Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lessons from a forgetable game - this is Minnesota

Only one coach was properly dressed tonight, and he had to surrender his jacket to the cause (His son, however, wasn't dressed properly!).

Most of our players were so cold they were playing less than their best. It's hard to play ball when you're shivering.

We're going to forget everything about this game -- except that players and coaches need to dress for the weather.
I've added a new paragraph to our orientation handout:
Welcome to the Bandits (Team 5)

...Weather: This is Minnesota. We've had near freezing rain at the end of May and boiling heat in June. Water for hot days is essential. On cold days wear layers beneath the jersey. One layer can be a rain jacket with hood, another good combination is T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt/turtleneck, and then jersey...

Also, please be sure caps have names in them.

Next week, we're back to practice and we play ball again. Let us speak no more of whatever team we played against tonight!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bandits news: game, coaches away, etc

A few sundry Bandits announcements

  • Please let John ( know of anyone besides Luke MT who won't play tomorrow -# 4 – Highland Senior High north softball field (Snelling & Montreal)
  • Chris Kelley is bringing snacks tomorrow. (See the position and snack schedule.)
  • Please be at the game field by 6:10 pm.
  • Coach John Faughnan will be away from June 17 to July 2nd. Marty is away @ June 21. So we're recruiting backup coaches to fill in. John can help with creating the rotation schedule (hardest part of the job!) while traveling. Please let us know of your vacation plans if possible so we can adjust rotations. (See Bandits Calendar for known absences.)
  • We'll be looking for parent volunteers to help keep score during the game and to record noteworthy plays so we can mention them during our post-game huddle.
  • We're looking for used (i.e. affordable) pitching machines and hitting aides (es. Joe Mauer hitting thingie). If you see a good option on Craigslist or know of one please email John.
  • We're going to work on an outing to a fun spot with a pitching machine. More later ...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Game Two: An honorable defeat

It was an honorable defeat!

After falling behind 7-0 after the 3rd inning we battled back to a final 8-7 count. Eli had a great hit at the bottom of the ninth, but the Spiders fielded it too well for us. It was a good game for Eli, with nice contact and good fielding action.

We coaches were very happy to see players swinging! Sure, it's best to swing at strikes, but good things happen when players swing. We got good hits off some definite balls!

We had routinely great fielding from our pitchers (Mac, Neil, Chris), 2nd (Neil, Mac) and 1st (Chris, Collin, Luke). Collin had our first single man double play of the season.

We had good success with bat control by assigning one player each inning to be 'guardian of the bats'. We also had improved bench control by asking 2-3 players individually to be good examples for their teammates. We'll continue both measures.

Next game we're going to ask a parent volunteer to track special plays and hits, so we can mention them at a post-game huddle. It's hard for us to keep track of them. Thank you to our parent volunteers who verified the score and coached 1st base, and to Neil's Dad for snacks. Thanks also to parents who gave us advanced notice that their players would be away.

Advanced notice is everything. One of our most time consuming tasks is preparing batting order and fielding positions; advance notice makes that time pay off.

As per a prior post we've updated the HGRA Majors Bandits 2008 Positions document (see link on left side of page). I still need jersey numbers for Luke MT, John Akimoto and Michael Brauns as they were absent today. I've put treat dates on the document so you can see when you're do. I'll try to fill in more dates by email and at practice. Take a look and send me your choices!

See everyone on Tuesday, have a safe and fun holiday weekend.

Luke MT is on disabled list - but will be helping the team

Luke MT jammed his finger on a football, and suffered a relatively minor finger fracture.

Problem is, this sort of fracture requires surgery to get the best long term results.

Luke had his surgery May 22, and will be on the disabled list for four weeks.

He'll be helping at practice though with soft toss, drills, and helping teach some of our players. He'll also be keeping score at games, tracking outs, managing the bats, coaching 3rd base, and other key game tasks.

He'll be able to hit in about four weeks and field in 5-6 weeks.

Bandits links - calendar, player names and positions, etc.

I've reorganized the links on the left side of this page. Here's what they are at this time with some explanation.

