Baseball, it’s the ultimate team sport combining individual and team skills. A well-rounded baseball player that possesses high baseball IQ will compete with every pitch to help his team succeed. Unfortunately, today’s youth game seems to be changing at a rapid pace. Individual play is taking over and team baseball seems to be taking punches like a Rocky Balboa side of beef.
Hold onto your hats, the culprit may in fact be Club Baseball. You’ve seen it before, club coaches absorb and pluck players from leagues with the lure of travel, exposure, and the promise of college scholarships at a very early age. Parents love to hear that someone can make their son the next Bryce Harper or Randy Johnson. What the club doesn’t mention is that the team aspect of baseball isn’t being taught as it once was. Most of these club coaches know the game very well. However big money is now at stake and teaching team skills takes a back seat to bringing in money so the club has enough cash for operating expenses. This approach only helps the club make money and in no way helps one to become a well-rounded baseball player. Flawed at its core, parents flock to club teams in droves.
For my player, I decided against club baseball. I kept my son with a great youth coach and played Legion baseball during summers during his high school years. I knew that teaching all aspects of the game would be beneficial to him as a baseball player. I didn’t want his development to be limited to only hitting or pitching. But don’t take my word for it. Check out any high level showcase tournament featuring a majority of club teams. The team aspect of the game is slowly being washed away and replaced with games only emphasizing individual hitting and pitching skills. See if you can find a club coached team executing a sacrifice bunt, a defensive play to prevent a bunt, hit & run, or good base running techniques. It’s very difficult to find these skills being taught and used within the club baseball community. In fact get ready for the opposing coach to take offense and start acting a fool, should you try to execute one of these horrific outdated skills. Because after all, who bunts with a runner on first base with no outs in the bottom of the last inning?
Legion baseball is still a great option for those who want to play baseball and continue to learn the game. Actually it’s time we spread the word. You can be proud you and your player participate in Legion baseball. Don’t get caught up in all the club hype; it’s overrated to say the least. Legion baseball is much more cost effective than club baseball. There is a sense of community pride. There are coaches that teach the game of baseball not because they get paid to coach, but because they love the game. You actually have a “home” field….and you might even help your son to become a baseball player that helps his TEAM win.
Written by Eric Mertes
Parent of Nic Mertes Rockhurst University & Fike player from 2012-2016