Certified Athletic Trainer | Educator | Motivator
Sandy Krum

All posts tagged baseball

Team_Hands_In
Ant_Team_Strawberry
Empty_Dugout_Bench

Teamwork

“The Way A Team Plays As A Whole Determines Its Success. You May Have The Greatest Bunch Of Individual Stars In The World; But If They Don’t Play Together, The Club Won’t Be Worth A Dime. ” –  BABE RUTH

Team_Hands_In

Having spent many years of my career as a Certified Athletic Trainer in professional baseball, at the Minor League and Major League level, I understand the importance of the TEAM concept and what it takes for a TEAM to be successful. For example, a baseball team is comprised of 25 players, the manager, coaches, and a Certified Athletic Trainer ( NATA / BOC ). For today’s game, the major league level has a greater auxiliary and coaching staff.

Typically in the United States, a season lasts from Spring Training reporting in February and runs until late September or early October (if you’re fortunate). Most teams play the requisite 30 or so spring

 training games and then march right into the 162 game regular Season. The drills of spring training would only be played out in the ensuing months, although no two games were ever the same or would you know when that muscle memory would have to “kick into gear” to successfully throw the runner out from various positions in the infield or outfield. Training meant the endless bullpen “sidelines” with the pitching coach correcting mechanics or saying nothing. It also meant endless time in the batting cage with the hitting instructor doing soft toss drills. Yes, the players were all trying to hone their skills, fighting to become the best they could become to progress to the level above and ultimately the Major Leagues.

The same 25 players and staff  had to come together day in and day out and perform as TEAMMATES. No successes would come from the individual stellar pitching performance, if indeed an offensive catalyst or

two were absent. Conversely, a great offensive night by 8, combined with poor pitching by several, spelled trouble and bellyache for the Manager.

What really makes up a great TEAM?

For the purpose of this writing I turn to Wikipedia to give us the textbook definition of TEAM: A team comprises a group of people or animals linked in a common purpose.

Teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.

A group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort, which allows each member to maximize his/her strengths and minimize his/her weaknesses. Team members need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond their limitations.[1] A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.

Application

Taking the definition alone back to our baseball team, a pitcher couldn’t perform if indeed he/she didn’t have the catcher guiding them or having the position players playing in unison. The synergy generated by this coordinated approach allows just what the definition states: maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weakness. Going beyond one’s true potential can only happen when the team performs together on the same platform, thus allowing the individuals to compliment one another and reach this ultimate level of competition. The combined synergistic energies are what makes a team just that. The classic definition says that the mutual sum of these combined efforts are much greater than the individual accolades.

Success was not a given and true commitment to helping the team was paramount. Incredibly, I came across many players with the “I-I-ME-ME” mentality. Everything was about them! When talking of the team they would often emit “I did this or I did that” VERSUS “we did this and we did that.” This meant they were truly more impressed with their individual successes and the team concept never entered their equations.

It is the greatest feeling when a team comes together and becomes so good together, almost great. Many in the game term this as a “Push Button” club. The manager’s role becomes limited to showing up to the park and pushing a button, if you will, and the TEAM goes out and performs, day in and day out without fail. No change in chemistry is needed as all systems are go! The team is winning games, Players are in the positions they’re supposed to be in, the correct pitch is thrown in the most crucial of situations, timely hitting occurs daily, and the manager sits and watches the fruits of success ripen from the intense daily instruction and practice.

This is a great time for me to introduce you to an article I read on playing together as a TEAM. From my perspective, and as one that has witnessed thousands of games from the dugout perspective, this writing is pretty on point! It comes to us from a blog post entitled THIS OLE GAME: http://www.theoleballgame.com/baseball-teamwork.html. THIS post stands out for me because it reminds me of the Championship Teams I had the honor of working with! All eight components were ever present with those clubs, the philosophies were the same if you will. Thats why I believe they’re applicable! Here they are:

8 Concepts For Teamwork, Or Playing Together As A Team

  1. We can all count on each other.
  2. Accept your role on the team.
  3. Finding a way to win.
  4. Be willing to make some personal sacrifices.
  5. Help each other out.
  6. Understand what we can control and what we cannot.
  7. Anyone ~ Anytime.
  8. Walk the talk.

