Some after-thoughts on USA v. Japan

Unfortunately, I ac.cidentally found out without seeing the game. Then again, it doesn’t look like NBC is going to show it again the way they did all the other games, so I’m probably out of luck . Guess I can watch it online. But it’s not the same as watching it in HD.

Anyway, if you’re reading this you know that Team Japan upset Team USA in the gold medal game. I don’t plan to analyze the game — there are plenty of people already doing that. Instead, I want to analyze the analysis because I’m somewhat amused by the whole thing.

Many of us who coach talk about how tough it is to have parents (or administrators in the case of school coaches) second guessing every decision. Whether it’s player selection or game strategies or something else, most coaches do the best they can with the information available at the time. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes parents and others understand. Sometimes they get angry or show other negative reactions.

You sort of expect it at the youth level. Every parent thinks their kid is the best. So I’m amused as I look around at some of the online forums discussing what happened to Team USA.

For one thing, there is suddenly a lot of negative commentary about Head Coach Mike Candrea. Up until this game most of what I saw about him bordered on reverence. Now, though, there is a whole undercurrent that says he should never have been brought back, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he did a poor job of player selection, his strategies were poor, etc.

Excuse me? Didn’t this team blow through all their opponents in the prelims, and find a way to win against Japan and Ueno the first time? If he was as bad at his job as these naysayers are implying they would’ve lost more games instead of run ruling everybody.

A big part of that is player selection. There was talk in the messages I read that seemed to think they had the wrong players on the team. I don’t get that either. You had an entire team of hitters who could hit for average and power. Their first two hitters have blazing speed, and most of the rest aren’t too shabby in that area either. The pitching staff is the best in the world — so good that it had to be a tough decision which one to start in this game. Who among us wouldn’t love to have pitching choices the caliber of Osterman, Finch and Abbott?

I can’t comment on the game strategy since I didn’t see the game. I saw something about having Mendoza bunt instead of swing away. My guess is in that situation, assuming it didn’t work out, there were going to be a lot of unhappy people no matter what he did.

All of this sounds so familiar, though. Coaches all over the world go through the same thing. Only the difference is most of us only have about 12-15 sets of parents to worry about. Coach Candrea has a couple of million of them sniping at him.

One last thing. I actually saw a person say they didn’t win because they weren’t hungry enough. You have got to be kidding. This group of women barnstormed all over the country, riding  bus to play game after game, practicing, playing, working out, and busting their butts. Why would they do it if they weren’t hungry for the win?

The truth is, on this particular day, Team Japan outplayed Team USA. They worked hard, took advantage of their opportunities and made it happen. Just like the USA hockey team did in 1980 when they beat the Soviet hockey machine. These things happen, people. On another day maybe Team USA wins. But not this day.

So I guess that’s one more thing I (and a lot of others) get to share with Coach Candrea. Just remember it’s a whole lot easier to make the decisions when you know the outcome of the one that’s made. I’m sure Team USA was only a couple of bounces or a few inches away from a win. You know what happens. Get over it.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on August 22, 2008, in Coaching, General Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Not sure that there is anything to criticize about Team USA. Every coach and player has represented our country and our sport in an exceptional manner. Team USA is nothing but an excellent example to follow.

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  2. Exactly. Even great teams lose sooner or later. That’s why they play the game. Look at the Super Bowl in January. Everyone thought the Patriots were going to win that game with their power offense. Well, not everyone but the majority. We saw what happened. Team USA conducted itself with class and diginity. Can’t ask for more than that. Hard to imagine that if softball is reinstated, the next team will likely have all new players.

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