Cal Becker Article in the Marin IJ

On Friday, March 9, 2012 the Marin Independent Journal wrote an article about Cal Becker.  Cal will be playing on our Collegiate Bay Area Warriors Baseball team this summer and has played for the Warriors over  the past two years.  We congratulate his accomplishments both on and off the field.  If you want to see Cal pitch don’t miss him playing for Redwood High School this season.  He will be attending UC Berkeley next September where he will be a pitcher on their baseball team.  To read the complete article please go to the Marin IJ Article.

Comparison Players and Race

by Eno Sarris

In a piece I wrote for FanGraphs yesterday about the Spring Training debut of Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, the conversation in the comments naturally turned to past Japanese imports like Daisuke Matsuzaka. In one of my first pieces on the whirling Darvish this year, I even explained that “Darvish is not Daisuke” in order to combat these comparisons, but they persist — and so do the cries of racism in response to those comparisons.

At the very least, it’s natural for talent evaluators to compare pitchers from Japan. Just like you would compare two pitchers coming out of the Pacific Coast League, you’d do so with two pitchers from Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese league. Statistics from similar leagues translate similarly. For those asking why the white American Colby Lewis isn’t brought into the discussion, the answer is age — he was older than Darvish and Daisuke when he made the jump from Japan to America.

But that doesn’t suss out the problem completely. Talking with Cal baseball star Tony Renda about his size and his future in the professional baseball, the name Dustin Pedroia came up fairly quickly. The 5’10”, 170-pound golden bear thought that the 5’9″, 180-pound Red Sox player might have opened some doors for him, and we both naturally gravitated towards the white American star with the similar body type at the same position. Then again, Renda might have just as much in common with the 5’7″, 170-pound Jose Altuve — I did mention the Venezuelan — but how many times will the Astro second baseman come up as a comp?

It’s only natural for us to look for comparable players when trying to evaluate the future. We just want to know how similar players have done before. And obviously when you are looking at body types, it’s easy to fall into the race trap. But athleticism is unique to each person — it’s a product of environment, genes, upbringing, and even culture. Race and ethnic background is a shortcut to grouping these players, but it’s no excuse for not doing more work and delving further into the case.

It might be, that in the case of Darvish specifically, there is no better comp that previous pitchers of his age that have made the transition from his particular league to the Major Leagues. But if you look at his height, weight, and fastball velocity, you notice that he’s taller, heavier, and throws a faster fastball than any other Japanese import to date.

So maybe he’s just one of a kind, for now.

Collegiate Baseball Seminar

On Sunday February 26 2012, the First Base Foundation held the Collegiate Baseball Event. This event was a great way for high school students to get an understanding of how to make sure they are eligible for athletics as well scholastics according to NCAA requirements. Another standout for players was the knowledge of showcases and scouting clinics that are both helpful in player development and “looks” (being seen by scouts) from scouts. The Academic counselor for the College of Marin in Kentfield was a keynote speaker at the event as he explained crucial information about choosing colleges. This seminar is highly recommended to student athletes looking to play baseball in college and need ways to get seen by coaches, scouts, and learn the tricks and tips that could make the decision of getting an athletic scholarship and not being eligible to attend a University of California.

An academic counselor for the College of Marin spoke at the event and gave clear NCAA rules and requirements for student athletes in high school who plan to play high level college baseball. One of my favorite things about the event was the fact that I learned a lot of new information. Most events similar to this one say a lot of the obvious facts about college and baseball in general, but at the Collegiate Baseball Event, all the speakers on the panel had many pieces of helpful and interesting information that I was unaware of prior to 26 February 2012. Were you aware that if you take the SAT twice, the colleges will take the highest of the score of each subject from each attempt? How about that the college that you have dreamed of attending since childhood may not offer the “Major” that you dreamed about pursuing since childhood?

That’s right; many students play the name game with colleges, meaning they want to attend the Gucci’s and Prada’s of colleges. What they don’t know is that there are many colleges that you may not have heard of that have the division of athletics you wish to play in as well as solid academics and a wide variety of subjects and extracurricular activities. You must also take into account whether you want to attend a school in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) or NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) both of which are college sports divisions. Many students get accepted into four-year colleges but choose to attend and junior college due to location, experience, or some other reason.

