Baseball in 15 - 2O years.

Building off of the Perfect Game debate, how do you think the future dad's, the ones who did years of travel ball and high school travel teams, many of whom never saw a college coach scout a single game they played in, will view things?  What's their enthusiam and optimism going to be like?  Will leagues and schools still be as popular? Are they a little jaded?

I am that wretch.

Original Post
Teaching Elder posted:

Building off of the Perfect Game debate, how do you think the future dad's, the ones who did years of travel ball and high school travel teams, many of whom never saw a college coach scout a single game they played in, will view things?  What's their enthusiam and optimism going to be like?  Will leagues and schools still be as popular? Are they a little jaded?

I think it's really unfortunate that youth baseball (<18) has turned away from just a fun game to how to get recruited.  Today everything is geared towards trying to get recruited which I think takes a bit away from the fun of the game.  

I would like to see a shift back to, go have fun, work hard to be the best you can be for your team, if you are blessed with enough talent, you will get an opportunity to play next year.  

Today's mentality is much more about getting better to help yourself.  

real green posted:
Teaching Elder posted:

Building off of the Perfect Game debate, how do you think the future dad's, the ones who did years of travel ball and high school travel teams, many of whom never saw a college coach scout a single game they played in, will view things?  What's their enthusiam and optimism going to be like?  Will leagues and schools still be as popular? Are they a little jaded?

I think it's really unfortunate that youth baseball (<18) has turned away from just a fun game to how to get recruited.  Today everything is geared towards trying to get recruited which I think takes a bit away from the fun of the game.  

I would like to see a shift back to, go have fun, work hard to be the best you can be for your team, if you are blessed with enough talent, you will get an opportunity to play next year.  

Today's mentality is much more about getting better to help yourself.  

I would say “How did we get to this point” but I think it is self evident

Teaching Elder posted:

Building off of the Perfect Game debate, how do you think the future dad's, the ones who did years of travel ball and high school travel teams, many of whom never saw a college coach scout a single game they played in, will view things?  What's their enthusiam and optimism going to be like?  Will leagues and schools still be as popular? Are they a little jaded?

You don't have to wait 15 years.  That is going on right now.  I help kids get recruited and I have talked to many parents that would do it differently if they had another go around.

real green posted:
Teaching Elder posted:

Building off of the Perfect Game debate, how do you think the future dad's, the ones who did years of travel ball and high school travel teams, many of whom never saw a college coach scout a single game they played in, will view things?  What's their enthusiam and optimism going to be like?  Will leagues and schools still be as popular? Are they a little jaded?

I think it's really unfortunate that youth baseball (<18) has turned away from just a fun game to how to get recruited.  Today everything is geared towards trying to get recruited which I think takes a bit away from the fun of the game.  

I would like to see a shift back to, go have fun, work hard to be the best you can be for your team, if you are blessed with enough talent, you will get an opportunity to play next year.  

Today's mentality is much more about getting better to help yourself.  

I see lots of kids having fun playing baseball. Just about all of them. Lots. I’m having fun. I see lots of other parents having fun. But not all. Some are worked up about the recruiting part a little too much. I tend to stay away from those. 

But maybe it’s just me. Lemmee turn on the news so someone can remind how unhappy I should be. 

Our high school coach has been involved with high level travel baseball for several years.  He has basically come out and said to our parents and players that showcase baseball is a waste of time and money if you aren't on a program's 1 or 2 team.  Maybe third team.

A good number of guys who played a professional travel schedule from 9-15 and then showcase ball are going to come away realizing that it did them very little good.   Good showcase programs have 25 legit prospects that they actually work for and "help" with recruiting and 275 guys who pay for the directors to focus on the 25 prospects.   People are figuring that out.

Maybe Little League weathers the storm and regains its footing and youth baseball becomes a game for kids again.

