By: Trevor Winsor
When it comes down to the question of “what is the best part about baseball?” The answer is simple – the team.
The reason why a game or a season is enjoyable is because of the team. The reason for a successful season is the team. The reason why programs create legacies is the team.
The team itself is what is so special about the game of baseball. The team dynamics, the seniors, the freshman, the team clown, the team captains – there are lots of roles on a team. But how a team gets along and plays together will always dictate how well any season will go.
There are many different types of players that fill the positions on the ball field, and they all have their role. I’ve seen many of these and played with the rest. The different roles are what make the team dynamics work and what makes a team a team.
THE MENTAL MIDGET
Every team has one, maybe two. These are the guys who can’t handle the mental part of the game. Anything that requires mental toughness or situational awareness goes right over the head of this guy (sometimes literally).
The mental midget is the guy who first, can’t take criticism. Anything you say to him will ruin his day, his inning, and the rest of the week. You can’t come to this guy with any suggestions on things to change. This guy doesn’t know how to make the adjustment.
The mental midget is also the guy who can’t control his emotions. If your mental midget strikes out in his first at-bat, you’re screwed for the rest of the game. He lets his anger and frustration get the best of him. Then he starts to press and over-do everything. This then screws up the game for most everyone.
The mental midget is the guy you don’t want in your starting line up. But sadly, most line ups have one or two of these guys. Moral of the story, don’t be the mental midget.
THE SILENT LEADER
These are the guys you wish grew on trees. You can’t get enough of the silent leader. This is the guy who leads by example and not with his mouth. Not that leading vocally is bad, but this guy will do his job day in and day out, and say something if absolutely necessary.
The silent leader will always put in more work than required. He shows up to every workout, even the optional ones. He shows up early and ready to work. And he stays late to take extra swings or ground balls. This guy is a coach’s dream.
The silent leader will also know what to say to motivate the team. Just like in life, listeners tend to have profound things to say when they open their mouths. And in baseball it’s no different. When the silent leader speaks people listen. And when he speaks, the right things are said.
The silent leader is what every player wishes they could be, but can’t. This is the best teammate and the best player to coach. The silent leader is an excellent player and the hardest worker. We need more of these guys.
Come on now, you know that every team has one of these guys. The clown is the dude who keeps the clubhouse loose and relaxed. He is funny guy who always knows what to say to get a reaction and a laugh. Every team needs this kind of guy.
The clown never takes anything seriously. This is a good and bad thing. He doesn’t take criticism too seriously and can tend to slack off at times. This doesn’t go well with the coaches or the team. But on the other side, the clown doesn’t take striking out or making an error too seriously either. And this is helpful in the game of baseball. The clown can see past the mistake and move on quickly. This is an asset for the team, 100%.
The clown also tends to be a decent player. If you can’t take things seriously, you don’t tend to be on the coaches good side. But because of the talent of this guy, the coach has to play him. Regardless of any stupidity or shenanigans, this guy usually plays the game well and plays the game right.
The clown is what every player thinks they are but obviously they’re not. And the clown is usually in some sort of leadership role on the team. This guy is important to the make-up and success of the program. You need the clown.
THE PLAYER COACH
Every team sadly has one of these guys. The player who thinks his role is to be the “other” assistant coach. Like he is the one who will help his teammates make the adjustment needed. Can this guy’s help every once in a while? Yes. Does he end up being a help most of the time? Nope.
The player coach tends to know a lot about the game. This is an asset. This guy usually knows what he is talking about. He is a student of the game and has a working knowledge of how to play it. This makes it easy to coach this guy. But you find yourself wanting him to keep his tips to himself.
The player coach mostly just annoys everyone. It’s sad but true. This guy has good intentions at heart but ultimately he just gets annoying and people stop listening to him. I know I know, it’s sad, but also very true. The coaching staff can’t tell him to stop trying to help his teammate, but they wish he would.
You don’t want the player coach, but you you’ll always have at least one. Best bet is to steer him in the right direction and hope for the best.
THE “YEAH BUT” GUY
We all know this guy. And if you can’t think of anyone on your teams that was this guy, sadly then it was you. This is the excuse guy. Everything is always someone else’s fault or someone else’s problem. This guy never own up to his mistakes or lack of making adjustments. His common response is “yeah but…..”
The yeah-but guy is impossible to coach. This guy never takes any coaching to heart. Even if it is the one thing to make him better, he’ll “yeah but” you all day. He always has a reason he is screwing up. He always has a response to every criticism you give him. This guy is an idiot. And he obviously knows more about the game than anyone else (sarcasm). This guy is a chump.
The yeah-but guy will never improve as a ball player. It’s the sad truth for this guy, but until he is able to take some coaching and own up to his inabilities, he won’t ever get better. The whole point to playing the game is to continue to get better. But this guy gets in his own way. He is the reason he won’t succeed. And it’s really sad.
The name says it all. This dude is flat out a stud. You don’t need to worry about his play. This guy puts in the work and gets the job done. This guy comes around only once every few years (hopefully). And you can’t wait for those 4 years to come.
The all-American coaches himself. It’s true. You don’t really coach this guy all that much. Maybe on situational things. But more often than not, you just encourage and lightly tweak this guy. The rest, you leave it and let him tear it up out there.
The all-American is a natural leader. I don’t mean this in the sense that he is a team captain. But more that the other guys will follow him just because he is so good. He will be given a voice and a say in a lot of things and you trust him to do his job. This guy actually could be a real tool box, but you know he’ll put in the work needed and will set a good example for your guys on how to work.
THE GUM/SEEDS GUY
This guy is basically the vending machine or the team. Whether it’s that he is loaded and doesn’t need the stuff, or he is just the nicest dude around, you can always bum seeds or gum off this guy. And every team needs a gum/seeds guy.
The gum/seeds guy is usually a great team guy. What I mean by this is that he is characterized by helping his teammates out any way he can. Whether it’s shagging balls or picking up trash in the dugout, this guy is a team player and everybody appreciates it.
The gum/seeds guy always has a vast range of options. This guy never just has plain “original” seeds. He’s got the bacon seeds, dill pickle seeds, and most likely the pumpkin seeds with him. And he’ll let you have them all. And with gum he usually rocks having double-bubble or big league chew (because he’s smart). We never complain about the vast options this guy carries around. And we appreciate you, you kind-hearted saint of a man. Thanks for the gum/seeds.
This doesn’t cover all the guys you’ll see on teams, but it definitely covers some ground. These guys are the reason you coach and the reason you love the game.
The team is the greatest part of baseball. Watching these guys work together to get better and win some games is a joy and privilege to be a part of. And it’s a challenge to reach each of these guys to make them better. But it’s worth it.
Whether it’s the clown, the all-American, or the gum/seeds guy – they all play a role and they are all needed for a team to function well.
Which one are you??
Here is Part 1 Confessions of a High School Confessions: Tryouts
Here is Part 2 Confessions of a High School Confessions: First Game