Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spring Training: Week 1

The first week of the college practice season is usually the same every year, and each day eerily resembles the set list for a music concert. After a few months off from baseball, players and coaches alike are excited to get back in the swing of things and a heightened level of anticipation surrounds the hours and minutes leading up to the first catch of the new season. Day one is like the first song of the concert, the band wants kick off with a killer, to grab attention so they either start with one of the hits from their latest album or one of their classic songs that contains a fast beat (e.g. "Corduroy" by Pearl Jam). On the first day of spring training, the coaching staff wants to set the pace for the year regarding intensity of practices, rules and procedures, while the players are ready to prove themselves worthy of a starting spot and there is always a lot of intensity and adrenaline flowing throughout the gym.

The second song has to take the intensity up a notch to really set the stage for the remainder of the show. A good example would be the song "Hail, Hail" to follow "Corduroy." After these two songs, the crowd would be feeling good and locked in for the rest of show, allowing the band to play a lot of the songs from the new album. In order to hammer home the ideas, theories, and principles set the previous day, the coaching staff has to increase the intensity of practice to demonstrate how serious they were about what was established in day one (the fall season also follows this formula but it is more like an unplugged version so the artists and coaches have the ability to freestyle on songs or practice plans).

The next song is key for the performer because they don't want the crowd to exude all their energy for the remainder of the show, so they have to cool it of a notch (e.g. "Daughter" or "Off He Goes"). Because the baseball season is a five-month grind, the same rule applies for the coaches and their practice plans on day three. This is when you start to get into the mode of being ready everyday with an even-keeled approach...not getting to high or too low and just getting your head right. There are a lot of rules.

The remainder of the concert is usually up to the performers discretion. If there is a time they feel like throwing in "Do the Evolution" or "Alive" as opposed to "Low Light" or "Just Breathe," the crowd will usually dictate this by their mood. Similarly, there will be times a coach needs to put his foot on the gas and get the team going and there are times to let them wear shorts to practice and plug in the iPod. Like I said, there are a lot of rules.