Diamond Notes: Show me the money!

Show me the money! By: Austin Alexander-December 17, 2006   As Major League contracts begin to go through the roof for marginal players, the baseball world is up in arms over the rise in salaries and the concern over where the market is headed. We’ll take a close look at some of the numbers. The two names that have caused the most rage have been the free agent signings of Gil Meche and Ted Lilly. Meche (11-8, 4.48 ERA in 2006, 55-44, 4.45 for career) inked with the Kansas City Royals for $55 million over five years. Lilly (15-13, 4.31 ERA in 2006, 59-58, 4.56) signed with the Chicago Cubs at a four-year/$40 million clip. Neither pitcher has ever pitched 200 innings in a year, made an All-Star team or won a game in the post-season. Others who have stirred up the line between mediocre talent and greatness include Miguel Batista (11-8, 4.58 ERA, 68-79, 4.46 for career) and Jason Marquis (14-16, 6.02 ERA, 56-52, 4.55 for career). Batista signed with the Seattle Mariners for three years/$27 million, he is 35 years old, has eclipsed 200 innings once has one October win on his resume. Marquis will be entering a three-year/$21 million deal in 2007 with the Cubs. Not bad for guy who was left off of the post-season roster this year by the St. Louis Cardinals, despite several key injuries to their pitching staff. Here’s a name you know. Eric Gagne will command $6 million next season from the Texas Rangers. Sounds like a bargain, right? Think again. The 2003 Cy Young Award winner has appeared in only 16 games in the past two years. But why not take a gamble? The Rangers are still paying Alex Rodriguez to hit homeruns and win MVP’s for the Yankees! To take it a step further, the Red Sox won a bidding war for the rights to negotiate with Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka. It took $51.1 million just to talk to a guy that doesn’t even speak English! At the eleventh hour, and when the smoke cleared, super agent Scott Boras worked the deal out for a six-year/$52 million…all totaled $103.1 million for a guy who has never thrown a pitch on American soil! Now it remains debatable if this deal is worth it or not but the fact that locals jokingly want to rename there famed stadium ‘Yenway Park’ suggests they expect several Cy Young’s over the next six seasons. Most folks are screaming from the mountain tops about sky-rocketing salaries, including 70 percent of our Diamond Prospects readers according to a recent poll. Experts say that a recent surplus has been identified in the industry’s revenue that has been generated by television deals, sponsors and the like. What many casual fans see are the spike in ticket costs, price gauging at the concession stand and the overall expense associated with taking the family to the ballpark. Is this good or is it bad? Well, it probably depends on who you root for. If your team of choice is Boston, Los Angeles or either New York team, chances are you have no issue with recent trends. Fans in Pittsburgh, Tampa, Miami and Kansas City feel differently. Consequently, attendance is down in those cities as these teams generally round out the bottom of divisions in both leagues. Consider this though, eight of the top ten payrolls in 2006 failed to make the playoffs. The Yankees, with far and away the highest payroll, has not won a World Series since 2000. So what does the future hold? Let’s take a look. According to a recent labor agreement between owners and the players union, the minimum salary by 2009 will be $400,000…the minimum! That means the rookie who has never stepped over a Major League foul line will make thirteen times that of the average American. The minimum this year was $327,000, 20 years ago the minimum was $62,500. Want to talk about the average salary? In 1985 it was $300,000, next year it is expected to eclipse $4 million. To put that into context, the .265 hitter and 5.05 ERA pitcher will be making life-altering money in 2007. For those of you who like more numbers, we’ll take a quick peek at the MLB draft and how it has changed over the years. In 1965, Rick Monday was the first overall selection of the Oakland Athletics and signed for $100,000. The average signing bonus of the first rounders that year was $42,516. In 2005, Justin Upton put $6.1 million in his purse, not bad for an 18-year old! The average signing bonus in the 1st round of the draft a year ago was $2,018,000, pretty good payday for a successful amateur career. This past draft featured two first round selections of names you know. Clemson’s Tyler Colvin went 13th overall to the Chicago Cubs and picked up $1,475,000, while Wren High School’s Jason Place fell to the Red Sox with the 27th pick and signed for $1.3 million. Lot’s of numbers I know, and if you’re still with me, let me conclude by making sense of this. Whether you agree or disagree with contract trends in Major League Baseball, true baseball fans will always recognize players as extraordinary athletes who provide us a nice diversion every summer evening despite the salary gap that may exist. The game is still good regardless of how many suits, jets and mansions these guys can now acquire. While money in baseball has always been eye-opening, we’ve entered the period of pure shock. Makes me wish I’d been a better player! If you’re a young player out there, hopefully you play the game and work hard because you love the game itself. But if you need some extra motivation, re-read this article. Upon crunching these numbers, at least I feel a little more comfortable about cramming baseball down the throat of my toddler! Long live our great game…   Sources: Baseball America-2007 Almanac, ESPN, Vineline-Monthly Magazine of the …

