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Schools of Thought

If you shovel, it will dry

March 24, 2008
By Bill Cain, The Leader-Herald
There’s mud and dead grass poking through dirty snow outside my window.

It’s beautiful.

After the sun bakes it a little bit, it’ll be begging me to go outside and find someone to have a catch with, because it’s baseball season in the Foothills.

It hurts my heart to think of all those high school baseball and softball players in the area preparing indoors. Those gyms are lined for basketball and volleyball. Your arena is outside. Go there!

You’ll only get so much real use out of soft toss inside. Mock-infield is virtually useless with no grass or pebbles or divots. Outfielders can do nothing indoors except work on their swing.

Of course, working on these mechanics is important at this point of the preseason, but after working on technique, get the kids outside.

Consider me that whispering voice in the cornfield of your mind.

This is the time for coaches to spend some of that fundraiser money or booster club money on a couple dozen shovels. Nothing with too harsh an edge, though. We don’t want to toss bits of the infield aside with the snow.

It’s warm enough out that all the fields need is a little help. Get out there and clear away as much as you can without damaging the ground underneath. Hopefully, some weather in the 40s and a little rain this week will do the rest.

It’s also warm enough to have the kids outside. Especially if they’re doing the grunt-work.

Think of it as a cheap weight program.

No need for all those expensive weight machines or the free weights. Not even Chuck Norris and the Total Gym workout.

That’s right, I said it’s better than Chuck Norris!

Oh, and if it catches on, next off-season I know a couple reporters that would be glad to donate their sidewalks and driveways for your workouts.

A note to first basemen: If your team actually goes out to clear the field, keep an eye on your teammates. Many will be tempted to get in their first practice throws to first with one of the last snowballs of the season. And unlike in real practice, they may not wait until you’re looking.

Later this week, we’ll be writing our softball and baseball previews. Many coaches will tell us they haven’t been outside except to toss flys to their outfielders in the parking lot. Without a doubt, headlines will say something about waiting for the weather or Mother Nature. There will be pictures of the boys and girls of summer warming up in the gyms of winter.

Fort Plain’s baseball team showed last year that teams limited by weather early in the season can still play well enough to win it all. But if you can reduce those limits, it can only help your team get off to a better start and then be ahead of the curve in their development throughout the season.

As a veteran shoveler, of snow and other things, I can tell those of you who haven’t done much of it, it’s a workout. I guarantee you’ll see — and feel — the difference after your first Bill Cain Total Shovel Workout X-Treme.

Just remember to lift with your legs.

Bill Cain is a sportswriter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at


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