking down to anyone, I haven't been harping on mistakes I haven't been making personal attacks. I've kept it to baseball. I've offered possitive reinforcement, constructive criticism and yes, upon several occurances of the same (or, same type of) mistake vented my frustration. Ya, I agree, my competative fire burns hotter than most, but I feel like I have reasonable expectations and when my expectations aren't met I get frustrated. Yelling "wake up" at a secondbaseman who makes no attempt to make a play at secondbase seems perfectly reasonable to me. Yelling "come on" after a team makes it's 6th or 7th out on the basepath also seems perfectly reasonable to me. And, of course, yelling "are you fucking kidding me" after the last out of a game is recorded on a play identical to a play that resulted in an out 1 batter earlier seems perfectly reasonable to me as well.

==

I appreciate both of your posts and I would like to continue this discussion, but I don't feel like either of you actually answered my over arching question which is: what is the expected skill/interest level of our participants? Like I said... I feel like we're a group where we can expect everyone to understand the basics of the game, to try their best and to pay attention. I have a hard time imagining a league that keeps scores, stats, MVPs and MIPs but expects less than that of it's participants. If I'm wrong let me know. If I'm right, then what do we do about players who consistantly fall short of these expectations?
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Last edited by TheLegend on Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Blancito21
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken, I feel you, you know I do. That being said, I've learned that in this league, the only thing I care about every week is getting 12 so stats can count. The attendance argument trumps everything in my opinion because I don't want to play in a money league that has commitments.

If we had 25 dudes coming each week, I might stand parrallel with your request of expecting more from everyone and consequently justifying exclusion of those who are there for the tanning. But we don't, so we have to grin and bare the buffoonery as best you can. Scott knows I used to have a real problem with the skills of some particpants, but I learned to get over it because I had to. I still curse people out but on the side or under my breath.

I don't think the league (we are not a league btw, we are a rec pick-up-game) should expect mediocrity but honestly, the league doesn't and shouldn't expect anything. For christ sakes most weeks we play lob ball with no ks and no curves. Thats what lets those who are less skilled feel free to join us. Look, baseball (and I know you will argue this but lets wait till we're in person) is the hardest sport to master out of the big 3. Not becaause it requires the most all around athleticism but because it is the most pressure packed at every moment for all individual players on the field and requires an almost unsustainable amount of mental focus. It also is the game that requires the most routine repetitions in order to master its physical components. None of our lesser skilled players practice and it is very difficult to get better playing once a week. Now, if you are already stressing out about your physical inferiority when you're on the field or in the base paths, how are you supposed to mentally stay sharp about the 400 different scenarios that may happen at any second and the various options you have to decide is best at a moments notice?

I don't believe I am physically superior to most of our participants. What sets me apart is years of training and experience. It has allowed me to take a cerebral approach to the game so I can imagine every scenario that may happen and what my reaction and action will be for each. To this day I still get nervous for every at bat and when the game is close I am still nervous on the field...because I care and because I don't want to fuck up. Now, if someone who played baseball in college feels that way during a rec league game, how do you think the dudes feel who's only experience is playing with us? I wanted a chance to throw you out when you stole a base this weekend, now I knew that would be close to impossible but I also knew that it would open up opportunities for me to fake and throw someone else out at 3rd. I knew I could take advantage of a lesser mentally skilled player by acting like I was focused on you. Would you have been caught by that play, maybe not, but only because you wouldn't have had to worry about your physical ability to get back to the bag? You can dive and you're fast. I don't have to worry about actually catching the pitches or scooping those in the dirt so I can prepare myself to fake hard to 2b and then fire to 3rd. Its natural for us and I think you (and me for a long time) take that for granted and expect others to be able to do the same.

You're just going through a rough couple of weeks with bad teams and I've been there too. You can't wait to be on a squad that feels like a true winner. It will happen. You should try my approach. When a guy on my team fucks up, I usually go up to him and tell him that I think I know what happened in their minds when they goofed....99% of the time they agree, apologize and then ask what they should have done. They will be more receptive to criticism that way then getting yelled at. If they don't ask I usually force feed then my opinion top let them know what I expect next time. Scott does a great job of drilling the stage of the game into everyones head almost every play. We can do more of that for our respective teams, we can show up early and offer practice to those that need it. But we can't expect people to care enough to want to get as good as we are because not everyone is as into sports success as we are.

You are usually the captain of one team, try leading the entire game (I actually think you do a good job of that physically and vocally) but don't bark at dudes like Chris Adams...the guy is one of the least of aggressive people in the world. Know the psychology of each individual. I watch everyone we play with and can generally tell you who I will yell at (you, Nick, Richard, Carlos) and who gets the Mike Krywscheski (sic) treatment...everyone else.

Don't expect mediocrity, but don't expect anything from anyone but yourself. When you're on a different team every week, the only constant you should expect is that you will play as hard as and as well as you can. You should be able to tell from the outset of a game if you will have to dominate in order to win. Set your own lineup and fielding positions and out people in positions to succeed. That will build their confidence and attract them to the thrill of improvement.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:36 am    Post subject: why I left the game: Reply with quote

I felt like I watsed my sunday, I felt like, I could of punched Ken in the face. Now saying this it's all the same in mens baseball leagues there is always people who think the know it all or think three a major league player. This is a pick up baseball and I thought the point was to have fun. I played on many ornganized leagues with high baseball fees, but I was dissapointing to find out its all the same crap, people think too highly of themselfs and miss the fun of the game.

