Archive for July, 2010
Hall of Famer Rod Carew has stepped into the world of baseball training aids along with his long standing career promoting and working for the game of baseball.
Rod Carew spent 19 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Twins and Angels, and still work at the executive level for both teams, along with a consultant position for The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Carew has dedicated his life to the game, and this is yet another facet for him to get involved. Rod Carew Baseball is the latest venture of Carew, and its flagship product- the GAPHitter, is dedicated to the science(or art, whichever you prefer) of hitting.
The GAPHitter is a crane-like hitting tee that suspends a baseball velcro’d to a tether that can swing, giving the user the benefit of hitting a moving, detachable baseball without the bruises of a pitching machine. The idea is a good one, as it is more adaptable to any skill level player than some hitting aids on the market, and creates more of a realistic hitting situation than a conventional stationary tee. One can vary the hitting elements by swinging the ball in different directions, at different speeds to create the illusion of different pitches or even different skill levels, with the hilarious side effect of a grand swing and miss. It creates a different dynamic than the Swing Away, it’s closest competition, and a more variable ball movements than the Joe Mauer Quickswing, a less expensive alternative.
All in all, this looks like a great start for innovation from Rod Carew Baseball, and although the price is steep at $299, the GAPHitter may be the new tee of choice for T-Ball coaches all the way up to the Majors.
There are several things to look at when buying a baseball glove. There are fielding (Outfield & Infield), first baseman and catchers’ gloves that range in sizes in Adult and Youth.
Outfield gloves are the largest baseball glove you can find. Outfield gloves tend to have a deeper pocket to be able to catch fly balls with ease. Most outfield gloves range size from 12 to 12 ½ inches. The longer length will obviously offer more reach, however, there is less control.
The key to infielder gloves is the ease of getting the ball out of the glove as easy as possible to make a throw. All infielder gloves need to be small, to accomplish this task with ease. A good size for an adult infielder glove is 10 1/2 to 11 1/2 inch. These positions include second base and shortstop. Third baseman gloves are a little bit larger, from 10 3/4 to 11 3/4.
Catcher’s gloves have designated areas for the thumb, pointer finger and the remaining three fingers. Typically catcher’s gloves have extra padding around the fingers to prevent the sting from pitchers. Catcher’s gloves range from $50.00 to $300.00 depending on the hide. Make sure you spend a little bit more on a nice catcher’s glove for comfort and durability.
First Baseman Glove
First baseman gloves have a longer length to give as much reach as possible. Most first baseman gloves measure between 12 and 14 inches. They typically have a shovel like pocket to allow the fielder to scoop mis-thrown balls. There is a less padding to allow for additional mobility.
There are a variety of different sporting goods stores near our house. Some of them carry the same items, may be closer or could be much larger. Most of the smaller/specialty sporting goods stores are owned by a local family that may have been operating for several decades. I dont have anything against going to larger stores like Sports Authority or Gander Mountain, but the smaller stores do have their advantages.
Lets take a look:
- Employee KnowledgeFor the most part, specialty retailers have employees that have more knowledge about the products they are selling. There are many reasons for this but mainly because the employee gets one on one training by the owner or store manager. Typically, the specialty stores are one to five category stores, so learning how to sell the entire suite of products isn’t as difficult for the employees. Also, many people go work at a bike shop because they enjoy biking, or a running shop because they enjoy running and so on. I do not want to say that larger stores do not have employees that know anything about the products they are selling, but we all have experience going into a larger store and not being satisfied with the employee knowledge.
- Deeper Category Line
Larger stores have a smaller amount of products for each category, mainly because of space and offering one price point to make sure they offer everything for that sport or category. A bike shop will offer everything that you would ever need for biking. Larger retailers offer bikes at only a few different price points and brands. Also, large retailers have limited amount of parts and accessories for biking. A specialty lacrosse retailer would have all equipment for lacrosse at every price point, so they always have stock and have more options for you.
- Superior Services
The service you will find at a specialty store is outstanding compared to a large store. Whether you are looking to get your tennis racket restrung, snowboard waxed, bike tuned or ski mounted. Typically, the service you will find at the specialty store will have an expert servicing your product and the turn around time is faster than what you would find at a larger store. Also, there may be other services that a specialty store may offer that a large store may not. For example, a specialty tennis shop is the only place you would get your grommet replaced.
- Special Ordering
Typically, specialty retailers can special order products for you if they are out of stock. This comes in handy when you absolutely need something and it can save time from traveling from store to store.
