I didn't have much time to prepare for this trip. It snuck up on me. So, when I was packing on Saturday night, I re-read my Suggestions for Next Year's Rookies blog entry. It seems that I only have about a 50% hit rate in following my own advice, but it was still useful. I did pack lightly and I did make sure I had plenty of empty space in my suitcases for Bill Laskey give-aways.
I also went bat shopping with my son, Kevin. We selected a nice wood bat that I'm enjoying, but I forgot about the batting helmet. I did a lot of quadricep strengthing, and plenty of stretching, but didn't manage to get to the interval training. Last year my quads got so sore that I almost couldn't walk. Hopefully, this won't happen again.
Today was about uniforms, pictures, tryouts and clinics. I ended up with the same locker as last year. There are also a lot of familiar faces around. It might take a moment for their names to come back, but they do. All of this lends a familar and comfortable air to the first day. A far cry from my experience last year.
The weather is beautiful. Last year we couldn't get on the field for days and the camp organizers scrambled to adapt. This year, we just took to the field and started taking fly balls in the outfield and grounders in the infield. Vida Blue hit grounders and I didn't even think twice about it. Rich Aurilia did the infield coaching and clinic. Someone asked Rich about how to position yourself as a second baseman to cover the bag in double play situations. He went through more combinations than I thought possible. It struck me that most of his footwork had to do with shortening the throw to first. In a game of inches, inches matter. Feet really matter. As a second baseman, if you can find a way to cut your throw to first down by a foot, it matters.
The camp photographer, Andy, is awesome. His biggest problem is that he has to be everywhere at once. I don't know how he does it. He posts the pictures every evening so that we can download them. He catches the good moments as well as the bad. It's fun to go through the hundreds of pictures trying to find yours. You see a lot of good... and a lot of bad. He only got one sequence of me catching a fly ball.
In the afternoon we had a couple of sit-down clinics where the pros give you tips about various aspects of the game. I get the impression that they aren't teaching us so that we can be better players. The details and techniques that Joel Youngblood provided about hitting were impressive. But, the demonstration (using players) of the right and wrong way to bat weren't aimed at us. Instead, it's like he was passing along things so that can, in turn, pass them along. I wish I would have attended camp before I tried to manage a team. I wish that I could find a way for Joel to come to our local Healdsburg Little League so he could have a direct pipeline to the young players.
Late in the afternoon the coaches went away and drafted. I'm happy. Same coaches as last year; Greg Minton and Ed Halicki. I like their desire to win tempered by their need to make sure that everyone has fun. As Ed said in our team meeting, "This camp is supposed to leave a good taste in your mouth. Anything that gets in the way of that is what we want to avoid."
From last year's blog:
I was drafted to a team managed by Greg Minton (aka Mooney - don't ask) and Ed Halicki (aka Ho Ho - don't ask). Both former pitchers and great guys. Ed Halicki has the distinction of having pitched a no-hitter for the Giants on August 24th, 1975 against the New York Mets. The cool part about this (besides the no hitter), is that there were only 1 other no-hitter pitched by the Giants after that until Jonathan Sanchez on July 10th, 2009 and Pamela and I were there to see it! I kept saying to her, "Do you know what is going on?" and people around us would give me angry looks and just mouth "don't you dare".
Then there is Greg Minton who went three full seasons (269 innings) without throwing a pitch that was hit out of the park. That record still stands today. Being a pitcher wasn't his idea. He was a shortstop and a darn good one. But with incredible shortstops like Ozzie Smith in the league, the coaching staff decided to try him out as a pitcher. It stuck.