  There is at least one thing that everyone on this site can agree on.  We all love baseball.  We wouldn't be here if we didn't.  It is the greatest great game in the world.  But the points made in the OP are real concerns.  Youth baseball has been monetized at every turn, and a lot of us don't like it.  Its not due to any one thing, person, or organization.  Its due to a lot of things - almost a perfect storm that has been created to profit off the dreams of children, and I really don't like that.  In hopes of helping someone else, this is my story - and the experience of the friends who went along with me.                                                      My youngest son came to me when he was 12 and said, "Dad, I have 3 goals." I said, "who are you?" He said, seriously dad I want to focus on baseball and here are my goals : 1) I want to start on varsity as a freshman ; 2) I want to play baseball in college ; and 3) I want to be selected in the MLB draft my senior year in HS.  Will you help me reach my goals?  So, who on this site would turn a deaf ear to their kid if they heard that? None of you would. My son is now a senior in HS and he isn't going to be drafted but he checked the other two boxes. We had a lot of fun along the way but looking back I would have done some things differently.  I also have a son that was a 2015 that was recruited to pitch at a good D3 program. So I have been thru the recruiting process with him too.  Besides my own kids, I have helped other families get their kids recruited.  I am a former college player, current HS pitching coach, and a volunteer asst. coach at a JUCO. I was also a travel ball coach for 5 years.  Point being, I have a pretty good perspective on all of this.  And even with my background, and connections, I made a ton of mistakes.                                           What are the contributing factors ? How about we start with the soaring cost of a college education.  Many parents are hoping that a baseball scholarship will offset some of the cost of college. Reality is that parents spend way more on baseball getting their kid thru HS than they will ever recoup in baseball scholarship money in college. I know I did.  You are better off focusing on grades as a means of scholarship money.  Spend reasonably on baseball and put money in the bank.                                                                                                       Next factor ? How about the proliferation of select travel ball organizations - many of which have a slick salesman at the top that for thousands of dollars in fees promises all kinds of things to players & parents, marginally qualified coaches that don't teach kids how to get better, and teams full of players that aren't select in any way other than their parents can afford the fees.  So you have too many teams & too many players that are paying too much money for false promises. I avoided all these by doing the coaching myself but everyone cant  do that.  Do your homework and choose wisely.                                                 Now lets tell all these players that they need private instructors if they want to compete and those instructors have to be paid of course. And once the instructor gets that income stream going he will tell Johnny and his parents that he can get Johnny to the next level if Johnny will keep showing up and they keep paying. Can he really get him there? Maybe or maybe not. But the money has been spent and the expectation has been set.  Be realistic.                                 Lets add to the mix recruiting services who tell parents that they can get your player placed - and it will only cost $ 4000 which is nothing compared to the value of the scholarship they will help him attain - except that they wont actually do that, but you find that out later.  What they will do is find a D3 school where Johnny can play that you could have found yourself without them.  And btw D3 schools don't offer athletic scholarships. But wait, you said....................I never hired a recruiting service but many of my friends did and with one exception it was a waste of money.                                                         Oh, and lets not forget scouting services that promote their expensive high profile events as necessary to the recruiting process for exposure to scouts and college coaches. Oh, and lets be sure to play on a travel team that attends these high profile events that result in traveling halfway across the country twice each summer. And why are we doing all this ? Oh yeah, its because our travel ball coach tells us that all the best teams do this. Oh okay, that's a good reason. Wait, the organizer of this event is paying for your hotel room on the beach ?? You didn't tell any of us that !!  But I digress.  Just focus on those measurables !! Gotta hit 90 on the gun!!  But dad, I'm not getting anybody out ! And my arm hurts.  Doesn't matter - throw harder!!  That guy in the stands looks like a scout !                                                                                                               And some baseball parents actually  think that the more money they spend the better player their son becomes.  So many are taken for a ride by travel ball organizations, private instructors and recruiting services resulting in unrealistic expectations of players and parents. I once heard an arrogant parent of a good HS player say (at a HS game), "if your son isn't on the varsity field as a sophomore you are fooling yourself if you think he is playing college baseball." Was she right? Not totally - but more right than wrong.                           I agree with the post that said the whole experience seems to have turned into a quest to get recruited.  And in this quest so many people lose proper perspective.  All of the nonsense that I related in this ramble is a combination of real things that happened to people that I know very well. These are the stories they have related to me.  Many parents that I know feel pushed, pulled, taken advantage of, and even jaded.  And these are the ones that have had success - their kids are going to good JUCO, D3, & D2 schools. What they have realized now that its over is that they didn't have to go to Georgia & Florida to make this happen. They didn't even have to leave the state, and they certainly didn't need to spend all they spent. Now don't get me wrong - its great for the experience if you can afford it. And it can be a lot of fun.  But, unlike how it was presented to them initially, its not necessary.  I cant imagine that the quest to be recruited is very good for the player either if so much focus is put on the end goal that it takes away from the fun of the journey.  Avoid that mistake.         The great players are always gonna make it. They are so good that anyone can recognize their talent. They go D1 or get drafted right out of HS.  But they are a very small minority.  If your son is one of these players you will know it. Parents of these players wont relate to this post because their experience is different.  What I have related is more common - it is the experience of the majority. And its crazy. But youth baseball is big business, with lots of money at stake. So good luck trying to change it. You can wish for Little League to return to prominence but I just don't see it happening.                                                            The best advice I can offer is to get some experienced help, develop a good strategy, buckle up tight, and stick to your plan. If your son is good enough to play beyond high school, your job is to find the person with the most baseball cred in your community that will promote him.  Happy trails to you all !

