Our 11U Perfect Game Series Classic showcase has wrapped up with the conclusion of Day 4 and 5 . We sit in the hotel room after getting shelled by a good team from North East Georgia in the 4/5 game. Had we won, we would have played the one seed Georgia team. A win at that game would have put us in the championship game Saturday morning. Instead, we get the chance to relax a bit more and write some final Perfect Game Series recommendations for those considering attending.
Observation #1: Elite Pitching Finally Arrived!
In fact, not only did we finally see 65+ mph pitching today, but the entire level of play seems to have taken a bump upwards. This was a very encouraging sign and it was fun to see some real juice on the bump.
Observation #2: More Teams with Fewer Players
Of the few things we mentioned we’d like to see change, we add an adjustment to the amount of players on a team. 12 players is simply too many when we are looking for good playing time. In the 11U they had 9 teams. At 12 kids per team, they could have easily made another team (and maybe two) if they limited teams to 10 (the optimal number).
Observation #3: Championship Game on Saturday is Good for Locals Only
If you are in driving distance of the tournament, then the final game on Saturday is something easy enough to deal with. If you don’t make it that far, just pack up the car and get on with it. However, if you flew into town, a flight change from Sunday to Saturday or Friday evening is highly inconvenient if possible at all. If the Tournament wants to attract kids from farther away, they should consider finding a way to fit the Championship Game into the same day as final bracket play.
Recommendation #1: Play Outfield
Most elite players on their local teams play middle infield. A few others might be big enough bodies to excel at 1st or 3rd base. As well, moving from short to third isn’t an incredible change in pace. As such, the vast majority of players on these teams play infield and not very many have experience in the outfield.
If you’d like a better shot at excelling at the Perfect Game Series Classic, we’d recommend playing outfield. You’ll have more opportunity to play by not sharing reps with the other 8 shortstops on the team. Only one player on our team played the outfield regularly during their season and they never sat the bench.
That is, of course, if you don’t play catcher. Catchers are needed at this level just as much (and maybe a bit more) than outfielders.
Recommendation #2: Reach out to Companies for Gear
As an elite player at a major national tournament we would guess you might have some success getting free gear from name brand companies. Contact these folks on twitter, Instagram or facebook. Tell them you are off to represent a certain team at the Perfect Game and would love some batting gloves or wrist bands. You might even get real lucky with a bat or polo. The reality is, these companies have millions of dollars in marketing budgets, and the idea of giving away a shirt or two so an elite player can represent their brand at a major tournament is a no brainer.
Recommendation #3: Plan on Free Time
Unless the format changes (and there may not be info on that in advance), plan on a lot of free time. We stayed at a hotel and wish we would have chosen a beach house for no other reason than the paintings in this one room are getting a bit dull. It would make some sense, especially in the evenings, to plan for some trips to the beach or maybe even Disney World if you want the 5 hour round trip. You could also hit up a Tampa Bay Rays game (about a 2 hour drive north) or a 3 hour easterly drive for a Marlins game.
Recommendation #4: Our Final Verdict
On the whole, we are glad we gave this tourney a try. Our 11U is a legit player in his home state and has competed well against these kids. There were a few players who should probably stay home next time, but maybe someone is thinking that about us too. The league may not have had the best talent we’ve ever seen, but there were a dozen or two kids, on the whole, that were top end players in the country, no doubt. It was fun to compare our skills to theirs directly.
We’d love to see more baseball oriented events (like some practices with the coaches). We’d also like to see a few more coaches on the sidelines to help. The umpires could be better—but that’s true for even the MLB somedays. We’d also like to see the Perfect Game Classic scrub talent for defensive skills—not just monster hitting 1st basemen. We’d also like to see a structure that removes the geographical bias we discussed a few days back.
Will We Back?
Next year we likely won’t come back. The level of baseball does not far surpass what we can find at local competitive tournaments and so is not a big enough draw to outweigh the week long commitment and long distance travel. Especially considering the expense. This doesn’t mean we aren’t happy we came this one time. Playing with kids from all over the country and seeing the Puerto Rican team cheer on their players were memorable experiences. Throw in the number of baseball phrases we learned from parents from all over the country and we are better for being here. We saw a number of a quality ABs and had a chance to play the field with some of the best in the country. The deep Georgia drawl of parents encouraging their boys will not soon be forgotten.
As we say with our bat reviews, this is not one size fits absolutely everyone advice. If you live close enough to drive, then it’s likely a much better experience. Everyone has their own back story and this could be the perfect fit for some. But, we can check this off our bucket list. And next year, find something a little more local.