Five Things You Should Know About the Return of Baseball

Five Things You Should Know About the Return of Baseball

The very first thing you need to know about America’s Pastime is – it’s back. Professional baseball is set to return on July 23, with no fans, when New York plays Washington in what the league is calling an “Opening Night” ceremony. But, with the obvious obstacles of playing games amid a global pandemic, this season will look much different. Beyond the regulations put in place to keep players healthy and safe, baseball has changed its game fundamentally to adhere to this unusual, shortened season.

60-game schedule: With almost two-thirds of the baseball season cut, each game will matter so much more. The most talented pitchers will be called upon more frequently, and teams will be more aggressive with their strategies as the margin for error minimizes during this condensed schedule. Every team will play 10 games against each of the other four teams within their division. The remaining 20 games will be played against teams in their corresponding interleague division (East vs. East, West vs. West, etc.) in hopes to make travel safer and more manageable.

Universal DH: For the first time in league history, no pitcher will step up to the batter’s box during the 2020 season. Every team will use a Designated Hitter, and it’s believed that this rule could carry over into the 2021 season and beyond. A change that some fans have pushing for years.

Extra inning = Extra runner: In hopes to speed up the game and lessen the time players spend in the ballpark, all extra innings will now start with a runner on second until one team wins. This rule was adopted in the minor leagues two years ago and has been successful in shortening extra inning games.

Bring your own everything: In addition to the banning of traditional high-fives, fist bumps, and other miscellaneous team-oriented celebrations, players will be responsible for taking care of their own personal equipment. That means batters will have to bring their own pine-tar rags and bat donuts to and from the on-deck circle, and pitchers will now have to bring their own rosin bag to the mound and only use their own baseballs when throwing a bullpen session. Baseballs used in batting practice will be washed, sanitized, and stored for at least five days before they can be used again.

Suspended games: Remember the good old days when games could get rained out for the fifth inning and they would be replayed? Those days are long gone, well for this season at least. Any game that’s started and subsequently stopped because of weather will be picked back up right where they left off on a different day, no matter what inning the game was originally called in. The reasoning behind this new rule is to avoid long weather delays and get players out of the ballpark as quickly as possible.

Illustrations by @floppyaction on Instagram 

How to Find the Best Baseball Glove

How to Find the Best Baseball Glove

The right baseball glove can make all the difference but choosing the right glove for you can be a daunting task. To help simplify things, we created a guide that takes you through the steps to find the perfect glove for your position and needs.

First off, you need to know the basic anatomy of a baseball glove. There are five main parts that make up a traditional glove, starting with the webbing. The web of a glove sits between your thumb and pointer finger, creating a deep pocket to help secure the ball on catch. Next is the lacing that connects the finger pockets together. Check the material of the laces and make sure it matches up with the overall material of your glove, so both will break-in and form to your hand during the same timeframe. The hinge of a glove is also very important when breaking in your new glove. The hinge is usually found near the base of you little finger pad and is the flexible part that helps you open and close the glove quickly. Located next to the hinge is the heel of the glove. The heel is the very bottom portion of the glove that provides padding to protect your wrist when fielding nasty grounders. Lastly, you have the palm of the glove, which, you guessed it, protects the palm of you hand when securing a ball that you couldn’t quite snag in the webbing of your pocket.

Another confusing aspect of buying a baseball glove is what materials you want your glove to be made from. Baseball gloves come in a variety of different leathers that all sound similar but provide different benefits. For example, most gloves are made from some sort of leather, but depending on the type and cut, gloves will take more or less time to break-in and reach peak performance. The baseline material for gloves is cowhide. Cowhide is great for younger players who are just starting out, because it offers a quicker break-in, but also wears out faster than higher-quality leather gloves. A step above cowhide leather is steerhide. Steerhide is a bit stronger, stiffer, and heavier than cowhide, offering a tougher break-in, but better performance once broken in. Finally, most professional glove models use premium, full-grain leather. This type of leather will be more expensive and will take the longest to break-in but it provides extreme durability and its trusted at the highest level of the game.

After you select your glove material, you should take a look at the webbing options your glove has to offer. A glove’s web is very beneficial based on your position and style of play. Below we’ve outlined the different types of webs available and the advantages to using each.

