This is my first big baseball conference. I’ve been to IT shows and worked the All Star Game Fan Fest, but NOTHING prepared me for this. As a baseball guy walking the trade show, you could stop at EVERY booth and find something interesting or useful. You’d also get to talk to some great people.
Brilliance in bat design
A number of years ago, I wanted a flared-knob bat. I’d been using my Phoenix Bat regularly, but when I’d do an hour-long batting cage session, I’d develop a line of blisters at the knob. So I asked them to design me a bat with a flared knob. Some major leaguers were using them already and Axe had just come out with it’s first bats (only flared on one side). When I stopped by the booth today, Brad Taylor recognized my name. He was the one who designed my bat back in December of 2015!
Now, Phoenix has a dozen flared-knob bats on the display table. If you’re at the ABCA, go check THOSE bats out if you do nothing else. Tell Brad he’s a genius because… he is.
Chicago is mighty cold. I asked a bicycle cop if it was better to ride slow to avoid the wind or fast to create body heat. He told me “slow and steady wins the race” because riding hard makes you sweat and that sweat makes you COLD! I took the train in and met up with a few other conference attendees at the Clark/Lake stop. We conferred on which train was the right one and we nailed it. Unfortunately, the walk from the Cermak/McCormick Place station to the convention center was long and COLD. Three guys from Virginia, Texas and Florida might have been a little overmatched, but we survived.
Ground-breaking new tool made in the USA!
I’d let my Little Leaguers use my sleeved weight on their bats when I accidentally had it in the team bag, but it was just too heavy for them to do anything but be funny. I’ve been learning more about overload and underload bats, so wanted to start incorporating them into our practices. That gets a little too pricey for a coach buying gear out of his own pocket.
Rick Weaver (@Rweaver23) was talking to Justin Kuhn, father of one of the players he coaches, about an idea he had for bat weights. Justin had a friend with a machine shop, so the came up with the Krato Bat Weight. By being just above the hands, you get the benefits of the modern overload bats but can use it on any bat, use it in live hitting, against machines or off the tee without worrying about breakage or other nonsense.
They come in a variety of sizes and I went ahead and bought the beginner pack (10-ounce, 15-ounce and 20-ounce) with the heaviest one intended for MY personal use.
They’ve been in business for… 30 DAYS. Check their website and stop in to see them. Booth #671.
Getting 56 on your radar gun?
There’s a fantastic new version of SmartCoach out from Pocker Radar for the iPhone. While that won’t be available on Android for a few months, I did spend some time with one of the hardware engineers, Michael. He did a great job of demonstrating the new software and I’m pretty excited about that new version. Apparently, three new Android guys have joined the team and releases will be much more in sync in the future.
So, the biggest tip I got today was on the phantom 56 and 118 mph readings that randomly appear on my Pocket Radar. Those are from cell phone towers! Or some other electronic interference. Nothing wrong with the equipment, just a known anomaly. The new version makes it easier to set the velocity range for your Pocket Radar. Fortunately, none of my Little Leaguers can throw 56. In my men’s league, I think I’ll take advantage of the fact that I have two radars and put one at 36-55 and the other at 57-75.
Great first day
Despite that fact that I’m an introvert (an OUTGOING introvert), I met a lot of people today and really got into some great conversations. Because I learned a number of years ago that I’m an outgoing introvert instead of just “weird”, I know that I need to find a quiet spot and time to recharge. I’m doing that in my room right now as I write this. I’m recharging the energy used spent talking to people (the introvert part) so that I can get back out and be the dynamic guy I love being. So much to learn, so many people to talk to.
If you’re here, maximize your time. Get the most out of it. If that means spending an hour away recharging, do that. If it means diving into every open session, do that. Whatever you do, go talk to folks on the showcase floor. Even if you don’t think it’s something you’d be able to use, talk to them and find out! You might learn something and make a friend in the process.