For those of you who follow me on here plus Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook; you may have seen or possibly listened to my personal podcast (The Freak Show) from today. If so I wanted to thank you for taking the two dozen minutes out of your day to do so. If you haven’t listened, you can pretty much scroll on to the next post you care to dive into. But for those 20-30 people who did listen to the podcast, I wanted to round out a few points on what occurred this past weekend so it doesn’t just seem like I am being sour grapes.
With the personal podcast format I typically do the episode in transit to work in the morning. Whereas when I collaborate with Jeremy and Dustin or one of the interviewed personalities for the Sports Stalkers interview segments, that is in a studio setting with a broad chunk of time allotted (usually 90-120 minutes depending on the conversation pieces). So for my personal podcast, time allotment is very dependent upon traffic conditions. If traffic is light, I can zip into work in about half an hour or if I am running late, then traffic is generally worse and the time in the car will stretch up to an hour. When doing The Freak Show podcast, where I talk about a wide spray of topics, I like to keep it shorter and focus on one or two things. This shorter format will maybe engage a more casual listener who is not really interested in the state of the Cardinals or Blues or the NFL or the hyped MMA card of the year. The longer Sports Stalkers podcasts are good for listening to on trips, while being stuck in extended traffic, while pitching BP for their team, etc.
OK back to today’s personal podcast, The Freak Show on the Podbean app recorded live! I talked about the weekend and my local softballer’s network of activities. Some teams (guys and gals) went to the Busch Classic down in Arkansas to play while I stayed here and played in a PSA tourney at Bellefountain Park. The weather was warm, muggy and somewhat breezy but otherwise what you would want for summer softball. I talked about the team I played for, The Mariners, and how we fared in the tournament and the overall results.
But let me chop it up a little finer. The reason softball is such a great game is that on paper one team should beat another team. But put them on the field against each other and the results may surprise you. Softball is such a game of momentum and luck it’s hilarious. A bad call or ‘Wolffs’ hop can change one play and in turn totally turn the tide of a ballgame. Just like one bad attitude or one person giving up can pull down an entire team. The team I played for, The Mariners, had 20 plus guys available to play at this tournament. Now on the podcast it seemed like I was shoving the coach Lee under the Mike Matheny bus but that is not entirely accurate. Lee is a friendly, approachable guy but in running his team, he needs to be a little more definitive. Pull aside twelve or thirteen guys and say, you know what, you are the guys going to win or lose this ballgame for us. Don’t tell a crowd of nearly two dozen ‘grown ass men’ to be at the ready for maybe a swing, maybe to pinch run, maybe play some glove as the game goes on. It’s too much to manage; not to mention it’s of the utmost importance to know the guys you have and what they can really do. I pointed out the errors Lee made in our second game by not replacing our defensive first baseman and pulling our pitcher after extended trouble. Notice I didn’t say pull those guys and put myself in. That’s not what I said at all. As I noted in the podcast, Antonio pitched the first game and did very well. Also he was fully ready to jump into game two when trouble occurred but Lee let the storm do too much damage. As for the first base situation, yes I could’ve played there or Reagan or three or four other guys and it would’ve helped the team defense but bottom line, after the third error at that position, you have to make a change for the good of the team. Later on in game four, where we lost, he could have subbed in fresher options in the outfield to save Dave and EY from heat exhaustion. This may have helped those guys have something left late in the game when we needed them to hit and run.
I’ve always told anyone who will listen, running a team is a bad deal no matter what. I believe Lee tries and has the best of intentions for his team but it’s not about making everyone happy, at least not on tournament days. In my opinion, he is not very consistent with his coaching. Some guys make several miscues and no change is made, then some guys make a single mistake and get the hook. I am not 100% schooled in the background relationships on the team but it’s hard to build team chemistry if you are making moves without a logical reason. Also, if you do not have faith in a player…do not ask him to play. As a coach, what message are you sending to your players when a guy makes a mistake and you bury him on the bench and do not give him a chance to atone for whatever mistakes he may have made? Many great baseball stories, football stories, basketball stories…sports stories have arisen from a guy that may have been having a bad game or a bad season but in a clutch situation came through and gave everyone a feel good vibe. What makes a good team is being confident. Confident in your lineup, confident in your defense and confident in your coaching. No one is flawless. Everyone makes mistakes. So picking someone up after an ‘oops’ is necessary because everyone is going to have a down game or a bad at bat sometime. Last time I checked, most games in softball are decided in the fifth, sixth, seventh or extra innings. If everyone is perfect, who made those first 15 or so outs? Unless you have a ‘bum’ in your lineup, meaning someone who has popped up to the catcher seven times in a row or you can tell is just mentally checked out, then you roll with your guys and have a little faith that they will find a way to come through.
Here I will hop down off the soapbox and chill. I just wanted to expound on the efforts of The Mariners team from Saturday. Great bunch of guys with a lot of fire. I’m not knocking Lee as a coach, I’m just saying he could make things easier on himself and simplify things. Know your players by learning what each can really do and in turn lock down who’s going to be doing what and who’s not going to play each game barring six injuries (if you have 20 guys show up). It’s a fun group and I enjoyed playing with them and the fight they showed even when down in games. Softball is a simple game, it’s the people that make it complicated.
If we blog writers have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these suggestions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest softball schmuck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the softball schmuck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And all readers shall restore amends.
A little ode to A Midsummer Night’s Dream above to class up my writing (I think). In closing, I am passionate about softball and the relationships I have forged over many years from being around softball. For every invitation to play, I am sincerely grateful. Like every other competitor, all I am looking for is to play the game the way it should be played and the outcome will be what it will be. No one goes undefeated every weekend, but even in losing there is something to be learned.
To Lee and all The Mariners, thank you for asking me to play and I hope it happens more down the line.