  • Google calendar HGRA Bandits: This is a Bandits only calendar. It will show when players will be absent, our practices, details on special events, etc. If you click on this link you'll see a web view of the calendar. [1]
  • HGRA baseball official site: The official HGRA baseball site.
  • HGRA Major League 2008 Calendar (PDF): The official HGRA Calendar (PDF)
  • Player Positions: Player names, numbers and positions. Sometimes this will be nonsensical. For example, right now there's no relationship between the players and the positions listed, we're just working on today's rotation. You can print this and bring it to practices, but know that rotations change pretty dynamically. We will add some info on players to help with cheering and following the team.
  • Welcome to the 2008 Bandits!: The general orientation document for new people.
  • --

    There are some technical sorts among this year's Bandits -- and even among their parents! For their benefit, some footnotes.

    [1] The icon at bottom right of the web page will add this calendar to your Gmail account so you can overlay it with your other Google Calendars.

    [1] Ok, so you're really hard core. This link will support import of the ICS data into your .Mac calendar or other iCal compliant calendar.

    [1] Even more cutting edge? Here's the feed link so you get notified of calendar changes in your feed reader.

    [1] Ok, so you're ready for the 21st century. If you'd like to be able to directly enter times your player will miss practice or games please email me and I'll add you as an editor. You'll need a Gmail account.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Player roster - interest?

    Sue asked:
    HGRA Baseball Saint Paul: Big thanks to the parents who helped out at practice

    ...wondering if we could get a list of the roster names and numbers...
    I'll put something together, but probably not until next week. The list the coaches use just needs a few edits.

    I don't like to put information about minors on the public net, especially with phone numbers, but I'm fine with printing something to distribute on paper or emailing a PDF to players/family. That's a common practice on sports teams. I'll just ask if there are any objections once I have one to circulate.

    Big thanks to the parents who helped out at practice

    Thanks guys (happened to be all guys).

    It was a terrific to have your help at practice. Please, keep helping out!

    For everyone who'd like to keep warm during practice or a game, or help make this a good season for your child, we really welcome helpers.

    HGRA teams always have a very wide range of ability, maturity and confidence, especially in this age range.

    Even if your ball skills are similar to mine (pretty low, though I'm improving with practice) you can give one-on-one personal attention to a player who's restless or anxious. Anyone who can walk quickly can help cover open outfield positions or get the ball to a batting coach/parent.

    Some players will benefit from a break to do some soft toss (minimal coaching skills required). Others can field grounders -- where an erratic throwing arm can be a feature.

    So if you ever played organized ball -- you can help with the main group. Otherwise you can help with everyone!

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Practice stretches and warm-ups

    We're going to start adding more of a formal warm-up and stretches to our practices. We need to keep things light as our players will get bored pretty quickly.

    Here's what I think we'll go with to start:

    1. Our current slow toss warm-up for arms and upper body.
    2. Hamstring, back stretches (see below)
    3. Slow base walk/running (coach sets the pace) for one to two circuits. (May need to work them up to this!)
    4. Faster base run for one circuit.
    5. Practice.

    I came across two web sites I thought were interesting (most of the sites target older players of course):

    From these I selected this set of stretches to start with. We'll start with 2-3 20 second holds for each and work up a bit depending on how rowdy the gang is. (They are more flexible to begin with than most teen players.)

    a. Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.

    b. Elbow-out Rotator Stretch: Stand with your hand behind the middle of your back and your elbow pointing out. Reach over with your other hand and gently pull your elbow forward.

    c. Calf Muscle Stretch: Stand a few feet from the fence and put both your hands on it at shoulder level. Step back with your right leg, keeping it straight, while the left knee bends. With both heels on the floor, lean forward by bending your left knee until you feel a stretch in your calf.

    d. Groin Stretch: Sit on the ground with the soles of your feet together. While holding your toes, lean your upper body forward, bending from the hips.

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    HGRA BaseBall Schedule Updated

    HGRA BaseBall Schedules now links to the new, updated schedule.

    Game 1: Bandits 16, Redhawks 5

    An exciting game and a happy one for the Bandits!