Fielders

Cross: The cross web is simple, yet effective. Utilized by infielders and outfielders alike, this web features one vertical leather strip and two horizontal strips, creating a flexible feel. Also known as the Single Post web, it creates maximum visibility when catching the ball.

H-Web: True to it’s name, the strips of leather in this web form the shape of an “H”. The H-Web is used by outfielders and infielders alike because of the sturdier base and unmatched visibility. Some brands also refer to this style as a Dual Post Web.

I-Web: As an iteration of the cross web, the I-webbing features a large leather post in the shape of an “I”. This pattern is used exclusively by infielders and helps snag grounders without catching a bunch of dirt and debris with the ball. Some brands also refer to this webbing style as an H-Web, but is predominately called an I-Web. 

Modified Trap: The modified trap web is usually used by pitchers and infielders because of its deep pocket combined with a small section of leather to add stability for ground balls.

Trapeze: This webbing is great for outfielders who spend a lot of time catching fly balls. The thin leather strap features interlaced lacing on both sides, allowing for a deeper pocket.

Two-piece: The two-piece web is a great option for pitchers because it allows them to conceal the ball from the batter. The solid pocket creates a heavier feel but its extremely durable, preventing wear and tear.

Catchers

Half Moon: The half moon catcher’s web is designed for flexibility. The pattern uses two large leather pieces that are laced together to create a secure pocket and easier close.

One-piece: The traditional one-piece catcher’s web uses lacing around the edges to create a tight pocket that’s shallow enough for a quick transfer and release of the ball.

First Basemen

Modified H-Web: The modified H-Web is made for first basemen because of its extra leather strip on the top of the glove that helps expands catch radius for easier scoops and fielding at first base.

Single Post Double Bar: Much like the infielders’ cross pattern, the single post double bar pattern creates more visibility for catching throws at first base.

Now that you’ve done your research and are ready to find the perfect mitt, check out our selection of top-tier baseball gloves at eastbay.com!

Best Gifts for Baseball Players

Best Gifts for Baseball Players

Load up your shopping cart with gifts that help you load the bases this spring. Browse through our Best Gifts for Baseball Players guide below to find this holiday’s home run present.

Under Armour Harper 4 Low

Under Armour Harper 4 Low

A signature cleat from the league’s signature slugger. The Under Armour Harper 4 Low utilizes a unique 3-3-4 hybrid cleat plate, featuring metal spikes up front for speed, power, and traction and molded back cleats for lightweight comfort. Eastbay also carries Harper 4 colorways that you can’t get anywhere else, so make sure to browse the full collection.

New Balance 4040v5 Metal Low

The New Balance 4040v5 Metal Low is a data-driven cleat for the game’s dynamic players. Equipped with finely tuned Kinetic Stitch, this cleat provides stability in high-stress zones without sacrificing flexibility.

Franklin CFX Pro Batting Gloves

Franklin CFX Pro Batting Gloves

Feel the power in your hands. The Franklin CFX Pro Batting Gloves are a favorite for many professional players thanks to their unmatched grip and flexible material.

Demarini CF Zen BBCOR Baseball Bat

Demarini CF Zen BBCOR Baseball Bat

Swing for the fences with the Demarini CF Zen BBCOR Baseball Bat. Developed to deliver a massive sweet spot and maximum barrel control, this bat features the most consistently high-performing barrel in the game.

New Balance Asymmetrical 2.0 Right 3/4 -Sleeve Baseball Top

Designed specifically for right-handed players, the New Balance Asymmetrical 2.0 Right 3/4-Sleeve Baseball Top features an extended underarm hem to help reduce distractions as you throw.

Easton Mako 2 Piped Baseball Pants

Easton Mako 2 Piped Baseball Pants

Slide into success with Easton’s Mako 2 Piped Baseball Pants. Featuring Scotchgard stain release to reduce stains and wick moisture, these are the perfect baseball pants to get dirty in.

Nike Force Zoom Trout 6 Turf

Nike Force Zoom Trout 6 Turf

Built for the five-tool player, the Nike Force Zoom Trout 6 Turf trainer utilizes an all-new midfoot strap to keep your foot securely in place while providing optimal comfort.

