Happy Thanksgiving

There is a lot to be thankful for around the Novis household, and we want to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

I also wanted to remind you that there is a handy Turkey cooking calculator – it can help you figure out when to start your bird depending upon when you plan to eat and how you plan to cook it.

You can find the Turkey Start Time Calculator by clicking on the link.

Stanford Baseball

Stanford is an amazing place to visit and thia weekend Ryan and I travelled to Palo Alto to visit the Cardinal High School baseball camp.

Stanford Baseball Camp Impressions

So the first thing we noticed when we arrived and walked the campus is the pristine state of everything.  The color schemes, the landscaping, nary a blade of glass was out of place nor a spot of dirt appeared on any building.  Stanford is Disney quality presentation in education.  This seems consistent with Palo Alto’s understated wealth.  No SUVs and Big Trucks here – it’s Teslas and McLarens.  It is hard to comprehend the scale of wealth in this tiny community.

Perhaps this puts it in perspective for a Nationally ranked school that just won the Presidents cup for top athletic program in the country for 20 straight years (1994 to 2014), they only admit 1 in 20 applicants.  The total underclass population is just 7,000 compared to ASU’s 98,000.  And yet the campus feels larger, better maintained and everything about the place feels absolutely top notch.

Stanford leaves you with the impression that this is what excellence looks and feels like.  Palo Alto reminds you that the world will pay top dollar for excellence. 

Sunken Diamond

The Sunken Diamond is among the most beautiful baseball facilities I have been in.  Klein field is intimate and understated but don’t let the trees fool you, there are top notch facilities tucked into this park like campus just out of sight.  The coaches here had no problem deploying 260 ball players to fields, and cages around the campus.   What is more they kept them busy.

The Camp

This is a very interesting camp because of the kinds of players it attracts.  Actually, it’s also about the kinds of coaches it attracts.  More than 40 college coaches help with the camp and every ivy league school except Yale is present. 

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I actually was able to ask the coach from Harvard how the “Call Me Maybe” Effected their program.  He explained that it was a bit of a headache for his staff because they played that song everywhere they went.  A group of seniors and juniors scripted the video and put it online and it went viral.  The University and Athletic department loved the exposure it generated, however the rival schools had fun with it too.

Big and Talented

Coach Stots, the former head coach for Stanford Baseball for nearly 4 decades opened the camp with an entertaining and energetic speach.  He pointed out that of the 260 ball players – 11% play college at a D1 level.  Of those, only 6% are drafted into the minors.  Of those, only 3% play ONE DAY on the pros.  Getting a college education from baseball is a fantastic opportunity and well worth it.

And yet, I believe a camp like this sorts for the players that are most likely to attend a D1 school and play.  And wow are these kids big.  Most of them are in the six foot one to six foot two range.  There are a slug of kids over six three and a very few below six foot (guess what?  They are wicked fast and they can hit).  But this is what division one ball players look like.  Big, fast, and talented. 

According to Coach Stots there are two kinds of recruit.  Talent and Technique.  Talent, six foot four.  Hits the ball over the fence with a flick of the wrist, throws the ball 100 miles per hour.  There are very few of those.  The rest are technique.  They have some talent.  They have been well coached, and these coaches are looking for players who can fit their program. 

Matt Novis Gets MLB Pitch Hit and Run Love

I don’t know how I missed it, but right after the Home Run Derby, MLB network published this story about the Pitch Hit and Run Competition:

Matt gets several prominent mentions in the article.

Matt With Trophy

I feel it was pretty special that they focused on Matt’s story.

Travel Log Day 2: Part 2 – The Champion

Champion

Blogging on the road is harder than it looks. Well, it is for me. There are a couple of things that made this challenging.

  1. Mixing iPhone and Camera images can be cumbersome and tricky.
  2. RAW (the image format) sounds great in principle. In practice, it doubles the number of images you have to deal with and gobbles up your storage.
  3. It’s hard to have a rhythm when you travel.
  4. If you spend all of your time on your keyboard you might miss the thing you came to see.

So having said all of there, here’s the skinny.

Matt is the 2014 Pitch Hit and Run 13 & 14 National Champion

How about that? It was a close contest. Andy from North Dakota actually hit 4 pitches while Matt only hit 3. After that Matt did what he has always done and just focused on the things he can control.

After the pitching they went to hitting. Andy had a few nice hits off the Tee, but they were pretty far off the center line.

If Matt was going to make up ground, he would have to do it in the hitting. Each pitch is worth 75 points for a maximum total of (6 x 75) 450 points.

Hitting, however is open ended. It is double your distance. The record is a whopping 365 feet – held by a 12 year old believe it or not! That is a 730 point value. More than many kids total score.

Matt’s first hit was a line drive to second base. Not a great start. His second hit was much better, about 275 but thirty feet left of the tape. His last hit was the championship shot. Everyone oohed and ahed when he hit it. I would later find out that it was 294 feet, four inches off the tape. Suddenly Matt was right back in it.

The final challenge was running and both Matt and Andy put in times very close to 7 seconds. The question was, how did they balance out? Was 4 pitches more valuable than Matt’s long hit?

In the end, Matt’s hit made the difference. He was crowned National Champion with a score of 1226.

Matt is named Champion
Matt is Named Champion

Later Matt told me that none of the kids did as well at National as they did at home. There were a couple of reasons for that. First, they have travelled, there is a lot going and it’s a daunting being there. The same thing happened to Ryan’s group.

