First Pitch: Navy SEALs Training…Only the Pirates…Plus a Ton of Other Teams

The Navy SEALs discussion is back. Dejan Kovacevic brought the topic up for the third time tonight, this time mentioning a possible injury by Gregory Polanco. I say possible, because there’s some conflicting information. Here is what Kovacevic had to say.

Polanco’s ankle was sprained in mid-August, and it cost him most of his final month of play. But the Pirates still saw fit to have him participate in that first day with the SEALS last month, and as you might guess, the ankle was reinjured.

Worse than before.

It happened during a drill in which Polanco sprinted across the outfield, through an above-ground pool of ice water, then leaped into a sand pit.

(You’re still seeking logic?)

I know this because I asked Polanco himself. Through an interpreter, he described it in vivid detail.

I know this because a pitcher in his drill group independently described it the same way.

But sadly, I wouldn’t have known this if I had relied solely on the Pirates’ word.

When I initially asked the team two weeks ago about Polanco, this was the emailed reply from baseball operations — no name assigned — through a team spokesman: “Polanco was NOT injured during that workout. He actually injured his ankle during the season. He opted out of those workouts, as he has continued to battle swelling but no pain.”

If you believe the players — and I do — the statement was a bald-faced lie.

Not from the spokesman, but from baseball ops.

The truth: Polanco asked to be removed from a later workout on the beach when the pain worsened on the bus ride. By day’s end, the team had to fit him for a boot, which wasn’t the case when he first hurt it.

I was down in instructs a few weeks ago. I talked to Polanco on October 13th. I asked him “how did you hurt your ankle”. His response was “I hurt it in the season”. He also added that he would be back playing the following week (which happened to be “Hell Week, according to Kovacevic’s article).

That last note, prefaced by “the truth”, is partially incorrect. Polanco did have a boot when he first hurt his ankle. Tom Bragg reported this on August 15th in this article. The quote below.

Gregory Polanco was still missing from the lineup after also going down with injury last Friday. Manager Rick Sofield said he expects Polanco to be out at least another week and that he had his foot in a boot and had not been participating in baseball activities since the injury.

Polanco ended up missing the rest of the season (which ended about three weeks after that article). He was still in a boot when Kristy Robinson covered the Power in early September. So three weeks after his initial injury, he was in a boot. Three weeks after the reported injury during instructs he was walking around with no boot, and said he was expecting to play the following week. It doesn’t seem like the second injury was anywhere close to the first one.

It’s possible Polanco could have tweaked the ankle during a workout as Kovacevic said. The big question here is “why did the Pirates let Polanco participate in the workouts”? Without knowing the health status of Polanco at the time, that’s impossible to answer. But I find it hard to believe that the team would sit Josh Bell out until Spring Training because of continued swelling in his knee, but make Polanco run drills knowing he was still hurting. It doesn’t add up. It’s more likely that Polanco was healthy, or at least said he was healthy. And considering the recovery time of the two injuries, it’s more likely that he just tweaked the injury in instructs, since the first injury put him in a boot for almost a month, and the second injury didn’t have the same impact.

My biggest concern with the SEAL workouts the first time around was the potential for a prospect to get seriously injured. Jameson Taillon was injured a few years ago in an intense workout. The injury was minor, and didn’t impact his 2011 season. This injury, if accurate, wouldn’t hurt Polanco’s 2013 season. At the same time, you don’t want to wait until a big injury comes along to make a change.

But is a change needed? The reporting on this topic has mostly been “Look at this crazy thing that the Pirates are making their minor league players do! No one would do this! This is insane!” Except maybe it’s not.

Jim Rosati of North Side Notch and David Manel of Bucs Dugout were both tweeting stories tonight about other teams who participated in SEALs workouts. I started writing this after Jim linked to a story about the Maryland basketball team. After that, David posted a ton of other stories about other teams who participate in these drills. Check out his Twitter feed, linked above.

There’s this story about the US Olympians being “pushed to the limit” by the SEALs (includes video). Here’s another story about Michigan football. Another story, this time the Maryland basketball story, includes a video which features the Maryland basketball team taking off sweatshirts under water, doing exercises with telephone polls, carrying bags of sand while running, and actually running while carrying teammates on their shoulders. A lot of these drills are similar to what has been described about the Pirates’ workouts. Oh, and also in that article:

Ruiz notes the primary focus of The Program — which has been used by more than 160 college teams across the country in the past year — is not strength and conditioning but rather team building, leadership and mental toughness.