Nike Huarache Elite Batting Gloves

Nike Huarache Elite Batting Gloves

Grip it and rip it. The Nike Huarache Elite Batting Gloves were designed for minimizing distractions while maximizing feel and comfort.

Rawlings Heart of the Hide Fielder’s Glove

Rawlings Heart of the Hide Fielder's Glove

The Rawlings Heart of the Hide Fielder’s Glove is made with premium leather for a quick break-in process and fielding-specific performance. This glove also features 100% wool padding that aids in pocket formation and shape retention.

Nike Baseball Hoodie

Nike Baseball Hoodie

From the dugout to the gym, the Nike Baseball Hoodie combines breathable mesh and a standard fit for a relaxed, comfortable feel.

Shopping for other sports or styles? Check out our full list of gift guides here.

Making the Offseason Count

Making the Offseason Count

What are the factors that go into creating a top-tier high school baseball program from a newly opened school in under five years? Clear Springs High School (just outside Houston) opened in 2007 and the school moved to varsity level with its junior class in 2009. Since their first playoff run in 2011, the Chargers baseball team has only missed the playoffs once.

Head coach Chris Floyd has led the Clear Springs baseball program since the school’s inception. The team started with just freshmen and sophomores, and played sub-varsity competition the first year. With the first clear springs class of four-year seniors in 2011, the team advanced to the regional quarterfinals.

“It’s interesting to start from scratch,” Floyd says. “As coaches, we took successful pieces from other programs we were with and tried to figure out how it would work with a different dynamic of kids.

“The biggest key to our success is having a coaching staff that has been together for 10 years now,” he says. “In no way is this a one-man show. I have former head coaches as assistant coaches, and that’s a huge plus.”

THE ROUND ROCK CHALLENGE

One of the developments was the unique offseason program that eventually became known as the round rock challenge. The team plays through the spring and players move to elite and select, then play July through September.

“When the players come back to school in the fall, we lift and begin rebuilding the body from the first day of school through thanksgiving,” Floyd says. After thanksgiving break, the team begins the Round Rock Challenge.

Events are determined for each day over the subsequent 3-4 weeks and include tire-flipping relays, weight room challenges, sprints and distance races, obstacle courses, and a talent show. The 36 players in the baseball program vote on four captains, and the captains “draft” the players they think will best benefit the team based on the upcoming events. Individual times become part of each team’s overall score, and teams and individuals with the best scores are recognized.

“We try to get them comfortable at being uncomfortable,” Floyd says. “When you get to the playoffs and you’re facing the best of the best, you’re going to run into a lot of uncomfortable situations. We’re teaching them how to compete and how to be a good teammate.”

“The challenge can be easier or harder for each kid, and the competition by design doesn’t focus on baseball skills,” Floyd says. “Captains have to draft kids who are strong in different areas, so they have to be able to envision what each teammate’s skill set is. It gives them a taste of what it’s like to be a coach and how to rely on teammates.”

The challenge also helps identify leaders, Floyd says. “They have to learn how to communicate with each other, how to plan, and how to help coach one another,” he says. “There are a lot of lessons outside of training to be bigger, faster, and stronger.”

WISDOM FOR YOUNG COACHES

“Coaches have to be in it for the kids,” Floyd says. “Helping kids develop into the best people they can be needs to be the focus of any coach. As a coaching staff, we focus on preparing these players for life after high school to be a good father, a good husband, a responsible citizen. I believe winning will take care of itself if this is our focus. Winning a state championship is always a goal, but what good is that goal if you aren’t developing young men? If you’re just pursuing a championship to pad your resume, the kids will see right through that. They want to know you care first.”

One change over the past 10 years is that almost every athlete has a personal coach outside of school. “We’ve tried to find people who have similar coaching philosophies as we do, and point parents and kids in the right direction if they ask for a recommendation,” Floyd says. “For us, it’s a way to connect them with someone who preaches what we preach. And we do remind them personal coaches are not free.”