- Customer Service
The easiest way to analyze this is the ratio between the amount of employees/customers. The specialty store usually has an employee that can help every customer, which doesn’t always happen at the larger stores. I don’t want to say that larger stores have terrible customer service, because that isn’t entirely true, just saying the customer service is better at a smaller specialty store.
So there you have it, 5 advantages of a specialty sporting goods store over a large store. I shop at both and certainly larger stores have their own advantages which I will cover soon.
The answer… The Rawlings S100. Sometime last year, I heard about the new Rawlings helmet that was resistant to 100mph impact. I believe Ryan Dempster, pitcher for the Cubs, was the first MLB player to wear the gigantic lid, but most people didn’t hear about it until David Wright was knocked out cold by a Matt Cain fastball. Wright came back wearing the new lid to further protect himself, but ditched it after a short time after much ribbing from teammates and the lack of comfort with the bulky nature of the helmet.
This season Minor League Baseball has mandated all players wear the Rawlings S100 helmet, which gives no one the opportunity for poking fun, and a few major leaguers have picked up willingly, and dealt with the Great Gazoo jokes in stride. At the All Star Game, a great deal of players were wearing one, and this may a sign of things to come. The sports world is growing more and more concerned with concussion prevention due to numerous studies done on former athletes, more notably NFL player and Pro Wrestlers, to show the dangers of concussions on long term mental health long after the athlete retires.
An interesting historical note on the S100’s exposure in the All Star Game is that a few years back, it was the Rawlings Cool Flo helmet that made its big game debut in the all Star Game, and the next season, every team had several players using them. This may not necessarily be the case with the S100, as the Cool Flo was just a shell redesign with more ventilation, while the S100 is a whole new lid, with a much larger size and more padding, which is completely different. The main complaint with the S100 last season was the size and weight, so Rawlings took the offseason to redesign them slightly to be a little lighter and sleeker, but still maintaining the same level of protection.
Whether the S100 hits mainstream soon or not remains to be seen, but it is an interesting step in the evolution of protection in baseball. Thanks to hundreds of minor leaguers spending the entire season wearing one, more MLBers may be wearing them soon. I don’t know whether MLB will mandate the S100 helmet, due to union strength in the MLB, but a strong recommendation has been made; and it’s up to the players to choose their method of protection.
With football season rapidly approaching, it’s time to fire up the fantasy football magazines, live online drafts, and alcohol-fueled trash talking that follows. One interesting development in the world of fantasy football is the falling value of running backs, and the higher value for wide receivers. Much of this is due to point-per-reception leagues, and also the rule changes that the NFL has made to help the passing game. One reason us sporting goods types might argue is the development of receiver gloves.
Back in the day, receivers developed a way to make their hands stickier to catch the ball better. The problem was, Stickem left crazy glue like goop on the ball that could have created some looney tunes type moments for centers and quarterbacks had they not replaced the ball. Fortunately, the NFL banned Stickem, and better football gloves were developed. First there was tackified leather, and that works just fine, but the materials used now in football gloves provide a great amount of sticky, without Stickem’s ‘icky.’ So here are a list of things to look for when buying a football glove:
Receiver/Secondary gloves- For those who catch and run. They feature an ultra sticky surface, which varies by manufacturer, and an unpadded back with usually sweat wicking material, or in the case of cold weather gloves, insulated material. They are for catching the ball, and catching it fast, without a whole lot of contact.
Running Back/Linebacker gloves- These are the middle ground of gloves, for catching and carrying the ball and taking a pounding at the same time. These gloves will feature the same tacky material on the palm, but may have reinforced or a lightly padded back to protect those in the trenches.
Lineman’s gloves- These gloves are all substance, with little style by the way of tack. Usually they’ll feature a tackified leather, which is not as gripping as the tacky material used for receivers; but is much more durable for the beating that the trenches bring. Lineman don’t typically need to grip the ball, except centers; but in the event of a fumble or a pick, it doesn’t hurt. There are a lineman gloves that will feature padding to protect the fingers and hands as well as gloves that are fingerless for those looking to grit it out.
It should fit like a glove. Sounds easy, but given that everyone’s preferences on “fit” are different; make sure you are comfortable with the fit of the glove. No one ever asks you what glove size you wear(and if they do, you might not want them on your team), so get the size that fits you best. Typically, the best “fit” is as tight as possible.
Actually, there are some rules on colors of gloves, but not usually until you hit the higher levels of competition. Always double check with your league to make sure you can buy a team colored glove. I believe most college football leagues require the use of a grey glove, but that will also vary.
Most gloves will start at around $20-$25 dollars and go up to the $50-$60 range for higher end gloves. Usually, the extra money goes to thicker material all around, added padding, additional tacky material and extra features to provide a better fit.