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How to Pick the Right Baseball Bat

Baseball truly is America’s past-time. It’s a fantastic sport (I’m a little biased, but still). It teaches children to play as a team and leave individual statistics behind, gives great hand to eye coordination skills and keeps them in good physical condition.

But no matter what all the psychiatrists and family book writers say, it is much more fun to win than to lose, and it is way more fun to hit the ball well than to strike out or hit short hoppers every time you get to bat.

Importance of Selecting a Bat

Selecting the right baseball bat is a rather tedious process, as it involves the use of many different bats to get to the one that is best for you. (To all my Harry Potter fans: Choosing a baseball bat is similar to selecting a wand.) You must be prepared to do some research beforehand so you know what to look for. You may even want to consult some bat reviews, something like this site (that specific page is for a type of gymnastics equipment, but you get the idea).

Factors to Consider When Picking Your Bat

Composition

A baseball bat that is made of aluminum, wood or composite metal each have different characteristics and feels to them. One model may feel better to swing with, but when hitting the ball, you may find that it hurts, or does not get as much distance as it should. But, before finding which material you want your bat to be made of, you need to determine the length and weight of the bat.

Length

Picking a baseball bat starts with finding the right weight and length for your swing. A general rule of bat manufacture is that a bat weighs one ounce for every inch in length, and most bats are 30 to 35 inches long. There are shorter bats for the younger children, and at that age, composition does not really matter, just go with the bat that your child likes the best when hitting a ball. For older players in leagues, over 10 years of age with a few year’s experience in league play, then finding the best bat for their swing is more important.

Finding the best baseball bat for yourself may be a measure of going out to the batting cages and trying each of the three types of bats, and finding which one feels better when hitting a hard thrown ball. Once you know your preferred composition — say maple wood — you can try the different lengths, to see which length gives you best coverage of the home plate. Your next step is to find the weight that suits you best.

Weight

There are different weights available for bats, aside from the general rule of one ounce per inch of bat length. You can buy a +3, a -2, or other variations on weights. A plus three, 32 inch bat would weigh 35 ounces, 32 ounces for the 1-to-1 ratio, and 3 extra ounces for the +3. You find your best weight by swinging for home runs in the batting cages, or at practice. Use the bat that you produce best with until you find that “perfect” baseball bat.

Note: If your child is beginning little league, we definitely recommend starting with an aluminum bat. This is pretty much standard nowadays from little league up through college, unless your child’s team plays in a wood-bat league/tournament.

Where to Buy a Baseball Bat

Sporting Goods Store

If you are not in a league or belong to a baseball team, and are simply looking for a baseball bat for yourself or your child, one place you can go to buy a bat is a sporting goods store. Some stores even have hitting cages out back, and you can try the different makes, models, lengths and weights of bats.

The potential downside to sporting goods stores is they can sometimes have a limited selection, depending on the store. If you’d like a wider selection, with more options, colors, styles, lengths and weights, then you can find great bats online at sites like Amazon.

Online

While buying a baseball bat online means you can’t test out the bat before purchase, if you already have an idea of the bat you’re looking for, buying the bat online can be your best option in terms of pricing and convenience. Many online stores — again like Amazon — have great return policies, so you can exchange the bat for a different one if for whatever reason you discovered the bat wasn’t for you.

My Top Baseball Bat Pick

To give you guys an idea of what to look for, I selected my current favorite bat — the Rawlings Raptor (check it out on Amazon).

Rawlings Raptor baseball bat

This is a very high quality bat at an affordable price. Not only does it have a great feel, but your child will love the stylish coloring. I highly recommend it.

Once you decide on and buy the best baseball bat for you (or your child), get out there and start practicing!

Swing batter batter, swing.

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Greatest Baseball Songs of All Time

Is it conceivable that musicians would actually write music and songs about a game? And if so, could there really be enough of these tunes, lying around out there to put together some semblance of a best-of list? And there were, would anyone really care? Really?

In America, we are obsessed with baseball. Double plays and pop flies. Stealing second and bringing the heat. Knuckleballs and “rounding third”. Grand slams and perfect games. Beer and hot dogs and Cracker Jacks and roasted peanuts.

We’ve immortalized Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays. These guys are as much American heroes as George Washington or Benjamin Franklin.

Let’s face it… with names like “the greatest game”or “America’s pastime”… “The Iron Man”, “Mr. October”, “The Babe”, “The Georgia Peach”, “Big Mac”…in America, if we nickname it, we love it.

And yes, there are tons of baseball-related songs out there. And even more non-baseball songs that have become synonymous with the game, the park, homeruns, certain players, a particular series, the seventh inning stretch…it’s boggling to think of how inseparable music has become from the game baseball.

