God always has a plan.
It may not be the plan you want. It may not be the plan you expect. It may even be a plan you think is crazy, but it is His plan, and through His plan, all things are possible.
I took one of the least conventional paths to get to where I am.
I know now, looking back at it, that every twist and turn all worked out for the best.
Baseball has been instilled in my life since before I was even born.
My dad played professional baseball for the Red Sox and Giants. When my older brother and I were born, we were quickly drawn to baseball because of him.
I started playing tee-ball when I was just two years old. I was instantly in love with the game.
As my brother and I grew up, we had the benefit of practicing with each other.
Before long, I was playing up with his team so we could play together. Playing with him was always fun because not many people get to play on a team with their older brother, which was special for me.
I continued to work and practice to get better every day. When it came time for me to go to high school, I enrolled at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida.
The program is known consistently one of the best high schools in the country for all sports, especially baseball. With the team being competitive, I had to work even harder to see the field.
I came in as an infielder, playing both first and third. I also would pitch on occasion but was more of an infielder. I did this for my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I was getting some playing time and starting to come into my own. That was, however, until I started feeling a sharp pain in my elbow.
It was my junior year, and I was getting ready as usual. Everything had been the same. For some reason, however, I had an extremely sharp pain in my right elbow that would not go away.
After visiting a doctor, I received the news that I had a stress fracture in my elbow. I knew that I had a choice to make. I knew that coming back from an injury would take much time and even more work.
I had to choose whether or not I was up for that. It was no question for me, however. I could feel God telling me to get to work, and that is what I did.
I underwent a long time of physical therapy, missing my entire junior year season. This period of absense was hard for me, especially because I wanted to play in college, and junior year is when schools start looking at you.
I knew in my head, though, that God had a plan for me.
All I had to do was trust him.
I finally got myself healthy again, and I was feeling better than ever. I missed my school season, but I made it back in time for summer ball to start. I knew that this summer season was my time to prove myself and show what I could do.
That summer ended up being the biggest step forward in my career. My improvements as a player were huge, and I proved that. I started to attract attention from a lot of different schools. The biggest one that caught my eye was Baylor University.
They had everything I was looking for in a home for the next four years, and they were willing to take a chance on me. After many prayers and talking things out with my family, I committed to Baylor the day before my senior year.
My senior season ended up being cut short due to covid. I ended my high school career with a total of 12 innings pitched. To think I only threw 12 innings yet somehow made my way into a program as Baylor astounds me. It shows that God had a plan for me.
Having a support system like my family through everything was huge for me. Growing up in a faith-centered household, I was always told that I needed to trust God with my life and that he will take care of me. He has a plan for me.
My family being there to remind me of that through every trial I faced is one of the biggest reasons I got to today.
They taught me to trust in God and pray to give everything to him constantly. Another big thing they taught me was to work to receive blessings. They taught me that God rewards those who work to serve him, and that is what I did.
In the summer of 2021, after not throwing much my freshman year at Baylor, I decided to play for the Boca Raton Blazers in the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League. It was right by my home, and I saw it as a great opportunity to work more on my craft. I took the opportunity and allowed myself to focus and improve upon something with each outing. I ended up learning a lot and finished the summer as an SFCBL all-star, owned a 1.26 era, and was named SFCBL pitcher of the year. The best part, however, was winning the league championship. It was an amazing experience with a great group of guys. I learned many lessons through that summer season, and those are all things I am looking forward to taking with me back to Waco this year.
I am beyond thankful for every opportunity I have, and I cannot wait to continue down God’s path that he has for me. Not only in baseball but in everything I do.
Trust in Him.
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!