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Diamond Notes: Managing the Two-Way Player

By: Charlie Wentzky – December 15, 2006 So often we hear people talking about a kid getting over-used as a pitcher. In other words, his coach pitches him too much, or too often. These comments only come from what a large majority of people physically see a kid do while he is on the mound. I have heard stories of many parents or other coaches complaining of a kid throwing too many pitches during a game and even voicing their opinions during the game about it. These are the kids who throw 120-200 pitches an outing.   Throwing that many pitches for a high school pitcher is too much for one outing and a majority of people (including parents) understand that. But my question is: Do people notice when say a shortstop pitches in relief twice a week that he too may have his arm “over-used” as well? Even if he only throws 30 pitches an outing?   What? That was your reaction I am sure, but most of us can see the obvious and know when a pitcher throws too many pitches in one game. Some call it “getting tired” while others call it for what it is. Many people however do not see, or take into account, how many throws a kid makes throughout the course of the week. This will include every warm up throw before practice and games, every throw he makes during practice, every BP  throw he makes in the cage during practice, throws he makes between innings to get loose, throws he makes to record outs in a game, and every pitch he makes in the bullpen or on the mound during the game.   When you take time to add all of that up it can come up to an incredibly large number. When I was in college we played a weekend series against a conference foe and the same guy closed the Saturday night game by throwing the final three innings and started the Sunday game and threw into the ninth inning.   Too many throws?   As players we commented on it and one of our coaches said “add the number of throws he didn’t make off the mound to that total.” We did and we determined that he threw 200 or so pitches from the mound and made another 200 plus throws over the course of the weekend either getting loose or between innings. 400 throws for one player over three days is a lot considering that at least 300 of them were done at 100 percent.   So many people pay close attention to the number of throws a kid makes during a game, but often forget about the “other” throws they make during the course of the week. This creates a problem on the high school, AAU and Little League level simply because we have many players who pitch and play a position, or in other words are a two-way player.   Here at Spring Valley we have only had one kid who was just a pitcher in the last three years. Every other pitcher we have had contributes to us at another position as well. Because of this, we have to pay close attention to how many throws they make during the course of the week, including “live” throws from the mound. We do pay close attention to the number of pitches our kids throw live from the mound. I don’t like to throw our kids more than 100-110 pitches per outing (that is from the middle of the year on for us, usually that number is around 80 early in the season). When a kid throws more than 30 pitches in an outing we make him wait at least a full day before we use him again. (However, come playoff time, this number can change depending on the kid.) Throughout the year we, as coaches, pay close attention to the number of throws our kids make during the week to keep them from throwing too much. Here are a few ideas that we use that help a kid limit his throws during a week.   Talk to the kid:. Ask him how his arm feels. Try to get a feel for whether he will tell you the truth or not. Some kids will tell you the truth, while others will tell you what they think you want to hear. Let the kid know that its okay of they are sore. You can work with that. Be sure to explain to them when they need to take it easy on their arm and why. Having the kid understand the importance of taking care of his arm makes your job as a coach easier.   Limit his throws: Every kid we have gets loose every day. This may be a light 30-40 foot toss, or it could be a regular long toss. Before each practice we try to remind kids what they need to do that day to get loose. If he has just pitched, or is getting ready to pitch, he will throw less. When working on defensive skills, don’t make them throw every rep. We use buckets to help us limit the number of throws we make. For instance, when we will hit fly balls to our outfielders instead of making them throw it back in to us, or to another player, we simply have them put the ball in the bucket. When the bucket gets full, they bring in the balls. We do the same for our infielders, but we do have them throw occasionally. Usually our guys will work on throwing across the diamond two times  a week. Our shortstop, for instance, will field anywhere from 400-500 ground balls a week, but will only make about 50 throws over that same time. You can still get great reps without making a ton of throws!!!   Save Your Bullets:  This expression I learned from my college coaches. What does it mean? Well, the army doesn’t …

