The Premier Baseball Social Network for Players, Coaches, Scouts, and Umpires
I came across this blog written by former MLB pitcher Jim Parque. It is an absolute gem. Please read it and share your thoughts.
Thank you to the 16,452 readers of this blog in the past 5 days.....really appreciate it and it motivates me to write these long winded blog posts. However.....
If there is one thing that people know about me is that I say what is on my mind. I figure, at the least, you know where I stand, can respect that fact and you can make a decision from there.
No tip toeing, I ain't going to always tell you what you want to hear, and for sure have my naysayers and my supporters. If you come from a "Johnny is the greatest thing since sliced bread" parenting approach, run very very far from Big League Edge and myself. We do not mess around, only care about the athlete's potential, and have a job to do.
But if you are the battle hardened salty vet of life, love the ideals of working, and think that finishing second is about as fun as playing bingo with Richard Simmons, well......we need to get married.
This morning I woke up to my favorite - the parent whom sends an email blasting everything you are as a coach, as a person, and more. It foretold of a future nuclear strike upon myself and was very inspirational.
"I do not like you. You are a fraud. In fact, I looked everywhere on the internet and could not find any of the pitching mechanics you are teaching. If my son and I knew you were going to be a part of this team's coaching staff, we would had never ever agreed to play. (Athlete's name) understands the game and what he wants. He is very talented and works hard and (my assistant coach's name) basically lied to us in the initial meeting. When can we expect a refund?"
This is not the first time I have been the target of such disdain, but you often wonder if these types of emails are written sober or after downing an 18 pack. To be honest, I feel for this dad. Obviously he has some issues with the "Daddy goggles" of love, but which parent does not? We love our kids more than life itself and if they are hurt in any manner, "protect at all costs" kicks in.
Obviously, his email has no validity to it and is filled with emotion. But one must look at the simple fact that not every coach is going to be for every player. Granted, there are four million different ways to better communicate the above, but at the least, he did communicate it....
My coaching style is about effort. You give and you receive. In a quickly degenerating society of entitlements, lack of accountability, and get rich quick mentalities, effort (and accountability) appear to be nonexistent. Our generation of creating opportunity through hard work is being replaced by a generation of nepotism, blame, and "me first".
As parents, it is our job to lead by example, require our kids to give back to society as much as they take, and have accountability for one's actions. However, too many parents want to be their kids' friend, rather than their loving mentor and leader. If you think otherwise, you might be raising your kids for the rest of their lives, rather than for a portion of it. If you are Bill Gates, well....I guess you can rely upon the bank account (and so will your kids).....and money only brings materialism (and not happiness).
You see broken homes, lost kids, and the greatest Nation on earth being ripped apart because leadership is crumbling on Capital Hill and in the home. I am very religious and one of God's institutions is 'Family'. Now, you do not have to be religious to understand that if the family unit crumbles, society follows right behind. You can also agree that the work ethic of today's generation is a fraction of what our generation's was.
Do not agree?
Think back to when you were young. We worked as kids. We washed cars, mowed lawns, sold lemonade, and were entrepreneurs. We did chores, we were held accountable at school, and any differences were handled face to face. Try asking kids these days to wash cars or mow lawns and you probably would get a sarcastic laugh out of them, lack of eye contact, or continued play on their Xbox or texting fingers.
My dad was employed, unemployed, and at times held two jobs. I was right there with him. I had a lawn mowing and car washing business and my brother worked at the local library to put himself through school. My mom sewed and we did whatever was required. We were helped throughout all the years by some amazing people, but we only took as much as was required. It was shameful (back then) to do so.
I AM NOT SAYING THAT BY NOT HAVING A JOB, ONE IS LAZY. SHOOT, MY DAD WAS UNEMPLOYED FOR MANY YEARS ON END. WHAT I AM STATING IS THAT BY NOT GIVING EFFORT TO WORK, OPPORTUNITY TO WORK BECOMES NONEXISTENT. Just making sure there are no misinterpretations because times are tough, jobs are scarce, and it is a tough market out there. I know tons of individuals whom have been unemployed for years, but they are still trying to find work....might be disheartened, but they forge on and that is what counts - the effort behind the execution. Something will give eventually as where there is a will, there is a way.
