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Here’s an NYT story about youth baseball:
In modern youth baseball, where the culture has been transformed by the pursuit of the holy grail, a college athletic scholarship, the fundamentals are falling by the wayside in favor of flashier skills like big-league-style hitting and pitching. …
Everybody gets private tutoring these days, but most of that nurture goes to displaying nature: show that this kid will someday be able to throw 95 mph or hit the ball 400 feet.
As a result, in the last decade or so, a generation of top ballplayers has, in most cases, spent little time learning how to accurately throw across the diamond; catch a fly ball; field a ground ball and turn a double play; run the bases effectively; make a tag at a base; or, God forbid, bunt.
At Tufts University, a Division III power in New England, Coach John Casey gathers his new players on the first day of practice and makes this announcement:
“You’re no longer in the showcase world of display, display, display. We play baseball here — hit the cutoff man, do the little things that win games.”
Casey, the former president of the American Baseball Coaches Association, sometimes adds: “You have been hitting off a tee in an indoor cage way too much. You could teach a chimpanzee smoking a cigarette to hit a baseball off a tee.”
You can win a lot of high school games with a fully grown 5’9″ pitcher who can throw 75 mph strikes. But he won’t get many scholarship offers or get drafted because he’ll probably never be able to throw over 85 mph.
I’ve known a lot of guys who played minor league baseball. When I tracked down their stats, what I usually notice is that they didn’t make it to the big leagues because they lacked slugging power. The ability to reach major league fences is pretty rare.