 

     

Ad, I agree with much of what you write.  I have three boys, all of whom have, or will be pursuing baseball homes at high academic schools.  The oldest went through the recruiting process and is in his first year at a D3 program, the middle one is a junior in HS and planning carefully to be seen this summer, and youngest is a 2022, currently playing intermediate ball. 

The older boy's journey included several showcases and two travel team trips.  The d3 focused showcases were the most helpful for him.  The travel team events were not productive, but they were fun.  They weren't productive because they were focused on d1 players and we learned that he was a d3 player late because we really didn't know any better.  No one promised us anything, though, so I don't feel like we were misled. My #2 may have a shot at d1 because he's big and fast, but we are again focusing on d3 for him and if d1 happens at the right school, so be it.  He's slated to go to showcases that allow him to be seen by both.  He will also do a travel team trip with a chance to be seen by mid to low level d1.  the 2022, well, I'm just trying to help him figure out how to throw a changeup. 

Our experience is ultimately different from most on the board because no one comes to our state to scout unless they're looking at bona fide d1 studs. We have to go to the scouts, which means the cost is unavoidable for what we're trying to do. The hard part is guessing which showcase my kids will perform best at, i.e., there's no way of knowing.  Given that, how many showcases are too many?  Obviously, that's a personal choice, but the money involved is sobering.

These are some really good and insightful posts.  They fit in pretty well with my own observations.   I've also often chuckled at the claims that people make of helping parents save on the costs of college tuition.  Kicking out 25k in training, travel and fees, recruiting services, etc. for a 25% scholarship, if you get it, doesn't add up.  

I really would not be totally surprised to see the whole system take a hit in the next 10-15 years when our kids start getting their kids into baseball (if they aren't too burned out with baseball to have their boys play).    Many might realize the game being played by the training facilities and teams and decide a new approach to things.  I am pretty sure that a number of granddads (us) will have some advice for our boys about things.  

We'll also have additional lessons to teach our own kids about the nature of mankind.  The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and children can become idols that bring one to ruin.  

I agree with a whoooooole lot of what is written on this thread. Pointing the problems out is becoming easier as the situations Ad described are so common place. The bigger question to me is:

How do we swing the pendulum the other way?

It's got to be possible, albeit difficult. I have some thought on it, but it's all predicated on the generosity of baseball people, who are already very taxed for time, and the buy-in of parents to try a different model for success. Both of those seem tricky...

Any thoughts on solutions?

Reading through this I have come to realize how fortunate I am to live in an area that has an active rec-ball league.  Starting with LL all the way through 18YO.  The HS league is thriving and attracts a lot of kids who don't play HS ball or play HS ball but don't have the skills or desire to go on and play college ball.  The games are very competitive as the league is setup as a heritage league and teams are based on HS/neighborhood.  A lot of the players know each other from years of growing up together.  It makes for some really good games, but afterwards the kids will head out to B-DUBS, McD's or the other HS hangouts in our area.

I understand the getting back to fun part but I think there are a lot of players and parents having fun.  My youngest son has his SEC offer in hand and could have taken off a little this summer.  But he has instead opted to play all summer.  I told him it was totally up to him and he said why would I not play all I can.  I love playing and spending time with top level baseball players.   And if I don't play dad I will have to get a job.  Who wants to work all summer when you can play baseball.

I think the top level players being supported by the mid to bottom players will not go away.  Parents don't understand it but they hope that their little Johnny will get the offer.  I also do not think most parents understand that the top level players are not paying the same $3000 a year that they are paying to play.  But that is not new and will not go away. 

Baseball has become a business from the youngest ages up and will not stop.  Because the next generation will also believe that with enough practice, games, and instruction (which all cost money) their little Johnny will make it. 

Remember.  We don't do all of this for little Johnny.  We do this so that we can brag about how good how kid is.  LOL  (As one parent told me the other day when we were talking summer schedules)

ironhorse posted:

I agree with a whoooooole lot of what is written on this thread. Pointing the problems out is becoming easier as the situations Ad described are so common place. The bigger question to me is:

How do we swing the pendulum the other way?

It's got to be possible, albeit difficult. I have some thought on it, but it's all predicated on the generosity of baseball people, who are already very taxed for time, and the buy-in of parents to try a different model for success. Both of those seem tricky...

Any thoughts on solutions?