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Diamond Notes: The Farr Side

The Farr SideBy: Chance Farr-December 7, 2006 Although the season seems like it’s still a year away, it’s just right around the corner. Our baseball team’s replication of the cross country team has gone into full stride and the weight room continues to be my second home along with the cages. Our team takes a lot of pride in our field so we wor… The new DP website is here. For all the great DP content, subscribe. If you have any login/subscription issues, please contact our support team. Your feedback on the new experience is appreciated as well. Username Password Remember Me     Forgot Password

Diamond Notes: May I have a roster? Please!

By: Austin Alexander – December 7, 2006 Though the high school baseball season remains a ways out, a certain topic must be addressed in more detail for those folks who have the name “Coach” preceding their last name. It has been a long-standing joke among college coaches and pro scouts about how few of the high school coaches out there actually carry their team’s roster into the dugout before each game. Something that you’d think would simply be a part of a pre-season or gameday routine is normally absent when evaluators lean into the dugout to request a roster. Admittedly, our expectations are actually very low that we’ll leave the dugout with a piece of paper identifying the players, but we take that risk 100 percent of the time on the off-chance that a coach has actually thought about that evening’s game before the first pitch is made. I’ll take it a step further, you hope they’d pre-thought about their kids and an opportunity they could be hindering them from. You see, most college coaches and pro scouts don’t go fishing for players. Normally they are tracking an individual or two in that game. But as they bear down on the kid they’ve driven in to see, it’s always nice to identify a player you knew nothing of before you got there. With no roster, you find yourself watching a bunch of teen-agers run around a baseball diamond. The next step in the process for the frustrated evaluator becomes asking the parents, girlfriends or that local guy who knows everybody, who #4 is. Or who is that catcher? Once they can answer that question for us, we ask what year the player is in school. Then it becomes a conversation among the whole bleacher trying to figure out what grade little Johnny is in. All of this can be avoided with a little extra effort by coaches. Coaches: Handing a college coach or scout the third sheet of your line-up card is not a viable substitute. Telling us you forgot to put it in your bag that day will get little sympathy. Sending an evaluator to find Betty Jo up on the hill for a program full of ads and a team picture is of little help too. True story. Twice this year I was handed a line-up sheet and began making notes on it only to have to return it because it was needed in the press box! I spent the rest of that night watching 18 strangers run between white lines. It would have been just as productive to have left the ball park. At this point in this article, every college coach and scout reading right now is nodding their head. We’ve seen this scenario played out too many times for too many years. Coaches, here’s all you need to do. Take 20 minutes before season begins and type, or have typed, a listing of your players in numerical (not alphabetical) order. Include their grade. Bonus, include their height, weight and defensive position(s). Additional information on that, or a separate, sheet can also be very helpful. Contact info, i.e. mailing/email addresses, home/cell numbers, grade point average and an SAT score normally give us critical information if we like what we see between the lines. High school and travel ball coaches who fail to present a roster when requested can instantly lose credibility with evaluators and make the job more difficult for us to identify your players after driving several hours away from our family to see your team play. Make every effort for coaches/scouts to evaluate and contact your players easier…your kids will benefit in the end! It’s a small price to pay for a young man’s future. .

