Ruffnecks Banquet – Another Full House

Ruffnecks Banquet – Another Full House

9th Annual Event at The Fours

World Series: What’s to be Learned?

World Series: What’s to be Learned?

What Ruffnecks Can Take from Zobrist & Series

Fall Baseball Opens to Full House

Fall Baseball Opens to Full House

Full Enrollment for Fall Baseball!

Ruffnecks Banquet – Another Full House

The 9th Annual Ruffnecks Banquet was held Monday, November 21st at The Fours in Quincy, MA.  The event continues to be an important and enjoyable evening for families and teammates to get together during the off-season.  Two long-time friends of the Ruffnecks program served as guest speakers: Rich Gedman and Matt Hyde.  In addition, former Ruffneck Adam Ravenelle sent a heartfelt message via email in which he credited the Ruffnecks for much of his success, adding “I could probably ramble for hours and tell you about the relationships I gained and the outstanding coaching I received, but I’m sure everyone would rather enjoy their food!”  Ravenelle is currently pitching in the Detroit Tigers organization after a successful career at Vanderbilt where he closed out the 2014 NCAA Championship for the Commodores.  “Rav” was a 5-year Ruffnecks, beginning at 13U and played high school baseball under coaches Kirk Fredericks and Matt Blake at Lincoln Sudbury.

Rich Gedman and Matt Hyde delivered meaningful talks, important for all to hear and to absorb.  Geddy began his talk by asking the question, “Why do you play baseball?” His question led him to a reflection of how those who really love the game play for each other… in other words, those who are your teammates.  Once you play for a scholarship, a college admission, a contract, or anything other than the game itself and teammates, you set yourself up for failure.  Matt Hyde’s comments similarly echoed the values of playing for the right reasons.  He used three examples of athletes with whom he had experience: Mike Trout (whom Hyde coached in the Area Code Games), Tom Brady (whom Mr. Hyde knows from Michigan), and Rich Hill, (whom Coach Hyde recruited to Michigan).  Hill is a local resident of Milton who has endured several setbacks to have a stellar Major League Career.  In each case, Hyde made very clear, that the quality of these athlete’s character carried them through doubt and frustrations.  Each had to persevere even though others took their spots on rosters, got recruited over them, or simply did not believe in them.  The question remains, are Ruffnecks players (and their parents) willing to let the player persevere on his own?

The evening ended with a celebration of the one award the program gives out every year: The Johnny Pesky Teammate Award. We do not boast about all-tournament teams, personal rankings on websites, or projected all-scholastic rankings or status.  We just honor one player from each team for what he contributes to the fabric of TEAM.  The 2016 Pesky Teammate Award winners are: 13U – Andy Pelc; 14U – Jack Palfrey; 15U – Evan Sleight; 16U – Rory Bordiuk; Senior – Henry Ennen.  Each has his own story, with significance and meaning for his team and the program.  We congratulate them all, and we thank the 150 players, families, coaches, and friends of the program who packed The Fours again for the 9th Annual Ruffnecks Banquet.

World Series: What’s to be Learned?

Now that the World Series is over, and a champion is crowned, what can Ruffnecks players (and families) learn from it?  To start with, it has been the opinion of Ruffnecks coaches for a long time that players do NOT WATCH ENOUGH  BASEBALL!  So, at the very least, if baseball players watched Game 7, there are plenty of take-away lessons that are important.  Consider the following post by Chad Longworth, just hours after Ben Zobrist captured his second championship and MVP honors:

Just Keep Going (by Chad Longworth)

Ben Zobrist is the 8th player in Major League history to win Back to Back World Series Championships for different teams and now has an MVP in his pocket. As a high school senior, he signed at an open tryout for unsigned players to Olivet Nazarene University to continue his baseball career and his Christian education. The single most important factor in achieving success in uncommon ways isn’t the hitting secret or the fancy travel ball showcase team. It is a willingness to put in the boring work and to put one foot in front of the other every single day. Many players will talk about being great, talk about winning championships, but talk means nothing. Social media posturing means nothing. Being anointed by recruiting services and Baseball America means nothing. It’s about doing the daily work when no one is watching.

The simplicity of these truths is staggering.

Oh no!  Ben Zobrist did not get recruited… and he survived!  He did not do showcases; he did not get an early commitment; he did not get recruited the summer before his junior year in high school; he did not get recruited the summer before his senior year in high school; he did not even get recruited during his senior YEAR in high school.  Oh no!  Perhaps his parents should have spoken to the coach, or pushed him harder, or gotten an advisor.  Regrettably, we are in a culture where baseball is often dominated by well meaning parents who think they can engineer the outcome with opportunities that are bought or created (daddy ball).  And sometimes it works.  But thank goodness for the Ben Zobrists of the world.  He is a champion and an MVP, and he had to do it the hard way.

What Else Did We See in Game 7?

We saw baseball players on the biggest stage doing just about everything in a baseball game.  Highly skilled players bobbled balls; came through in the clutch; made bad decisions; made good decisions; failed; met with the exhilaration of the greatest success… you name it… you saw it… if you were watching.  It was Game 7, The World Series, and it was close.  It was the scenario in every real ball player’s dream… to be in the biggest game, at the biggest moment.  From a baseball standpoint, it revealed so many fundamental truths about the game.  Each pitch mattered.  Taking extra bases mattered.  Failing to take an extra base cost both teams at different times (in the entire series).  Two-strike approaches were all over the place.  Did anyone really watch Rajai Davis, and how far he choked up on the bat just to survive to the next pitch?  There is no way he was trying to hit a home run.  He just wanted to put the ball in play.  By the way, Davis is a New England kid who played multiple sports in high school: football, basketball, and baseball.  And further, he was drafted in the 38th round, never played in the Cape Cod League, and like Zobrist, was not recruited by a Division I college.

If we were really watching, we saw some gutsy plays.  We saw a failed squeeze in the perfect moment when a squeeze may have won the game, and would have made a hero and a genius out of player and manager, respectively.  Instead, we watched the player fail to execute, and we were left second guessing the manager.  We saw genius, and we questioned the decision making of really smart baseball men.  This is what makes baseball like none other.  We saw competition at a fever pitch… intoxicating, adrenelin-pumping, competition from 50 of the best baseball players on the planet.  Some had small roles, slumped, couldn’t deliver; some had to deliver in small ways; some met the moment in big ways that most of us only dream about.  But in the end… as we in the Ruffnecks INSIST we must do, we saw two TEAMS play as teams and not for themselves.

Baseball has not abdicated its place in the sports conscience of America or the world.  It is just that we don’t watch either enough, or closely enough.  If we watched, we would understand our roles as players, coaches, spectators, (and parents) much better.  We would capture the joy of playing a most difficult game, not for ourselves, not for a ranking, not for a “commitment,” not for anything but the satisfaction of winning the next inning, contributing, getting hit by a pitch to move a runner along, making a play, and relishing the moment.

Important Notices

(Updated Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:30am)

Matt Hyde Hitting Clinic
Sunday, Dec. 4
By Registration

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