More than 160 college teams have used this drill. The US Olympians used this drill. So why is it a horrible idea for the Pirates? They’re not on an island on this one. This seems to be a growing trend. The focus here is on team building and leadership.

That’s interesting, because last week we heard Neil Walker discussing how the team in the majors needs veteran leadership. The “veteran leadership” phrase gets tossed around so much, and I never can understand what it means. It seems to me that A.J. Burnett was a leader. Rod Barajas didn’t do much on the field, but he also came across as a leader. And at what point does someone like Neil Walker or Andrew McCutchen go from “player with three years in the majors” to “veteran leader”? On that point, if leadership is such a good thing, then wouldn’t it be a great idea to try and create some leaders in the minors, so the team doesn’t have this issue in the future?

This is the same story as the last two times it was brought up. Nothing has changed, apart from a player having a minor injury. That’s a concern, but does that mean you shut it down? As pointed out above, this isn’t limited to the Pirates. Tons of teams see the benefit in this training. I’ve seen players injured in all sorts of situations. I’ve seen a pitcher get hit with a line drive during live batting practice. I’ve seen players injured running the bases in drills. If you shut down every activity where there’s a risk of an injury, you don’t have a game anymore. The reward has to outweigh the risk. I can’t say if that’s the case, since we don’t know the long-term impact of these drills. But just looking at how many teams across various sports are participating in the same drills, it doesn’t seem like the Pirates are alone in thinking that there’s value to be found with this approach.

Links and Notes

**Battling for a Starting Job in 2013, Presley Has Offseason to do List

**Grading the Pirates’ 2008 Draft.

**Charlie at Bucs Dugout gives his take on the Polanco story.

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As usual in your haste to defened your bread and butter, you missed an important point.

In one of your responses you mentioned that college teams do this. I’ll assume thats true and say this: Thats COLLEGE teams ! A very different environment on a number of levels.

1. Thers not millions of dollars invested in the players.
2. the college situation requires teams to come together very quickly. You might only have a particular player for a year or 2. And the emphasis in college is to win now.
3. Professional development requires a different level of traing. These kids are training for their profession. College kids are playing to get that chance.

To another point. This story IS bigger than the local media/fans duking it out. When it gets mentioned in national media and certain pod casts it’s no longer local.

This ORG is an industry-wide joke. Thats not MY opinion. It’s Keith Laws. At some point it doesn’t matter what the details are. The perception takes over and THAT effects how and what your ORG is able to do.

Like it or not. If real or percieved failings prevent you from reaching your goals, you have to make a chance. It might not be fair. ( I happen to think it is) . But it is reality. If everyone thinks your stupid and start to NOT to want to do business with your ORG, you have to make changes in order toi survive.


Jeez; tis is SO blown out of proportion. This is NOT an actual SEALS training program that the real soldiers go through; it’s a toned-down program designed more for team building and improvement of self confidence. If you research further you’ll learn that it is very highly regarded by several sports teams and others. And you can’t simply say that a team shouldn’t do it for fear of injury; if that’s the case then teams should play games ONLY ! No practice; no training, cause they might get hurt ! Or you could argue that since Lucroy got the busted hand from his wife dropping a suitcase on it, teams should ban players from having :
a) suitcases
b) wives
Sorry, but this whole thing is silly.


I know we agree most of the time but I think you’re dead wrong in this regard. If the prospects and parents of these prized prospects are not happy with the Buccos for making them go through this and they’re getting hurt in the process (even if it is just a tweak) is it really beneficial in continuing with this?



Tim Williams agrees with controversial Pirates decision.

Seriously though… There’s absolutely no reason Mark Appel would have re-tweeted Dejan’s column unless he was trying to show why he didn’t sign with the Pirates. Why? They are a joke. A laughing stock.

Many others have pointed this out already… It’s not a matter or whether or not the training is beneficial, it’s a matter of what the rest of the league, media and public perception thinks.

Pirates players don’t like it, Keith Law says “Good grief. That’s ugly.” in reference to Dejan’s column, Jeff Passan at Yahoo! was/is critical of the practices, major media outlets such as The Sporting News, CBS Sports, and NBC Sports think it’s a joke.

How can you keep defending these practices? Even if they do have some smidgen of a benefit, the damage done in the public’s eye will far outweigh any gains.