Unfortunately, the TEAM didn’t always come together. The individuals continued to star, albeit not in unison. One player shines one day, another the next, and the result more often than not is not enough to beat the opponent. This group, for whatever reason, just doesn’t seem to work in harmony. This is when It was tough to come to the park every day! Defeated attitudes filled with negativity. Even “one’ could spoil the whole bunch. This is what player development was about. It was survival of the fittest in the baseball world, with the cream rising to the top. Work approaches were either so finely tuned or so off. More often than not, “The successful” had their routines and went about their business quietly, unnoticeable but oh so productive. Those who struggled, struggled! On and off the Field! “Poor work ethic. Not focused. Negative attitude. Not having the ability to complement their teammates.”

Athletic teams are driven to the ultimate, the championship of that given sport! The NFL’s Super Bowl, MLB’s World Series, NHL’s Stanley Cup, . You get the point. These are the ultimate, the pinnacles! These are the Goals all good teams strive to achieve. From the family perspective, are all the necessary components in place to achieve a similar goal?

What’s in it for Us?

My message here is presented and revealed in the form of several self questions:

  • WHO IS ON YOUR TEAM?
  • Are you doing your best to be a team player?
  • Are the players around you complimenting you and your play, day in and day out or are they hindering your progress?
  • Are you all on the same mission?
  • Do your “teammates” all have the same goals in mind or are they playing for themselves?
  • Is your Support Team of Coaches, Physicians, Certified Athletic Trainers and Personal Trainers “on point”?
  • Are family members on board and if not, why not?
  • What can you do to better this situation?
  • Am I too much “I-I-ME-ME” versus “US-US-WE-WE”?

Remember, constant re-evaluation of your “team’s roster” is paramount to achieve continued success for yourself and the franchise.

SAK

References:

http://www.nata.org/

http://www.bocatc.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team

http://www.theoleballgame.com/baseball-teamwork.html


curveball
Box_of_Baseballs

The box of curveballs and the key to the batter’s box. That’s what started my job as clubhouse helper, then batboy, for the visiting teams at Wrigley. I found my passion early!

Eleven or twelve years old and I had a set of keys to get in and out of Wrigley as I please. Back then there was only one guard, and it took everything and anything to keep him awake all night. This was the old Pinkerton guard company. The guy would make his rounds every so often and when he was drunk or tired and I was up and about I would sometimes make the rounds on my own. It was the coolest thing, me walking with this encased pc of equipment that I could key in to various locations around the park. Ticket office, check. Concessions areas, check! Up the ramps to the press box, done. Out to the bleachers, done. Visiting and home clubhouses, done.  Front office, done. Oh those smells of the ballpark were priceless.

Sometimes I would have dinner with the guy, or even order from Pat’s Pizza.

What a trip. Just me and the guy in the chair at Clark and Addison. He was usually asleep at the rickety warn down pass gate. I loved the guy so, as he was one of the main reasons I got access to the park every day.

There was Gene the guard, Ron the clubhouse attendant, Gary and his wonderful loving father Bill, Dennis the clubhouse assistant, and me.  We would handle everything from unpacking bags to lining up bat bags, doing player laundry and uniforms. There were so many towels, the Four Seasons housekeeping department would have a hard time keeping up. And the industrial dryer that was big enough for several players to get in and take a spin.

And we would feed them. Rarely did a guy get up at the hotel in Chicago and go to the coffee shop or even better yet, order room service. The big shot guys, of course. The rest of the team including coaches and athletic trainers needed to eat, especially with such early arrivals.

Remember, they were all day games back then. So the clubhouse became the player’s restaurant as well. Eggs made to order, no problem. Food takeout, Money!