So let’s suffice to say, “we got plenty enough songs for a list”. Some iconic, some obscure and a whole lot in the middle. But there is no shortage of baseball songs. And there are certainly enough to come up with a list of the “Top 10 (or more) Greatest Baseball Songs of All Time”!

So with that, let’s not foul off another minute…batter up!

  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame – Jack Norworth (The most memorable and iconic baseball song in history.)
  • The Star Spangled Banner – Francis Scott Key (Can you imagine attending a game without it?)
  • The “Charge!” Song – Tommy Walker (Yes, it is a song!)
  • Centerfield (Put Me In Coach) – John Fogerty (How many Spring and Summertime memories does this song conjure up? Classic.)
  • A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request – Steve Goodman (Some say, the most heartfelt baseball song ever written…and all by the guy David Allen Coe credits with “I was drunk, the day my ma, got outta prison…”)
  • Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio – Ben Homer amp; Alan Courtney (Who doesn’t love Joe Dimaggio?)
  • Cheap Seats – Alabama (One of the few tributes to the minor leaguers.)
  • Catfish – Bob Dylan (Is there anything Bob Dylan can’t write about?)
  • The Greatest – Kenny Rogers (What a great comeback song for Kenny…classic story-song.)
  • Talkin’ Baseball – Terry Cashman (Who hasn’t heard this on their pre-game radio show?)

And that’s my list. Hope you enjoyed my picks.

Be sure to let me know if I missed any and what you think the Number One should be!

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How to Make the Team in High School Baseball

Making your high school baseball team is not always easy. In Little League Baseball and other various social leagues, you are pretty much guaranteed to make the team and get a little bit of playing time. In high school baseball, you have to be able to make the team based on your skill level and determination. There are a number of things that you can do to increase your odds of making the team.

1. Always Hustle

The first and most important tip to getting on your team is to out-hustle the other players. The one thing that you have total control of regardless of your skill level is your determination and hustle.

The baseball player that gives maximum effort will stand out to coaches and other players alike. This could be the difference if you are on the fringe and competing with some others that are similar in skills. If you out-hustle them, then you will get the open position.

2. Learn the Basics

High school baseball is very much about being excellent in the basics. Fielding the ball cleanly, making solid contact at the plate and running the bases properly are all very important. If you are solid in the basics, then you are likely to make most high school baseball teams. If you are deficient in any of these areas, you should spend a great deal of time working out the kinks. These are vital to being a solid high school ball player.

3. Win the Mental Game

Do all of the mental things right. For example, you should always be backing up throws in the field. If you are a catcher, you should back up the throw to first when runners are not on base. If you are a pitcher, then you need to back up the throws from the outfield. Mentally knowing what you are supposed to do in game time situations will impress your high school baseball coaches, and likely nail you down a spot on the team.

Wrapping Up: How to Make the Team

The biggest key to making your high school baseball team is hustle. Certainly knowing the game and having skills are important as well. You have to be able to go on the field and perform. Still, if you are not a player that gives one hundred percent every time you step out there, then you are risking being cut and not making the team. Give it your best effort, study the game and execute the basics and you should be just fine.

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5 Baseball Tips to Improve Contact Hitting

At virtually every level of baseball, making contact at the plate is the primary goal of any hitter. When a hitter steps up to the plate, the object is to put the ball in play. The art of doing so is called contact hitting.

If you are able to consistently contact the baseball, then your batting average and offensive statistics will eventually reflect that. Here are five tips to help you make better contact with the baseball more often.

Tip #1

Keeping your head in is the number one way to increase contact with the baseball. The natural reflex when a baseball is flying towards the plate is to turn away from the pitch. This is to protect your head and face and it is completely natural. Unfortunately, this natural reflex makes it nearly impossible to hit a baseball consistently. Instead, you have to resist the urge to turn away and keep your head and eyes on the baseball all the way through. In theory you should be able to watch the baseball make contact with your bat.

Tip #2

Occasionally it benefits a hitter who is having trouble making contact to choke up on the bat. This means to hold the bat a little farther away from the end. This increases your bat speed thereby increasing the odds that you will make contact with the ball.

Tip #3

The vast majority of great hitters watch at least one pitch per at bat. Many of them watch even more than that depending upon the count. If you’re struggling with contact, make up your mind that you will watch the first pitch and visualize your swing. If the first pitch is a ball, then you will watch another. Continue this until you have at least one strike against you. This will help you to stay ahead in the count and get better pitches to swing at.

Tip #4

Practice striding through the baseball. If you ever watch a Major league baseball hitter, the vast majority of them step into and through the baseball. Many people that have difficulty making contact with the baseball can attribute it to the fact that they step out with their lead foot. Learning to stride towards the pitcher as opposed to opening up will help you to make better contact with the baseball.