It’s beyond belief that it is defended. Well, except in past practices. Whatever dumb thing the Pirates do will have defenders, evidently. Maybe if they start murdering their prospects, that will induce universal condemnation.

Wilbur Miller

“Pirates players don’t like it,”

Kristy tweeted this:

“Most of the players I talked to said they learned a lot from it.”


Most individuals who come out on the other side of such training are more enlightened and open, not the other way around! As some would want you to believe . .

Nathan Ward

All of you apologists (Tim included) are ignoring the immense problems with the debacle that is “Hoka Hey,” and they are glaring.

First, this has now been exposed as more than just a one-of training for team building. Regardless of the fact that many teams in different sports go through a type of SEAL training exercise, I highly doubt ANY of them are undergoing such absurd things as base sliding exercises in the dark on GAME DAYS.

Next, this has now spilled over to affecting future drafts and potential free-agent signings. Keith Law had Jameson Taillon on his Podcast discussing how ridiculous these exercises are. Law is now reporting that agents are advising their clients to not even fill out the paperwork sent by the Pirates. Mark Appel retweeted DK’s column as well, signifying this kind of stuff could be the reason he refused to sign here. Additionally, those at the major league level view this kind of thing as nothing short of ridiculous, and Neil Walker said as much himself on the Fan last week.

Finally, this whole thing is being done by an organization that hasn’t won in TWO DECADES!!!! Don’t you think maybe you wouldn’t want to add any more material to a reputation that is already the laughingstock of the entire sports world? And, when you couple that with the fact that the minor league system is being run by people with ZERO baseball experience, it makes the whole organization, from top to bottom, look worse than a little league team.

And just so you’re aware, I am not the typical Pirates hater, as I have a season ticket package. But you’re kidding yourself if you think this organization will EVER win again if this kind of nonsense continues unaddressed. Also, if DK is so wrong as you apologists love to claim, then why hasn’t the organization issued a single word in weeks, especially when their first round pick that refused to sign this year is retweeting this column to the world?


While I don’t disagree with your conclusion, your premise is misstated. Law DID NOT interview Taillon. He merely reconveyed Kovacevic’s story (though he said he had heard rumors that Taillon was injured in 2010). Law DID NOT “report[] that agents are advising their clients…” He was speculating that this COULD happen, and not that it already HAD happened. I had to listen to his statement multiple times to be sure, but it’s true.

Personally, I think Appel’s retweet is meaningless until someone (perhaps the professional reporter who’s making grand assumptions about it) actually ASKS HIM why he retweeted it. It’s every bit as likely that he read it (after Law RT’d the article (he follows Law, and not DK)) and thought (1) “Man, am I glad I dodged that bullet” as it is (2) “I’m glad the whole world now knows why I didn’t sign.” I’m not saying that the mere possibility of (1) being true isn’t a sign of a problem here, but I think it’s pretty haphazard to act like it’s a foregone conclusion.

Finally, I think it’s pretty irresponsible to call the opposing side of your argument “apologists” and then fly off the cuff with unsubstantitated accusations (re: Appel) and misinformation (re: Law) because in totality, it really hurts your credibility as a commenter.


It is beyond ludicrous that anyone defends this garbage, other than Neil Huntington’s wife.


Wait, Taillon was on todays Baseball Today podcast? Are you sure about that?

Wilbur Miller

I’m not a subscriber, but a bunch of people online are saying Law did not interview him.

Nathan, I agree that the bad publicity is indeed fact and is a huge problem. I think many of us here don’t think this should have been a big deal, but DK has succeeded in beating his tired drum loud enough to achieve his purpose.

At this point if the ends justify the means, ie. getting better FO personnel then it will be worth it.

Nathan Ward

It’s not just the bad publicity though. The whole thing is ridiculous, and simply blaming DK ignores that fact. Ask yourself this, why is there no other organization in baseball doing this? If the Pirates were a winning organization, than I could see an argument for this kind of thing. But they are the worst team in all of sports.

And just to add an additional note on the attempts to justify this kind of thing. In the other instances shown where teams have done this kind of thing, ie basketball teams, the Buffalo Sabres, even the Penguins, etc, those were upper level complete teams. The minor leaguers here will likely never play with each other again as they spread throughout the system. Additionally, if you try and claim “leadership” is the issue, that has to be built on a completed team with chemistry as well, not at the instructional level.