Diamond Notes: Off-season conditioning, Part I

By: David Marchbanks-November 29, 2006 One thing I have always prided myself on is my ability to condition my body for a long and grueling season. I’ve always felt like there are few things you can control in this game, but the one thing everyone can control is their work ethic and the way they prepare their bodies for a season. Running and weight lifting not only prepares your body but it also prepares your mind by constantly challenging yourself and making you mentally tougher. There are so many types of workouts out there and you just have to find one that works for your body. I’ve always felt like there is no right or wrong workout, as long as you find a structured conditioning program, and stay committed to it, you will get significant strength gains. In this article I have outlined a basic off-season conditioning and throwing guide for young pitchers to properly prepare their mind, body and arm for the upcoming season. In part one, I’ll talk about taking care of your arm and building your arm up for the upcoming season. In part two, I’ll discuss a good off-season conditioning program that has worked for me throughout my career. At every level you often see two types of pitchers, people that overthrow and people that baby their arms and don’t throw enough. I’ve always fallen into the category of overthrowing and I’ve learned the hard way on several occasions. So obviously the goal of every pitcher, is to find a happy medium and find a way to give your arm enough rest while developing and preparing your arm properly for your season. When it comes to long tossing, I am a big believer that the only way you’re going to strengthen your arm is by continually increasing the distance you throw and constantly challenging yourself by trying to throw farther each week. In this article I’ll discuss a basic throwing program that has worked for me over the years. There isn’t one set way to strengthen your arm, so find what is best for you and hopefully you will find this beneficial. The first month following the conclusion of your season, probably around August if you played summer baseball, you should take advantage of the off-time and totally shut down your arm from any throwing to allow yourself a chance to rest. Many people don’t realize how important this time is until they experience arm fatigue from overthrowing during the season, and then it’s too late. After your month off in August, it’s time to start getting your arm going again by slowly building it back up. I’d recommend long tossing two times a week, preferably on Monday’s and Friday’s. When you long toss during the first month, don’t air it out as much as you can, keep your long toss somewhere between 120 or 150 feet. It’s real important not to rush your arm and start throwing the ball as far as you can during the first month. Continually back up as far as you feel comfortable throwing during this time. During the month of October, I would recommend long tossing twice a week with one day of light throwing mixed in at some point during the week. By mixing in a light toss to about 90 feet, you get your arm used to working into three long tosses a week. During the month of November, I would always start working into long tossing three days a week: Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s with flat ground work on Monday’s and Friday’s. During flat ground work, I would always get my partner to squat down like a catcher at the conclusion of my long toss and work on commanding my fastball to each side of the plate and developing feel for my change-up. During the month of December, I would start working bullpens into my weekly routine by long tossing Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday and throwing a 35 to 40-pitch bullpen on Wednesday’s. During my first couple of bullpen sessions, I would always keep my focus on the command of my fastball and change-ups. Later in month when I started feeling comfortable locating my fastball and change-up, I would start working my breaking ball into my bullpen routine. For the month of January, you should start gearing up for your high school season by long tossing four days a week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  You should also get in two 35 to 40-pitch bullpens during the week, preferably on Monday and Friday. This should get your arm going and should make for an easy transition going into your high school tryouts and practices. It’s important to realize that everyone’s arm is different and everyone has different goals and things they want to improve on during the off-season. There are several different theories and throwing programs to help you increase your arm strength and help you to reach your goals. It’s important to find what is best for your arm and stay committed to your program to allow you to reach your highest potential. This is a throwing regimen that has always helped me to build up my arm strength and allowed me to soak up a lot of innings during the course of the year. Best of luck on a great baseball season this year and remember that one of the only things you can control in this game is your preparation. Throwing Program Recap August-REST September-Long Toss 2 days a week October-Long Toss 2 days a week, mix in a light toss one day during the week November-Progress to 3 Long Toss days a week. December-Long Toss Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a 35-40 pitch bullpen on Wednesday. January– Long Toss Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with a 35-40 pitch bullpen on Monday’s and Friday’s. About the author: David Marchbanks was South Carolina’s Mr. Baseball in 2000 before an outstanding career at the University of South Carolina. As a Gamecock he made two trips …

