10/22/22 : Fundamentals Difference
A couple years back a fella who was in Clearwater for spring training was taking cell phone photos at the complex of players participating in batting practice - I somewhat knew him and kiddingly chided “hey you’re doing my job” to which he responded “you don’t have a job” 🤓 - of course he was right - I don’t. My venture in writing is purely a hobby, the focus being on the often chided Phillies minor league system. Yet from my perspective it’s a duty I’ve undertaken that I think is valuable to at least some - there are only two of us “writers” who live year round in the Clearwater area and regularly attend practices and games - that too is pretty much year round as there’s always seemingly some group of players at the complex. My hobby has taken me even beyond that as I’ve interacted on a more personal level with a majority of the players as well as scouts, coaches, front office folks and baseball operations leadership via text, phone calls and in person chats. I consider it a privilege and a continual learning experience and enjoy sharing most of what I see and hear with the Phillies fan base that read my postings. 😎
It’s great that the players we’ve watched on the backfields are now making impacts on baseball’s biggest stage, the major league post season. It’s really cool to see the big club doing so well and the fan base explode in expansion once again - everyone loves a winner - the inclusion of an extended base is welcomed as the excitement being generated is real and heartfelt. Being just two more W’s away from the 8th National League pennant in team history ( 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2008 & 2009 ) is an elation of anticipation - it’s the impact of professional sports that is ultra positive which is only topped by the ultimate joy of season ending victory.
When spring training rolls around we are often there in the early morning hours watching over Bowa field as fielders go thru drills and pitchers throw bullpens - what some may consider boring to watch. Many of the elements I appreciate most about baseball are the fundamentals of the game - no matter how they are taught or learned they are always invoked in the key moments of competition. Last night we marveled at how Jean Segura hit what seemed to be an impossible pitch to drive in two runs. From my perspective it came back to what Jean has learned throughout his career - the fundamentals of a two strike approach to put the bat on the ball and see what happens. Yes his eye hand coordination is exemplary but the basics of how to approach the situation were earned in the “boring” repetition of practices and the teaching of fundamentals.
The Phillies Player Development Department has established an organizational philosophy entitled “Protect the Standard”. One key deliverable is how to play - the pursuit to master fundamentals, “to value the baseball, taking pride in the little things - mastering the boring things”. The goal is not just to make it to the big leagues but to be a difference maker when you get there.
Multiple Phillies players have stepped up as difference makers during the season and particularly the post season yet it didn’t happen overnight nor could it have come to fruition without the learned fundamentals of how to play. It’s something that perhaps requires a love of the game to appreciate - observing early morning spring practices and backfield drills don’t appeal to everyone yet everyone should at least be aware that they are the core foundation of the success found in the games we all are now sitting on the edge of our seats ( or standing ) observing and cheering - like last night.
That’s what I do - I continually observe the “boring” elements of the great game of pro baseball as it’s taught, learned and practiced … and while that fella said a few years ago “ you don’t have a job” still rings true I still believe there is value found in the telling of the backfield advancements of those who are charged with protecting the standard.
It’s how well our fellas enact the “fundamentals difference” that will be a big part in deciding how the season ends - six more wins to truly be dancing on our own 👀.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️