This is on the USS Rock N Roll blog today:
Tuning in to spring training baseball is simultaneously fascinating and boring (presupposing avid interest the game). There are many side plots, but a main factor of interest for me are the lesser-known young players scrapping for roster spots, fighting to be the 1% of the 1% who make it. Or trying to make a memorable impression when injuries crop up. Waves of players whose names I’ve never heard foul off cut fastballs, field fly balls in dramatic escapades, fly around the basepaths. The difficulty of the game is startlingly clear, and it strikes me how routine the elite players make it look. I am continuously reminded: baseball is hard.
I haven’t made it through a whole spring game yet, but at the moment I am consumed by the notion of how do we evaluate what is good? These young players no doubt evaluate themselves in a specific way, their hits, or walks, or on base percentage. But if Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon doesn’t see the swinging mechanics he needs to, it doesn’t matter. If pitching coach Jeff Jones doesn’t see the young reliever hitting his spots, or his arm slots, or whatever metric, even if the kid gets out of a jam and keeps a sub-3.00 ERA, it doesn’t matter. Because it wasn’t good enough.
The notion of what is good and how do we know what is good is on my mind because this week the improv team I coach was “retired” from the theatre which created it, after six months. The explanation behind the decision essentially boiled down to the notion that even if audience members, the players on the group, and I felt the work being done was good, it doesn’t matter because the decision-makers concluded it wasn’t good enough. And we will lose that argument every time. Continue reading
- Such as, what happens when the 270 pound version of Miguel Cabrera plays third base for the first time in four years? Does hilarity ensue?! Does a professional ath-a-lete simply display the staggering physical acumen de rigueur in the league? We shall see!↩
- These figures are arbitrary but seem highly accurate to me at the moment.↩
- Two years ago the Tigers were so depleted of A-listers by injuries that in September there was merchandise online with the Tigers logo, but the team name was changed to “Miggy and the Mudhens” (referring to Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers’ AAA team, the Toledo Mudhens).↩