Every offseason, Floyd sets up a time to take his staff to visit with a college coaching staff. They’ve visited the University of Houston Texas, Texas A&M, Sam Houston State, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). “We pick their brains, ask them about their experiences and apply what we learn to our program,” Floyd says. “We don’t need to see them taking batting practice or fielding grounders. We’re interested in how they coach and communicate with their kids. One year, coach Tony Robichaux at ULL, who passed away in July, spent three hours talking with us on character development. That has had a huge impact on our program. If you’re a young coach out there, read the tributes from coach Robichaux’s players. They all talk about how he has impacted them as men.”

How Should My Shoes Fit? (And Other FAQ)

How Should My Shoes Fit? (And Other FAQ)

The fit of a pair of shoes is just as important as the quality because not only can it affect your performance during competition, but it can also affect your comfort and chance of injury.

But because different shoes serve different purposes not all shoes are going to fit the same. For example, football cleats should not fit you the same as running shoes would. Why? Because one is designed to provide ultimate traction and protection using durable materials, while the other uses lightweight materials and a sleek design to gain optimal speed. They’re different tools made to assist you with different jobs.

So, to help you find the right fit for your shoes, we’ve created this guide. For each sport, you’ll find three areas to check the fit and feel, and at the end there’s a section of frequently asked questions. So go ahead, give it a read and then head on over to eastbay.com to buy some shoes.

Toe Area:
Allow .25″ to .5″ (thumbnail’s length) of space between end of longest toe on largest foot and the end of the shoe.

Width Area:
Foot is supposed to fit comfortably without stretching the upper over the midsole of the shoe.

Heel Area:
Heel can move but is not supposed to slip.

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Toe Area:
Glove-like fit (allow room for toes to move comfortably) while standing up straight.

Width Area:
Foot should fit comfortably without stretching the upper over the midsole of the shoe.

Heel Area:
Because of the heel counter in the rear of the shoe, it should feel less padded and more firm, so you’ll want a snug fit.

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Toe Area:
Allow room for toes to move comfortably while standing up straight.

Width Area:
Foot should fit comfortably without stretching the upper over the midsole of the shoe.

Heel Area:
Because of the heel counter in the rear of the shoe, it should feel less padded and more firm, so you’ll want a snug fit.

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F.A.Q.

· What are training shoes?

Training shoes are the perfect all-in-one pair that can be used for a variety of athletic activities. When you compare them to running shoes, you’ll notice two main differences. First, you’ll notice that training shoes have less of a heel drop to provide increased stability. Second, training shoes feature more traction to assist with lateral movements while running shoes only focus on forward movements. Because of their versatility, training shoes are one of your best options for gym shoes. You can run, jump, lift, and climb in a single pair of shoes.

· Why is buying running shoes so complicated?

Because feet are complicated! Not only do people have different sized feet, but did you know that they also have different shaped feet? That’s why the first step to choosing the right running shoes is to figure out what type of feet you have. If you’ve bought running shoes in store before, an employee may have done a test on your feet to figure out your arch type. If you don’t know your arch type, you can do a quick test right from home – check out the how-to instructions in this blog post.

Once you know your foot and arch type then you can find the right shoes to complement.

Runners with a medium arch have normal pronation and should look for neutral running shoes or stability running shoes if you want a little extra support.

Runners with a low arch tend to overpronate (roll inward during stride). If you only slightly overpronate you can look for stability running shoes, but if you severely overpronate, you’ll want to find motion control running shoes (like the Brooks Beast or Brooks Addiction).

Runners with a high arch are more likely to supinate (roll outward during stride). So you’ll want to find some neutral running shoes with lots of cushion.

· What’s with the different soles on wrestling shoes?

Besides looking for a snug fit and sturdy ankle support, when shopping for wrestling shoes you’ll want to make sure they have the right sole to fit your needs. There are two options: Split Sole or Full Sole. Split Sole wrestling shoes are usually lighter in weight and more flexible, made for fast attack play. Full Sole wrestling shoes are designed for grappling moves and are built for aggressive traction on the mat and increased durability.

· There’s more than one type of soccer cleat?