Finally, I believe that DK hasn’t gone out and searched for this story, it landed in his lap essentially. So it HAD to be reported. When you have personnel, players, and players’ families contacting DK to express their concern over this stuff, it absolutely is a HUGE issue, whether the rest of you here agree with it or not.


If the Pirates were a winning organization they wouldnt have to try outlandish things. Truth is they havent figured it out in 20 years! If they didnt have guys show up from their minor league system with major flaws in their fundamentals and constant mental lapses then it would not require such outside the box thinking. We all know the owners past and present will not break the bank so to speak on this team, and the management teams past and present have not figured out a way to put a winning team on the field, but I do however applaud them for atleast attempting something different. If you all want to BELIEVE that Mark Appel did not sign with the Pirates or any other future draft pick for that matter because of 3 days of SEALS training, then go right ahead! I guarantee when push comes to shove we all know what the deciding factor is in every draft, $, not a 3 day SEAL training!

Wilbur Miller

Has it occurred to anybody why a purported journalist wouldn’t call the people who offered the training and ask them who uses it and why they think it’d be of value to baseball players? Doesn’t this seem like a painfully obvious thing to do? Wouldn’t that have more meaning than people who’ve never been through this sort of training posting on blogs and writing columns disparaging it?


Actually, he’s a real journalist. Not a wanna be.

Wilbur Miller

Doesn’t act like it.


What, like not always reporting all is well after 20 losing seasons? True, he doesn’t do that.

Nathan Ward

You’re missing the fact that this is now an image problem for the Pirates throughout the baseball world. It doesn’t matter who has done this sort of training. When the top prospects in the organization are not happy with it, and Jameson Taillon said as much when interviewed by Keith Law, it needs to stop. And as I attempted to post earlier, Law is now reporting that agents are advising their draft clients to not fill out the paperwork sent by the Pirates. They’ll be luck to sign ANY top picks in upcoming drafts if they continue with their insufferable arrogance in trying to do things “outside the box.”

Everyone needs to face facts: this is the worst front office in all of sports and it continues to trend downward with no end in sight.


Law didn’t interview Taillon, he was reporting second hand knowledge i believe and he was speculating that agents might steer players away from Pgh, not saying they currently were.

Regardless this sort of publicity is a real problem, whether you the development process has merit or not if the industry perception is negative it affects their ability to sign players and needs to be dealt with immediately.


This whole thing is ridiculous. The workouts they are doing are not that dangerous and guess what, these guys are professional athletes. Just because they are baseball players it doesn’t mean that they’re all a bunch of pansies and can’t handle it. The concerned parents need to understand that their dear children are grown men and don’t need to be treated with kid gloves.


The objectives involved with the SEALS that have been pointed out:
1. Team building
2. Enhance leadership
3. Better Workouts, etc.
Are all better as a result of 3 days, thats a given, but the basic underlying concept of what any team or individual (Olympians, Tiger Woods, etc.) who reaches out for Navy SEALS training is trying to accomplish is: Taking pride in training to be the best you can be! And that’s not just physically, it’s mentally even more so than physically. It’s a mindset you have to set yourself into to want to be the best that you can be. And personally as a member as Military Spec Ops I see no harm in any team or individual wanting to achieve this!

Lee Young

Agree 100%!!!


Josh Skipper

Tim, I think your post misses the most important points. You come back with a lot of boot-focused misdirection and tons of links showing other teams do something similar. Well, that would be great if we were actually a fundamentally sound team and organization. When I see runners thrown out on the basepathes consistently and other teams stealing on the Pirates at will, it does anger me as a fan that our minor leaguers are wasting instructional time doing scavenger hunts and running in the sand in the middle of the night. When I see that Kyle Stark and Larry Broadway (whoever that is) have virtually no baseball experience it makes me curious.

I’ve supported this team for about 25 years unapologetically, but I refuse to be an apologist. I love things the Pirates have done to take risks – drafting Bell and Appel – but come on! We have parents wishing they never signed with us and Appel all but saying “bullet dodged!”

In fairness, Appel said nothing, for all we know he retweeted DK’s article because his buddies were ribbing him about Army training.

3 days off in a 250 day schedule is not the make or break moment where a player learns how to run the bases. Poor fundamental development is one of those valid reasons to make changes. This does not apply to this type of team building exercise.

Lee Young

Can’t believe our coaches are so incompetent that they can’t teach someone how to bunt or run bases.

Our players had a whole month. They’ll either get it or they won’t. Why did Marte come up and be better at base stealing than Cutch or Tabby?