Here are some thoughts about that :

  The first is honesty. Any person that claims to be a baseball person has the responsibility to be honest in the assessment of any player, IMHO.  Misleading a player or a parent in order to receive income from them is just wrong!  I have always told the truth in my evaluations of players and I have made a lot of people mad.  But I don't care. I don't do what I do for money. I do it because it keeps me connected to the game and it is my version of community service. Just like baseball guys should be honest, players & parents need to be willing to accept the truth even if its not what they want to hear. 

 Next - about parents. Parents need to be more educated consumers when it comes to baseball. You wouldn't put 30K in a real estate investment without doing your diligence, right?  So why are you willing to invest that amount in your son's baseball based on blind faith - or word of mouth?  Do some fact checking on these travel ball organizations & private instructors before you sign up with them.  Talk to previous parents & players that have worked with them. Verify the things that they publish on their website. Treat them more as you would in a business setting - because believe me that's how they are treating you !

Now, about HS coaches.......with apologies up front to all the good HS coaches on this board, the fact is that there are not enough of you to go around. We need more good HS baseball coaches!  Coaching isn't a 9 - 5 job on M-F.  Coaching doesn't take the summer off.  I know, this sounds absurd to good coaches but guess what ?  Its real.  Parents, if your HS has one of these guys its on to you to demand better. Your chances of doing something about it will increase if you band together. Trust me, the school board in my city knows who I am - and I'm not popular there. 

All of that would be a good start.

I don’t know how it could ever turn back. At son’s HS, the kids who played high level travel ball appear to enter the program ready to contribute and a lot (not all) of the kids who stayed in rec ball got cut recently. 

I think most parents want to have their kids compete at the highest level and sometimes the rec scenario just can’t offer that. At least not in my neck of the woods.

I actually coached my son’s travel team from 10-13U and we worked very hard to keep the costs down with sponsorships and fundraising. Each family’s fees the final year was about $500 and that included ten tournaments.

Another thing that we did was make sure that the kids had fun. The kids could swim on out of town trips (some teams didn’t allow that), we had dance contests at the end of practice and lot of practice drills resulted in some type of competition with a prize. I also discussed the plans with our parents and gave them a vote on how they would spend their hard-earned money.

Over the years I made some great connections and early on they would let me know what showcases my son should shoot for and what to avoid. I think that finding someone who has been through the process or this site is the best way to navigate through all of the noise.

If a kid desires to play beyond college, I’m not sure if travel ball isn’t the best way to prepare him.  

 

 

Maybe I am a bit too naïve.  It's not that I disagree with anything above, it just isn't my son's story.  We live in a rural part of southwest GA.  As he progressed through baseball, it was all about competition.  He played on travel teams that were mostly local.  As we saw that his talent level warranted it, we moved to a regional travel team around age 15.  We began to compete against the Atlanta teams and his desire was to play there.  I was very clear.  The only way I would allow him to play there was if he was on a top team.  It was at that same time that he started getting some interest by mid level D1 schools.  I never had a travel coach try to sell me on "play for me and I'll get your kid opportunities."  Maybe I realized that subconsciously, but that wasn't the driving force.  It was his desire to compete against the best of the best to see if he could measure up.  I did take him to a PG showcase as a freshman in HS because I wanted to get unbiased measurables.  He did well and got a very nice write up by the PG scouts.  He was invited to play with arguably the top travel team in the US at that time.  He was one of the top 4 or 5 pitchers and received an invite to play at East Coast Pro.  He went on to earn a scholarship at his dream school.  We did attend a few camps at schools he was very interested in (4 total I think).  He received offers from all of those schools, but we had already determined he was most likely a fit athletically at these schools through his success on the travel team and competing against the top teams nationally.  

This is your responsibility as a parent, in my opinion.  Don't listen to the white noise.  You have to do the homework and research.  I can't fault a for-profit organization for selling a dream to anyone that is willing to buy.  That's basic economics, supply and demand.  If the demand wasn't there, there would not be showcase baseball.  It's the parent's desire for their kid's (or sadly their) dream that is driving this, not the businesses.  

Real quality commentary here. From what I observe, the main obstacle to overcome here is the inability of parents to be objective when evaluating the talent of their own kids. Obviously, everyone is going to be a bit biased & tend to see more of the "good" vs reality when looking at their own. I think you start with identifying the most seasoned & honest evaluator of your kids talent you can find & ask that person to tell it to you straight. Be prepared to have your feelings hurt. Where does my kid rate? How does he project? Is he unlikely to play beyond HS? Is he a PO? Is he Div 1, 2, 3 etc. The Div 1 guys do not have to ask, everyone pretty much knows, with a few exceptions. 

