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Monday, March 21, 2011

From a Players Perspective

The following post is from Josh Herzenberg LHP from Oneonta State U and before that White Plains HS. Josh talks about the knowledge gained from spending time on the High School Baseball Web and what it was like going through the recruiting process. Well written and well thought out. Thanks Josh

I found this wonderful website in 2005, as a high school freshman. I was the only freshman on the varsity team, a LHP with a big curveball and a big ego. I posted here trying to garner some more information about colleges, and to try to get my name out there to the people who I deemed "mattered".

It's now been nearly six years since I began posting here. I've been through my fair share of mishaps and lumps in the baseball world, and I've been through my fair share of successes. Everything comes with the territory of playing amateur baseball. I've played in four games in one day, pitched both ends of a double header. I've been in so much pain I couldn't lift my arm above my head. I've cried over baseball more times than any self-respecting college aged male should admit to. I've spent countless hours online researching schools, professional teams, techniques, mechanics, weightlifting. I've spent even more time throwing, running, charting pitches, sitting in buses, airplanes, hotels.

I am now a junior in college. My team has made it to the NCAA tournament. I've pitched in some very important games. I have a career ERA under 2. I've given up game winning home runs. I've been screamed at by coaches to the point where I feel smaller than an ant. I've been at the bottom of the dogpile, and stood in the dugout gazing at opponent's dogpiles.

There are many, many people here who have sons who dream of playing ball at the next level. Many of those players are very talented and will be able to live that dream. Over my six years as a member of this site, I can't count how many posts I've read about "finding the right fit" for a player. People are genuinely curious and stressed about the shortcomings of the collegiate baseball recruiting process. They seek out knowledge from those who have been there, and those who they feel can guide them through the difficult process.

  • Never pick a school for its name. I played on a high profile summer team while I was in high school and many of my teammates were the absolute best players in our area. During the summer between junior and senior year, college coaches began to gravitate to the fields we played at because of the level of talent we had. My teammates acted like kids on Christmas morning...REAL college coaches were there to watch them play baseball. There was grumbling about full scholarship offers, Perfect Game rankings and draft stock in the dugout. It was like sitting at an 8th grade lunch table with a bunch of girls talking about the boys that were sitting at the table across from them. "He said this to that guy, he doesn't like this guy." By November of my senior year, many of my teammates committed to college. Some had various levels of scholarship offers, some were recruited walk-ons. Many of them took the first offer they got...some never even went on a visit to the school that had offered them. They simply saw the name of the school, their name on the paper, and signed it.

  • Never pick a school for a specific coach. This is true for two reasons. #1- Coaches change. Many coaches leave schools for other job opportunities that interest them. #2- Coaches aren't always the person you make them out to be when they are recruiting. Coaches have different personalities, and many times their true colors aren't fully on display when recruiting. Good coaches do a great job painting an appealing picture of their school, and many of the things they display aren't always completely true. I am not saying coaches are liars, but they want to show you the 100% best aspects of their program and will do so in any way they can. Do your proper research on the institution and the coaching staff. There are countless resources where you can do this (this site being one of them), and formulate a strong opinion based on ALL aspects of a school, not just the appealing ones that you see at the surface.

  • You or your son are entitled to absolutely nothing. A college coach is recruiting you to become part of his team. This means that he will provide you to get out on the field and have an opportunity to be successful and earn playing time. Just because he recruited you doesn't mean you are guaranteed to play where/when/how much you want to. Just because you feel that you had a better BP session or a better bullpen than another kid doesn't mean you are guaranteed to play. Just because you ran a faster 60, or the gun read a higher velocity doesn't mean you'll see innings over a teammate. You are entitled to nothing more than an opportunity. It is your responsibility to give it your all on the field and to show the coach that you belong out there. Coaches have a lot of other players on their depth chart and are not there to worry about your emotional state or your attitude towards the game. Coaches are there to put a winning team on the field. Bust your **s, show you care, and accept your role in stride.