Of course! The uppers of soccer cleats can differ considerably from the material they’re made with (mesh, leather, knit) to the way they lace up (or don’t in some laceless models) to the way they fit on your ankle (low cut or mid cut). The choice on the upper is more of a personal preference depending on what you find most comfortable. The other way soccer cleats differ from one another is the type of cleat/spike on the bottom when you flip the shoes over and choosing the right one should be based on the surface you’ll be playing on.

  1. Molded TPU cleats are available for a variety of surfaces. Firm ground cleats work best on firm natural surfaces. Hard ground cleats work best on hard surfaces, both natural and artificial. Artificial grass cleats work best on most artificial grass surfaces, and soft ground cleats work best on soft or wet natural surfaces.
  2. Molded rubber cleats are heavier but safer, especially for youth who are just learning how to play.
  3. Turf shoes feature small rubber studs on the outsole to improve traction on both natural and artificial surfaces. Many players use turf shoes for training and practice.
  4. Indoor shoes generally feature flat, non-marking rubber outsoles for indoor or dry artificial surfaces.
· There are so many types of baseball and softball cleats . . . any tips?

When it comes to baseball and softball cleats, they can pretty much be sorted into four different categories similar to soccer.

  1. Metal cleats have bladed studs that are usually wide and thin with rounded edges. The studs are pointed at different directions on the outsole to deliver multidirectional traction specific to baseball movements.
  2. Molded rubber cleats have wide studs with deep grooves. These are the safest choice when it comes to baseball footwear, which is why most youth leagues and certain adult organizations require players to wear them.
  3. Molded TPU cleats feature hard plastic studs in various configurations. TPU weighs less than rubber and offers the “feel” of metal-cleats without the danger.
  4. Turf shoes, also called trainers, have rubber bottoms with shallow patterns or little nubs. These are most popular during indoor training season and are ideal for batting practice and fielding drills.
· What type of football cleats should I buy?

When it comes to deciding on football cleats, there are two important things to consider: the type of field you’ll be playing on and the position you’ll play.

Just like in other cleated sports, there are different types of cleats depending on the surface you play on.

  1. Molded TPU and rubber cleats work best on natural grass surfaces that are neither soggy nor bone dry as well as “sport grass” synthetic turf surfaces.
  2. Detachable cleats work best on wet or dry natural grass surfaces.
  3. Turf shoes work best on very hard/dry natural surfaces and “Astroturf” synthetic surfaces.

The other important factor in deciding which cleats to buy is the position you play and the skill you want to showcase — speed, power or agility.

  1. Speed cleats are key for players in running positions. These cleats sit low on the ankle and provide speed and flexibility so that you can juke your opponent right off the snap to get open.
  2. Power cleats are best for those on the line looking to push and shove and stand their ground. These cleats will often sit higher on the ankle to provide both protection and stability.
  3. Agility cleats are for the playmakers, from QBs to receivers to tight ends, these cleats offer lightweight support for explosive moments.

For more details on the best football gear for speed, power, and agility, check out this blog post.

· With all these different cleats, how do I tell the difference?

Whether you’re new to your sport or shopping for someone else, here’s two tricks to remember:
– Soccer and football cleats never have metal studs.
– Football cleats and baseball cleats generally have an extra stud at the very front edge while soccer cleats don’t.

· What if I order shoes in the mail, and they don’t fit correctly?

Well that sucks, but you’re not out of luck! Did you know that Eastbay offers a Test Run Program? So you can make sure your cleats or spikes perform to your satisfaction and that they feel as good as they look online. If you’re not satisfied, you can return them within 30 days and be refunded with an e-Gift card to use on a new pair. For more information on Eastbay’s return policy click here.

· Where are all the women’s sizes?

Good eye, shopper! Unfortunately, not all sports and brands offer every shoe model in both men’s and women’s sizes. For example, if you’re a female athlete looking to play football, you won’t find any “women’s football cleats” on our website, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. All you have to do is take your normal shoe size and subtract 1.5. Voila! The remaining difference is going to be your men’s shoe size. This is a general rule of thumb for other shoes too, so if you find a cool looking colorway that’s men’s specific, just do the math, buy your size, and rock the heck out of your fresh footwear!


Did you find an answer to your question? If not, drop your question in the comments below, and we’ll help you out!