Every morning started with a grocery run: Two dozen donuts, three gallons of milk, two loaves of bread and some eggs! And don’t forget the newspapers at the El.

Thank G-d for YumYum donut shop in the parking lot. I made a lot of money running back and forth to YY. Three double cheeseburgers, fries, a malt, NLT! Fred and his ladies knew the food was for the players so they would let me throw the burgers on the grill and help them wrap the order. Lines were long at the favorite spot, especially for the glazed, and I just walked right up to the grill and threw my orders on. This led to huge tips as I could be back in no time just to repeat it. Rain delays were the best…

And the reason I title this the box of curveballs and keys to the batter’s box?

Those are the two things I was on a constant running search for days… (until I figured that I was on a wild goose chase…)

“Hey Sandy, can you go find the “box of curveballs” or, “Sandy go to the front office and get the keys to the batter’s box. ”  Lol. Growing up fast @ Wrigley.

 

 


BP_Wrigley_Scoreboard
cracker-jacks-surprise-inside
Harry_Carey_7th_Inning

Opening Day…

Garages and attics are busy places this time of the year.  Seems everyone is doing some sort of spring cleaning, whether it be in the garage, inside the house, or even at the office.  First and foremost has to be the search for the mitt and league ball.  Opening Day is just arriving and parents and children from coast to coast will be on the search for their BASEBALL GLOVES. I know mine is on the desk at the office, always on the ready.

I really haven’t had the need to condition my Rawlings Special.  It still has great shape and is full of life.  It also still has that baseball glove smell.

Remember the days of old when mom and dad bought you your first glove?  You rushed home with a couple baseballs and started breaking in the darn thing.  Seems it took forever to get any sense of a pocket.  It took longer to get the ends on the fingertips to ‘curve in’ as we know and wanted them to do ever so badly.  I even remember tying my glove with a sanni sock ever so tight, baseballs in place in the pocket, and buried the whole contraption under the water in our filled wash sink in the laundry room.  I would let it soak overnight, only to take it outside to dry in the mild spring air and then start mashing it over and over again with the end of a bat.

As a kid, I always took my glove with me to opening day.  It was some sort of ritual and simply was the cool thing to do.  I would never know if a foul ball would come my way as I was walking the concourses at Wrigley, always trying to find the one unoccupied seat and the section where there were no Andy Frain Ushers to give you THAT evil look.  Sometimes, the flying balls would make their way down the steps onto the concourse after several people made a failed attempt.  Oh, Wrigley.

I always prepped Mom and Dad as the weeks and days approached, just so I could have them on the ready to write that note to my teachers: “Dear Ms. Opening Day Teacher, Sandy was absent yesterday as he developed (fill in the blank) that just wouldn’t go away.  We felt it best to monitor this from home.  Please provide Sandy with any missed homework or needed materials so he may catch up on his work. Sincerely, Mr. and Mrs. Krum.”  I wonder how many parents will be writing that same kind of note this week.  Ya know …wink!

Opening Day meant smelling the concession stands getting readied, the Smokie Links grilling on the grill, the soda and beer guys filling their trays and making quick change from the dispenser on their belts, the pizza man walking around hawking an empty box he was waving.  It meant I could hear the organ and watch the scoreboard operators change the numbers every time a run was scored.  It meant I could just be among people who loved the game of baseball as much as I did.  It meant I could sing twice for sure with an anthem and take me out to the ball game.  It meant I could tune to 720am on my transistor radio and listen to some fine play by play.  I just had to save enough change to take the EL home, along with a transfer of course.

I know I’m looking forward to the Opening Day.  Why, you ask?  Cause its root, root, root for the home team. If they don’t win it’s a shame.  For its one, two, three strikes you’re out at the ol ball game!

