By: Austin Alexander - March 29, 2014
Rain, rain, go away, come back another day...like maybe during basketball season!
The real March Madness has been the monsoon month of March...
What a year it has been so far in terms of spring baseball and aweful weather. Coaches and scouts have long since had to have a little feel for meteorology, but it has been some time since we have had to follow the radar, tarp fields, drop diamond dry and re-arrange schedules like we have in 2014.
Precipitation of all types has been the theme of our young campaign.
Our staff has seen fewer games and teams to this point than in any other spring, it's really frustrating!
It almost makes you wish we had all chosen basketball as our sport of choice!
No other sport must deal with the constant change of the wind, of clouds, of storms. In our sport, we play or practice nearly every day and our fields are always subject to the heavens and what may rain, snow, sleet or blow in from above.
When trying to arrange bus departures, meals, hotels, umpires, pitching rotations and budgets around surprises makes a high school baseball coaches job so much more difficult than the guy who is in charge of his hoops facility and biggest problem is often making sure that he has not forgotten to pack his easel and dry erase markers!
Now consider the college coach that has all of those same issues with his own team to deal with, not to mention trying to jam a sixth game into every week as to not lose RPI points toward a possible NCAA berth, sorting out recruiting visits, along with the ever-present decision of whether he should jump in the car to see a prospect and drive "X" amount of miles/hours only to watch it rain, then turn around and drive the same distance back...all while trying to retain his job.
How about the plight of pro scouts who have to be somewhere watching baseball almost every single night. Depending on the scout's territory, the race against Mother Nature turns into many nights of dodging the Doppler nightmare that covers your region and eventually costs you another opportunity to knock out 2-4 teams in a day. Then there is the matter of arranging the flight plans of your cross-checker, whose nationwide nights are already limited. You've finally got it all sorted out, the guy you are courting is on the mound and your boss is all set to board an airplane to roll in...then you check the most recent weather report and your territory is covered in green, yellow and red!
All of the aforementioned examples make the best of us wonder how life would be different had we chosen basketball!
I am reminded of a recent example that appropriately puts my theory into play:
In my last coaching job, our offices were in an auxiliary gym, we shared it with the softball staff and the gym was attached, housing an occasional team practice that may be moved indoors for various reasons. One December afternoon, all four coaches on our staff were hard at work when the women's basketball coach barged in wanting to use the phone and forge a complaint to someone in the athletic department as to why the floor had not been mopped after the men's practice 30 minutes before. The only reason they were even displaced was because of a concert that night and the main gymnasium was off limits. One day out of their element and literally minutes to make their playing surface "playable" and all of Hades had broken loose!
Now, we really liked this coach and greatly respected she and her staff. But after seeing just how riled up she became over something that probably set them back five minutes was absolutely comical to us after her rant on the phone, then her departure!
We immediately began to reminisce some of the memories we had of making constant adjustments to the elements, bundling up to move snow, pushing water and sacrificing your teams practice to get a field ready to go. Then you start to think about the many times during a game that the personnel you use and how the decisions you make is affected based on weather reports you get from inning to inning.
Imagine if basketball coaches had to polish the floor every other day and line the entire court before each game. Imagine if the scoreboard fell to the deck moments before tip-off. What if every shot were contested by the wind and if the trainer informed a coach that a tornado was approaching, that they better be leading by the end of the third quarter when the game would become official?
Here's you another image! Can you see Rick Pitino, John Calapari or Coach K pulling a tarp in torrential showers wearing Armani suits to secure a victory?
How different are these two sports in regards to dealing with the elements?
Our game is a great game! We follow it and have given our lives to it because we believe it is the best game of all!
When we hear that our daily destination is in the path of rain, sleet or snow, man-o-man you can't help but wish you had chosen basketball as your first love!
BUT, perhaps baseball mirrors real life more than any other sport. The constant bout with the weather in baseball forces you to adjust on the fly and make important decision on your feet...almost every single day. You must roll with the punches and deal with the surprises without skipping a beat, much like reality outside the lines.
Having said that, I did say a special prayer this morning at church requesting sunny skies for a while, fewer adjustments and more baseball to be played...because Lord knows we have sure earned some good weather!