  • Never underestimate the importance of body language. I have witnesses firsthand a player being crossed off a list because he walked to his position, or pouted after a call didn't go his way. As an extension of the previous point, coaches need to put together a winning team. If a player has attitude and could be detrimental to the team's overall success, then a coach won't want that player on his team. A quick story: My freshman year I was pitching in a conference game, tied 3-3, in the 8th inning. The leadoff hitter hit a hanging curveball to the right centerfield fence and sprinted into 3b with a triple. I was backing up the back and after the player slid in safely, I let out an F bomb. Was it loud? No. But it was loud enough for my coach, who was sitting in the dugout right behind me, to hear it. My coach usually posts the day's lineup on his hotel door in the morning and when I went to look at it the next day, I wasn't even listed as a player to potentially throw in relief that day. I looked at it sort of quizzically and he saw me and said "Son, you're lucky I didn't rip that uniform off you and send you home after what you did yesterday." Coaches take integrity very seriously and will not stand to witness anything that could jeopardize the mental success of a potentially player. (FWIW: I stood in front of the team the next day and apologized to everyone for what I did. I had to do a campus run when we arrived back to campus and was on laundry duty the next two weekends straight as a punishment).

  • Don't frown upon DII, DIII, NAIA or JuCo. I've seen it all. "Division I" it's in bright lights in Times Square. Why? Why is it so important to play DI? Is it because you want to attempt to play the best competition available to you, and the perceived challenge is appealing? Then by all means, sign the NLI...that's an excellent reason. But from what I've seen, most players want to play DI baseball because they want to be able to say they play DI baseball. That, frankly, is stupid. The decision of what college you are going to attend is a decision that will have an effect on your entire life in the future. It is very obvious that you love playing the game of baseball, or you wouldn't be attempting to play college baseball (I'll delve into that in the next bullet point). So why hinder the potentially institutions you can attend to this small number? Discrediting DII, DIII, NAIA and JuCo athletics is foolish, ignorant and stupid. Just because a school doesn't classify itself as a Division I institution doesn't mean that school can't allow your son to be happy in his collegiate endeavors. Pick a school for the academic, social and athletic appeals it portrays to you, not the organizational name it comes with.

  • Don't play college baseball unless you absolutely LOVE the game. Being a collegiate student-athlete is like having two full-time jobs. I'll lay it out for you: Let's say that you take 15 credit hours, which is the average at my school. That means that you spend 15 hours per week in class. Professors suggest that you spend 2-3 hours studying for every one hour spent in class. Let's round that to a comfortable average of 2.5 hours per hour...or 37.5 hours. Add that to the previous total of 15 credit hours and that gives you 52.5 hours per week spent on academics. Well, that's a full-time job right there. On average, I'd estimate that I spend 4 hours a day, 6 days a week at practice or in the weight room (probably a bit less during the off season, a bit more in-season). That's 24 hours a week. On top of that, athletics require you to attend meetings, lectures, study halls. Athletics require you to spend time worrying about the nutritional aspect of your life, worry about having proper training techniques in order to remain healthy. All these things combined translate to, let's say, another 15 hours a week. So that gives you a total of 39 hours. Add that to the previous academic total we found, and that's over 90 hours a week dedicated to your schoolwork and your baseball team. Everyday, every week, all year. If you feel that you aren't interested in putting in the required time to be a successful student and a successful athlete, then don't do it, because that's what it takes.

    In conclusion, no one will really know what is best for you or your son except you or your son. It is very important to discuss these possibilities with a clear head, and a foreseeable future in mind. Making this decision is a stressful, time consuming and exhilarating time in a person's life, and one that could ultimately be very gratifying. I encourage each and every person that reads these message boards to continue to engulf a wealth of knowledge that can be beneficial to them in the long run. HSBBWeb is just one of many high quality resources available out there, and exercising all of them cannot hurt you. Good luck to all those high school players who are beginning to start their seasons now, or will be soon.

  • 1 comment:

    1. Hi Joe -

      Thanks for posting Josh's blog. It is very appropriate for us since Erik is entering the college baseball selection & decision process. We reviewed it with him & shared it with his HS coach.