One day, when I was 12 years old, I was pitching with my dad at La Canada High School's baseball field, like we did every day after my father came home from work. My dad had the gear on and I was working on drive to the plate. This huge beast of a man came over and started watching. His hair was flowing white and he just watched. After a few pitches he came over and talked to my father. I saw my dad's head nodding and the man came over and started giving me some pointers.
You have to understand that back then, there was no internet and baseball training was not readily available. I was a melting pot of every type of mechanic or baseball tip my dad could find from talking to others and research conducted at Crown Books Store or the library.
I finished out the session and the man introduced himself.
"Jimmy, my name is Jerry Reuss. I was over on the other side (with my family) and you caught my eye. I think you are a good little pitcher, and you really show a lot of love for what you do. Really impressive Jimmy."
If you know baseball, Jerry Reuss was a special MLB pitcher. He pitched for 20+ years, was an All star and was pitching for my favorite team of all time, the Los Angelese Dodgers. This was a Godsend and a dream come true for any young ball player.
"I got your baseball card Mr. Reuss. I know you. I have all your cards and even have the Los Angelese Police Department baseball cards you did." I said.
"The what? LAPD makes baseball cards now? Interesting...." Reuss said laughingly. "I want to help you and I am out here every Saturday and I want you to practice with me every Saturday. Would that be okay Rich?" he said turning to my dad.
"Of course Mr. Reuss, of course." said my dad.
So from that point on, we never missed a Saturday. If Jerry missed, he would call us. Practicing with Jerry Reuss for all those years was amazing and inspirational. He taught my father and I so much more than we could had ever dreamed possible. He taught me velocity FIRST and command second. He taught me how to throw my slider, sinker, change up, and more. He taught me how to intimidate hitters, how to change planes, and all the mental mound poise required.
But.....and here is the big, "but",
He taught me in a way I did not want to be taught. Rather, it was taught by how he saw the game - through his major league eyes. I did not understand and was confused throughout a lot of it, but I entrusted into his experience with my future. There were tough words spoken, frustration, hard work, and more. It was not easy, but he always reminded me to look past it all and concentrate upon "WHY" and not the "NOW".
You see, that is the problem these days. If there is a lack of role models, and kids and parents are left out to hang themselves, how can anyone expect someone to know the process and do it correctly if they have never gone through it? You cannot. More importantly, when I get blasting emails from parents, I have to take a step back and realize that they are just being my dad and I )before Jerry) - trying to find our way without any accountable resources to draw from.
In today's baseball training market, you can Google 'Baseball Training' and millions of hits come up. You got these clowns all across the country pilfering velocity increases of 10+ MPH and parents eat it up. You got these Select organizations that tell parents that they are going to get their sons a college scholarship and parents sign the check. It is all about the "NOW", the "IMMEDIATE", and is producing short term results and long term failure. No one gets any athlete a scholarship, no one goes from 77 to 88MPH quickly, and no for every quick upswing, there is an even bigger downswing. The secret is figuring out how to prepare for the downswing (or slump).
Are you mentally and physically prepared to forge on and look past the "NOW"? Or are you going to just quit, send a blast email, and think the grass is greener with over-the-top marketing scheme? Probably is since I (nor any MLB pitching coach) has been able to produce 10+ MPH gains that quickly.
When I was a freshman in high school, Jerry invited me out to pitch in a game for a semi pro team he would work out for (before leaving for Spring Training). I was going to pitch against men and pro baseball players.....what an opportunity. I came out there and guess whom walks in with "Red Bird" jerseys on (the team I was going to pitch for).
Mike Marshall (starting 1B for the Dodgers), Renee Gonzalez (Rangers), Brett Butler (CF for the Dodgers), and Eric Davis (LF for the Dodgers). I was like, "Whaaaaaaat?"
The eight inning comes around and Jerry tells me that the other team ran out of pitching and they needed an arm. So I go over there and start warming up. I am a freshman in high school and am going to face the leadoff, three, and four hitters of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Serious?