Coaching can only do so much.




Tell me about it. It’s not like Marte was sitting on his hands while swinging at pitches that were about 2 time zones out of the strike zone or anything. It’s also nice to see that the guys coming up from AAA had no sense what so ever of base runners at 1B. They fit right in with our pitching staff.

Josh Skipper

If it was just three days why was Polanco jumping through sand and on a midnight scavenger hunt two weeks ago?

Nathan Ward

Are you just not acknowledging this Hell Week stuff Tim?

Jeremiah Ewing


I just watched the Terps video linked above… is this what everyone is so upset about? I did much of that in Basic Training at Ft. Jackson in the first few weeks… if you’re unfamiliar, Ft. Jackson is not a combat MOS basic training base… it’s where the fat boys and girls go before being nurses and aircraft mechanics.

If I could do that no problem (or the 50+ kids that have never ran a day in their lives), then I would expect a professional athlete to do the same… our ‘hell’ weeks in high school soccer/baseball were harder than a good deal of basic training, and I’m guessing that these professional athletes have been through much more rigorous routines.

Everyone should really calm down, it’s not a 10 mile ruck march with a 50 lbs pack.

Lee Young

I’m on my PC now, so I can link some Sports Teams’ SEAL training.

This is indoor, but still. Note the constant mention of TEAMWORK!

I think Dylan Bundy’s workout is more strenuous.



Nathan Ward

Lee, this is very different than any other example, as this is not a complete team that will move into a season together as one unit. It is a bunch of players who will spread throughout the system and possibly never play with each other for the most part. So attempting to impart TEAMWORK on an instructional level simply makes ZERO sense. That’s the kind of thing you work on in Indy, or with the big club, not in fall instructionals.

Joel Davis

1. brainwash (verb) – persuade completely, often through coercion

See Tim Williams, Charlie Wilmoth

Tim Williams and Charlie Wilmoth are obviously be brainwashed by the Pirates. How else could they defend such stupid actions?


It really doesn’t explain what their defenders get out of it either.

Wilbur Miller

Actually, Charlie’s post on this mostly agreed with Dejan and concluded by saying Huntington should be fired (although Charlie, being the Huntington shill he is, had said that previously). But, hey, don’t let facts get in your way.


I guess the whole questioning Dejan’s reporting is just a minor issue to you Wilbur. But hey, don’t let the facts get in your way either.

Wilbur Miller

Are you responding to my post, which said nothing about Dejan’s reporting, or just flaming lamely?


You seem to have a beef with me Wilbur. Maybe I should just agree with every idiotic thing posted and we can be pals. If you feel like you can be as snarky as you want to be an others can’t, I’d like to know how that works. Defending this garbage is ludicrous. You won’t do it yourself, but defend it’s defenders.

Lee Young

That’s probably why DK now says that Charlie’s blog is not the ‘drivel’ it used to be. Go figger.

And, who is to saying we don’t practice the fundamental?

Why is it that you can have the same coach on place on a team (whatever sport) and some teams are good at fundamentals, while others aren’t?

The players have a lot to do with it, too.



It’s great to know that the Pirates front office see’s it worthy to run the prospects through Navy SEAL drills yet each and every season the prospects that are promoted to MLB can’t hit the curve, have no clue as to what the strike zone is, can’t hit the cutoff man, can’t steal a base, can’t bunt, are terrible running the bases, and can’t hold a runner on. It’s also good to know the front office see’s military training is more important than actually training the baseball players.

There is no need for training like this. The team leadership that everyone talks about is nonsense. You want leadership win some baseball games. Talent is the best leadership and greatest teamwork a team can have.

Each and every season people talk about why the Pirates can’t attract quality players to the city. The main reason is because they’re cheap. Another reason is because this is basically being run like a AAAA baseball team when they pull off exercises like this. I know you’re only a blogger Tim, but if you got an offer to write for the Post Gazette or the Times Tribune, one of them offered a little more money but said you’re going to spend at least one week getting military training I’m quite sure you’re going to the one who doesn’t offer the training.


Nice job side stepping the question. I’d expect nothing less from you.


“I work at home and don’t put on pants until around noon.”

😀 😀 😀

Lee Young

Gonfalon….I can do Tim one better….I DON’T work at home and don’t put pants on until I take my wife out to dinner.

I am Retired! It is the ONLY good thing about getting older.