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Diamond Notes: It must be November

By: Austin Alexander-November 14, 2006 The crack of the bat is gone, Joe Buck commercials no longer air, the champions have been crowned and another baseball season is in the books. Now we are forced to face a Fall full of football and reality television. I’m reminded of a quote by Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby. When asked what he did during the winter, he responded, “I stare out the window and wait for baseball season to roll around again.” Many true hardcore, hardball junkies echo those sentiments. The year begins in February with news of battery mates reporting to sunny Florida or Arizona’s desert. Within weeks, spring training games are on the tube and we watch, not because we care who wins, but because we catch our first glimpse of the summer soon to follow. Many more flock to the training sites and make the tour from team to team as part of their annual pilgrimage. The regular season begins with baseball fans in every city rooting for the home team…“next year” has finally arrived! Homeruns, no-hitters, record chasing, Web Gems, scandals, beanings and pennant races abound over the next six months and we watch with great interest! Then October rolls around and even casual baseball fans become rabid bandwagon members. Pine tar, unlikely heroes and the annual annoyance of Tim McCarver grace the month of October. One team dog-piles, sprays champagne and has a parade…and then the silence begins. That’s where we find ourselves right now. Peter Gammons only surfaces once a week and we have to live for the occasional trade rumors or free agent signings. College football, formerly a Saturday sport, now litters the TV five nights a week. I guess that’s okay because our other options include Survivor, election results, and Deal or No Deal. I’d rather watch Jim Thome than Grey’s Anatomy, National League All-Stars instead of Big Brother All-Stars and give me Albert Pujols’ opposite field bombs over Emmitt Smith doing the cha-cha any day of the week. The late commissioner of baseball A. Bartlett Giamatti perhaps said it best, “It’s a game designed to break your heart. It begins in the spring when everything else begins again and it blossoms into the summer filling the afternoons and evenings. And then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the Fall alone.” Related article: It must be October! .

The anatomy of a baseball schedule

Foul Tips: The anatomy of a baseball schedule By: Austin Alexander-November 10, 2006   For players, parents and high school coaches who plan to send their spring schedule to college coaches, professional scouts, or anyone else for that matter, please consider the following.   Many schedules we receive do not have the name of the high school anywhere on it! And believe it or not, not everyone outside your area automatically knows what “LHS” stands for. Understand that there are plenty of “LHS’s” in South Carolina and hundreds more outside the border. You sure would hate to be a quality player at Loris, for instance, but the college recruiter shows up at Lexington High School wanting to see you play. Here’s another example. “Tiger Baseball” can also apply to several other prep programs.   Do not assume that people can distinguish one from another because when your schedule gets stuffed into a folder or notebook with hundreds of others like it, you don’t want to make it difficult for an evaluator to make that distinction. Another thing. It doesn’t hurt to put the school address somewhere on the schedule. This way it can easily be plugged into Mapquest or GPS and directions can quickly be located. If your field is not at the high school, meaning you play your games at the local legion field or city park, include that as well. You don’t want a college coach driving around your town looking for the ballpark while missing your round of infield/outfield or batting practice. Make it easier for the people whose time demands are already strained. Lastly, add the head coaches name, email address and/or cell phone number (including area code). This can be particularly helpful when trying to lock down pitching match-ups or avoiding long drives to rainouts. .