Tip #5

The single most important thing that you can do to increase your contact is to practice. While simple and obvious, you would be amazed at the number of hitters who ignore this simple truth. Time in the batter’s box and in the batting cages will increase your contact exponentially. However much time you put into practicing you will get back as points on your batting average. Get out there and swing that bat!

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How to Run Batting Practice

Preparing your baseball team for the season requires a tremendous amount of preparation and hard work. As a team manager or coach it is your responsibility to make sure that your team has been given every available opportunity to work on the skills needed to be successful during the season. In this article I will focus on one aspect of the game that is very important to the success of your baseball team, running an effective batting practice.

The very first thing you need to do as a manager or coach in charge of the hitting is to have a batting practice plan for your team. This is not only important in the winter work outs, it is important at every batting practice session. All too often you see teams that have no rhyme or reason to their batting practice sessions. It becomes a glorified home run derby session if it is not organized properly.

Our Method for Batting Practice

My coaching staff and I like to take BP with a purpose. We break it down into 4 rounds. Each round consists of 12-15 pitches per batter.

In the first round we have our batters start off with five clean sacrifice bunts when they first come to the cage. They are then instructed try to hit ground balls and nothing but ground balls with their remaining pitches.

In the second round of the batting practice we work on situational hitting of advancing a runner and moving him over. All too often players do not know how to effectively advance a runner when the situation calls for it. This is why we work on this with each and every hitter during batting practice.

In the third round we work on driving in a runner from third base. How many times have you been frustrated as a coach leaving a runner at third base after two or three failed attempts to get him home? Working on this situation in batting practice can turn some of these situations into runs and some of these runs into wins.

The fourth and final round of the batting practice is to have the batter hit the ball as hard as they can while not trying to hit a home run. I know many coaches will want their players to try and swing for the fences, I do not. I want my players to drive the ball as hard they can in this round. All too many times you see what could be a big inning end because a player was swinging for the fences and flying out instead of hitting a hard line drive into the gap.

The Purpose of Batting Practice

The sole purpose of planning a batting practice is to make sure the batter works on each and every aspect of the game he may face as a batter. Doing this over and over each batting practice, before and during the season, will make each and every hitter on your team a better all around hitter. It will also help make your team become a successful hitting team as well as a winning team.

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The Ripkin Legacy

The name “Ripkin” is synonymous with homegrown talent in Baltimore, Maryland. Cal Ripken, Sr. worked his way through Baltimore Minor Leagues to play for the Orioles.

He taught his two sons, Bill and Cal, Jr. to play great baseball too. Soon both of them had risen through the ranks of the minor leagues to play baseball along side each other. It was baseball first.. Three members of the same family working for the same team (Ripken Sr. was a team manager). Eventually, Ripken Sr. would become to old for the game. Not long after, Billy retired too. But Cal Ripken, Jr. hung in there and not only played into his 40’s, but played pretty darn good.

Cal Jr.’s ability to stick to it paid of in many ways. By the end of his baseball career, Ripken had played over 2,600 games of baseball consecutively. Remarkably, he played them at the shortstop position, which after pitcher and arguably first baseman, is the most physically demanding position to play. Only a 10 minute walk from Babe Ruth’s childhood home, Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball’s “Ironman” for his seemingly super-human marathon abilities. He has over 2,600 games and over 3,000 hits, and he didn’t need steroids to do that, just a strong will and an iron determination.He’s a true sports hero anyone could look up to.

No, he never had a 70 homerun season. Yet there must have been a some reason he was invited to the All-star games 19 times. It was his consistency. He wasn’t the guy who always hit the grand-slams (though he did have a few of his own), he was the guy who was always on base making a grand-slam out of an ordinary home run. By no means was he a poor batter, though. He averaged .276 and had over 3,000 career hits and over 450 homeruns.

Where he really shined, however was on the field. As a shortstop, Cal would regularly leave the ground to stop a line drive from slicing into center-left field. His dedication to the sport showed in the way he played with precision. By the end of almost every year, Cal had the lowest number of errors for the season.

His leadership is sure to be missed around the clubhouse. Now the big bat in the dug-out is Sammy Sosa’s. But not long after the team owner brought him into Baltimore, Sosa was making the 1hour trip into D.C. to testify about steroid use to the Senate. Whether he did or did not use steroids isn’t the point. It’s just certainly a lot harder to call yourself an O’s fan these days. Hopefully, Cal will follow the footsteps of fellow Oriole and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, and come back as a coach, manager, owner. They’ll give him whatever position he wants because they know like everyone else does, that the Ironman’s leadership is sorely missed.