The previous blog I wrote I devoted to pet peeves of coaches inspired by other baseball coaches. Well, now it is time to pick on players and identify numerous baseball pet peeves that irk coaches to no end, and in spite of these, often times nothing is ever done. While nothing is ever done coaches will continue to condemn players amongst themselves without taking more responsibility to clean up and fix many of these pet peeves they find fault with. (So maybe I can add that one to the last post!)
With that said, it’s time to take a few moments and reflect on 21 Baseball Pet Peeves that will continue to drive coaches zany if they don't nip them in the bud when they are first observed. In fact, these Pet Peeves could be addressed at the beginning of the first team meeting, workout or otherwise to ensure they don’t happen or there will be consequences.
1. The offensive inning is over, the defence departs from their dugout and they DO NOT SPRINT to their respective positions. Hey, it’s simple; you have 15 seconds or less to get yourself from the dugout to your position. Put a stop watch on them. If they are longer than that, there must be a consequence. Conversely, when the defence team fashions the last out of the inning, they need to SPRINT back into their dugout. Outfielders had better learn to be sprinters, as they will have eighteen 100 yard sprints in a game. Infielders will have eighteen 50 yard sprints. Get used to it players; you sprint to and from your position.
2. Now we have a baserunner or multiple baserunners on base and the inning is ended. Players sprint to their positions, but, oh boy, not one player took the glove, hat or sunglasses out to the players left stranded on the bases. Big mistake here! Players need to ensure they know where their teammates' equipment is and as soon as the inning is over, find the gear and sprint it out to them. How many times have you seen this not happen? Well it happens all the time. What makes it worse is a player off the bench running the equipment out to the player because someone had a brain cramp.
3. Back to the defensive inning. How many times does a coach have to voice to his players “who is playing catch with the outfielders”? If a coach had a dime for every time they that, they would be retired and living on a beach in the south of France!
4. How about the outfielders or the first baseman going to their defensive positions without a baseball for between inning catch and ground balls? My lord, how do you think that looks? Sure, just stand around while the pitcher takes his 8 warm up pitches...that looks real good doesn’t it!
5. How many times do we see outfielders playing catch between innings working on their curveballs and knuckleballs? Yes that is a sure fire way to develop arm strength, ball carry and throwing footwork. To make matters worse they play catch from 30 feet apart. Yep, they got a real good chance to throw someone out in the game because they are conditioning their arms to do so. Last time I checked, outfielders are trained to make the longest throws in a game, not short throws, not curveballs and certainly not knuckleballs.
6. Your players have gone through their warm up, they have gone through their sprints, steal breaks and hit and run breaks and now it is time to throw. Alas, the field is wet. What do they do? They reach into the ball bag, grab two baseballs (usually the best ones of the lot) and start to play catch. Sadly, after the fourth throw, it is air mailed over the head of his throwing partner. What do they do? Simple, grab the new dry one from their pocket (or go back to the ball bag) and begin throwing with a dry ball, only to have the same errant throw happen four throws later. That’s great, two soaking wet balls, that can no longer be used for batting practice. Do they care? Heck no! They have no idea the most important piece of equipment to play baseball is a baseball. How about the cost of a baseball?
7. Have you ever seen a pitcher on the mound waiting to throw his warm up pitches to the catcher...who is still putting on his gear? Where is the second catcher that day? Why isn’t he in there warming up the pitcher? Don’t know coach, no one told us to warm him up? Hey guys, pay attention to the game...your catcher was the last out or left stranded on the bases at the end of the inning.
8. How about asking a pitcher to go get warmed up and you look down to the bullpen and you see a second pitcher, with his pitching glove on, turned sideways, in a half crouched position getting his pitching partner warmed up. That is a treat to see!