🙂 🙂


Outstanding! 😀


We have smilies here! :love:

Tim, I may not agree with everything you write all the time, but please do keep up the good work.


I honestly don’t think the biggest bombshell from Dejan’s article is the SEAL workout. I can’t imagine that the threat of injury is much greater with the SEAL workout than a player lifting weights or running on their own. When you have a large number of athletes all working out together, injuries happen. Having to get up in the middle of the night to run around? Big deal. All these prospects want to make the majors right? They will be playing 162 games a year all while traveling in the middle of the night with hardly any rest. Getting yelled at to finish a task and work together? Big deal. Fans aren’t going to be considerate while screaming at the players from the stands.

But something that does not bode well, I think, is that players parents are not happy with their children being drafted by the Pirates. That is something that will trickle down to ears of future draftees and their parents.

Lee Young

Yeh…that Josh Bell guy sure didn’t want to sign with us, did he?

And I coulda swore that Bora$$ blamed it on the new draft rules vice not wanting to sign with the Bucs. In other words, if we coulda given Appel $6 mil or so, he was signing.

National pundits don’t ‘get’ all the hatred towards the Bucs from local media.


And Josh Bell was injured last season and hasn’t been seen or heard from since then. Sorry, but I don’t trust anything that this organization says about any injured player.


Lee, while I agree with your assessment in regard to the players you mentioned above I have not seen any indication the national media is confused over the local coverage. Can you point out a source?

Lee Young

I either saw it here or in Baseball America or both.

Can’t find it at this point and since it was some time ago, not really interested in looking.

Got this from BA “Through a few well orchestrated trades and productive drafts GM Neil Huntington and the Pittsburgh Pirates have put together a talented farm system with some exciting prospects.

Baseball America has the Bucs farm system ranked as the 11th best in Major League Baseball, a steady improvement over the past number of years when their highest ranking was 15th.”

But, I did see that quote I referred to a couple of times. Just can’t put my ‘fingers’ on it.



I’m not denying you read something. I’m sure somethings out there.

It should be noted Keith Law ripped the Pirates today on these types of practices and said members from other organizations have called the Pirates a laughingstock.

He makes a number of valid points – a lot of which have been covered here today (38 minute mark):

Lee Young

I just tried google….I get lots of links every day from and I have ESPN Insider, etc, etc

Can’t keep them straight after awhile for what I read where.

Sorry. Since I lost that link, I will quit ‘quoting’ it. But I would bet a month of my pension I read it from a reliable source, like Callis, Law, etc.



I agree. Everything from the national media I’ve read contradicts your post. I’m not saying it’s not out there – I haven’t seen it though.


Great point! Perception is reality. I saw Mark Appel retweeted one of Dejan’s tweets. Perhaps this is why he didn’t sign – I don’t know. The point is the Pirates keep presenting themselves as bumbling idiots. Add to that 20 (and counting) years of losing and this is what you get.


Kovacevic hates the Pirates as do most of the media in Pittsburgh, if he is not out to get the Pirates, nobody is, his whole column is written like someone from the Pirates urinated in his oatmeal. The problem is he and his journalistic buddies in the Burgh are all unified in their vindictive attitudes toward the Bucs. The Pittsburgh Penquins trained with the Navy Seals and that was reported by the Pittsburgh media as a great idea, the Penguin players loved it. The Pirates always have a group of players visit the Seals when they are in San Diego, the Pirates have a very good relationship with the Seals.
Players get hurt in bizarre ways sometimes, you can’t hold their hands and put them in padded rooms until game time and I am sure if they don’t want to participate in Seal drills they don’t have to, what are the Pirates going to do to them? can you imagine the Pirates doing something to one of their top draft picks if he says no?

Lee Young

Good points!


Good points? He hates the Pirates? Talk about being as non-objective as possible.

This has been much ado about nothing. It really comes down to perception. If you do this kind of stuff with a winning organization its praised as great outside the box team building. Coach K had his BlueDevils at Fort Bragg for Ranger training this year, If you do this with a bad organization it looks silly.

The other complaint you often see (DK included) is that we are bad at fundamentals so how can we even consider doing this. It was 3 days, 3 days out of over 200 each year that our minor leaguers spend working on baseball. How anyone can fret over 3 off-days from baseball in the scheme of the full year is bizarre to me.

DK is a dedicated fan of Pittsburgh sports, but he is also very vindictive and single-minded. He has had a grudge against NH since NH called him out for releasing information while he was the beat reporter at the Post-Gazette.

