Orioles Hangout poster ‘DrungoHazewood’ and occassionial site contributor Jon Wilt had an interesting post earlier this week:
“I wonder if there's some team that finally gets buy-in from most of their players and establishes baseball as a round-the-year job. Almost have to be a very young team with a handful of gung-ho vets. Basically they all get together and say we're working out as a team from November through January. Maybe even provide awards (cash, or whatever) for the hardest off-season workers.
It's the initial hurdle that'll be really hard. If that team has success, in short order that's how all MLB teams will do business. Like Bill James once said about almost all innovation in baseball: it's initially treated as insanity, then within a few years of success it's universally adopted as the only way to do things.”
Part of the reason I found it interesting, was that my Dad and I had a similar discussion last week. When they are not negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Contract, the National Football League has a number of Voluntary and Non-Voluntary Mini-Camps. Even College teams have ‘Spring’ Football.
Has the day come where this should be part of Baseball? My guess is that Baseball’s Player Union would initially object. Players value their time away from the game, and the time they can spend with their families after spending 6+ months dealing with the nomadic MLB schedule. On the other-hand, players recognize the need for staying in shape. You would imagine many (most?) of the players have hired expensive Athletic Trainers or go to places like Athletes Performance (http://www.athletesperformance.com/). If the training was paid for by the teams, would the players not prefer not incurring that additional cost? Wouldn’t the teams prefer incurring that additional cost, to protect their investments?
One of the true accomplishments of Andy MacPhail's tenure with the O's, has been the development of the Spring Training Facility in Sarasota. Go the next step, and make sure it has all of bells and whistles which would make the players want to train there together during November through January. Or do something here in Baltimore. Last Month the Washington Nationals broke ground on a 9 acre $15M Youth Baseball Academy in DC. The O's could make a similar Academy in Charm City, which would also include the indoor space required for off-season training in this City.
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