Diamond Notes: Contrasting the periods

Contrasting the periods: Signing, quiet and dead! By: Austin Alexander – November 10, 2006 This Article was written in 2006, dates are different this year. To view 2013 dates, click here We just passed through a dead period, which preceded an early signing period…both fall during a quiet period that extends until the end of February. Like most players and parents, the rules and terminology handed down by the NCAA can become very confusing. Even college coaches, who must pass a difficult NCAA test with flying colors, are often unsure of the legalese and text in a manual that is issued to every Division I, II and III coach. DP makes sense of it all in a special informative article to clear up the madness of the winter season.   First let’s define a few terms:   Early Signing Period: The first period of time when a senior, or junior college sophomore, who has committed to an NCAA school can sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI).   Quiet Period: During this period, a college coach may not have any off-campus contact with a prospect or evaluate a prospect’s athletic abilities outside of a college camp. A prospect may visit a college campus during this period.   Dead Period: During this period, a college coach cannot have any contact with a prospect on or off campus. A coach may write, text, email or call prospects.   Prospect: Any athlete from the ninth grade and up, regardless of ability-level.   We’ll clarify.   The Early Signing Period is what we sit in the middle of right now. It began on Wednesday, November 8 and extends through Wednesday the 15th. Each November, one week is designated for seniors and junior college sophomores to make their commitment firm and officially “sign” with the school they have chosen. Regardless of how long a prospect has been verbally committed, he cannot sign an NLI until this period rolls around.   The Quiet Period for NCAA coaches this year began on Monday, November 6 and extends through the final day of February. No coach can attend a workout, showcase or game away from his campus unless he is being paid to work another college’s winter camp. Official and unofficial visits are permissible during this time.   During the Dead Period, a prospect and NCAA coach cannot have any contact on or off campus. For instance, a player cannot arrange a meeting, drop off his NLI or take in a team workout. In 2006, this period came and went on November 6-8, Monday through Wednesday of this week.   If a prospect does not sign an NLI during the Early Signing Period, he can verbally commit at anytime but not sign until mid-April. Past that, an NLI can be signed at any time before fall classes begin.   It should be pointed out here that a junior college cannot sign a player until January 15, then any time thereafter. NAIA schools can sign a player at any point. Though the recruiting process can be a very daunting time for players and parents alike, the more details revealed, the less intimidating it should be.   Note: For information on Recruiting 101, a service provided by Diamond Prospects to better inform players and parents on the recruiting process, click here. .

Diamond Notes: Baseball Superstitions

Baseball Superstitions II By: Austin Alexander-Halloween, 2006   Last time we addressed the silly superstitions of baseball that us regular folk use to “stay hot” or end a slump. We failed to mention some of the quirky things that Major League players or coaches have been known to do, surely you didn’t think they were above such mundane acts! Today we’ll take a look at some things the pros will do to resist fate. A few names you know: Hall of Famer Wade Boggs’ pre-game meal for 18 years consisted of chicken. Not only that, for a night game that would start at 7:30, he would leave for the park at 1:47 and run his sprints at 7:17. Once in Anaheim, the manager at the time, Gene Mauch, decided to have some fun at Boggs’ expense. Knowing of the slugger’s pre-game ritual, he had all the clocks in the ballpark frozen at 7:15 for five minutes, Boggs continued to glance around, much to the amusement to the Angles dugout. Finally, the clock turned to 7:20! At this point Boggs finally realized the joke was on him. His obsession with the number “7” stemmed from his never-ending desire to go 7-for-7 in a game…he never did. Ken Griffey Jr. sold a car shortly after purchasing it, he claimed it didn’t have any hits in it! St Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa (left) sometimes prints the names on the line-up cards, other times he writes it in cursive. And what determines which one? If he prints it and the Cardinals win, he continues to print until they lose, only then does he switch to cursive! Curt Schilling leaves a ticket for his late father for every game that he has pitched in since 1988. Dwight Gooden had a rotation of bubble gum. It started with Bazooka, if he lost, he switched to Juicy Fruit. If he lost again, he’s switch to Bubblicious. Another loss would put him back at Bazooka again, Gooden claims that he did this his whole career. He also kept the same bullpen catcher, Mike Borzello, from start his first start with the Mets until he retired as a Yankee and every team in between. Don Robinson, a pitcher with four teams from the late 70’s to the early 90’s, would not allow anyone else to pick the ball up off of the ground at the start of the inning. If someone flipped it to him, he’d step aside and not pick the ball up until it stopped rolling. He also would never touch the resin bag claiming he was certain it was bad luck! David Cone won two World Series clinching games in the 90’s, one with the Blue Jays and one with the Yankees. For each game, and many others throughout his career, he wore the same jacket to the ballpark. It was a Labatt’s Beer bomber jacket. He said the jacket smelled like champagne and that champagne smelled like success! Turk Wendell, a pitcher that broke in with the Chicago Cubs in 1993, was well known for his highly unusual behavior during games. Among the many zany things he’s rumored to have done, he is best known for chewing licorice during an inning, vaulting over the fouline after the third out, then rushing to the water fountain where a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash…and more licorice awaited. Upon grooming his oral area, he’d take the mound and repeat the routine until his retirement in 2004. More to come… Baseball Superstitions I .

