Summer Baseball

Corona Incoming Freshmen Baseball League.

This summer I was asked to coach my son’s summer high school baseball team. The program is part of the incoming freshmen league, a part of an informal collection of 13 high schools that offer summer camp-like summer leagues. I say camp-like because in our program we do not cut players unless there is an absolute safety issue.

The nice thing about this program and the way it is structured because it is open to all players is that we can rent the school facilities like any community based program and we can put together some outstanding coach and skill clinics.

Education is meant for everyone. Personally I really prefer this format because you never know when someone will step up and grow into their potential. So much emphasis is put on identifying youth talent that we are pushing players younger and younger into choosing a specific sport.

Of course it is fun to coach talented players who can execute at a high level. However, as a coach I believe we should try to help each player achieve the highest potential of which they are capable of achieving. This idea was put forward by John Wooden. Success is about becoming the best you are capable of becoming.

Summer ball has been a chance to practice that again and it is fun.

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Interactive Map Shows Where the Fans Are

Gmail_-_Scott_NovisThis nifty Map from the New York Times shows By Tom Giratikanon, Josh Katz, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy. While people do not often respond to surveys, they do post many of their preferences on Facebook. As the Onion once quipped, Facebook is the greatest domestic spying tool ever created.

Sarcasm aside, this map is very clever.

Amazing Anatomy of a PITCH By ESPN

One of the things I often tell players is that one of the great things about baseball is that lots of things work. One of the challenges of baseball? Lots of things work. The trick is to find something that works for you.  Here, ESPN does a fantastic job of illustrating this better than anyone I have ever seen.  They look at 8 different pitchers from my home town team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.  They throw 7 different pitches.  They all use slightly different mechanics to achieve success.

What do I mean by success?  They are all professional baseball players!  That is the dream of most young kids.  Just making it to the “bigs” is a huge achievement.  And as this website shows, there is more than one way.

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Macro Trends

One of the conversations I often have with new business owners is an understanding of what drives our decision making.  What motivates people to do what they do?  We all know that life has changed since we were kids, but how many of us really understand how those changes are playing out in our daily lives and effective the decisions we make every day?

Perhaps some people more than others are dialed into how trends on a large scale effect our decisions, but over and over again I run into people who often seemed amazed at how national stories effect personal thought patterns which in turn drives our individual decisions.  Over the next few weeks I hope to share some of the trends I have seen which effect not only my business, but also my life as a parent and a citizen.

— Scott

All Business is Baseball

A few weeks ago I came across a quote from Zig Zigler. Mr. Zigler passed away in Nov 2012, but his knowledge and inspiration live on. The quote that hit me was this.

People tell me motivation doesn’t last. I agree! Neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend you do it daily.
Zig Zigler

The reason that quote was so powerful to me is that in a flash it hit me that my real business is baseball. Over the last several years, I have been working to coach my players to handle the mental aspects of the game. They can learn the rules, the skills, the abilities, but it is very often the mental part of the game that governs their performance. In short, I have seen that how they handle adversity has a strong impact on their success.

So what does this have to do with Mr. Zigler’s quote?

Baseball players do not find motivation once. They do not find it monthly, or weekly, or even daily. They have to find their motivation every at bat. In fact, it could be argued that they must find their motivations every single pitch.

Once I realized that daily motivation is required to be successful in business, suddenly the parallels appeared from multiple sources. From the book, With Winning in Mind he wrote:

Your self image will determine your performance.

Put another way by a famous psychologist

You cannot consistently act in a way that is inconsistent with your self image.

The bottom line here is that how we see our selves, how we feel about ourselves, how we believe in our selves, and finally how we motivate ourselves has a very powerful effect on our performance.

The director of my oldest son’s baseball program, the very well respected Rodney Davis made an interesting comment after one of Ryan’s tournaments. He had told the boys he wants them to show him something special. I, of course, assumed this meant on the field. He was talking about something more profound. It had to do with how the players carried themselves, how they conducted their business, and how they handled failure.

He explained it to me in terms that were graphic but completely clear. “How fast can you flush the toilet?” He asked. “And when you flush it, is it all gone?”

Too many of us, I am convinced not only don’t flush the toilet, we may not even be house trained. Like dogs we leave steaming piles of disappointment laying all over the place waiting for someone else to pick them up and dispose of them. Mature competitors dispose of emotional detritus as fast as possible.

In short, you wan to develop emotional recovery time. The faster you can recover, the faster you can get back in the game and be at your best.

One of the reasons I like listening to baseball players interviewed after the game is that they will often tell you exactly what they were doing and thinking. After a particularly exciting come from behind victory, a reporter asked Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt how it felt to be so locked in. “Goldy” smiled and said something to the effect, “Well I don’t know about being locked in. I ground into two double plays and struck out.” He paused for a moment, then added, “But I couldn’t let myself get down because I knew I would have a chance to help the team win.” True Gold.