Rich J
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AntMoOAK
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
what is the expected skill/interest level of our participants? Like I said... I feel like we're a group where we can expect everyone to understand the basics of the game


I'm trying to recall all the players we've played with and I think even the players at the lower echelons (myself included in this group-sometimes), have at least an aptitude for the game- meaning they've at least played in some youth league or high school or at least have played enough pick up games (softball whatever) to understand the nuances of the game. Many of the defensive errors seem to come from plain ole' not having ones' head in the game. I let a ball roll clean through my legs a couple of weeks ago ala Buckner that was inexcusable. I could feel Dan's glare from over at 3rd on the back of my neck. I attribute that error to not having my head in the game as I should and not executing a play that should have been routine. Those kinds of errors SHOULD elicit a, "c'mon. What are you thinking." or a, "Get your head in the game eh" kind of response from his teammates... that's part of team sports. We should be held accountable for our play that affects the teams chance of winning.

The baserunning errors seem to result from either greed and speculation (on the outcome of a play) or a lack of coaching assistance. This can be remedied with coaching from each of the team leaders.

I don't think it's necessarily a level of aptitude but more of getting all of us to realize that while this is not a league, that for that particular Sunday, you are part of a team with a role to fill and that this is not just some beer bong baseball pickup game.
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Blancito21
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I could feel Dan's glare from over at 3rd on the back of my neck. I attribute that error to not having my head in the game as I should and not executing a play that should have been routine.


Hmm? I don't remember that at all...I don't even remember being on your team because I remember steeping 16 ft behind 3rd base like I always do when you are at the plate and I am fielding.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh at that point I wasn't on your team anymore... I could still feel the general glares (all warranted) after my gaffe. Sorry to put you on blast like that.
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TheLegend
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Dan, thanks a lot for your reply... you've opened my eyes to a part of all this that I honestly hadn't even considered. It's been a long-time since I've felt nervous at a baseball game and I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind that that may be the reason people are having a hard time maintaining focus.

Since reading your post yesterday morning, I've also spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not the fact that base running and focus come so easily/naturally to me has any corrolation to why those are the types of mistakes that frustrate me so much. At first, I didn't think there was, as I imagined a world where I was a perenial power hitter and could never imagine myself getting on people's cases for not hitting a home run (as one example). But the more I think about it, the more I'm starting to realize that I'm having a hard time seperating the things that come easily to me and the things that "are easy."

As I said above, the possibility that someone might not be able to keep their head in the game, despite their best efforts to do so, really hadn't even crossed my mind. Had you not said it, I never would've even imagined it as a possibility! All this time I've been getting frustrated because in my mind it's "easy" to be aware on the basepaths, it's "easy" to keep your head in the game and it's "easy" to know what's going on around you and that mistakes of this nature are only possibly the result of not trying. Thank you so much for bringing this misunderstanding to my attention! That added understanding of the game will make it so much easier for me not to lose my head and to lead my teams in a responsible way! (not to say that there haven't been and won't still be times when I feel like people ARE simply half-steppin' it and will deserve the classic kenyatte foot-to-ass treatment Laughing )

Rich: I'm sorry you feel that way. I understand that it can be counterintuitive for people who don't play with us regularly, but these are competative games. We have a lot of guys our here (me being the most vocal one) who do care if they win or lose and who do want to see their teammates performing to the best of their abilities. I assure you, this is not a result of me thinking I'm better than or above anyone else, but because I believe the competative aspect is an important part of this weekly ritual. The argument that "it's supposed to be fun" so we shouldn't be competative and shouldn't be expected to try hard has never really flown with me. If that were the case we wouldn't bother making teams, we wouldn't bother cheering on our teammates (or jeering the opposition, as is sometimes the case) and wouldn't keep score. A big part of "the fun of the game" as you put it, is the competition. I think most of us want to leave Sunday afternoon feeling like we played well, our team did well, and (even if we didn't win) that we had a good competative game. This Sunday, I didn't feel that way. Honestly Rich, I think my viewpoints are more inline with the rest of this groups than yours are. I know I go over the top sometimes, but it bothers me a lot when someone shows up to a group activity where 15 of the 18 people they're with are giving 100% and they feel like they don't have to. At least as much as my additude hurt your enjoyment of the game, your additude hurt mine.

Anthony: I think your post hit the nail on the head (kinda makes me wish I was more diplomatic so I could've said it like you said it Smile) and this point:
Quote:
I don't think it's necessarily a level of aptitude but more of getting all of us to realize that while this is not a league, that for that particular Sunday, you are part of a team with a role to fill and that this is not just some beer bong baseball pickup game.

is exactly the sentiment that I was trying to express! Thank you for putting it so elegantly.

On a side note... I think I've missed two weeks out of the last twenty... and those are the two weeks you show up... what's up with that dude!!!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I'm back... I've finally convinced my new wife that living in Antioch/Oakley is... well, STUPID on so many levels. I'm back among the living in the coastal East Bay so I look forward to coming back to Park Baseball. On a related note... I'm quickly finding out that "I told you so" isn't conducive to ones sleeping in his own bed ( or at least not saying more than 10 times on a particular subject). I guess "I told you so" is one of things that goes out he window when one is married only to be replace by "Yes dear ".
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