But, at the end of the day the real award was shagging fly balls in the outfield during the home run derby.

Matt Shagging Fly Balls
Matt Shagging Fly Balls

Matt was out there when Geancarlo Stanton hit his epic blast ¾ of the way up the deck in left field. It was awesome from the seats, I can’t imagine what they looked like from the ground.

I could not be more proud of Matthew. He put in the work, and he earned it.

Photo Stream

If you want to see all 177 photos (integrated from my phone and my camera) as well as the picture of both boys with their trophies, check out my iCloud Pitch Hit and Run 2014 PhotoStream

Travel Log Day 2: Part 2 – The Competition

The competition

We finished with fanfest and are now on the bus to Target Field.

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This is it. This is why we are here – mostly. While we are here for the national competition, we are really here for the event. The kids will go with the guides and be with them the rest of the night. The parents are now on their own to film and watch. I am a little – not sad, but wistful perhaps, as I would love to follow Matt the whole way. This has been an experience we have shared up until now. I do however want to give MLB and the PH&R credit. They do a great job of including the parents and anticipating everyone’s needs.

Pitch and Run

Target field is beautiful. The day is overcast but it is very comfortable with surprisingly low humidity. Perfect for competition.

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Warm ups

The kids warm up and then its pitching. The target here is a little different. It is a cut out. As Ryan pointed out this is probably better because it is clear. If the ball goes in it is a strike. If it does not, it’s not.

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Most of the kids, many who hit five or 6 strikes in their team championship are hitting two or three here. For Matt’s group:

Andy – 4 strikes
Matt – 3 strikes
Casey – 0 strikes

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Hitting

The Blue Angels have flown over three times which is awesome.  The hitting is the biggest part for the boys.  For the girls, they don’t seem to have as much variance in power as the boys do.  It is not uncommon to see a boy hit a ball 50 feet farther than another boy of the same age.  That is pretty uncommon with the girls.  With hitting, it is your distance times TWO.  So you can gain up to 700 points hitting if you can really crush a baseball.  The record is 365 feet.  A 300 foot shot down the line will net you a cool 600 points.  Pitching at 75 points per pitch can yield 450 points.  Running, another 400 or so.  So pitching and hitting strategically are your best options.

In this round Matt had a hit that was a flat low line drive.  His second hit was much more to his wheel house, a good 260 – 270 but a decent way left of the line.  His final hit – was 294 a few inches off the tape.  It was by far the farthest hit of the day.  This would prove to be key.

Matt at Pitch Hit and Run

Matt at Pitch Hit and Run 

Running

Matt turned in a respectable 7.08 seconds.  His chief competitor?  7.05.  I did not get many pictures of Matt running because I had a lot of stuff to juggle.  However in the end I got pictures of the kids.  We just had to wait until the end of the derby to know who won.

 

Competition over who won?

 

USA Baseball in the Desert

USA Baseball

This week out in Peoria, Glendale, and Goodyear Arizona, USA Baseball takes advantage of the amazing facilities provided by the Cactus League – Arizona's marque, spring training league. At professional baseball facilities used by the LA Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, and Cincinnati Reds 64 teams from around the west coast compete to win a National Championship.

But lets be honest, there are LOTS of youth Baseball National Championships. If you can afford the fee, there are tournaments that will reward you with a nice trophy. The real attraction out here is:

  1. The level of competition
  2. The opportunity to be selected to the national team.

Lots of tournaments boast having scouts. But only at the USA Baseball tournament might a scout pull you aside and ask you if you have a passport. The poster child for being selected is Bryce Harper who in 2008 played for the San Diego Show. He went on to play for two National teams.

While, it is exciting to think of being selected, it is a staggeringly rare occurrence. It feels like Big Foot sightings. He might really be out there but none has seen one. And so the real value of a tournament like this goes back to the first reason, competition.

To play at a high level, you need to play at a high level. The potential of a National Team selection draws the best players on the best teams. And that makes for some great competition. The strange thing about baseball is that there appears to be no better way to get better at Baseball than to play better and better competition.

So despite the heat, and the astronomical odds against being selected, they come and compete in the heat. If you want to see the future of baseball, it is here, in the desert, playing for the dream.

Dreams do come true

Write after i wrote this one of the players in Matts team was pulled aside by two scouts and told he was “in the pool” of players being considered for the national team.

Players, parents,
and coaches congratulated the young man. Being recognized for your performance is always a great feeling.

Awesome!
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Pitch Hit and Run Finalist Matt Novis Headed to MLB All star game!

Today Matt novis was announced as a National finalist for the Pitch Hit And Run Competition on MLB Tonight. Matt is headed for Minnesota!

That is TWO Novis boys who have qualified to attend All Star games!

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Under Armor Airplane Shoe – ready for take off

I want this shoe. Who cares if it is practical or not!
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Went shopping for new shoes with Matt and we saw this Under Armor display. now Under Armor has some pretty crazy shoes. In fact show designs have become an exercise in the exotic.
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I once heard John Lassiter say, “If you have a crazy fabric, make something conventional. If you have some conventional fabric, make something crazy with it. You want to give people something to relate to. When you make a crazy design out of crazy materials people don't know how to connect to it.”

With that in mind we saw some CRAZY fun designs today.

Dont these look like they are Duck Tape?

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Continue reading Under Armor Airplane Shoe – ready for take off

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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