When it comes to scouting and contacting college coaches, according to Steve Berringer (head coach of the College of Marin) and Jake Baron (player at College of Marin), you must stay persistent about emailing coaches your schedule due to their overwhelming time commitment to their own team, family, and other school and athletic business. Scouts can be the same as coaches in that they are always looking for new players however, they can be unpredictable at times and show up to games when you least expect it, therefore you must bring you’re a-game every day because there will always be somebody bigger and better than you. Scouts will not waste their time with you if you do not show them that you have something better to offer to them then somebody else.

Some scouting clinics are naturally better than others, however choosing the right fit is crucial. Some opportunities are free and may have more to offer than another that you have to pay for so research is important. Another thing to look for is the clinics that require a fee to get in but do not strengthen a player fundamentally, physically, mentally, or gets him any looks from scouts; in this case, they are just trying to get your money. Asking around about camps is a good way to avoid these scams. Some players are invited by coaches and scouts either because they are very talented players, or they have potential to be a good player and I recommend going to the clinic if invited because no matter what, you will learn something because a coach or scout would not waste their time teaching you something new if they didn’t see something in you worth their time.

A highly desirable characteristic in a player is “coachability”, or how well the player can take instruction and apply them to his game. Coaches love this virtue because it makes their job much easier and it put trust in you to make the adjustments while playing that could save the game. No coach appreciates a big mouth on a player. When a player talks back to a coach, this shows disrespect and a good coach will bench the player no matter how good he is, even if he is the best on the team. This is the one characteristic that a player must not have and if he does talk back to his coach, he needs to learn do hold his tongue as replying with a simple “yes sir” or “yes coach” will make the coach respect you more as you have just shown him respect by listening to what he says and making it clear that you understand without questioning his authority. If you do have a question, it is ok to ask as along as it is not challenging what he has asked you to do.

-Jacob Pavlosky

 

 

How To Navigate an Internship Fair!

Step One: Know Where You Want To Apply!

We know that internship and career fairs can be chaotic. It can be overwhelming to be confronted with all the representative tables and interested students when you first walk in the room, which is why we recommend “knowing your targets”.
Before diving headlong into this crazy situation, you should look at the list of companies that will be attending the fair. You can see who they are, what internships or positions their company is offering, and what you will need to bring to the fair to be considered for a position. This way, you’ll already have an action plan the second you enter the fair, which will instantly help you to feel like you have some measure of control over the situation.

Step Two: Have Your Resume!

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many students simply wander into these fairs unprepared. There is nothing a company likes less than an unprepared applicant, and you’ll instantly be branded as “not serious about the position”. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot! Take my advice: Print out several copies of your resume (more than you think you may need), and bring them with you! This allows the company recruiter to learn about you instantly, and put a face to your application.
One more thing – Your resume should be one page, and one page only! You should ask someone (a career counselor, perhaps) to objectively look over your resume to make sure that you are putting forward the most pertinent information about yourself, and presenting yourself in the best light. Your resume should showcase what a shining star you really are!

Step Three – Know What Position You Want!

Do not be that applicant who wanders up to the recruiter’s table and asks, “So… um, what positions are you offering for summer?” Be prepared! Walk up to the table, shake the hand of the recruiter, tell them your name, hand them your resume, and state which position you are interested in. Be confident! You have every right to this position, and your confidence will impress the recruiter. The best way to make a memorable impact on a recruiter is to prove to them that you are prepared for this moment.

If you follow these steps, I guarantee that your internships and career fair experiences will go much smoother. I can’t guarantee that you will get an interview for every position you apply to, but I can guarantee that you will not feel like a chicken running around with their head cut off – and that’s priceless.

Maddy Lough-Stevens is the Intern Coordinator and “How-To” Blogger for the First Base Foundation. Her opinions and comments can be reached at maddy@firstbasefoundation.org!

We’re Looking for the Best!

Roll Call! Have you ever wanted to understand the behind-the-scenes magic that supports on-field baseball players? Do you see yourself as working in a professional sports organization? If so, this is the opportunity for you! We run a multifaceted internship program, which is designed to integrate our organization into the community through our sports teams and our dynamic internship program.

Please take a look at our great opportunities below! If you are interested in applying to be one of our wonderful 2012 summer interns, please send a cover letter and resume to our Intern Coordinator at loughstevens.maddy@gmail.com.

