Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney



Aug. 29, 2005

Déjà Vu All Over Again!

Last August, I wrote an entry entitled, "Welcome Back- Now Evacuate!"

Some things never seem to change.

On Thursday we were all sent home early because of the impending landfall of Hurricane Katrina, then a "minimal Category I Hurricane". I had spent the morning putting up my shutters despite the pouring rain. I prefer to handle those shutters when the winds aren't blowing.

My neighbors kept stopping by and saying, "You putting up your shutters?" As Jeff Foxworthy would say, "Here's your sign!"

I figured that there was no sense taking a chance that a tree limb or coconut would blow off and break a window, bringing the storm rains into our home. It only takes about an hour, depending on how many screws are rusted or stripped.

That afternoon, the FAU campus quickly became a ghost town, as the 1 PM closing time hit. I decided to get in a workout in the cardio room before heading home to try and start my generator in anticipation of losing power. I would need a strong heart to survive a shuttered lockdown with Maggie and Luke.

As luck would have it, Katrina, like Andrew thirteen years before her, made a last minute wobble and landed in south Broward County, and then proceeded down towards Homestead. I hope those people took the threat seriously and ignored the projection of a more northern landfall.

There is a definite feeling of guilt to sit there and hope a storm turns from your area, knowing someone else will bear the brunt of the damage. Seven people lost their lives in South Florida. Trees fell on people and others drowned. No matter how impressive it is to step out and view one of these storms, the lesson learned is to stay inside.

Part of Boca Raton lost power until Saturday. Actually the section where assistant coach John McCormack, and his wife live with their children, Conor and Shane, were among those in the dark and un air conditioned. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Mac's wife is named Katrina.

The storm is now a Category 4 and pounding New Orleans and the Mississippi - Alabama coastlines. That "minimal storm" grew up in a hurry.

We had started school last week, and began our "4-man" workouts. Thursday and Friday were lost to the storm, but we all were very lucky and are praying for those less fortunate.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Clash is one of the few bands that Coach McCormack knows. Their classic song speaks to a current problem in college baseball. Back in the spring, I wrote about the subject of transfers, and some of the reasons kids feel compelled to leave one school for another.

This off season saw Florida Atlantic get hit hard by the transfer culture that currently exists. We lost four players and will be viewed in a negative light by the NCAA. That bastion of academic and moral integrity has created a formula called the APR, which is purported to measure the academic performance and retention capability of an institution.

There is a formula derived from points earned and lost over the course of a school year. Their math geeks have established a number that will be acceptable, and anything below can result in the loss of scholarships or post season competition. Each sport will be measured against their peer programs to establish acceptable criteria.

Now, I'm all for academics, and I understand the value of an education. But the guys who thought up this one are a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Why do kids "stay or go"?

The answers vary.

But in college baseball, part of the reason is because they can.

If the transfer rules for baseball were the same as football and basketball, there would be significantly fewer kid seeking greener pastures. Those two sports require anyone leaving one school for another to "spend a year in residence at the new institution". However, in baseball, a student athlete may be released from the residency requirement and immediately compete at the new school.

This has created a free agent market wherein coaches now participate in a whole new recruiting season. Summer baseball has become feeding time at the zoo. Suddenly, recruiting coordinators seem to be enjoying summers on Cape Cod and in the Shenandoah Valley, to name a couple of vacation hot spots.

Kids know that the market exists, and feel they are entitled to a release upon request. They just want to move on and feel that anyone who would deny them is being unfair.

My philosophy is to get to the root of the reason the player is leaving. Are they too far from home, culturally or demographically out of place? Do they miss their girl friend? There is always a reason.

Most often the reason comes down to playing time.

All four of our former players had various contributing factors in making their decisions to leave, but PT was high on the list. Any coach understands that kids want to play. He also understands that it is difficult to keep everyone happy, particularly in a solid college program where everyone was a great player in high school.

Sometimes people need to learn that things don't always come immediately. A talented freshman sometimes has to bide his time while a coach shows loyalty to an upperclassman. If the young player hangs in there, one day he may be the beneficiary of the coach's loyalty.

But this is a generation bred on instant gratification.

It's easier to move on when things don't happen as rapidly as you planned. Those are the transfers that bother me. Do kids think that programs are successful by only playing nine guys? Is there some sort of development that goes on in the career of a player, or are they all instant stars?

Every baseball player wants the chance to play. Sometimes it just takes time. KC

 

 

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