Born To Be Wild! Why Objective Measurement is Crucial
When I was 8 years old I lived on a military base just outside of Tokyo, Japan.
It wasn’t safe for us to go outside the gates of the installation
without our parents, but inside the barbed-wire lined fences
all the military brats roamed free and had complete run of the place.
During the summers, we would leave our houses at 8 am and cruise
around the entire base on our bicycles like a preadolescent motorcycle gang.
We had a television, but all the shows spoke Japanese,
so when the sun came up were outside.
I hung around with my brother, Rick, and his friends.
They were 2 years older and bigger than me, but I held my own.
Sometimes, we’d cruise up to the base pool, or the bowling alley.
Movie tickets were 50 cents.
The civil engineers were always laying new sod in the yards
of the base housing, so there were dozens of these huge 8 ft high
mounds of dirt all over the neighborhood.
They were great for playing “king of the hill”.
But if you grabbed a metal trash can lid for a shield,
they provided plenty of ammo for epic dirt clod wars.
Every day ended with a pickup baseball game in a vacant lot.
No grown ups around, no coaches, no umpires,
just a bunch of runny noses and dirty faces figuring it out.
It’s was like “Lord of the Flies”,
but you got to go home every night to a hot meal and a comfortable bed.
To survive, you had to have wheels…transportation.
You had to have a bike.
There was a combination trash dump/junkyard on southern the edge of the base.
This was our flea market.
You could sift through and find all kinds of hidden treasure, but more importantly,
you could find spare parts to repair or upgrade your bike.
One day we all went to the base theater and saw the movie
“Easy Rider” starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Jack Nicholson.
It featured a couple of hippie guys roaming the country on their motorcycle choppers.
To an eight year old, Peter Fonda’s motorcycle front wheel looked like
it was 12 feet in front of the bike.
It was awesome!
After the movie I raced home for a quick PB & J sandwich.
But my brother took off with his gang and headed for the junkyard.
I spent the rest of the day roaming around looking for the guys,
but I couldn’t find them.
As the day drew to an end, I looked on the horizon and couldn’t believe my eyes.
A pack of 10 year olds rounded the corner with my brother in the lead.
They had been at the junkyard all day mining for extra bicycle forks.
They had each bolted 3-4 extra sets of forks to the front wheels of their bicycles
and had converted them all to bad a** looking choppers!
I was in awe!
I skidded up to the group, hopped off my plain vanilla Schwinn
and begged my brother to show me how to make my bike into a chopper!
His response was simply,
I persisted and pleaded “Pleeeeaaasse Rick,
take me up there and show me how to make a chopper!”
This time he dismounted his newly upgraded hog, walked over
and punched me right in the gut…
I fell to the ground in a heap as the rest of the gang laughed and jeered.
As they rode away on their bikes,
I heard Rick’s buddy, Reggie Johnson singing this ad-libbed song:
“Eeeverybody got a CHOPPER!….Raaandy ain’t got no CHOPPER!”
I told my kids this story at a restaurant a few years ago, and coincidentally,
when the entrees were served, everyone’s dinner came out except mine.
As they dug in and started grubbing, I sat there with nothing in front of me.
They looked at each other and grinned.
Then one of them started chanting,
“Eeeverybody got their DINNER!….”
I nearly fell out of my chair. My guys can be ruthless!
The chopper story does have a happy ending.
The next day the chopper gang decided to have a race around the block.
I pulled up to the starting line, chopperless, and they started
chanting their haunting lyric again.
As the race commenced, it quickly became obvious
that while incredibly cool looking,
those improvised choppers weren’t very efficient.
Their front tires wobbled uncontrollably and they couldn’t turn at all.
A few front tires came flying off, causing a huge pile up
and a bunch of skinned knees and elbows.
I flew right by and left them in the dust!
Boom! How’s that taste chopper boys?!!!
Here’s the point of this story.
In baseball and especially in pitching we’re often fooled by the way a players looks,
not how he performs.
MLB scouts and college recruiters sift through the Perfect Game flea markets
looking for awesome looking choppers.
They look for the 6’5″ beast with the body of a Greek God.
Sometimes, those players look like Tarzan, but play like Jane.
Sometimes a pitcher’s mechanics look fantastic, but the radar gun,
the inability to hit targets, and the scoreboard say otherwise.
At The ARMory, we don’t allow ourselves to be fooled by how a pitcher or
his movement pattern looks to the naked eye.
We understand there are lots of unique yet effective styles.
There are no cookie cutter models. Every pitcher finds his own way.
We let the objective feedback –the radar gun, targets hit, and high speed video–
tell us if the pitcher’s style is safe and effective.
Two of the fundamental pillars of our program,
and huge contributors to the success of our athletes.
If you want to train in a guided discovery environment where you’re free
to experiment and find what works best for you,
then get your motor running and cruise over to The ARMory.
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