He couldn’t let himself get down.

Competition requires that you recover your composure quickly. And business is no different. Suddenly I could start to see the application, the messaging, the approach. Many of the things we talk about with players – the techniques directly apply to business.

So at the end of the day I have learned that my business is baseball. My passions are aligned. I can help others and myself achieve more success or at least have a more enjoyable journey.

Smart Move

Today I had a pleasant surprise at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Instead of the usual generic national brands I found a familiar face. The Cartel Coffee Lab sat where Burger / Pizza / King / Hut used to be.

The Cartel Coffee Lab is one of those small businesses that makes no sense in an internet world where ideas can be cloned at the speed of light and familiar trumps quality.

Don’t get me wrong – Franchising is an amazing way for many people to get into their own business and find success fast. However mavericks like the coffee labs are more likely to find their way to the business actuary tables than the airport.

Yet there they were. Fresh, shiny and magically ready to deliver an amazing cup of joe.

What makes the Cartel so special? Aside from a plywood and iPad ambiance – (it reeks of college creativity born of limited funds) they roast their own coffee beans. I remember a friend waxing on about the magic of freshly roasted coffee. At the Cartel Coffee Labs they bring it to you steaming hot in every cup.

And… it… is… AWESOME.

From a business perspective I am truly impressed with Sky Harbor management. Rather than another me too airport they elected to (quite literally) promote the local flavor of Phoenix. It makes me proud to live in a place where other entrepreneurs can live their success and we can all participate and benefit.

Way to go Cartel Coffee Labs and way to go Phoenix. Doing something different always takes courage. And encouragement.

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Scorecard For Mom – Part III

This is the final part and this is Dad’s Game Tracker. When used with Mom’s GameTracker you end up with a pretty flexible scoring system that lets you miss parts of the game and catch up quickly, tracking as much – or as little detail as you want.

Now there is one big drawback to this system. It is very hard to quickly assemble batting statistics for a player. However, when you are scoring summer ball and there are players wearing the same number (once scored a game with three number 13’s!) and coaches substitute freely, this system is really easy.

Okay, so I like to follow every at bat if possible. It keeps me in the game and helps me see the strategy that unfolds. So I use a LIST. I keep this in a Lined moleskin notebook turned sideways so the rules keep my columns in order.

Across the top I write these column headings:
I H V O # P R L

I: For the inning. A small dot at the top or bottom of the first number in a sequence lets me know if it was the TOP or the BOTTOM of that inning.

H: For the home score when this batter came to the plate.

V: For the visitor score when the batter came to the plate. You could easily put the visitor score first and maybe that makes more sense.

O: How many outs when the batter came to the plate.

#: The players uniform number. If they are a repeat number they get a prime (‘) for each duplicate. So 7, 7’, 7” and so on. Ill sort their names out later. Blanks? I assign them a zero. You’d be surprised how many kids come to the plate with no number on their jersey. Finally I will underline or circle the lead off batter.

P: The play. This is what happened during their at bat. I use classic 1B, BB, score card notation here but you can use what ever you want.

R: Result. I put a circle x if they are out, or I start drawing a diamond if they reach base. Every leg of the diamond is another base. If they score I have a complete diamond and I put a solid dot in the center so it stands out.

L: Location. I try to record where they hit the ball if it is not obvious from the play. L6 Out is obvious. 2B is not, so I tend to write a letter for hit type and a position for where it was hit. Two numbers denotes a gap. So L89 is a line drive in the right center gap. C6 is a chopper to short. T1 is a tapper to the pitcher.

Other notes can go here too like pinch runners or sometimes I will track the count.

The count can be tracked on almost any box by designating one side balls and the other strikes, but I often find this makes the cells hard to read later so I only do it for players ( like my son) who I am really trying to track.

I sometimes score with multi function roller ball pen (available from jetpens.com). Then I can use color.
red = out. Blue = score. Green = mark my son so I can quickly scan and see how he is doing.

I have attached a couple cards from games I scored recently.

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Scorecard for Mom – Part II

I guess I should explain how the “Mom card works”

First, the idea is to be able to chat during a game but at the same time to be able to quickly send texts to family and friends as to what is going on.

A lot like the Dad card, it has to be flexible enough to miss some action (or innings!) but quickly catch up.

So the mom card keeps track of three things.

  1. The inning
  2. The number of outs
  3. The score

Basically you draw out 6 (or 7) boxes on a sheet of paper or a card.

ideally you want two lines in each box. One for the visitor half – one for the home half of the inning. Number each box right on the dividing line.

Now then the visiting team is up just mark the outs with an ‘X’. When a run scores add a tally, (a ‘+’, or a ‘/’, or a ‘|’) when you hit three outs add up the runs that inning and add them to to the previous inning score for that team.