The best part of it all was that Reuss straps on the gear and is going to be my catcher. We warm up and of course I am airmailing baseballs everywhere. He is taking them off his chest, his cup, and more.
"Calm down Jimmy, just go out there and throw strikes."
I get to the mound and up comes Brett Butler. Butler takes the first pitch seeing it was thrown 12 feet over his head. I scud my second pitch 40 feet into the ground and Reuss calls time out. So here is the scene. this 6'7", 235 pound man standing in front of the mound. I am 5'4" 110 pounds (on the mound) and looking at his belt.
"Jimmy, we did not waste all these years for you to just sh#$ down your pants. This is a test and you have to figure out how to calm yourself down. If you are ever going to be a major league pitcher, you have to learn how to achieve strength from within and not brown your drawers up. Quite pissing all over yourself and wasting your opportunity. Figure it out!!"
Reuss walks back to the dish, squats, and puts up his glove......which is left handed (what a riot).
I finished out by grounding out Butler, Davis hit a line drive to the track, Marshall punched out, and Gonzalez popped up. Reuss had taken my thinking from physical to mental. He had given me the ability to carve out opportunity, rather than be handed it. He inspired me, motivated me, and provided a platform to EARN respect...BUT HE DID IT BY MAKING ME DO IT. Wasn't easy and nothing great comes easy.......
I would later face Eric Davis and Renee Gonzalez in the big leagues (and they remembered our first meeting), but for that one moment in time, Reuss, in all his greatness as a coach, gave this little SoCal kid an opportunity that only Ruess understood. Once I went through it, I saw the bigger picture that he had seen since that first day we met at La Canada High School.
In 1996, when I was at UCLA and leading the entire country in wins and strikeouts, Reuss gave me a present over dinner one night in Westwood, CA. I opened it and it was a signed picture of himself that said, "May you one day share the experience."
"Jimmy, you have worked extremely hard and your dad and mom love you very much. We have all invested a lot into you and I want you to know that I am very proud of you. There is no doubt in my mind that you will pitch in a big league uniform one day. After your career is over, I want you to do what I (and your parents) did for you. Give back to baseball as much as it gave you."
We finished out dinner talking about all the times and he told stories about the big leagues - always great stories. His picture was hung up in my UCLA apartment bedroom over my bed and I read that caption all the time, "May you one day share the experience."
After all these years, I now understand what Jerry was saying to me. It took me 3 full years AFTER I got done playing to truly understand. "The experience" is not about getting to the big leagues, but giving back to baseball. Being a major leaguer, one of 17,654 in 120 years in not "the experience", but merely a stepping stone towards purpose.
Throughout the past 10 years, I have been offered numerous lucrative college and professional coaching jobs. They could had put my family back in SoCal, would had given my family a lot more materialistic resources than currently. However, what kind of major leaguer would I be if I just got up and left the thousands of athletes (and parents) whom have entrusted their futures with Big League Edge and myself?
Every time I get disheartened by angry parents and frustrated drama, my wife always brings it back by reminding me of why we do what we do.
You see, "The experience" is about giving back, watching kids grow, and therefore having purpose in life. It is about honoring those whom came before, helping those whom need help, and providing hope to those whom dream.
It is built upon hard work, dedication for work, and passion for work. It is about loving the individual and looking past their actions, and is about helping create the opportunity to dream big and imagine the unimaginable.
I want so much for so many players. I see things they cannot see and at times, want it more for my boys (my players) than they want it themselves. But it comes with a price tag, one that forges through being "liked" and "understood".
Look back at all the great coaches you had in your playing days and you will understand. They gave you everything you wanted, but made you work for it. They provided opportunity that kept you coming back for more, but never satisfied. And they gave you a game plan that required you to do the work while they walked you through it. You probably did not want to hang out with them off the field, but you knew that they were needed.
Until the day I retire from baseball once again, I will never stop bleeding for my boys. I will do whatever I can to train them in the ways of work and passion and I hope that one day, when they lay my body to rest, people will look upon Jim Parque as one whom "shared the experience". As I always say,
For the Love of the Game......