By Noah Gulley
To all my fellow ballplayers,
We all know how challenging and frustrating the game can be. Maybe that’s just life in general at times.
This fact can cause players to lose touch with what the game does for us as overall individuals.
Over the years, as I’ve matured as a player and as a person I have learned several important lessons.
However, one of the most impactful things I have learned is how to balance individualism and embracing my fellow teammates.
Accolades and accomplishments seem to be what all athletes strive for…and look, we should. But, sometimes players get so caught up in themselves that they lose sight of the fact that they are part of a team.
I know I have lost sight of things at times.
The constant comparisons made player to player even in a worst-case scenario, teammate to teammate, made on social media, by parents, kids, “evaluators”, scouts… it can just get intoxicating.
Are we trying to win games here or just put up numbers and capture the perfect videos for personal gain?
Those are just some of the thoughts I’ve entertained over my years of playing.
Although I’d love to say those things are not the case, the fact of the matter is that take would just be a blind assessment. But, I’m not here to get into all that.
In fact, I think if you pay attention to what I am about to say very carefully all that nonsense will stay where it belongs, out of relevance.
It’s actually comical in a way. Hearing quotes and players chirp and passively kid about “doing it for the scouts” has become quite popular.
Again I’m not against it. If it works for you that’s fine, more power to you. But that’s not how I play the game.
Contrary to a lot of programs’ cultures, I play for the brothers next to me.
They mean everything.
I’ve been caught up in the noise before. And when I think back on those times and even now I realize the game, life is about keeping things simple.
Especially in baseball. It’s about moving 9 guys in harmony all at the same time, each executing their jobs.
And since baseball and life are all about interacting and working with people, those near to you must be your focus.
Teammates should be your brothers and sisters. No accomplishments, accolades, or jealousy should ever come between that family; because one day when the game is done family is all we got.
I attended two different high schools and I’m now living in my 5th state.
Needless to say, I didn’t have the same opportunities as most people to establish long-lasting friendships with my peers.
However, whenever I stepped onto a field a couple of years ago it felt like all those barriers were finally put aside.
When I became part of my new team I began to develop relationships that still stand today.
This is the main reason that baseball is my true love other than my personal family and friends.
As years went by and I was on several different teams in a few different cities, but there was one thing that stood out to me.
The teams I was a part of that had the most camaraderie always performed better compared to ones that did not.
When I first arrived at high school, I quickly started to notice the animosity and jealousy that can exist between teammates.
Whether it was over competing for the same spot, playing time, or personal drama there seemed like there was a lot more hostility and division that existed. It’s that noise I was talking about.
Naturally, anyone who has goals to be a starter or better than the person next to them will have a disposition that involves them being joyful if they succeed over their teammate.
I can relate to that myself.
If I went 3-3 in a game and a teammate I was competing against went 0-3 I didn’t have a sense of compassion for that teammate.
However, by having that mindset I became accustomed to feeling on top of the world or empty depending on if I filled up the stat sheet or not. I soon realized that the joy that comes with playing the game cannot be filled with my individual goals.
Heck, teammates are what push to be better! Constantly putting targets on each other and treating our stats as personal report cards of who we are and mean is ridiculous.
We are all better than that.
Putting my personal wants and ego aside I started to notice that the game that I hold so close to my heart is the same way I should view my teammates.
Yes, the way I approach working hard at my craft and trying to translate that hard work should be my first priority.
However, that first priority should also be shared with creating strong and healthy relationships with my teammates so we can go out and give everything we got TOGETHER.
When I moved to Las Vegas and enrolled in Bishop Gorman High School.
It seemed like the togetherness I have been referring to had become a reality. Our team had a love for each other, so without surprise, we became a top 10 team in the nation my senior year (and I thought we should have been higher). But that doesn’t matter.
If I had to give one piece of advice to young players coming up, other than telling them to work hard at the game, I say with no regrets and total conviction, have fun with the game.
