Sunday, October 23, 2011

The "I" in Team

When Black Team shortstop Sean Mathews fielded the routine ground ball and threw to first to retire the hard-charging base runner, he collectively ended the Storm Fall League, a championship drought, and the fall practice season, all in less than four seconds. As the dust settled on the Black Team's celebration after their first title of the four-year history of the SFL, and the final piece of proverbial confetti fell to the Kiwanis turf, the player's had now earned a break from the game they had worked at so diligently the past 45 days.

During an off week, the time seems to fly by even faster than in a normal week. A round of golf, a morning or two to sleep in past 9:00, and the next thing you know "The Friday Song" is playing and you realize you haven't even come close to getting through your to-do list. You blink an eye and the weekend has come and gone and it's time to get back to work.

With the off week in the rearview mirror, it was time to get back on course in our preparation for spring 2012. Off-season strength training was about to begin to go along with individual workouts, which will dominate our time through the Thanksgiving break. Here's a look into the first week back in action.

9:23 am - Today is the first day of our off-season strength and conditioning program which is set to begin. The workouts had been designed but the workout cards still needed to be printed. I wanted to wait until today to print them out in case I wanted to add an exercise to the program. I made a small change to the program and sent it off to the mailroom for printing.

11:15 am - Randy Jackson called from the mailroom and said there was a problem with the network and the printer wasn't responding. It was a minor problem but it would mean the lifting cards wouldn't be ready until Wednesday. I guess this is what I get for waiting until the last minute.

2:03 pm - I printed off copies of the workout on regular paper and headed off to Ritchie Gym. Like we had done during fall ball, the position players and pitchers were split into to separate weight rooms so Coach Sank would stay back at the Osborne Rec Center. The format worked in the fall and it would work again now. The two groups were on different workout programs to begin with, so the position segregation just made sense.

3:20 pm - With the first "swoll session" completed, the position players headed back to the Rec Center for their agility work and speed training. While position players worked their agility stations, the pitchers worked on their aerobic conditioning.

12:47 pm - Today was the first day of individuals and both Coach Sank and I had full plates. I had four groups coming in starting at 1 pm with a pair of catchers, followed immediately by the corner infielders, middle infielders, and finally, the first baseman. Preparation is key when you have four different groups, all working different fundamentals, so I set to the gym to get set up.

1:10 pm - The catchers finished their throwing progressions and were ready for drill work. Today's focus was receiving, blocking, and throwing transfers. There were some drills I received from the milwaukee Brewers catching coordinator that I wanted to try so I was excited to see them in action.

1:45 pm - The third baseman started early. Early in the sense that their time overlapped and spent the first 15 minutes on throwing and working their hands. We finished working on double play feeds, something we have progressively improved upon throughout the fall.

2:30 pm - The middle infielders arrived for their session while I finished the final 15 minutes in the hot corner. Their daily routine consists of throwing, short hops, and ball-handling before getting into ground balls. The ground ball routine I put my infielders through has changed slightly over the past eight years but the concepts have remained the same.

3:35 pm - The first baseman were the last group of the day and I was ready. I get really involved in the drills and sometimes join in just to show them what its like. every practice that focuses on individual skills, the first baseman go through a series of drills developed into a routine by a Mississippi State assistant coach, which I began using after listening to him speak at a convention in either Chicago or Orlando (I can't remember which).

5:47 pm - Sitting at my desk, recapping the workouts, I was asked by our sports information director if I would mind filling in on the Storm Report at the Harry Buffalo in Painesville. I wasn't sure what I would talk about or who would be interested in hearing about baseball in the middle of the fall sports season, but the SFL provided some content and the show went off without a hitch. I was very conscious of the potential of voice immodulation but a text from my brother put my thoughts at ease...sorry Jacob Silj.

11:36 am - Wednesday is similar to Monday and is my boring day of the week, if you will. I didn't have any individuals today but I did have to pick up my lifting cards for our second workout. So I made the walk over the College Hall mail room to pick up the cards and to say hello to Tiberius.

12:52 pm - This is my "off day" for the week but I still had a shift at the golf course. But as I neared Stonewater Golf Club, I received a text stating I didn't need to come in because the rain had been keeping the golfers away. I should have texted before I left campus but better late than never.

1:21 pm - I got back to the office and jumped on the bike to loosen up from the recent resumption of my lifting program. We had a special guest hitting with the team when I arrived. Ryan Rua was back from Arizona and needed to get some work in. After fall instructs finished, he didn't have any team commitments with the Texas Rangers until he had to report for spring training in February.

12:15 pm - It was lunch time and the cafeteria was holding an Oktoberfest event so we went over to get some free samples before the final individual workouts of the week.

1:30 pm - My second group of catchers came in to complete the week of individual workouts. The three-man group went through the same drills as the pair from Tuesday but with an extra man in the group, we didn't get quite get through every drill. This will give me something to work on for next week.

4:37 pm - Speed training went well and I really liked some of the new drills that were incorporated into the workout. Former Storm hitting coach Eric Cormell had sent a drill or two and is planning to send us a few more once he gets back from winter intructs with the Baltimore Orioles in the Dominican Republic.

5:20 pm - The photographer was in the lobby which meant it was time for head shots. This was the first opportunity for our freshman to be featured in a Storm uniform, even if it wasn't their own. We went with our green tops, featuring "STORM" across the chest in white with a gray outline, and our white "LE' hats with the black bill and black piping.

11:08 am - Showed up to Kiwanis to work the second home football game in as many weeks. I had begun "spotting" for our stats man Kyle Akins. My basic job description was to identify the ball carrier, the tackler, and the yard line among other things. Our players were working the parking lots, tickets booths, and serving as ball boys on the field of play as a form of fund raising.

3:58 pm - The football game ended in with a series of bizarre events that mostly surrounded the men in stripes. The fans in attendance are still trying to figure out how an extra point could be blocked, returned the other way for a 2-point conversion, and count as no play, despite being void of any whistles before or after the play. Nevertheless, the Storm football team lost a heartbreaker.

That was the week that was as individuals and off-season workouts began. Stay tuned throughout the fall for updates and stories during the off-season. RAGE ON!