After trying to establish reality, you can then begin to plot a strategy to get your boy an opportunity to play WHERE HE FITS. This is the key. Shoot for a place where he can play & enjoy life. If that is Div 3 baseball then so be it. Go to the school camp. Reach out to the coaches. Ask for help from your travel ball coach or anyone who would have a contact there.

Parents need to get a grip on the level of talent needed to play Div 2 or 3 baseball at a high level. You know the 3 hole hitter on team X who just rakes your kid when your's pitches? He is probably one of 9 identical kids who he would face at Div 2 or 3. The easy outs are gone & the hits are hard to come by because everyone is the best of the best now as you move forward.

As for the $$ part. Agree totally. It is certainly an issue. The way I look at it is this: I am perfectly willing to spend whatever I can afford, that makes sense, based upon the knowledge that my son will be engaging in a productive experience that demonstrates many life lessons. Is there a better use of my $$ than spending it on my kid & I getting to spend time together while he competes with his friends, gets instruction from a quality guy etc? I think not. What would he be doing otherwise? Working on his girlfriend relationship. Learning how to vape in the HS parking lot. Looking at his phone.  So regardless of the "payoff", scholarship or not, I have no regrets about the $$ & do not realistically see much change away from the ramp up in competition as we move forward. The competitive dial is only going to get turned up as more & more quality athletes turn away from football and move our way in the years to come.   

Steve A. posted:

Real quality commentary here. From what I observe, the main obstacle to overcome here is the inability of parents to be objective when evaluating the talent of their own kids. Obviously, everyone is going to be a bit biased & tend to see more of the "good" vs reality when looking at their own. I think you start with identifying the most seasoned & honest evaluator of your kids talent you can find & ask that person to tell it to you straight. Be prepared to have your feelings hurt. Where does my kid rate? How does he project? Is he unlikely to play beyond HS? Is he a PO? Is he Div 1, 2, 3 etc. The Div 1 guys do not have to ask, everyone pretty much knows, with a few exceptions. 

After trying to establish reality, you can then begin to plot a strategy to get your boy an opportunity to play WHERE HE FITS. This is the key. Shoot for a place where he can play & enjoy life. If that is Div 3 baseball then so be it. Go to the school camp. Reach out to the coaches. Ask for help from your travel ball coach or anyone who would have a contact there.

Parents need to get a grip on the level of talent needed to play Div 2 or 3 baseball at a high level. You know the 3 hole hitter on team X who just rakes your kid when your's pitches? He is probably one of 9 identical kids who he would face at Div 2 or 3. The easy outs are gone & the hits are hard to come by because everyone is the best of the best now as you move forward.

As for the $$ part. Agree totally. It is certainly an issue. The way I look at it is this: I am perfectly willing to spend whatever I can afford, that makes sense, based upon the knowledge that my son will be engaging in a productive experience that demonstrates many life lessons. Is there a better use of my $$ than spending it on my kid & I getting to spend time together while he competes with his friends, gets instruction from a quality guy etc? I think not. What would he be doing otherwise? Working on his girlfriend relationship. Learning how to vape in the HS parking lot. Looking at his phone.  So regardless of the "payoff", scholarship or not, I have no regrets about the $$ & do not realistically see much change away from the ramp up in competition as we move forward. The competitive dial is only going to get turned up as more & more quality athletes turn away from football and move our way in the years to come.   

this^  He said it much better than me.

It’s pretty easy to tell if a kid does or doesn’t belong on a team.  

The advice that I got was you don’t want your kid to be the best or the worst on any particular team. 

I also think if you want an honest assessment of your kid’s ability, find someone who doesn’t have monetary conflict of interest to provide it. 

I'll just say this.  It's all about steps and levels.  There is nothing wrong with playing "travel ball" as a youth.  There are many types of programs to choose from -- glorified rec league to semi-pro.  Pick what works for you, have fun and play.  There is a learning process there -- compete and get better.  The goal should be to contribute in HS. 

Once in HS, then you decide whether you want to play at the "next level."  And work to get yourself there.  But as others have said, be realistic.  That means for most, traveling around the country to showcases is a waste of time/money for recruiting purposes.  But everyone thinks you need to be there to be "seen."  If your legit D1, sure that's probably true to provide maximum opportunities.  But for most, you just clog up the park.  We know several kids who did it -- they were D3 players and traveled from AZ to GA.  Guess where they ended up.  At the local D3s -- all less than an hour away from home.  No scholarship, lots of money spent. 

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