Lee Young

John…yes, that vindictiveness sure does come thru in his writing…but, of course he’ll always deny it.

Kinda sad, imho.

Also, to clarify my position, there are plenty of valid reasons to consider firing NH and crew. I just don’t feel like this is anywhere near the top of the list.

I have previously concluded last month that firing NH is appropriate as we should not settle for an average GM due to the fear that we may hire a poor one.


Amen brother, amen

Lee Young

On PG Plus, I saw a few tweets from some of the players. Other than a ‘good workout’, there’s nothing more dangerous than a regular intense workout. Some of them stated that THEIR workout is more intense.

A player can get injured doing just about anything.

If this was so dangerous, you would’ve thought after Dejan’s first article they would’ve quit. Apparently, Nutting doesn’t think that.

These people aren’t as incompetent as DK makes them out to be. They aren’t stupid people.


I think the issue of who and how many teams are using the SEALs training program is really not germane; it’s like your mom used to ask you, “If all your friends jumped out of a window, would you do that as well?” I believe a more important question is what this training provides the ballclub in terms of risk compared to reward. Is there value to the organization in terms of bonding and team-building? I would suppose there is. Still, is there a risk of having one of your prime prospects seriously injured? I would say there is a risk, even though it hasn’t happened yet, that is significant enough to outweigh the programs perceived reward. To me, that is why I’m very leery of this regimen–not because it’s “outside the box” or “crazy”, but because, in my view, the risks clearly outweigh the tangible rewards.

Lee Young

Tim…agree…there is a YouTube video (can’t link on my IPad) which shows the training and the accent is on Team building, not leadership.

And it isn’t as strenous as people are making out. Some personal workouts are harder.

Much ado about nothing, imho.



Blue Bomber

Are there any other professional teams doing this? Baseball teams? I can’t imagine how dealing with the humiliation of ‘Hell Week’ as a professional can be a positive. Ridiculous. They should cut this crap out and teach the pitchers how to hold runners or some other useful baseball skill.


“Are there any other professional teams doing this? Baseball teams?”


I could see how Navy SEAL training might easily fit into a football team’s workout regimen, but it sure seems like a dumb and risky way to teach “leadership” to baseball players.


So because some basketball teams utilize Navy SEAL training, baseball players would also benefit?

There may yet be a convincing argument why Navy SEAL training would help a baseball player, but that kind of rationale is a textbook non sequitur.


If you re-read my post, I was clearly open-minded to the possibility that Navy SEAL training might help a *baseball* player. I just haven’t seen any evidence to support that hypothesis.

Whether Olympic athletes or players in other team sports benefit from Navy SEAL training is utterly irrelevant to baseball players (well, maybe cricket would be analogous to baseball). You conceded that the main benefit would be leadership, but there are surely other ways to do this (and also other intense workouts with a lower risk of injury).

And yes, finding another *baseball* team who benefited from this type of training would help a lot. Who knows, there may be such documentation. I am reasonably sure that the Pirates won’t be the source of said proof.


@ Blue Bomber, agreed. The unsolicited concern DK mentioned from some of the Pirates’ draftees’ parents surely will come back to haunt the Pirates after the 2013 draft, unless major changes are made.

Blue Bomber

‘Professional’ is also a key in this argument for me. I think that forcing players to partake in this type of activity is inappropriate. How do the players feel about this? These are players who were some of the top amateurs in the world, and the Pirates draft them and make them go through frat boy hazing to build unity and leadership. It seems very unprofessional and I can’t imagine the it doesn’t build resentment towards management in some of the players.


Are you now saying this Hoka Hey is acceptable? You really need to explain yourself. Someone, please give me answers to these questions:
1. How does SEALS training methods help players learn baseball?
2. What advantage does knowing things like hand to hand combat give players?
3. Clearly guys are getting hurt doing “hell week”. Why are you suddenly okay with this?


Leadership comes from the people that hold those positions (managers and coaches) not from players. Yes, there do need to be on the field leaders. However that should only be a concern for players at the major league level. The concern should be instructing/coaching/teaching (whatever you want to call it) the players the basics or fundamentals.

Obviously something isn’t working right. We don’t have good leadership like the SEAL drills are supposedly to be teaching. And more importantly the fundamentals that aren’t being taught (or taught properly) continue to bite them in the back (pitchers suck at bunting, catchers can’t throw out runners, etc.).

