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Picking Your Career in the 5th Grade

December 2, 2019
At what age do you pick your career? 5th grade right!?    Not a chance. That would be absolutely CRAZY.    Then why are we picking one position (or one sport, but we’ll save that for another day) that early in our baseball career?   It’s fair to say that if a player only plays second base then he’s going to be better at second base than someone who only plays there sometimes (generally speaking). Same with a team…if they only play players at certain positions, they will “win” more than teams that challenge their players to play a few different positions. But at what cost?   Playing a young player at only one position is pigeonholing them and hamstringing their career/long term development. No one knows what position an 11yr old is going to project to 5-10yrs down the road. So they end up losing the opportunity to learn different positions, develop different skill sets, and are only able to look at the game in a very narrow lens.   And before you think that players positions are set once high school, college, or even pro ball…think again.   Bryce Harper was a catcher until college. Manny Machado was a short stop. Sean Doolittle was a first basemen. And my brother has made a career at the MLB level by being able to play all over the field.   Those are just a few examples, but think…if players are being asked to play different positions or switch positions at the highest levels of baseball, don’t you think that is a skill you should be learning now?   Take pride in being versatile. Realize that you don’t know what position you will project to down the road. Learn the game. And put short term “success” on the back burner in place of long term development.   Just like you wouldn’t pick your career in 5th grade, you shouldn’t pick your position. Be obsessed.   Ken Spangenberg Director of Baseball Maplezone Sports Institute

Use Your Toolbox

December 2, 2019
It is human nature to label things as good or bad, right or wrong, black or white…however, when it comes to our baseball careers there are very few absolutes.   On a daily basis, I am asked about hot button topics, such as, showcases, weighted balls, and travel teams, just to name a few. The conversation typically starts like this…   -Weighted balls cause injury right? -Showcases are just a money grab right? -I need to play on a national travel team right?   And the person is expecting a yes or no answer…but the answer is typically, “ehh it depends”.   Showcases can get you a college scholarship OR could be a waste of a couple hundred bucks.   Weighted balls can transform your career OR could cause serious injury.   Travel teams can help you develop, play better competition, and be a platform to get you recruited by colleges OR could be a waste of your precious time.   So how do you know when to use these things? Think of it like this…a hammer can help you build a house or it could break your thumb. It’s all in how and WHEN you use it the hammer.   That’s how you need to look at any of these items (and countless others). They are simply tools in your toolbox that. When they are used correctly, they can help advance your career.   So be tactical with how, when, and the frequency in which you use them. Just like you can’t solely use that hammer we discussed to build a house, you can’t only go to showcases and expect to get college offers (you need to develop and train too!).   There’s an optimal tool for each job. Use your toolbox properly. Be obsessed.    Ken Spangenberg Director of Baseball Maplezone Sports Institute

Economics and Travel Baseball

November 18, 2019
So we’re going to talk some economics today. A buyers market is simply defined as a situation where supply exceeds demand, giving purchasers an advantage over sellers in price negotiations.   So how does this apply to travel ball? Pretty simple…it is a buyers market, meaning that the player really possess all the leverage, when it comes to picking travel teams, which certainly has its pros, but also definitely comes with its cons too.   Let’s talk about the cons…players have the freedom to move around if they are told something that they don’t like, such as… You’re not the best shortstop anymore. You need to start a serious lifting program. You’re a “second” team player. You’re going to be a pitcher only in college. You need to have better body language on the field. And the list can go on and on. So instead of looking in the mirror, taking the feedback, and working on it…players can (and do), just leave and look around until they find someone willing to overlook the deficiency that was pointed out.   What is the problem with this? Well, it’s two fold…#1-Players don’t work on the areas of improvement that caused them to leave the last team (so the deficiency remains). #2-As they get older, it will no longer be a buyers market (high school and/or college) and players won’t be able to bounce around like they do in travel ball currently so they never learn to truly compete.   I hear, very, very often, from college and high school coaches that players don’t compete like they used to. And I think a large reason that is the case is because of the culture that travel ball has created. Don’t like something? Just leave. Find a team who will tell you what you want to hear…and not what you need to hear.   With only 7% of high school players moving on to play in college, the market changes to a sellers market. All of a sudden, all those options players are used to having vanish. And all that matters is how talented a player is and what type of competitor they are (grades matter too guys!). Be prepared for the market to shift. It will. Be obsessed.   PS-I am 100% not saying you need to stay in a bad situation. I am saying that there is a difference between a bad situation and the tough truth. It’s up to you to evaluate which situation you are actually in and make the best decision for you.   Ken Spangenberg Director of Baseball Maplezone Sports Institute