Below is a complete 7 inning game I scored. Unfortunately we lost. V means visitor, H means Home.
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Repeat for the bottom half. If you lose you place jump ahead and fill in the info for that inning.

One other useful thing is to leave space for notes so you can record great plays made by your son or his friends. Room to record his at bat or a great play in the field really helps.

Below is another example of a full game. I did not record the great plays like my wife, but it is super quick and easy to keep track of what is going on.

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Scorecard For Mom

This past week I spent most of the time on the road with my oldest son. We were playing high school level baseball tournaments. During the first leg of the trip in Flagstaff my wife said, “I wish there was a scorecard for mom’s.”

I asked to to explain.

“I don’t want to have to pay attention to every play, but I want to keep up.”

I frowned. I may not be a smart man but I have been married for more than 20 years so instead of telling her what I thought her idea I said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I just need to know what inning it is and how many outs. Oh yeah, and what the score is.” It was then that I started to realize how truly different watching a baseball game was for her.

For her baseball is a social experience. A time to catch up with friends, share stories, and generally have fun – however, knowing where the game status is very important too because it provides the context for anticipation and drama. Are we way behind late? Be ready to cope with a disappointed child. Are we way ahead early? Lots of excitement, we don’t have to pay much attention (until our kid is up to bat). Close game? Less chit-chat more keeping an eye on the game.

Men on the other hand tend to evaluate every play in the context of how they would have executed either as

  1. A player
  2. A coach
  3. A player-coach (the dream gig)

They tend to complain about umpire calls, discuss strategy and most important of all someone in the tribe knows the count or the obscure interpretation of a rule (tell me again why the catcher hitting the batter in the head with the baseball on the throw to third is not an obstruction?)

So back to me and my wife. What was really important to her was that she could miss a bit of the game then catch up quickly. I have to confess, this was a genius idea that lead me to create TWO simple scorecards that complement each other and work together quite well.

I call them:

  • Mom’s Score Tracker
  • Dad’s Game Tracker

I’ll present each version over the next two posts with templates you can try.

 

Easy Picture Posting With Markdown

Okay, I lied. Putting pictures in your post is not easy with Markdown. It’s not easy with anything really. However, if you are like me and you think of your photos while you write, then markdown can make putting pictures in your blog posts manageable. Follow the Jump top find out how.

The trouble with images

Look, there are lots of ways to post a single image in your post. WordPress does a very nice job with Instagram, and there seem to be lots of ways to get one image posted. But what I am talking about is embedding several images in the body of a post. That is problematic on everything except a desktop.

Let’s look at how images are handled now with WordPress. Don’t get me wrong, I love the WordPress uploader. I will also admit that the WordPress iOS app does a decent job of inserting images into posts. I think it is a huge improvement. However, I find it a rather tedious process to upload images and then insert them where I want them in my text. I guess my host is just slow, but I find the steps are slow pretty much on any host or server I use.

What I want is the ease of dragging images into my document while I write, and then having those images uploaded automagically, or I want to be able to refer to my images as I author. The major trouble with most image hosting solutions is that they refuse to give you a direct link to the image file, something you can paste into the src attribute of an img tag.

For example, DropBox, Flickr, and Instagram all make it easy to upload images, but they give you links that wrap your images in an html page. The links are not suitable for pasting into an img tag. Now it is possible to get a link from Flickr, but wow is it tedious.

SkyPath and ImageShack

For my workflow, I have found two approaches that work. First, SkyPath is an iOS app (available on android as well) that makes it trivial to upload groups of files to a hosted server, and get a link directly to your hosted image.

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Once you have the link, then you are free to paste this link into your markdown document. The ease of uploading and getting a direct link is about as simple as I have seen. After the file is uploaded you just tap and hold over the image and SkyPath will copy the link to the clipboard. Your image is now available online.

Preview

The key to making sure everything works is to preview your markdown file. Some editors like Markdown Pro do this in real time, but I am also a fan of Marked which can update the preview every time you save your work. On my iPad Elements is brilliant. And once you can host your images online, preview should let you know how your images will appear in your final document.

Place holders

Using an image editor like Pixlr, or Acorn, I created a set of place holder images and uploaded them to imageshack. With these in place, I can quickly and easily put in place holder images while I am writing then go back later and replace the placeholders with the real images.

Summary

Working with multiple images inserted into a single post always feels a bit tedious. It would be wonderful if you could copy and paste a whole formatted word document with images into WordPress, but I have never gotten that to work. What’s more I have other software I use which is unlikely to ever support cut and paste from MS Word. So work flow is my next best thing.

Markdown lets me put in simple place holders for images, with links to where I can find that file online. This allows me to write quickly, block out key data I may have to upload later, and keep going. It is not ideal, but for me it makes working with images in blogs manageable.