COVID-19 and Frustration

This sucks.

For any number of reasons.

Work with the Reds was going better than I could have possibly imagined, Driveline Baseball had its most productive pro off-season ever (which is saying a lot), and now this. It all comes to an abrupt halt. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the country doesn’t take it seriously at all.

The Washington State governor shut down all “places of recreation,” which includes Driveline Baseball’s facility in Seattle. It’s the right move. But it comes with no guarantee of financial or economic relief, which is a bit scary, since we’re in the middle of moving our gym to a 40,000+ square foot location that we’re building out, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the best place in the world to train for baseball…. and no one will be using it for the foreseeable future.

We thought about doing pop-up small group training in Florida and Arizona, but with players headed home from their complexes… it doesn’t make financial sense.

We have 60+ people on the payroll, a major line of our business has been forcibly taken away from us (in-person training), our most popular items continue to be out of stock due to COVID-19 shipment-related delays, we continue to hear very little about economic relief for small business owners… it’s not what you want.

College coaches around the nation go from working 14 hour days to suddenly not knowing what to do with their spare time. Not knowing where their next paycheck is going to come from, or if they’ll still be able to supplement their income with that summer ball job they have lined up. I feel that – going from working 80+ hour workweeks because of the amazing opportunity I had with the Reds to… not quite really knowing what I should be doing.

But as I’ve said before, greatness is born out of times of crisis, not times of excess.

As coaches, we have time to continue our education and to get better. To be with our families. To focus inward.

As players, you have time to continue to develop. Many of your peers – pro and amateur alike – will take this time off to go fishing, to hang out, to look at the bad side of this. When the season starts up again, those who have committed to working hard through this time of strife will have an enormous edge. You can rally your teammates and friends through group texts and videoconferencing to keep them on task, to return with a vengeance while the others squander this opportunity.

As businessowners, we have time to improve our internal processes and to rise to the tough challenges we face, rather than put them aside because things were going “well enough.” It is a time for decisive action. It is foolish to assume help is coming from a third party; small business owners around the world know just how unlikely it is that help will arrive.

As coaches, players, businessowners – we get paid and become great by making the tough choices. Not the easy ones. Playing/coaching the game was always something we’d do for free. The salary is for the other stuff. And now, well, we got a lot of the “other stuff” to deal with.

So let’s go to work.

The Next Phase

I’m on a plane from Seattle to Austin, with a large checked bag of luggage containing clothes and my technical work gear I’ll need for the next two months. In Austin, I’ll be giving a guest lecture / discussion at the University of Texas at the McCombs School of Business on Sports Analytics and the history of Driveline Baseball.

From there, I’ll go to Las Vegas for 3 days of rest, relaxation, and introspection. (Plus a lot of mixed game poker, I suspect.)

Last, it’s on to Phoenix from Sin City, where I’ll take up residence with two other Driveline Baseball coaches who are coordinators for MLB teams – the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This will be my first year as the Director of Pitching Initiatives for the Cincinnati Reds, and my first extended period away from Driveline Baseball. It’s a strange feeling. I’ve been doing this full-time for seven years now, with my partner/CEO for five-and-a-half, and I’ve poured a lot of sweat, blood, and tears into this thing. I’m proud of what I’ve started; prouder still of the team I’ve helped to put together that have taken the business to heights I’d never thought possible.

My partner challenges me regularly on the growth of the business, as do the people who work for me. I always wanted it to be a lifestyle business, something I could do instead of write endless lines of code for projects I didn’t care about – tax compliance, for example – but they persuaded me to think bigger. To compete.

To win.

And so stepping back from the business that employs over 60 people to pursue a new professional opportunity – though I’ll do both, of course – feels odd. I know that this opportunity with the Cincinnati Reds is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make an impact at the MLB level, to prove something to myself, and to make a difference in a lot of peoples’ lives – the players I work with, the coaches I lead, the employees at Driveline Baseball who can potentially follow my path down the line, and my family back home.

It’s been said by more than one male baseball coach that their wife is the true star of the show, and it’s certainly true in my life as well. A key thing I learned early on while running Driveline Baseball is that you can only pursue new opportunities if your team is willing to absorb the responsibilities you have to give up to go voyaging. Family life is no different. Raising two kids – regardless of how much outside help we have from babysitters and schools – while working a full-time job is one hell of a task; harder still when a partner is gone for extended periods of time. Without her support, it’d be impossible. Without the kids’ support, it’d be unbearable.

It’s interesting, the path ahead. I feel some sort of way about it. I’ve challenged myself at Driveline Baseball, moving into various departments to get a better sense of the organization we’ve built – most recently ending my time in the Sales / Customer Relations department after a few incredibly fun months – but it is definitely time for me to continue to seek new opportunities. Not only for myself, but for the business. I firmly believe we are in a unique period in the professional baseball landscape, one that simply waiting and sitting on will risk serious loss of opportunity. The time is right now to make a change and to take on a new challenge, and the fact that I’m uncomfortable about it on some level means that I know I’ve chosen correctly.

There is no growth in comfort.

Regardless, I remain full of conviction that the path ahead of me is one worth traversing and one that I will excel on. Something that’s always held true in my life is my ability to outwork most others, to endure suffering longer than most, to get better when the times get tougher – it is what I believe truly defines me as a person. Not my intelligence, nor vision, nor any other positive trait someone would assign to me – it is the ability to simply doggedly put in the hours and keep my head down.

So it’s time to do it again; same as it always was.

This is no time for caution. It is a time for action. For decision.

For victory.

No Time for Caution

Project Beer League Dingers

Using tech at Driveline to become a less crappy adult league hitter. June 7th, 2019, BlastMotion data:

Bat SpeedAttack AngleVert. Bat Angle
min61.8 MPH-6 degrees-13 degrees
avg67.7 MPH+5 degrees-25 degrees
max73.3 MPH+18 degrees-39 degrees

Not terrible, but not great.


  • Bat Speed: Average 70+ MPH (Max 80+ MPH, secondary goal)
  • Attack Angle: Average +10 degrees
  • Vert. Bat Angle: Average -35 degrees

Also hit on the HitTrax, which gave me my Max Exit Velocity* of 94.1 MPH.

Gonna get K-Vest, TPI Screen, and other data next week.

Probably should have done this well into the off-season, but oh well. It’s a constant thing, hopefully.

* at a positive launch angle