Finally, The Show…

My most incredible experience at Wrigley happened on Opening Day back in 2001…

Ahhh, that Opening Day at Wrigley Field…I could smell the fresh cut grass, still those same Smokie Links cooking, popcorn popping, and the electricity was buzzing, like when you rub a balloon on your hair.  The gates open for the start of the 2001 home season and fans flocked to assume their position in the bleachers.  Finally, after grabbing their hotdog and beverage, they picked that spot to watch the pre-game.  All set with their gloves ready, they waited eagerly for that crack of the bat in hopes of catching the BP home run ball.  There I was, first game as a Chicago Cub Athletic Trainer, taped into an old rusty grocery cart that migrated down from the local Jewel.  Hockey mask strapped on, feet dangling and placed ever so perfectly in left-center field for batting practice.  Even my college roommate was amongst them. “Krummie, is that you?”…he shouted.  The only thing I could think of was, “Please ball, don’t come my way!”  Crack after crack, balls launched from the pine bats like missiles.  One after another just missing.  For the player at the plate, it was like when you’re hitting golf balls at the driving range and the cart is out there picking up balls – aim…fire…“DAMN, missed again!”  Players couldn’t wait to get their turn…”come on, let me in there!”  It felt like a whole game had passed, when finally I was rescued by the grounds crew as they began to ready the field with fresh chalk.  “Welcome to the Show, Kid!”

All the Best – Athletic Trainers

Looking back, it was an incredible run with the Chicago Cubs and professional baseball.  As ballparks open across this great land, I can’t help but think of the Athletic Trainers and Medical Teams for each of the 30 clubs.  Long, exhausting days ahead for these folks. What tremendous care each and every one of these individuals provide on a daily basis.  The bottom line is these ATC’s keep your favorite players healthy and functional from Opening Day until the final out of the World Series.  Many of these folks have years of education and practice honing their skills. They are the best of the best and personally take themselves out of the equation for the 162 game campaign. Incredible! Kudos to my fellow PBATS members and wishing each of them the best for the season!

Enjoy the season everyone! I know I will!

“Let’s play two!” – Ernie Banks


baseball_bat_color
donkey_close_color
Tony_Randazzo

Well, I feel like an ass…

I’ll never forget the time in AA Carolina when umpire Tony Randazzo (one of the best young upcoming men in blue…with great character and make up) asked me to help him. He needed his paycheck cashed and gave it to me while I was in uniform.  I said, “Sure Tony, no problem.”

After the game, I went to the locker room.  Quickly changed into training shorts and continued with post game treatments.  The check btw was still in my game pants pocket, which was whisked away by one of the well trained clubhouse attendants.  Before I knew it, the damn pants were in the spin cycle.

Here comes Tony showered, fully dressed, and ready to hit the town after a long night behind the plate on a hot steamy night.

“Oh shit!  I really screwed up Tony!” …as I frantically found the shreds in my pocket.  Randazzo’s check would be lost that night, but I replaced it, (along with some help from the front office) and awaited the fed ex trucks arrival two days thereafter with his replacement from the league.

Phew…..


db2
Chicago Cubs Don Baylor
db3

There were a few bags left of breakfast sandwiches and combo platters, if I may.  We were running late with treatments and I scurried with bags in arms to catch the 730 bus to Tucson.  I grabbed a bag from Otis’ kitchen, ran out to the bus and said hi to Skip, Don Baylor.  He looked at me with a dagger.

Ten minutes after we left the stadium and were headed south, Don asked, in front of everyone on the bus loudly, “Hey Sandy, did you bring enough for everyone,  as that’s the rule?”  Shockingly, I said “No Skip, I only brought one for myself…sorry.”   And I slumped into my seat for the ride.

After the game it was Don’s favorite: a stop of the  team bus at the Dairy Queen on the way back to Mesa.  Gary pre-ordered, and all the wonderful treats would be awaiting our arrival.  Gary gets off the bus to pay and retrieve the boxes of goodies.  They were set.  Off we go…..take to Baylor, “Hey Krummie, I bought one for everyone on the bus but you.” Another lesson was learned.