Monday, April 18, 2005

I just don't understand.

Absurd - inconsistant with the plain dictates of common sense, obviously opposed, contrary to reason.
I would say absurd would be the only word that can somewhat explain sunday, April 17th for me and about 29 other University of Tampa baseball players. Absurd really doesn't put into context the anger that is surrounded by last sunday's Absurd practice but i'll try to explain. I've ONLY been in college for 5 years and if their is one thing i've learned in my Business Ethics and Management classes its that organizations, big or small, are run from the top down. That being said I can understand how employee's, or athletes in this situation, can sometimes be the reason for a organizations failure, possibly. So, our organization was not predicted to do that well this year. A lot of new faces in a different places. So we started the season 3-2 the first two weekends. The teams color started to show after the second weekend. Everyone started playing to their potential. We pulled off 18 straight wins in a row, breaking a school record and ranked number 1 in the nation, all from a team predicted to finish 3rd in the conference. Then we lost. We lost to a sub-par team. And something happened. Then we played Barry and won 2 of 3 playing horrible baseball. We then lost to St. Leo, a below average team that we had already swept. Then came Florida Southern. Until now we just thought we were playing kinda bad. We didn't know what was to come. We went into the series with Southern, at home, ranked #4 and #5 respectively. We won the friday night game with our ace. Then came saturday doubleheader. We lost both games and put ourselves in a bind. We then lost the monday night regional game, also against Southern. We lost 3 of 4 from a team that we knew we could beat. After an 18 game winning streak. How could this happen?
We then started a series against Florida Gulf Coast which was an important regional series. We lost the friday night game again and people began to panic. Nothing could go right. Coach Urso cussed us out the next morning before the Saturday doubleheader. For some reason, we got amped, it worked. We won both in the double header. The next weeks practice was as it was the last three when we weren't doing so well. We hadn't been playing the defense we were during the streak, but we didn't concentrate on any specific defense heavily. We hadn't hit in situations in three weeks, we didn't work on situational hitting. If you fucked your two bunts in BP, it didn't matter. If you fucked your two pitches to move the runner from 2nd to 3rd, nobody said a word. If you hit both your pitches in the first round that were supposed to score the runner from 3rd, I wouldn't even imagine one of the three coaches realizing it. Coach tried to be positive. Tried to be nice. But we didn't practice on anything that we had done sub-par or wrong, or that we are supposed to do right. What we did do is go through the motions like every other practice. So then comes the weekend of April 15 - 16. Eckerd College. Arguably the worst team in our conference and a team we haven't lost to in two years and a team I'm not sure if UT has ever lost a series to. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
Friday night comes along and we are well aware of how bad Eckerd College is but we are also well aware how important these three conference games are. We have a two game lead in the conference. Hardly a comfortable lead. Friday night comes and Eckerd College hits a three-run homerun in the first inning. Its looking bad already. Although no one will admit it, we were expecting Mr. Murphy and his law to show his face just like he had the last 3 weeks. The not-so-powerhouse Eckerd College hits its way to a 6-0 lead. The Spartans were as low and they have ever been. Winning seems impossible. We came back in the 8th and 9th with 5 but that was it. The game ended and we lost to Eckerd 6-5. Needless to say coach Urso was pissed off, we were pissed off. Saturday doubleheader comes around.
This time Joe Urso isn't in such a nice mood. We're down the right field line and lets us know that he isn't gonna be mister nice guy anymore. He starts by yelling his little head off about how they TEACH us how to play the same everygame. How they TEACH us to play relaxed with no pressure. I usually don't listen to anything he says but I can assure you that if has said anything about playing every game the same and playing with no pressure he said it to himself. He then goes on the scream to the team and each player individually. About how in the bad 13 game streak we are hitting only .228. And how this person is hitting .200, and this one .140. He tells the pitchers how much they suck and how high their ERA is. All the while i'm thinking to myself, "isn't that what losing is?" "When a good team loses, isn't it because they are playing badly?" I'm no genius but If I needed to know why we were losing I could have printed the stats sheet out myself. He then proceeds to reem us out about how OUR plan isn't working. About how we play the game doesn't work. About what we think baseball is isn't how you play the game right. Then he says turn it around, or lose. And walks away. Is anyone reading this as confused as me????
As I look around at the team after this speech in complete dissaray I notice everyone is pissed about getting yelled at. Everyone is mad at their individual performance and the teams lack of recent success. How am I the only one confused?