Are you a natural people person? Our Community Relations Manager Internship is perfect for you! Come learn how we interact with our community and patrons, and help us increase our fan base through personal contact with local businesses. Strong inter-personal communication skills will be a necessity for this position, so if you are an extrovert, consider applying straight away!

Ever considered being a Scorekeeper? Come be ours! Keeping score in a scorebook at our baseball games is a detailed system that allows those who read it to understand exactly how the game unfolded, and how each player performed. You will work in close contact with our Statistician and our Scouting interns, and gain valuable insight into the mechanics of the game!

Are you interested in Statistics? Our Statistician internship is a great opportunity to utilize those boring classroom skills in a practical way! You will attend games, learn how to prepare statistical summary reports of those games, and use GameChanger to keep our fans updated while the game is happening!

Are you a Social Media Guru? We have a great Social Media internship, where you can Facebook, Twitter, and Blog to your heart’s content! We are really looking to expand our social media presence online, so your job will be both fun and important for the growth of our organization. Good communication skills and the ability to blog incessantly are a must!

Photography, Videography, and Editing Whiz? Boy, do we have a great opportunity for you! We want someone who is ready to get into the action at the baseball games and record it all! Create, produce, and edit your own Youtube videos, create collages of the players, and don’t be afraid to get creative!

Are you interested in being a professional Scout? This position will involve traveling and attending games, and working with a professional scout who will teach you how to evaluate the skills of baseball players. This is wonderful behind-the-scenes access for anyone who is interested in working in baseball!

Do you dream of being a Journalist? Do you do any Sports Blogging? If so, our Media Outreach Internship could be for you! We are always looking to expand our client base, and positive journalism is one of the best ways to get the word out. We expect you to be a strong writer, and fearless when it comes to getting articles published in our local publications. Don’t be afraid to be creative!

Are you a natural organizer? Our Office Assistant Internship could be right up your alley! You would be involved with the day-today operations of our organization, so we are looking for someone with strong organizational skills who has the ability to be versatile, as your duties will vary depending on the project of the day.

The Value of Security

by Eno Sarris

On Tuesday, I took a look at all of the pitchers in baseball that signed contracts that took them from their arbitration years into their free agency years. Basically, those pitchers signed away free agent years at below-market prices — they left money on the table. Why?

First, let’s re-iterate the premise. Justin Verlander is signed for just over $20 million this season, which would have been his first as a free agent. Is there any doubt that he couldn’t have done better if he hit the open market his year? Dan Haren has been in his free agency years for two years now and is making $13.7 million a year. He should be making more than $13 million a year.

But look at Matt Moore, who just signed a contract that could go for eight years, and things become more clear. If Moore is as good as he’s projected to be — he’s the top prospect in baseball on some recent lists — he’ll be worth much, much more than the $9.5 million option he gave the Rays on his first two free agency years.

On the other hand, Matt Moore is 22 years old, doesn’t have a college degree, and has only thrown 169 Major League pitches. He could suffer a shoulder injury and his job prospects would suddenly look very different. Now he doesn’t have to worry about his contract for five years, and his worst-case scenario has been covered. If his shoulder goes all Mark Prior, he’ll still have some earnings in hand.

It’s easy to look at these contracts from the outside and denigrate them. Jokes about the agent and the player flow naturally when you look at James Shields‘ $10 million salary. And it does make sense for athletes to push to get as much money as they can out of their short careers, so maybe some of the criticism is fair.

But you also have to think about these athletes as people. Their families may have sacrificed heavily to help them become who they are, and the player may want to reward them. Or perhaps they value money differently and don’t think the difference between $20 million a year and $25 million a year is worth the acid reflux it might take to get there. Maybe they even feel loyalty towards the organization that drafted them and helped them hone their skills. Maybe they’re on a competitive team and want to stay there.

We can’t know why some pitchers have valued security more than a few more million dollars a year, but we should be careful not to hold it against them. Celebrate their achievements and their ability to come to a long-term agreement with their team instead.