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Bandits notices: practice, uniforms, game schedule changes, volunteers needed, etc

    1. Practice this Tuesday May 13 will be at 7pm to 8:30pm Aldine field. That will be our regular time going forward. We'll hand out uniforms.
    2. Coach John F will miss the Thur game. We will need two parent volunteers -- one to keep score and one to help manage the bench and coach 1st base. Please let Marty or John know if you can help.
    3. The HGRA game schedule is being updated. After this week future Groveland games will shift to Riverside 1. I'll send out a notice when the website schedule is updated. I'll try to remember to bring a copy of the new schedule to our practice.
    4. I'm still missing a couple of email addresses. Joey and Miles I think. I'll review at practice.
    5. Eli Warner's family are going to bring treats for the 5/15/08 game. I'm going to try to sign up more treat families on Tuesday.
    6. We ask everyone to show up 20-30 minutes prior to the game (sorry, I earlier wrote 40 minutes, that's a bit extreme). Our first game vs. the Redhawks is the Homecroft Elementary East Field (Edgecume and Sheridan).
    7. Please bring water to the game for your player. (I have trouble remembering this for my son!).

    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    Groveland Field games may move to Riverside 1 after 1st game

    No changes until after the first game, but we may lose the Thursday (game day) Groveland field to Landmark League practices. If that happens there will be updated schedules on the web site; Groveland games would go to "Riverside 1".

    Optional Thursday 6:30 pm practice and Future Tues practice times.

    Two news items:
    • We'll have an optional practice Thursday May 8th at 6:30 pm at the Highland Senior High field (Snelling and Montreal)
    • Our Tuesday practice at Aldine will now run from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. Another team is on the field until 7 pm, so we were bumped.
    John Faughnan

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Looking at the weather (Practice, Tuesday 5/6)

    Update 5/6/08 3:15pm: weather is improving so we'll decide around 5:30 pm or so.
    Update: 5:45pm. Looks fine, so we'll practice.

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    Welcome to the Bandits (handout)

    Welcome to the Bandits (Team 5) - Google Docs is a two page orientation handout.

    We'll distribute it at our next practice.

    Also, the pitching clinic will be at 6:30 Monday, not the originally announced time of 7:00 pm.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Bill Mauer: Throwing drills

    Bill reviews throwing drills

    1. 6-10 feet apart, elbow in glove
    2. Point elbow and toss
    3. Point, proper throw
    4. Use the legs -- heel click

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    Bill Mauer: when is the bat too heavy?

    If you can straight arm the bat for 30 seconds, you can use it.

    HGRA web site: Schedule and coaches manual

    HGRA's web site is quite well maintained. It's easy to find even if you forget "", just google on hgra baseball.

    It has several important references
    1. HGRA BaseBall Coaches Manual: An excellent guide to teaching baseball
    2. Directions to the fields
    3. Schedules: we're the Majors
    4. The Rules
    A few things to note from the rules (Majors):
    • Maximum 6 innings, but no inning can start after 8:15pm
    • Maximum 10 batters. The 10th batter can't strike out, if there are too many pitches the umpire can ask the batting teams coach to pitch.
    • No lead offs.
    • Max 2 steals per inning, no stealing home, no steals on an overthrow.
    • If a player scheduled to catch the next inning gets on base, the player making the previous out may be inserted as a pinch runner.
    • Each team must designate an official scorer. This person (a fan or coach) must verify the score at the end of each half inning with the official scorer of the opposing team.
    We use the infield fly rule. This rule exists to stop the 3rd baseman or shortstop from intentionally dropping a fly ball and then getting an easy double play due to a force on 3rd. It's a judgment call by the umpire, it would be poor form for a coach to request the call be made. They can make the call when
    • there's less than two out
    • there's a force out situation on 3rd base.
    If the umpire invokes the rule then the batter is out, just as if the fly ball had been caught. Runners play as they would for a caught fly ball.

    Pitching clinic - Monday 6:30 pm

    The HGRA pitching clinic resumes this year Monday, May 5th, 6:30 pm (not, as originally announced, 7pm) at the softball field behind Expo Elementary School. The clinic last one hour.

    The clinic is taught by veteran coaches and high school pitchers. Even players who aren't going out to pitch will learn to throw correctly, and catchers can practice their trade as well.

    We're often looking for parents to catch. If you're interested bring your glove. There's no protective gear, so don't try to catch anything tricky -- let it go.