How can an organizational leader point fingers at the team below him, and give no ideas for success? How could he point fingers at players who at one time filling out their potential and now are ALL performing so poorly we can't even beat the worst team in our conference? How could he possibly yell at poeple and criticize their plan and then proceed to walk away offering no new plan of his own and expect things to somehow be different JUST because he yelled louder? I don't know much but I do know that was about the most meaningless speeches i've ever recieved unless somehow he has just sparked a deal with NCAA Div. 2 to make trades, cause he has no other choice but to send out the same players. And players don't improve from yelling.
Then our ace gets hurt in the first inning of the second game pulling his groin. The best pitcher we have comes out in the first inning with one out. We lose the the first game of the doubleheader. We end up winning the third and final game of the series but we had lost, not just a game, a series to arguably the worst team in the state. The yelling didn't work. We didn't play any better. We all knew what was coming. Sunday practice, first time of the year. It wasn't to get any better at baseball, I know that much.
Sunday comes around and i'm on my way the feild at 8:30 and can't believe that I am even going. I knew what was in-store, as did everyone else.
We got split into 2 different line-ups (the starters and the non-starters). And were told the same speech as last year when we got beat 3/4 of the way through the season to a worse team. Each inning every hitter will hit and each inning will be a situation. For every situation not completed the entire team was to run a lap around the field in 90 seconds. I'm sure that will make us hit better, at least in my case it will. Cause I know that everytime I go to the field I usually run for 3-4 hours before hand so I can swing stronger. So I am nice and fresh. So I can see through the inch layer of sweat filling my eyeballs. We started the day 12-12 and only made 2 mistakes in the first 16 hitters (catchers didn't hit). It progressively got worse as the morning went on. By the last inning (the last inning we played, not the last schedules inning) the hitting team struck out 5 out of 8 players. Coach was pissed. He stopped the entire thing and made us run our 5, 90 second laps. We ran a total or 21 laps in 90 seconds each. When we were done the coaches had another meeting with us. Coach Urso yelled at us again. About us not doing our jobs. About how in the beginning we got 12 for 12 but didn't focus like usual. About how we were quitters.
Am I the only one who realizes that we did better in the beginning because we were fresh? Am I the only one who realizes that we didn't quit, but maybe we were pysically drained from playing 25 innings the 2 days before and didn't have bat control? Am I the only one who realized that at the end when we couldn't even make contact we had already ran 4 miles? Am I the only one who doesn't believe everything this maniac says just cause in the program his prefix is COACH?
Or maybe game success starts during the week. Thats right Mr. Iverson, i'm talkin bout pratice! Practice is something we do 4 times a week at Sam Bailey feild. Or maybe we just practice practice. I can't figure it out but we don't do much. Maybe we should be proactive. Maybe we should be challenged in practice versus our teammates to win jobs. Maybe we should be shown what we are doing wrong. Maybe we should be shown what to do right. Maybe we should have to get our bunts down before we can play pepper with the Cass building. Maybe we should change things, like take infeild-outfeild like every other team in the country who don't think their shit don't stink. Maybe someone who stands on the back of the feild cage should actually help someone with their swing. Maybe I shouldn't have to call my coach to come early to get help. Isn't that was practice is for anyway? Maybe you should spend the $100 a month you just bought your new Infinity with to pay the fine for getting tossed so your team knows you care, cause as far as i'm concerned you argue less than any coach i've ever seen. Maybe I shouldn't tell you what to do with you money, but maybe you shouldn't ruin my college experience cause you find self-gratification watching players run when its you who didn't do their job. Maybe you shouldn't bring in 5 new guys in the Spring who didn't wake every morning of the Fall at 7a.m and expect them to be the core of team. Maybe you should blame yourself. So what happens when we get into the playoffs. When we are facing elimination. Are you gonna threaten the team that we might run if we lose the game? Is anyone gonna care what you have to say when the season is over? Maybe you should win the heart of your team. Maybe you should get the team to play because they love the game of baseball and will do anything for you cause you would do anything for them. Maybe splitting the team isn't the best thing to do when they're at the bottom. Maybe you should change the way you do things so we can get better at baseball. Or maybe I just don't understand.

1 comment:

Damaniac said...

Way to tell it like it is. We all know the work that is involved and how it sucks to have a weak leader. Keep on speaking your mind.