Don’t Simply Trust Coaches, Because A Lot Of Them Put Themselves First

Dallas Jackson of Rivals brought the public the story of two pitchers who threw 347 pitches between them … in one game. People were shocked, people were angry, and I was … well … unfortunately not all that surprised.

After 501 pitches, the game finally ended.

New Orleans (La.) Jesuit had bettered Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel in an 18-inning, pitchers’ duel and the 2-1 victory was exactly what everyone had anticipated when it was announced that both teams would be throwing their ace pitcher.

LSU signee Mitch Sewald started for Rummel; Emerson Gibbs, a Tulane signee, for Jesuit.

Of those 501 pitches needed to decide the victory, the two young arms had accounted for 347 of them.

Sewald pitched 10 innings allowing one run on two hits. He recorded 10 strikeouts and threw 154 pitches. Gibbs pitched 15 innings allowing a single run on six hits. He recorded 13 strikeouts and accounted for 193 pitches.

Is there any way to put this besides negligent? No, I don’t think so. It’s terrible and it’s all too common.

Now the sheer number of pitches is something I haven’t seen outside of Japan, but as far as the gross negligence by coaches? Not all that shocking.

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There are situations where these types of decisions are acceptable. If they’re playing in the state tournament and the pitcher’s career is about to end (not going to play in college), then I can understand risking the injury. But these two pitchers? They both want to continue their playing careers, yet their coaches were okay with putting that on the line … for what, exactly? One random high school game? Disgusting.

The athletic director says to trust the coach? Nah, I say be more skeptical and protect your own kids.

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Now there’s always the other end of the spectrum as far as protecting your kids, as Dirk Hayhurst pointed out recently.

Parents, or The Parents, as we call them among coaching circles, are the number one cause of problems for just about every coach and player… including their own.

That’s because The Parents, in their quest to be loving, helpful, and provide the perfect baseball experience, do some crazy-ass s*^#$ like pick fights with coaches in parking lots, start arguments in the middle of games, harass other teams ten year olds to the point of crying, brawl with other dads, attack other mothers, and contact child services over lack of playing time.

Coach for any amount of time and you’ll learn quickly that the hardest part about coaching young children is dealing with the grown up problems of their parents.

Anybody who has coached knows exactly what he’s talking about, and I agree with his general points, but assuming that you’re not one of these emotionally unstable parents, I’m not sure I agree with his view on coaches.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some bad coaches out there, especially at the lowest levels. Most don’t know anything about baseball, or the mechanics. They yell a lot, they boss kids around, and they have big expectations. But that’s life for you: lots of loud mouths, know-nothings, and frustrating expectations to deal with.

Luckily, many coaches are good people doing the best they can with what they’ve got. Even so, it’s important to realize there is no perfect coach.

My requirement isn’t a perfect coach, just a competent one.

Every time these stories about coaching abuse are released, the common rhetoric is that the type of coach who would let their pitcher throw 193 pitches in a game is the vast minority, but I’m not so sure. Maybe the abuse isn’t to that exact extreme all the time, but from my own anecdotal experience*, it’s not as uncommon as people would like you to believe, and I think a lot of coaches from the high school level on down have no business instructing kids.

*I know it’s anecdotal, but I do know about quite a bit of coaches.

Why do coaches let a pitcher throw 200 pitches or pitch five days in a row? Why do they let tweens throw forkballs or 50 curves in a game? Why do they make an outfielder attempt to hobble through an injury?

Simple, the coach wants to win and prioritizes that over everything else. Worse yet, it’s not even for the players, it’s for themselves.

In my opinion, for as much as parents are at fault for the negativity that transpires, so are the coaches. Similar to parents who treat their children like angels, coaches who treat their players like professionals aren’t fostering a productive and healthy environment for everybody involved either. It’s a natural instinct for both parties, but just as Hayhurst encourages parents to lay off and let their kids figure it out for themselves, when a coach takes on that role for kids and young adults, they owe it to them to constantly remind themselves about the big picture and why they’re doing what they’re doing to begin with.

At the end of the day, nobody cares if you win a Little League game, nobody cares if you win a high school game, and nobody cares if you’re named Northwest Regional 10 Division 42 Coach Of The Year.

In the grand scheme of life, how many players would you be proud of if they came back in 30 years and said winning a Little League World Series or winning a High School State Championship was the proudest moment in their lives? None, because while it means a ton at the time, it really doesn’t mean much when all is said and done.

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At the level that I’m talking about, the success of a coach is not determined by how many games they win but by how many players come up to them in a decade and still respect them enough to call them coach. A lot of coaches may have banners or trophies, but in reality, many of them didn’t accomplish anything.

That’s why I feel that all of these coaches who take their jobs way too seriously and base their worth in how many wins they can squeeze out of kids and young adults, consequences be damned, need to be reminded that it should all take a backseat to what they can teach kids about both baseball and life.

About Chad Moriyama

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