Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding that next Pipeline of Talent, and other cliches


I've been waiting to post this for some time. About two months ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed two players from India, who were participants in a Million Dollar Arm reality show. In a nation full of cricket players, no person from the one billion population of India had ever signed a baseball contract outside of the country.

Kudos to the Pirates for innovative recruiting (the reality show was not their idea, it was a sport management firm) and making efforts to increase their competitiveness. Let's be honest- the Pirates are still terrible and will be for some time- but they may have the inside edge on a new mine of cheap (very important) talent.

I can only wonder why no other baseball team thought of this before?

Major League Baseball has a entry player draft system, but this does not apply to players outside of Canada and the United States. It's essentially a free for all outside of those borders. The backbone of the Blue Jays success in the 1980's was based on their development of a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. Hello Tony Fernandez, George Bell, Damaso Garcia and Juan Guzman. The Jays could pay the "students" next to nothing, get them under contract, and promote those with talent. The Dodgers and many other teams quickly copied this tactic, and teams moved throughout South American in search of hidden gems. Soon, players were being dug out of Korea, Australia and Japan. In all country cases, the richest teams swoop in an ruin the market by overspending until only they can attract the best of the foreign players. That's why the Pirates or the Jays can't sign the latest Japanese star, and need to look elsewhere.

Does this apply to Ultimate? Of course, or I wouldn't be rambling. :)

League teams take from lower level league teams. Coed steals from league, and Open and Women take from the youth leagues and the coed/league offerings. We don't play for cash (yet, for the forseeable future) but teams at every level always have a sales pitch- better level of play, status, etc.

At a certain point, highest level club teams realize that they can no longer rely on just what comes to them through existing channels. They need to start their own programs to improve the quantity and quality to choose from.

How does your team find new talent?
  • Do you lure it from existing teams outside of your town (find jobs for them)?
  • Do you take from feeder system in the city (that you don't control)?
  • Do you run your own development program (high school, youth, etc)?
  • Are you in the gyms and fields of other sports, actively recruiting prototypes from different sports
  • Do you lack any plans/strategies regarding player development?
Each and every year, how we go about finding new talent will be more and more important at the club level. I don't think we'll ever be importing Indian or respective African talent for ultimate purposes in my lifetime, but I do think that those two areas (as well as Asia) will continue to develop in the sport and pose serious threats to Canada. With their population, Canada faces a very tough task to continue its position at the top of the World Championship.