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Don't be Afraid to be Different

Many of you already know UCLA's ace pitcher, Trevor Bauer, has trained at the Texas Baseball Ranch for several years now and uses a number of Oates Specialties products. If you didn't know that you probably do by now after the many clips on ESPN of Trevor doing tubing exercises, final arc drills, and using the Shoulder Tube.

Trevor is an incredibly driven individual and he works his tail off from the time he steps on the field until he hits the showers. I can attest to this, I've trained with him. In my mind however, this is not the most impressive thing about Trevor. Sure, his desire to succeed and his work ethic is something that should be praised but it's his ability to keep doing what works for him and not conform based on what others think that I admire most.

Trevor has learned over the years from training with Jim Wagner, Alan Jaeger, and Ron Wolforth, among others, what drills, warm-ups, and activities are most beneficial for him. Many of the exercises he likes to do pre-game are considered out of the ordinary and are scrutinized by coaches, scouts, and announcers. But Trevor doesn't care, nor should he.

Throughout the course of the College World Series I listened to the ESPN announcers call Trevor quirky and they couldn't help but talk about his pre-game and in-game routine. They were mesmerized, including Nomar Garciaparra and Robin Ventura, two former Major League stars, over a college kid who had an extensive, dynamic routine. At first as I watched I thought those calling the game were just intrigued by what Trevor was doing and I think they were. But as they continued to call him quirky and many other synonyms it started to irk me.

Both Nomar and Robin soon let me know their true and utter ignorance as to the things Trevor was doing. After his first dominating performance against Florida, Robin Ventura made the comment that Trevor was "only allowed to do all those things because he is so good." Implying that if he was not the ace of the staff there is no way he'd get away with doing all of those things. Are you kidding me? Robin you have it backwards, the reason Trevor is so good is because he does all of those things. Do you think he is just doing them for fun? To occupy his time before a start? Give me a break!

But this pales in comparison to the conversation Nomar Garciaparra and Mike Patrick had after Trevor pitched 8 phenomenal innings against TCU to lead his team to the championship series against South Carolina. Nomar was once again discussing the many "odd" things which make up Trevor's routine. He then said that Trevor would not be able to continue with his exercises in professional baseball. Nomar expressed that when an organization invests a lot of money in him he will have to follow the organization's instructions more closely because he could get hurt doing stuff like that. It took his fellow announcer, Mike Patrick, the guy in the booth without any professional baseball experience to have the intelligence to bring up the fact that maybe Trevor is who he is because of the many "quirky" exercises. Wow, what a revelation.

Baseball is perhaps one of the most conventional, think inside the box sports on the planet. Heaven forbid somebody go against the grain and actually do something to warm up for a game besides poles, static stretching and 20 minutes of throwing. I can say this with certainty because during my time as a collegiate and professional pitcher I got a lot of attention and people made comments when I did some of the same things Trevor is doing. It's the herd mentality, people are afraid to be different. But not Trevor, he does his own unique thing on national television.

I think one of the most accurate quotes I've ever heard and I've heard it many many times (thanks Coach Wolforth) is, "If you do what everybody else does, you are going to get what everybody else gets." How true is that? If you stick to the norm the chances are you will get the norm. And do you know what the norm is getting the average baseball player from the United States? A job at Burger King. Currently 30% of MLB rosters are from Latin America and over half of minor league baseball players are from outside the U.S. This is absurd when you look at the populations of Latin American countries versus that of the United States. Looks to me like our "norm" is letting other countries dominate "America's Pastime." These Latinos are clearly doing something we are not.

So my advice to the millions of others baseball players at all levels across the nation is if you find something that works for you, no matter how unconventional or "quirky" it may be, stick with it. You are the one who takes responsibility for your own performance, not the pitching coach, manager, or pitching coordinator so why would you let them dictate your routine.

I encourage you all to push the envelope, think outside the box and incorporate anything which helps you prepare for competition no matter what others say or think. It's the reason Trevor Bauer is who he is, a future 1st round draft pick.

Until next time,

Brian Oates

Brian@Oatesspecialties.com

2 thoughts on “Don't be Afraid to be Different”

  • Brian Oates

    Thanks for the comment Chris. What I would say about Dice K is that the Red Sox, by changing his routine, absolutely altered what made him "Dice K." The only reason they changed him is because his routine didn't fit into their paradigm. Now they will have to live with the mediocre pitcher he has become using their routine. This is the problem I have with Ventura and Nomar...they don't know what Trevor is doing, they just know they haven't seen some of the exercises before and therefore they dismiss it. And I would be careful comparing Trevor's "quirky-nes" to Zito. Trevor is out there working his tail off but he is quirky because the announcers have never seen the exercises he is doing. Zito is "quirky" because he is a surfer dude who loves yoga and meditation, he has never been known as having a great work ethic.

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  • Chris

    I'm not looking to start an argument or anything but what Robin Ventura and Nomar Garciaparra said has truth to it. One of the better examples for a pitcher today is Dice K. When the red sox won that bidding war the pitcher they purchased and the pitcher on the mound today are two different guys. The red sox quickly changed Dice K's routine and removed some of his pitches from his arsenal. Is this what makes him mediocre today? We wont ever really know, but it doesn't change the fact that what both said has fact. It doesn't make them ignorant when they pass on details they've learned over their careers. Barry Zito spent the first half of his career being called "quirky" and colorful. Once SF saw how terrible he was doing his first season with them it just wasn't cute anymore and things began to change. Just my incites.

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