The Fashion of Baseball

We believe that a fashionably dressed baseball player is a confident baseball player.  We are debuting our new line of Warriors gear this Summer, and spoiler alert – the hats are to DIE for. As you may or may not know, we at the First Base Foundation strongly believe that all our players should be as fashionably attired as the Pros! We have alternating uniforms for both home and away games, and to top it off, ALL our teams have different uniforms. (We like to know who you are just by looking at you!)  Not to toot our own horn, but our gear is so comfortable and fashionable, people wear it for years!
This summer, our Collegiate players will be sporting a new line of hats, created by Cap City and specifically designed for the Bay Area Warriors.   We believe that a hat should not only shade your eyes, but create a timeless statement as well.

Watch for the Winning Warriors to take the field this summer, fashionably dressed and ready to play!

 

The Seasons Are Changing!

We know that here on the West Coast we don’t experience “actual” weather, but even we can tell that Spring is fast approaching, and we can smell baseball season in the air! As you all hopefully know by now, the First Base Staff is comprised of avid baseball fans, and we can’t wait to begin rooting for our favorite professional, collegiate, and of course, our Bay Area Warriors teams again.
We feel so lucky that we don’t have to wait for the Opening Day of the Giants or Athletics to see some great baseball, cause right here in the Bay we are privileged to see competitive games at our universities, local colleges, and high schools.
Watch the best bats and the biggest arms as our Bay Area Warriors alums and players take to the field!

Why Baseball?

by Eno Sarris

Sometimes I get asked why. Why baseball? Why do you subject yourself to the torture that is baseball, following baseball, and writing about baseball — the poor pay, the bad hours, the constant up and down, the evil looks from your spouse? Why do it?

The answer isn’t so easy. I suspect anyone that is into sports — as an athlete, scout, coach, supporter or fan — has their own story. My own is as complicated as any, perhaps.

I was born in Jamaica. Half of my family is German. I have lived in Atlanta, Mountain City Georgia, Vero Beach Florida, Hamburg Germany, Boston, Stanford, San Francisco, London, Harlem, Jersey City, New York City and Menlo Park California — in that order. Very few of my inner circle friends enjoy baseball. Half of my family knows nothing about the sport. My mother and I didn’t watch baseball together. I saw my first baseball game at seven years old.

Still wondering why, I bet.

I came to America at six or seven years old and was used to being strange. After all, I was the blond-haired patois-speaking naked toddler running around in Jamaica. I was the tanned Jamaican struggling to learn German on the playground in Germany. I was the nerd with the strange accent wanting to take his whiffleball hacks in America. So, I was usually strange.

But everywhere I went, even at that early age, I was interested in what made each place different. Maybe because I wanted to figure out how to be normal, I needed to know more. What made America America? Why, how, where, what and when?

Baseball was part of that. I had a big brother from Big Brother / Big Sister, and he took me to games. My stepfather loved baseball, and we bonded over the games. Baseball cards were a thing, and boy did I take to those. Later, fantasy baseball was a constant talking point at boarding school. If baseball was American, and I wanted to be American, that was enough for me. It helped me bond with so many people, and those people will always be a part of why I love baseball.

But it’s not just the people and baseball’s relationship to American culture that made the sport interesting to me. The numbers were a part of it too.

I realized that there was an ebb and flow to the game, and that numbers could help me get a better understanding of that flow. I started trading cards of hot prospects I didn’t believe in for Barry Bonds rookie cards. And Greg Maddux rookie cards. And Derek Jeter rookie cards. I took calculated risks. I embraced my emotion, and then set it aside. I used my burgeoning statistical awareness to build a kicking baseball card collection.

Fast forward ten or fifteen years and there I was at Stanford, there I was at my first job, there I was at Kumon Publishing in New York — constantly checking in on my fantasy teams, constantly reading the newest statistical research, constantly talking to important people in my life about baseball, constantly enjoying the sport that made me “normal” instead of “strange.” (Of course, I did so to the point that most of my friends declared me strange, but that’s just a weird quirk of fate.)

It hasn’t been easy switching careers mid-stream from educational publishing to writing about baseball. But it feels normal, too. The sport has been there for me all along.

Baseball has been important to me for most of my life, for so many reasons. What are your reasons?

Eno Sarris is a freelance baseball writer whose work can be seen on ESPN.com, FanGraphs.com, and AmazinAvenue.com in particular. He’s active — too active — on twitter @enosarris and covers a different sort of beat at www.enosarris.com.