IN THE COMMUNITY

Talking Baseball with Matt Finlayson, President and GM of the Ocean State Waves

Spring is just about 3 weeks away and the 2016 Wickford Little League season is starting to take shape.  This Saturday, March 5th will be the tryouts for AAA and Majors.  You can learn more about the tryouts on our Facebook page, Wickford Little League.  The tryouts are from 9am to 3pm at the North Kingstown High School Gymnasium.  All interested kids are encouraged to attend and do your best.  And from all of us at Wickford Little League, best of luck to you!!!

In working on public relations for Wickford Little League, I have had an opportunity to get to know local New England College Baseball League team President, Matt Finlayson of the Ocean State Waves.  Matt and his staff have done an incredible job not only with the team, but also working with community partners to help grow the brand of baseball in our RI community.  I recently sat down and interviewed Matt on spring training, baseball superstitions, and more.  Here is an excerpt from our conversation.

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Matt, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.  First off, spring training offers a time for dusting off your glove and cleats and getting prepared for the upcoming season.  What should Little Leaguers work on in the month or so before their first game?

Little Leaguers should start to play catch and take some swings leading up to their season.  The best conditioning is coming off of a great basketball, hockey or wrestling season.  Other sports are great for 10-12 year old kids.  Make sure not to overthrow because your arm is going to feel fresh but you want to build it up by extending long toss gradually.  Make sure to get the mechanics and fundamentals down with tee work or a progression throwing program.  Always take time to warm up and stretch.  Our guys spend 20-30 minutes with a dynamic warm up that focuses on core/hip flexibility.  Our pitchers use a “band routine” that is intended to prevent injuries by activating your deceleration (rotator cuff/shoulder).  Enjoy the warm days with this strange New England winter weather by taking some ground balls, playing catch or taking some batting practice with a group of friends.

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What should a parent look for in a glove for their son or daughter?  Is a large glove better than a small glove?

I still remember my Little League glove, Rawlings Nolan Ryan signature model.  Parents should get a glove that is quality but not insanely expensive.  Some of the more expensive models are heavier leather anyway.  Get something that feels comfortable, not too flimsy but can be broken in pretty easily and allows the player to do multiple things.  I would say an 11-11.75 inch glove with a nice pocket is probably best for most right handed throwing players.  Lefties that play OF should get something that is 11.75-12” or a nice 1B (first base) mitt if they play first base. Catchers should get a mitt that is less than 33” and isn’t too stiff but protects their thumb/feels comfortable.  Our players favorite gloves are Rawlings Pro Preferred, Wilson A2000, SSK Pro-model.  I would probably go with the model below what our guys use for a 10-12 year old.

Major Leaguers and some summer league teams use wooden bats.  Is it harder to hit a ball with a wooden bat?   What advise can you give parents who are looking for a bat for their Little League player?

Who doesn’t love the sound of the ball hitting the wood bat.  I’m a huge fan of wood bats and think that players can start using them at any age as long as the weight is similar to what they swing with their metal bat.  The wood bat forces hitters to square the ball up on the sweet spot and stay through the hitting plane with their swing.  Wood bats show mistakes and can help players make adjustments.  A little league player should look at a light weight 271 type style with ash wood.  No need to get maple that young and it is a heavier wood anyway.  The cool “new thing” in woods bat is birch bats that are known for their light weight and ability to harden as you use them.

Baseball players are notorious for their superstitions.  Any interesting ones on your Waves team?

Absolutely.  One of our best players needs to have his Snickers bar before every game.  Let’s just say he blamed New Bedford’s concession stand for an 0-3 performance…

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How is the 2016 Ocean State Waves season shaping up?

Love our schedule.  Game nights are mainly Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday with a couple Fridays.  Game time has been moved to 6:30 so that is more conducive for families to gather the kids after work and make the game for first pitch.  $5 for adults and $2 for kids fits in with our Mission Statement of, “Family Affordable Fun Meets Quality Baseball.”  We will have food trucks, rock climbing walls, promotions and of course our mascot SPLASH!

As far as the roster goes, we are looking pretty good on paper right now.  A few juniors are doing so well that they may get drafted and not report to Ocean State.  The pitchers are throwing well and most of our position players are starting every day batting 1-5 in their line-up.

Do you have any plans to work with the kids and families here in North Kingstown?

Most definitely.  We are engaged in conversations and have had meetings regarding community events with the Ocean State Waves.  Nothing official yet, but stay tuned to our website and Facebook page, Ocean State Waves, for announcements.  We are very proactive on social media and will post news as it becomes official.

I wanted to thank Matt Finlayson for his time and wish him and the entire Ocean State Waves organization the best in their upcoming season.  And, just a reminder, Wickford Little League will be having their AAA and Majors tryouts this Saturday from 9am to 3pm at the North Kingstown High School gymnasium.

1 reply »

  1. I would encourage all baseball fans to go to a Wave game held in different fields, including Old Mountain. Bring chairs, food and listen for the sound of the bat and the cheers that follow. Small town America, minus the commercialism of even the Paw Sox. That two dollar ticket is a memory.

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