Mike is a man of strong character and is sharing his strong ethics with the players that he is coaching. I agree with about 80% of what he has stated in the letter to parents. I will give my opinion on a couple of issues that I think Mike might understand.
When I was in the dirt with my players, I had very few problems with any parents. The ages of the boys that I was given the responsibility of coaching were between the ages of 12-15. Before that I was on a staff of other coaches and worked mainly with my son Jeff.
I had a parents meeting with a handout and I explained the rules similar to what Mike says on the responsibility of the players and the parents. I had my parents directly involved with my program and they were part of the success. The team needed the help on fundraisers and travel arrangements. We were a baseball family and with the help of my coaches and associate coaches we were a formidable bunch. We were not a tryout team like a lot of the travel teams in St. Louis. I had all local boys and we won a lot and were always able to win or compete against the cherry picked teams.
My concern with Mike is on the issue of emotions. I can’t see a player that is a competitor that is busting his rear on the diamond cannot show emotion. I would teach my players that when you make a tag, you have to sell it. I am a huge competitor and most young athletes are the same way. If there is a play at second base and the runner is definitely out, for the player to not show emotion is ridiculous! What needs to be done is for the coach to let the players show emotion but not to show up the umpire, by arguing. The players will never argue with the umpires, the player can say “I got him” and then walk away and let the coach take care of the situation. That is what the good coach is for, and he needs to approach the umpire in a firm way and say I think you missed the call. Then smile and listen to what he says and then walk back to the dugout. I think this is the perfect way to run a youth team on this subject.
This level of baseball in my opinion is strictly about player development. I told my players and parents that I was getting my players ready for high school and beyond. I was not as concerned about the umpires’ calls as I was more concerned about playing the game the right way. We had a play that my third baseman dived to his left and threw from his knees over to first; the ball was in the dirt but scooped up. The umpire said the runner was safe. My coaches went nuts, I calmed them down real fast and said Ross and Brett did everything the correct way. It was real good baseball!
I can’t imagine fans at a baseball game being silent and not yelling support to the players. I would not expect my parents or fans to act this way at a game. What should not be tolerated is any arguing from the stands with an umpire or verbally abusing the other team. When I was in the dirt, I always handled the umpires and always had respect from the men in blue. Head coaches you need to understand you are in charge of keeping your whole baseball family under control. I can’t imagine “Come on, let’s go, you can do it”adds more pressure to the player. I think this is showing support for the player and team. I can’t imagine being at a baseball game and not hearing fans supporting the players.
Mike also writes about the lost of respect because the kids hear their parents complaining about the teachers or coaches. Mike goes on to say that his dad taught him that the coach is always right, even when he is wrong. I do not agree with this at all, I wouldn’t want my son to be a yes person robot to not think for himself and agree with a coach that is wrong. I think we need to have more people to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong. I have to say, this is one of the reasons I started this business was to improve the coaching at all levels. I think the game of baseball should be played a lot better, and the reason it is not better, is because of poor coaching. I see so many mistakes at the major league level that should not be happening. I am talking about the little things and also basic stuff that major league players should know. I have a lot of old timers that feel the same way I do on this subject.
In conclusion we need baseball coaches that are hard working, honest, responsible, and really know how to teach the game. Mike is one of these coaches and I just disagree with him on the emotions of the game.
Mike Matheny Letter to Parents http://www.mac-n-seitz.com/teams/mike-matheny-letter.html