Friday, May 7, 2010

Interesting perspective on HS baseball from KY high school legendary coach

PRP's Miller says prep baseball players put stats first
Mike Fields notebook: April 30
Mike Fields - Herald-Leader Staff Writer

There is no more authoritative voice on Kentucky high school baseball than Pleasure Ridge Park Coach Bill Miller. He recently earned his 900th career victory, the third most in state history. In 30 years with the Panthers, he's won four state titles and been runner-up four times. He's a guru of the game.

So it was interesting to hear Miller expound on high school baseball when I called him to ask about his 900th win. He shrugged that off by saying he's been around a long time and has had a lot of good players. This year's PRP is 18-3 "but I don't know if that means anything. It may just mean we haven't played very good competition."

Thus began Miller's blunt appraisal of Kentucky high school baseball: "Everybody talks about how much better is these days, but I don't concur. Every year I think it gets weaker." Miller offered the opinion that past powerhouses, such as Madison Central's undefeated 1982 state champs and Harrison County's best clubs in the 1990s "would eat these teams alive today."

He thinks today's kids lack baseball instincts that come from playing a lot, even if it's stickball in the backyard.

"I think what happens is that parents are looking for shortcuts for their kids, so they pour money into private instruction, private hitting lessons." Miller thinks summer travel teams are also a curse. Players (and their parents) are more interested in individual highlights and catching a scout's eye than learning the basics of the game. "What's happening in baseball is what happened with AAU basketball several years ago, and it's pathetic what it did to basketball."

Just as some kids (and their parents) consider AAU hoops more important than the high school game, Miller thinks the same thing is taking hold in baseball. Parents are wary of their kids' high school coaches counteracting what their kids learned in private instruction. "Used to be, parents brought their kids to us and asked us to make them better," Miller said. "Now they say, 'My son's been working with so-and-so. I don't want you messing with him.

"I guess I sound like a doomsayer," Miller added. "I hope I'm wrong. Maybe it's a cycle. Maybe we'll see better teams and players come along. But it doesn't seem to be going that direction."

Link: PRP's Miller says prep baseball players puts stats first

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