Broken Bats, TinCaps Talk Louisville Slugger Experience, Failing on the Job

If there’s one image to sum up the first two games of the TinCaps’ series in Bowling Green, this would be it: a broken bat.

After the TinCaps had the unique experience of touring the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on Saturday, they proceeded to score one run combined Saturday night (7-0 loss) and Sunday afternoon (2-1 loss). Apropos to Fort Wayne’s struggles at the plate, Mallex Smith broke his brand new Louisville Slugger bat when weakly grounding out to second base for the final out in Saturday night’s loss. In what would prove to be tragically ironic, on the bus before the game, Mallex joked that it better not break in his first game with it. Eventually it might, but he couldn’t have thought it would actually happen that night. But that’s the series in a nutshell so far for Fort Wayne, which has gone 0-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 runners on base.


During the TinCaps’ aforementioned visit of Louisville Slugger on Saturday, a videographer followed the team to shoot footage that will air during a Padres TV broadcast on FOX Sports San Diego. At the end of the tour, I asked Mallex Smith, Hunter Renfroe, Walker Weickel, and José Valentín what they thought about the experience.

A couple of good lines in there from Mallex, who likened a baseball player at the Louisville Slugger factory to a kid in a candy factory, and Walker, who joked that it’s tough to say if it’s more fun touring Louisville Slugger or as a pitcher getting to break those bats. Also, found it interesting how hitters like Mallex, Hunter, and even José are so precise in talking about the characteristics they seek in their bats. Perhaps a fan may think a ballplayer goes to the factory and just says, “I want the black one.” Na’ah. It’s much more of a science than that.


Here’s an interview that begins with the question, “How do you motivate your team?” But no, it has nothing to do with the TinCaps, or sports at all for that matter. It’s a Q & A from Harvard Business Review Magazine with Lorne Michaels, creator and producer of Saturday Night Live.  Michaels sheds light on what he looks for in talent and the relationships he has with those he hires. He also talks creativity and performing.

“I think Malcolm Gladwell’s point about the 10,000 hours of practice is valid. For almost everybody, SNL is their first job. They pretty much live in the office, because it’s usually nicer than their apartments. It’s in no way natural to be performing at 11:30 on a Saturday night in a skyscraper in Rockefeller Center, so to get comfortable, to get loose, to feel that it makes perfect sense, takes just doing it. Sometimes you blow a line, or that thing you’re completely confident about falls apart. There’s no blaming the marketing campaign. You just weren’t good. They didn’t laugh. It was a big moment and you weren’t there for it. And it’s really hard to deal with, but you go through it, and you learn, and you do it again next week. That’s the resilience of the show and these people. You love it and you endure it and you slowly but surely get better.”

Last night I also re-stumbled upon (but not by using a short video narrated by Ira Glass, story-teller extraordinaire from This American Life on public radio.

Similar to Michaels, Glass makes the point that those in creative fields take some time to reach their potential. And until they do, there’s a feeling of frustration for not being better. Glass says this is normal. For him, the key is to continue putting in the work and fighting through the failure until eventually, you have a breakthrough. On a personal level, I can relate to this as I attempt to develop as a play-by-play broadcaster.

And even though Michaels and Glass come from creative fields, while baseball in its essence is more physical than it is creative (not that it doesn’t have a mental component, too), their words are good to keep in mind when we see players struggle at the minor league level. The current crop of TinCaps may not have their breakthrough moment come in Fort Wayne, or it may unfortunately never come at all, but right now, it’s just too soon to pass judgment. (That goes for broadcasters, too.)


It’s the 38th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run album. It’s Boss Time…

Thanks as always for reading. Feel free to be in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan or by email:

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