Well an entire season of baseball has come and gone, and with my involvement in youth baseball, my duties with this blog were neglected.
I'd like to take an opportunity to cover the baseball happenings that are taking place across the city over the months of September and October.
While there is a lot of enjoyment that comes from playing with for your neighbourhood league over the spring and summer months (or with your respective travel team), fall baseball allows for a different opportunity. That is playing alongside ball players who you competed against.
This fall there are 3 baseball programs offering fall baseball. And I must say, this has to be the biggest offering to-date.
Brian Beehler (through Youth Elite Sports) is back for a fourth year with the CHIEFS. Except this year, he has expanded his offering of teams. He now offers 13U - 16U teams that play predominantly in Montreal. It's a lot of fun for players who want to see how the match up against Montreal teams they seldom see. It's also fun for players whose summer teams didn't get much opportunity to do some travel ball. There are tryouts for these teams.
Andrew Beattie & Bob Guy (through the Ottawa Royals & Knights baseball club) offer the Sambat Fall ball league. This is the 5th year of the program. The age range is 12-18. They have a deal with the Sambat that enables them to offer each player a Sambat wooden bat as part of the registration fees. This is a good option for players who want to extend their season, play with and against friends, while not having to pay for travel. The league also serves as a potential audition for players looking to play travel ball next spring. There are no tryouts for these teams - signup while spots remain.
The ONC offer a 16U and 18U fall ball program. They use these programs to attract potential suitors for their teams for the upcoming season. It exposes players and parents to how they run their program. This year, they offered free open sessions to allow them to select players to continue in their fall program. There are tryouts for these teams.
I'm excited by the amount of baseball that is continuing while the hockey season gets underway. Let's hope the weather cooperates and these 3 programs help raise the skill level of baseball players in our great city.
This article appeared on the Baseball ZONE and was written by Rick Johnston
I remember as a kid, getting on my bike, hooking my glove to those old rounded and curved handle bars, jamming my bat under the banana seat and wedging a baseball in between the frame of the forks and the upper bar. Then peddling as fast as I could to the nearby field, school or open area and joining my buddies for a game of sandlot baseball. That’s right, just like the movie, The Sandlot. Spending hot, sunny summer days running, hitting, throwing, catching, making up silly rules as the each game had an effect on your team’s outcome.
These days never appeared to end; they were days that seemingly made summers feel like there was no end in sight. It was what we lived for all day, then, dash home, get some food, change out of your grass stained, dirt covered street clothes and throw on your team's uniform and head to the yard for a structured, do it this way, don’t think for yourself game.
Why do you think as a kid, we spent more hours playing in an unstructured environment, playing dog tired and hungry and fighting for every at bat, ground ball or out? It is simple - we all wanted to be baseball players and were allowed to be our own baseball player with no governing rules on how to throw, hit, run, field or even when to steal and oh yes, taking pitches, no chance, it was about swinging the bat. It was about figuring out the game by figuring out the game - experiential learning and OWNING it.
What could we get away with, what could we not get away with? How could I pitch to certain buddy, did I know his weakness? Should I tag up or should I not tag up??? No one told me. Like the rest of us, we figured it out, albeit, not all of it, but we did figure it out. Even though we did not know how much we did not know, we found a way to begin to figure out what we did not know.
Sandlot baseball, playing catch, playing 500 Up (I think kids nowadays call it Jackpot), Burnout, Pickle, each one of these teaches one thing that kids in this generation lack…instinct or better yet, baseball instinct. Where has it gone? It's simple, two things have happened:
- First, kids are so preoccupied with other mitigating factors that just playing baseball with buddies is no longer at the top of their list. These factors then become distractions…video, internet, smartphones, sat-tv, etc. Instead of using these factors as a means of developing and stimulating baseball instinct or game sense, kids use these to download videos, watch movies, play games (not baseball games) or just to communicate with their buddies. To each their own, no judgment is being placed here, but I just wish that there was more awareness and honesty with the fact that spending time on those things when you could be playing/practicing is taking away from your development as a baseball player...and from your baseball instinct.
- Second, kids are truly no longer capable of - or perhaps more accurately, encouraged or allowed to - doing their own thinking during games. Next time you go to a game, take note of how many times you will see third base coaches flashing signs for no reason, or telling kids to take pitches, or telling them when to go or not to go on the bases, or the best one yet, is coaches calling pitch after pitch and never letting the catcher and pitcher try to figure something out. Instead, kids are not allowed to think for themselves, they are not allowed to be empowered to make their own decisions, ones that they will own and be accountable for. Hey coach, did you ever think that calling so many movements for your players might be a built in cop out for them if and when they don't work out?
Yes, the importance of basic fundamentals is critical and good coaching has a very important role in it. Tough to play the game if one is unable to have some fundamental skill in the areas of hitting, throwing, catching, running, etc. However, where most kids lack is actually not in the spectrum of fundamentals, it is in the lack of instinct. Kids are not allowed to be inquisitive or to just "fiddle around" like you see a toddler doing incessantly, learning various causes and effects to no end. In some cases players become institutionalized, only knowing what they know - what they are filled up with - but not fully knowing what they need to know. Never having a chance to develop baseball instinct because someone else wants to do all of their thinking! It is too bad, because the essence of fundamental skill undoubtedly is critical and will get kids to the next level, but the importance of baseball instinct will have a considerable impact on fundamental skill development.
Baseball instinct has a wide array of meanings. But I would sum it up by saying it is how quickly a player is able to think and calculate, with no hesitation, to make an accurate and correct decision. It is a largely calculated move that involves split second decision making. The quicker the decision the better the reaction! Players with good instinct read, react and respond with the correct decision making process, while players with less instinct, are always a step behind and much slower to react.
Now, I go back to what kids nowadays don’t do; or the amount of over-coaching they receive; or the lack of letting kids figure things out. It is then without wonder that we have kids that may have fundamental skill, but lack true in game sense…or baseball instinct. And that's a shame. It doesn't have to be that way, and the ones that find a way to develop it will be better in the long run and very likely also find much more enjoyment in a game that they can play for a very long time.
Rick Johnston, Co-Founder & Head Instructor - The Baseball Zone
FORMER DISTRICT 2 AND 6 LITTLE LEAGUE STARS RANK IN THE TOP 500 OF HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS IN NORTH AMERICA
Rewind a few years and Matt Ianni, as a pitcher, was petrifying batters in Ontario's Little League's District 2; meanwhile up the Queensway in Orleans, for District 6, Demi Orimoloye was making noises with his bat.
Those noises are now being heard south of border, as the Perfect Game scouting bureau published it's top 500 high schoolers in North America for the 2015 draft year, and these two Ottawa boys made the cut.
Respectively Demi is ranked 187th., while Matt is ranked 149th.. Also among the top 500 high schoolers, are 5 other Canadians who made the grade.
Because baseball in Ottawa doesn't enjoy the same level of participation as hockey, it's smaller size makes it more of a fraternity. So you can bet that all players and coaches who knew these boys are rooting for them. They're hoping that Demi and Matt's playing careers take them a long way from Ottawa's local diamonds.
Hopefully, one day you'll both be able to give back in one way or another, to the same Little Leagues where you first threw your first pitches and made your first at bats.