The way to do that is by focusing on being successful with your teammates and do not only concern oneself with individual glory.
Baseball is the greatest team sport for a reason.
It was created for nine people, all from different walks and places in life, to get together for a couple of hours, let go of all the noise in their lives outside the foul lines, and ball out.
Enjoy playing the game you love with those around you.
Dealing with the Pressure of Your Family Name
The Grieves: A Family of Baseball
Baseball has always been the center of my life. When I was growing up at a young age, I never really felt the pressures of having so much rich baseball history in my family, but the older I got, the more people noticed my last name.
The pressure that came with my family name impacted how I treated the game. My parents did not put any pressure on how far I made it playing. They always just wanted me to play the game respectfully because the name on the back of my jersey carried a lot of baseball knowledge and experience.
My dad Ben was drafted second overall in 1994 by the A’s, my uncle Tim was drafted in 1994 by the Royals, and my grandpa Tom was drafted sixth overall by the Senators in 1966.
Consequently, the pressure was on my younger brother and me to be baseball players.
I doubt my brother realizes that yet, and I definitely didn’t know it at his age, but now, I realize. Every coach that I have ever played for knows who my dad is. When I go to big tournaments, people come up to me and ask if I am related to Ben or Tom. I definitely feel like people are always watching me when I am playing and that there are always high expectations for me to perform well.
However, I have taken this in the best way possible most of the time as I use the pressure to motivate me to reach the expectations people have on me.
Other times, it has been more challenging, though. When I make mistakes, I feel even worse than I should because I feel those same people watching are disappointed. It is nearly impossible not to compare myself to my dad or grandpa when everyone else is.
When I am playing at my worst, I wonder if my dad experienced those same struggles, and that weighs over me.
It is a blessing to have so much experience and knowledge of the game at home with me, as I essentially have the best built-in hitting coach possible in my dad, but it is also hard to learn from someone who had baseball come so easy to them.
My dad can give me all the mechanical advice I need, but when it comes to mental advice, he cannot offer the same direction as he does on physical parts of the game.
I struggled majorly with the mental half of the game for most of my life, as the pressure I put on myself was often way more than I knew how to handle. In comparison, my dad was the top prospect in the world when his senior year in high school rolled around, which is where I am right now.
He never dealt with the mental struggles I have endured, at least not as a high schooler. In that sense, I feel helpless when I get in my head, as the tremendous mentoring of my dad becomes less and less valuable.
He can offer some changes to my swing and slight adjustments that might help me get back on track, but he can’t help me get out of my head when I go through a rough stretch at the plate.
With that, I have learned to embrace the mental toughness I have developed, as I have never once thought about giving up. Despite all the struggles I have endured playing the game, I still only want to be better and work harder.
Maybe my mental struggles are a blessing more than a downfall.
I have used them as my motivation to practice more with my dad when I am struggling. Yes, I get down on myself, but everyone does when they struggle. And baseball is a sport of struggling, but I have never backed away from the competition or the challenge. What I once considered my weakness in baseball, I now consider a strength. When I am at my worst, my inner doubt has only forced me to become better. It is a unique part of my game that no one can compare to my dad, uncle, or grandpa.
Addressing the Future of Baseball in 2021
QnA with 50 Year MLB Coach and Scouting Veteran, Jerry Weinstein.
This week I caught up with Jerry Weinstein, a long-time baseball buff, to say the very least. Jerry began his coaching career back in 1966 as a freshman coach at UCLA, and today, after an unprecedented coaching run that found him atop leading Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, he now finds himself a part of The Colorado Rockies Player Development System as a Scouting Special Assistant.
With fifty-plus years of experience in the game of baseball at the highest level, I thank Jerry for answering our audience’s question amidst a time of significant adjustment for the game of baseball. Upon receiving this great opportunity, I wanted to hear from our audience and have their questions answered by Jerry. Dictated by your questions, this was the extent of our conversation:
What behavioral issues do you run into with players at the professional level, and what can we do as coaches when we have these players younger to foster better habits or character?
