Baseball Magazine

The Showcase Dance

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

My name is Coach McCreary and I enjoy watching Dancing With the Stars.  There.  I said it.  Criticize me if you must.  It probably stems from ballroom dance lessons my wife and I took about 10 years ago prior to our wedding.  I reluctantly agreed but actually had a lot of fun doing it.  I would highly recommend it for couples.  It certainly livened

Knowing the dance and knowing how to dance are not the same thing

Knowing the dance and knowing how to dance are not the same thing

up our first dance.  Most people expect the basic, slow (and very boring) first dance.  We brought down the house with a Social Fox Trot!  People raved about how “good” I was at ballroom dancing.  I thanked them but inside my head I knew the truth.  I was no good at ballroom dancing.  What I became good at was one specific dance routine I learned for that one specific song.  Take me away from that one dance or that one song and my true talent (or lack of) would be exposed.  It comes down to understanding the different between knowing a dance and knowing how to dance.  Two very different things.  More and more, we are seeing the exact same thing in baseball.  I’m speaking of what is called the Showcase Dance

At showcase events, often players are tested on their running speed (60 yard dash), their arm strength (maybe five throws from deep shortstop, third base, and/or the outfield), and their hitting ability (possibly 10 BP swings).  If they are lucky, they play a game where they may or may not get a ball hit to them or one good pitch to hit.  Therefore, their “rating” is heavily centered on the dash, a few throws, and a few swings.  Because of this, players focus on showing well in these areas.  They search for and learn techniques that cut their 60 yard dash times.  They practice throws beforehand from the same locations.  They master hitting the ball squarely on batting practice fastballs.  Basically, they learn the “dance.” I knew all along that the praise or “rating” I got for my ballroom dancing ability was bogus.  Unfortunately, too many players and their parents think that their ability to show pretty well at a showcase is indicative of their ability to play baseball.  They learned the dance but mistakenly think they are good dancers.  Sometimes the two are linked and sometimes they are not. 

Over the years, I have seen numerous summaries and ratings players have received after attending showcase events.  I have also been contacted by college coaches asking about players they saw at showcases.  I’ll admit that too many times my inner voice says “Are you sure you have the right player?”  As a coach, this puts you in a delicate situation.  You don’t want to bury the kid because there are always instances where coaches can disagree about players but you also want to be honest with the college recruiter because if you praise a kid and the kid is a bust (especially if he receives money), that coach will never believe you again.  Even worse, sometimes the player or parent will bring out these summaries/ratings and use them as evidence as to why they should be getting more playing time.  The point is, too many players and parents think that good showcase ratings mean the player can play baseball when often it just means the player knew the “dance.”

Showcases can be very valuable exposure for some players.  But don’t be fooled.  A good rating at a showcase does not automatically mean the player is a good baseball player.  He may have just mastered the routine.

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