SEAL training should have no place on a baseball field. They aren’t going to WAR. They are playing BASEBALL for millions of dollars. So teach them how do that properly. They haven’t won a world series since 1979 and had a winning season for 20 years. Get back to fundamentals, not reaching for something that isn’t there.


re: “it helps with leadership”…

I’m not an expert like Kyle Stark, but I’d guess there are ways to help baseball players with leadership that doesn’t result in injuries to a team’s top prospects.


1. I would love to know how these drills build leadership. These types of drills build put players/soldiers in situations where they are expected to obey the commands of their leaders at the drop of a hat. No questions asked – just trust your senior leaderships and go, go go. That’s what you expect for most military situations. I don’t see how it applies to professional baseball. It doesn’t help build or identify team leaders who aren’t managers or coaches.

One week of this stuff doesn’t work either. That’s why basic training lasts longer than a week. Doing this for a short amount of time is just confusing and pointless. I don’t care if every team is doing it – it’s a waste of time.

2. Fine, athletes need to work out.

3. I think you’re relying on semantics. No, Polanco didn’t initially hurt his ankle during hell week, but he did reinjur (or ‘tweek’ if you will) the ankle during this time.


I’m confused on the timeline. You say you talked with Polanco on 10/13. He wasn’t in a boot and he was expecting to get back at it the following week.

DK’s article notes that the day Polanco got hurt was 10/14. Quoting from DK’s article: “On Oct. 14 at 11:45 p.m., the Pirates’ minor-league coaches and instructors broke the midnight silence by banging on dorm rooms throughout the complex shouting, “It’s Hell Week! It’s Hell Week!”

So, has anyone, other than DK, spoken with him since October 14? Has anyone seen him to gauge the seriousness of the re-injury? Was it merely a tweak? Or is it something worse?

I don’t care about anything Stark does so long as the team wins at the Major League level and he doesn’t put the players at a great risk of injury in non-baseball related activities. What’s funny about this is that some detractors call him crazy and some proponents call him groundbreaking and an out of the box thinker. If so many clubs are doing this, he definitely isn’t thinking out of the box.


You shouldn’t be confused. Read the whole article of Dejan’s.

Lee Young

as I stated above, DK will use anything he can to blast the FO.



Well, unfortunately, he doesn’t have to dig very deep to find things.

Lee Young

Plus he knows he can say just about anything negative and his minions will eat it up.



This is worse than your mindless defense of it before.

That is ALL Dejan had to say. You conveniently left out the part where the Pirates lied about it. It’s idiotic to do this stuff, yet you continue to defend it, and attempt to caste aspersions on Dejan’s reporting. From my vantage point, it seems you have to do this to continue your ‘access’ from the Pirates. That’s isn’t journalism.


No, it isn’t possible. He’s a reporter. And continued defense of whatever dumb thing the front office does makes you what? Certainly not a reporter, more like an advocate. That isn’t needed, they can put out press releases all they want. Call a spade a spade.


“you’ll see a lot of teams do the same thing.” So far you have only named the Buffalo Sabres has doing this. Until you or the Pirates show me a successful major league team that does this with their best prospects I will continue to believe that Kyle Stark is a buffoon. The proof is in the pudding when we look at the non development of all this teams “prospects”. Which one of the “over-slot” high school arms are making leaps forward? Where is the impact bat that was drafted by the master of the amateur draft? More losing seasons are in this teams future until Nutting ponies up money for a real baseball general manager.

Lee Young


Lee Young

Dejan is on a mission. He hates the front office. That article was his usual tripe. Again, he repeats the ‘PIrates are a laughingstock’ line, when several National writers wonder why local writers are so down on the Pirates.

Believe what you want, but as Tim points out, why would they be so ‘careless’ with Polanco and so ‘careful’ with Josh Bell?

Makes no sense. Dejan will twist anything to try to make the FO look bad. ANYTHING!


The Pirates aren’t a laughingstock? This kind of idiocy is what makes them a laughingstock. His mission is to do journalism, not blow smoke up behinds.

Nothing in this article has been refuted. The Front Office looks bad all on it’s own.


Lee you do realize that this team hasn’t had a winning season for 20 years don’t you? This management team has now had 5 years and they are still losing. One can claim that the are improving because they have been contending for parts of two seasons. I would counter that argument by saying that in the end losing seasons are losing seasons. Someone has to be held accountable for the losing. Who would you hold accountable?

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