Diamond Notes: October Baseball

It must be October! By: Austin Alexander – October 5, 2006, updated 10/3/16 As the Fall Classic of our national pastime peaks around the corner, even the most casual baseball fan knows that the calendar has flipped to a new month, the best month, the month everybody in the game works toward…October baseball. In professional baseball, playing in October is the pinnacle of your profession. As a fan, having your team play a 163rd game can erase the memory of many past failures in the regular season. The post-season is what every Major League organization attending spring training sets out to achieve. Millions upon millions of dollars are shuffled between fans, vendors, television, ownership and players striving to play in the tenth month of our year. Family sacrifices are made by scouts, coaches and management. Players deal with injuries, boos and slumps. All of this is done in hopes of playing the game they love in the isolation of the playoffs. The scope is larger, every move is scrutinized and each mistake is magnified in October. Second-guessing, hind-sight vision and analysis galore are traits of baseball’s final month. October is what creates memories and heroes…or reduces grown men to goats. For every Donnie Moore, Mickey Owen, Fred Snodgrass, Bill Buckner and Ralph Branca there is a Kirby Puckett, Bob Gibson, Joe Carter (left), Bill Mazeroski, Aaron Boone or Jack Morris among others. October can allow the most obscure guy on the bench to become a household name. Remember Mark Lemke, Dusty Rhodes, Francisco Cabrera, Craig Counsell and Gene Tennace, to name a few? We’ve all seen Willie Mays’ catch off the bat of Vic Wertz, the Giants “Win the Pennnant,” Yogi Berra leaping into Don Larsen’s arms, the bloody sock and Kirk Gibson pumping his fist. These are images that will remain with us for a lifetime, not because they happened, but because of when they happened. The final month of the season is when the stars come out. It’s when the media crams Buster Posey down your throat and David Ortiz continues hitting big dingers. Old stars like Frank Thomas (right) reclaim their place in history during the same game that two of baseball’s best southpaws square-off. We get our first glance in pressure situations of new names like Bryant, Machado, Rizzo, Seager and some guy named Sanchez. If that doesn’t entice you enough, we get three games in one day! Sure that last one begins after bedtime but consider this, in three weeks we’ll be without baseball for five months, that fact alone can be a source of motivation for you as the eye-lids get heavy. If you love baseball, you live for October even though November leaves you with an empty feeling, a huge void that forces us to watch reality shows on the tube because we really don’t know what else to do. So who will it be this year that makes the diving catch to be replayed for the ages? Who will hit this year’s most important walk-off homer? Who will win the trophy? Who is guy you’ve never heard of today but will soon become a baseball immortal? If history does, in fact, repeat itself, we are assured this next month will be full of big-time performances on a big-time stage. We know that all but 25 players will deal with the agony of defeat. Whether your team is already finished, has their heart broken in a Game 7 or your team takes the prize, one thing is certain…we, the fans, will win as it all unfolds before our eyes. As the great Tommy LaSorda once said in a commercial promoting the playoffs, “to the television, we go!” For much more on picture atop this page, please view more at: www.timcarrollart.com