9. To make matters worse, how about the catcher who actually goes down to the bullpen with no gear on to begin warming up a pitcher? So, I guess the pitcher should only throw elevated fastballs and nothing in the dirt and I am assuming the catcher has mastered the art of blocking. I am quite confident that if that any pitcher throwing a bullpen to get ready for his outing were throwing to a catcher with no gear on, preparation to pitch would be pretty sad to say the least.
10. Try asking a pitcher to get ready and sending him and his catcher down to the bullpen to get ready and there is no pitcher protection. That’s right, there are never foul balls hit down the line toward the bullpens during games? Players, don’t worry about protecting your teammates from foul balls!
11. How about pitchers going to the bullpen to get loose and they grab a ball from the ball bag, albeit, it is a lousy ball, but they don’t stop to think that there are pitcher's baseballs and hitter’s baseballs. This can only be outdone by the pitcher taking one baseball down to the bullpen and on his third or fourth warm up pitch it gets past the pitcher and you see the catcher chasing the only crappy ball the two of them brought down to the pen. Then, you look down to bullpen again and all you see is the catcher chasing yet another wild pitch. God job boys in the pen!
12. Now back to our catchers...that’s right, the leaders, the generals, and the defensive players on the field that are supposed to be the cornerstone of the team defence. Well catchers, why don’t you work on blocking balls with no one on base or blocking balls during the pitchers warm up between innings? That’s right, you have all mastered the art of blocking. Hey, you want to catch, start blocking and get used to it!
13. You defensive players...your pitchers are going to throw over 100 pitches in the game, yet you can’t get to a simple ready position the same amount of time? Coaches, watch your players later in games, you will be able to see who the tired ones are...they are the ones that barely bat an eyelash when the pitch is being delivered to the plate. But why would they get to a ready position, the ball won’t be hit to them...or will it?
14. Back to our pitchers. When was the last time you saw a big league pitcher warming up with his sunglasses on his hat? That’s right, I have not seen that either. So why do you then? Pitchers don’t pitch with them on during a game, so why have them in the bullpen?
15. And the rest of the position players who wear sunglasses...yes they look cool and they are probably quite expensive. I was always under the impression sunglasses were designed to keep the sun out of players eyes and actually see the ball better...I did not know they were designed to sit on your hat and shade out the logo. But they do look good don’t they!
16. Hey pitchers, why do always make your last warm up throw between innings a tough one for the catcher to handle? You want to help out your catchers...god forbid; they help you guys out enough, try giving them a great fastball to handle so they are able to execute a great throw to second base.
17. Hey hitters, there is an on deck circle or location to warm up - did you know that? If you did, why do you insist of warming up and swinging the bat right in front of the dugout of in front of your coaches. The highway area is a well travelled location on the field where players, coaches and umpires will gather, it is not a spot to swing the bat. Similarly, catch should never be played in the highway areas.
18. Now that you are on deck, why don’t you chase after foul balls to the back stop? Hey, it does help speed up the game and frankly helps out the pitcher, catcher and umpire. That is the on deck hitter’s responsibility; get those foul balls at the back stop.
19. Speaking of foul balls, how many times does a coach have to get on players about chasing foul balls that leave the field of play? Hey players, baseball aren’t cheap, go get them!
20. Okay, practice or game is over, time to clean up. Hey players, you do have responsibilities...garbage, equipment, bases, field, etc.?..Players use the equipment; you better find a way to put it away. And the garbage...my gosh, that is a given, clean the dugout out of the “team's” mess not just yours.
21. And finally, why do players come to practice with no protective cup on? “Oh, but coach its only practice! Enough said.
I hope some of these player Baseball Pet Peeves have hit home. Let me know if you have any that we can add to the list. Would be keen on hearing what some of you coaches have to say. I suspect this list can be built on in a positive way that can help all of us become better. And players - take heed of these. Coaches are always watching. And coaches will eventually get asked about you from another coach or recruiter - what do you want us to say? The truth is what we will tell and the story is up to you to write.
Rick Johnston, Head Instructor - The Baseball Zone