“We have fewer behavioral issues at the pro level because there is so much internal competition & there are really no fallback options. The organization has the leverage. With that being said, it’s all about choices & owning those choices realizing that there are consequences for poor choices. Transfer of blame is not an option. The key is establishing standards of behavior & consistently holding the athletes to those standards.”
What are we doing now in the industry that is hurting participation and the retention of good athletes in the game of baseball? As we witness, athletes to the likes of Kyler Murray choose not to pursue baseball professionally.
“Retention-Make it fun. Connect with the players as people & not just players. Be positive. Know what you are doing. Allow for individual differences. Be organized & have enough help to keep players moving in small groups. Short-tempo practices & games. Make it competitive. Player-centric environment. It’s more about them than the scoreboard. It’s a collaborative effort between players, coaches & parents.”
What are your thoughts on the game of baseball missing out on talented players with the shortened draft and college rosters overflowing? With 1,525 draft selections in 2010 and only 160 in 2020…
Professional baseball does not miss very often. Maybe they don’t get slotted the way they end up, but good players do not go unseen. If they are playing somewhere, they will be seen. It may be in an Indy League where many late bloomers & players from lower-profile programs thrive. If they have tools or are playing up to professional standards, they will be seen. The problem lies in the fact that we are losing a lot of the better athletes to other sports. We need to do a better job of attracting those athletes & retaining them. MLB is making a real effort in that area in the inner cities with its RBI program. I’m concerned that the current Travel Team movement has priced a lot of the economically challenged families out.
I want to once again thank Jerry for his priceless insight and wisdom. His generosity in answering these questions I know will go a long way for our audience memebers. The game of baseball, perhaps having always faced unprecedented times, now faces reconstruction and rebranding efforts post pandemic. With the universal designated hitter (DH) now active in both the American and Nation League, the game of baseball now looks to another evolution in rules for greater growth amongst fan bases and most imporantly, youth. Baseball’s ability to keep promising athletes in the sport will set the horizon the future of baseball is destined for.
The San Francisco Giants 107 Win Season Should Be Remembered for More Than Painful Ending
Recapping the Incredible Run of the 2021 San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants season came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past week.
The game ended in San Francisco with the Giants down just one run on a check swing appealed and called a strike against the hot bat of Wilmer Flores. It is by no means a surprise that much of sports media has run with the Giants’ season-ending call.
Some even rank the Giants among the top teams in MLB history to have the most painful season-ending loss. But the fact of the matter is the ’21 Giants might have pulled off one of the most impressive seasons in MLB History.
From the resurrection of Buster Posey to the resurgence of past greats like Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, Gabe Kapler’s squad should be beyond proud of their efforts. Kapler not only led his team to 107 wins after the team had finished with losing records for the last four years but utilized vital players off the bench like Donovan Solana and Austin Slater to plot many late-inning comebacks.
The ’21 Giants also saw the birth of unlikely heroes unforeseen going in Spring Training like Kris Bryant, who was picked up at the trade deadline, and LaMonte Wade Jr., whose late-inning heroics all year, earned him the title “Late Night Lamonte.”
Overall, to let the Giant’s season go to waste or be manipulated to provoke fan and public reaction because of one “highly disputed” call would be an act of great injustice. The fact also remains that no one game comes down to any single call; the Giants had missed out on multiple scoring opportunities before the 2-1 deficit.
And at the end of the day, the Dodgers had just played better baseball that evening; Gabe Kapler said after the game, “I have no regrets, congratulations to that very talented squad on the other side.” We hope to acknowledge the magic the San Francisco Giants created this season for the fans and world of baseball and remind people never to be swayed by the narratives of “BLOWN CALL RUINS SEASON” columns and tabloids. Congratulations to the 2021 San Francisco Giants!