DECEMBER Presidents Report

President’s Report to the December Delegates’ Meeting

Round 11 completed and we are experiencing one of the driest summers in recent memory – just ask any weather watcher. We thank the blokes who arrive with the sun at their home fields and spend hours working on the diamonds before the players even arrive. Their contribution is immeasurable and they are often underappreciated for their dedication and effort.

Behaviour within the CSJBA:

From what I hear while travelling to tournaments and meetings outside the CSJBA (I had 3 meetings and 2 tournaments in November) the way our members conduct themselves is extremely good. Eleven rounds, 55 games each round (112 teams but 2 get a bye each week) and we’ve had one ejection for repeated dissent and two written complaints about opposition behaviour. Not bad as we can’t always be angels. Goodness me – even I have lapsed on occasion and I’m old enough to know better. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed myself by boasting but it would appear 99% of our officials and players are aware of appropriate behaviour and conduct themselves in a commendable manner.

Over recent weeks I’ve had the pleasure to observe close at hand the results of our summer high performance programs. A particularly outstanding success has been the 24 players involved in the Worboy’s Cup program. These are league age 10 and 11 players (bottom aged 12’s in the old vernacular) who have been trained as a squad separately from the league age 12’s who will probably dominate, understandably, the 2018 LL All Star team. These youngsters have never been separated from the top aged players in the past so it is something new. The progress they have made is astounding! Because they have been obliged to fill all the roles on the diamond as opposed to the minor roles that were their lot when they were mixed with the top age players in past seasons they have developed much better game knowledge and skills than they would have in the past. As a consequence our LL Majors club competition has benefitted – the youngsters that traditionally make up the tail of club teams are more than just making up the numbers but instead, in many cases, are making a solid contribution. The separation was forced upon us by the unusual age combination competitions that BNSW instituted but the results for our youngsters have been very rewarding. I’m yet to be convinced that the development of our top age 12’s hasn’t been dampened by their combination with the older league age 13’s in the Balfour Cup but at least that handicap is shared by all Associations equally. These age eligible LL Minors mostly playing in Majors capped their rise to recognition by defeating the powerhouse Hills squad in the Worboys Cup final last Sunday at Kelso Field, Milperra. Sadly our Blue team had to play our Black team in the elimination semi-final so only one Cronulla team could advance. However whenever anyone manages a win against Hills it is a result to celebrate – they are undoubtedly the yardstick of excellence in the junior baseball sphere. In 2017 Hills won the LL Nationals, the JL Nationals and were runners up in SL. Our win was even more meritorious when one acknowledges we entered two teams of even ability while Hills poured all their talent and resources into a single team. A tremendous achievement by the coaching staff. But wait – there’s more! Our 2 x Balfour teams played semi-finals last weekend and both won. Cronulla Black will play Cronulla Blue in the Grand Final on the 17th December (out Penrith way unfortunately for those wishing to watch). Our Shipley teams don’t have a final as they are in a first past the post format competition but they have represented with distinction also and will be well placed.

Consequently I’ll take this opportunity to both thank and commend the summer development program coaches for their dedication, their application, their achievements and acknowledge their talent and ability. This is not to downgrade the work provided by the winter development programs that were run during the off season. Obviously the quality of the first has helped the performance of the latter. To name a few fellows deserving of praise Darren Cummings supervised the 16’s with the assistance of Jamie Roberts, Stephen Gallagher and Doug Regan. Mark Burns acted as EO. Matt Grant headed the IL Balfour teams with Kevin Glasheen (throws soooo much BP), Jacques Pacifique, Katsu Yamanaka and Chris Errington EO. Darren Fullerton looked after the LL Minor group assisted by Ben Targett (I beat Hills and I’m still celebrating 48 hours later), his mate and rep coaching newbie Peter Clout (who are Hills?), Jason Choat (I would’ve beaten Hills but Ben Targett got in my way), Jamie Roche (the Peacemaker who reminded them we’re all one association) and EO Melanie Gruppelaar.

The CSJBA is in the process of looking at some of the lower/younger divisions during the second half of the season and assessing how we can develop the playing and coaching talent therein. Last weekend Bonnet Bay club allowed me to umpire their 9’s tee ball game against the Yarrawarrah Tigers and I was able to observe first hand areas of potential need. It was a fun game. Bonnet Bay had been scoring the maximum 6 per innings for the first 4 digs and having retired Tigers twice for less than 6 they were feeling very comfortable. It became a very exciting match though when Tigers retired the Beavers for zero in the bottom of the 5th. That wasn’t in the script and suddenly the spectators became even more animated than earlier. Yarrawarrah scored runs in the top of the 6th to hit the front and Bonnet Bay needed 2 in the bottom to draw level. They got them but not without some chewed finger nails. Then with the scores level and runners on the hitter crushed the ball to deep centre and 2 scored on the play to give the Beavers victory. As is so often the case in tee ball it was very exciting and excellent entertainment for parents for a relatively minor cost. When the season’s fees are spread over 17 rounds plus training it is much cheaper than my grandchildren’s swimming, gymnastics and dance lessons. We should always remember too to be supportive of and grateful to the volunteer coaches of these young children. It is a complicated sport requiring multiple skills and can be very frustrating to the often beginning coaches, especially when things don’t go as planned. There are high points though and the grin on the Yarrawarrah coach when his team got 3 outs in succession in the 5th innings was priceless.

What did I see that could improve the standard of the beginners in this match you may ask? I’ve said before that there is an old maxim in baseball, “Catch the catches and win the matches”. Both teams could benefit from practice at catching high balls. There were still children using the basket style of catching the ball even though the ball was above their heads. Basket catches normally only work if the ball is below the waist. Oh, and hurry on and off the diamond. We played 6 innings and scored 54 runs in 90 minutes. The scorers told me it was the first time they had played 6 innings all season.

Enjoy your Christmas break and January off – well some of us get January off. State Players like Jake Burns, Ben Andrews, Blake Cavill, Bailey Curtis, Mitchell McDonough, Josh Pearl, Willie Fullerton and Kyle Yeo will be participating in the National U16 Championships. Our LL, JL and some SL All Star players will resume training mid-January. Good luck to all our representatives. Have a merry Christmas, happy New Year and hopefully everyone will stay safe!

Peter B