Double-booked summer athletes make tough decisions

Can't be two places at once
July 18, 2014
Todd Frazier of the Reds, an all-star from Tom's River, N.J., is six degrees of separation from Sussex County.

Double-booked - An old joke, "How can you be two places at once when you’re nowhere at all?” Psychologists call it approach-approach, an anxiety-causing conflict when you must choose between things and you want both of them. Enter the summer of youth baseball and softball, and the embedded conflict between travel ball and Little League town ball. We have all heard the position statement that the competition at travel tournaments is so much better. We have also heard that if all travel players totally abandon town ball, Little League all-stars play is basically gutted of real talent.  This summer, a group of players looked at a schedule and figured they could play both. But then the weather pushed Little League games into the weekend, where they conflicted with a travel tournament solidly scheduled and paid for months before, and the double-booked conflict reared its ugly head. In 2012, a Cape Major League state championship softball team had to bag the regionals because of a travel ball world series that robbed the team of key players. It is happening again on the hardball diamond, and as a sports journalist I’m thinking I should go to a travel tournament and see what all the hubbub is about.

Firefly goodbye - The Firefly festival of rock and roll looked nightmarish to me, and I love loud, live music, but Poppa Fred could not hang with that much crowded energy and alcohol. But top-shelf athletes, young and vibrant fit people, were all over Firefly, and some looked at the approach-approach conflict of “rock with my friends or play in a tournament with my select elite club team and choose the get down over throw down." All decisions have repercussions, and some club players who showed up at tournaments took a beat down because some of their teammates jumped ship for a more fun time.

Obstructionist athlete - Some athletes cannot be caught and corralled in the off-season. They don’t do group activities like weight lifting or drills and skills workouts, don’t show up at open gyms or open fields, don’t play travel or club ball and don’t do summer camps or winter tournaments, which are all over the place. Reasons are many, from “can’t afford to" to "no transportation" to "my mother won’t let me; I have to watch my little sister.”  When I was coaching football I used to say, “I don’t mind recruiting a kid to the program, but I’m not going to recruit him to practice." The flip side is that athletes who do no off-season activities - whatever the reason - put themselves in a disadvantageous position when it comes to earning a roster spot on a team that has a full program and not a "show up and see what’s up" approach.

Who don’t like me? I’m out here as a columnist twice a week, been doing this for 32 years, and as hard as it may be to believe, some people don’t like me -  which is great as I have no neurotic need to be loved by everyone. Sometimes, but not often, an angry letter will come to an editor or boss, if you prefer that term. If it’s anonymous, the boss after reading it will hand it to me; then I will read it and it will be tossed into the trash. But it’s creepy to think someone would take the time to write my boss but not stand behind his own words. Once Trish Vernon read me a letter from a coach who took serious issue with some things I wrote. I said “Great, put it in the paper (that’s the policy) and let's see if the community agrees with him." She said, “No, he specifically stated he doesn’t want it in the paper.” I responded, “Then who are you, my mom?” There is nothing wrong with personal agendas; I have a few myself, but man up and come out into the ultraviolet light but no sunblock allowed.

Relative of the Week -  Major league baseball all-star Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds from Tom’s River, N.J., is Gail Mack’s sister Joan's nephew. Joan is married to Bob Dathe; his sister, also Joan, is Todd's mom. Todd's team also won the Little League World Series in 1998, beating Georgetown along the way. Todd played for Rutgers and was Big East Player of the Year in 2007. The Little League field in Tom's River bears his name. He was the 34th overall pick by the Reds in 2007.

Snippets - Sunday, July 20, there will be baseball tryouts at Sports at the Beach for all Bagel Bomber age groups from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Contact with any questions.

Matt Lindell, Cape teacher and track coach, will be inducted into the Wesley College Sports Hall of Fame for his cross-country prowess going back to 2003. Rocky Myers, former CR standout and brother-in-law of Alison Myers, a newly installed Cape school board member, will also be inducted. Go on now, git!

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