The Real Sacrifice

November 11, 2019
You often hear players, coaches, and parents talk about “sacrifice” from a baseball standpoint…5am workouts, lifting after a long day of school and practice, driving to the middle of no where on a weekend to compete, putting away those video games to train, etc.   While, sure, that 5am workout isn’t easy, we aren’t leaving our families for years at a time and sacrificing our lives like our veterans have done for us.    Happy Veterans Day!   Just think about that though…our veterans left THEIR families, put THEIR lives on the line, so that a bunch of people that they will never really know or meet can live a happy, safe life…without ever actually knowing what sacrifices were made on their behalf. Now that deserves our deepest of appreciations. Now that’s true sacrifice.   And all of that for little to no recognition. Let’s make it a point today to thank all of those that sacrificed literally everything so a bunch of us strangers could live our lives safely.   Make sure our Veterans feel the love today! To say that it’s well deserved may be the biggest understatement ever. THANK YOU! Be obsessed.   PS-Veterans hit for FREE today! Come in and hit some bombs on us!   Ken Spangenberg Director of Baseball Maplezone Sports Institute


We are grateful for the experience that Ethan is getting and appreciate all you and the other coaches do for the kids. You guys are very good with the kids run a great program.

Crissi, MSI Parent

Brooke is throwing her change-ups and they are working big time! The girls were way ahead of the pitch. Brooke could not stop smiling!
Nice work coach!

Scott, MSI Lesson Client

I wanted to thank you again for putting on a great winter lacrosse league. This was our first year in your league, and it was the best winter league we have played. We will definitely be participating next year.

Jeff, MSI Lacrosse League Client

The instruction and guidance offered to Michael by Corey during a batting session is truly appreciated. Just to see Michael’s expression when he gets that “ha-ha” moment after Corey improves his swing or stance is priceless. Everyone at MSI is truly wonderful. Please convey my Thank you!

Teresa Eze, MSI Parent

Chris, Just wanted to say you did a hell of a job getting everybody 3 pool play games. I’m sure it was a scheduling nightmare. That’s why you’re the best!!

Tom Hunter, MSI Tournament Client

Andrew did a great job with Daniel, he really liked his lesson. We will be putting him on schedule for lesson every week till the start of the season in March.

Paul Jacobs, MSI Parent

Thank you very much for allowing me and my teammates to use your facility, it’s the perfect place to get everything we need done to get ready for the upcoming season!

Edwin Lee, Goldey-Beacom College 1B/OF

Our MSI experience has been amazing. My daughter is about to start her 3rd year of softball. Michelle has been incredible with her. She is very new to catching and her first 2 lessons have helped her gain some confidence. She is so excited for her next lesson! We will definitely continue with lessons and clinics.

Julie Bossler, MSI Lesson Client

I cannot say more about how wonderful Cory is with my son!! He has made such a positive impact on my son’s hitting and is always kind and respectful of him. I constantly recommend him to my many baseball mom friends!!!

Julie McHugh, MSI Lesson Client

My son Cole raved about his experience with Carlos. This is his first year in little league and he has been very intimidated with batting. We are hoping the lessons will give him more skill and confidence so he can enjoy his experience to the fullest. So far, things seem great.

Lori Captain, MSI Lesson Client

Nick did a great job instructing my son Patrick. He took the time to teach him the proper mechanics and build his confidence at the same time… I was very impressed with Nicks ability to get through to my son and get him to respond much better than I could.

Rick Godfrey, MSI Lesson Client

Pat Shevlin was great. We’ll be back. Thanks!

Ian McDonald, MSI Lesson Client

Great lesson with Cory last night. My son responded to the couple flaws Cory picked up quickly. He hasn’t listened to me in 15yrs but listened to Cory in 30 min.
Thank you.

Stan Ciesielka, MSI Lesson Client

Chris, I wanted to compliment you, your staff and your location. This was my first visit to your facility and I was very impressed. I have played in dozens of venues on the east coast and our experience this weekend was one of my most enjoyable. The umpires, staff and facility were A+, and we as an organization can’t wait to come back in July! The competition was strong in the playoffs and we look forward to playing many tournaments in the future. I will be spreading the word here in CT about your facility for 12U and up! Thanks again,

Bill Granata, MSI Baseball Tournament Client