A few months back, we welcomed 2008 World Series Champion relief pitcher from the Philadelphia Phillies, Chad Durbin to Baseball Reflections.com. We contacted Chad to talk about the World Series, his career and to discuss ShowcaseU.com which he co-founded.
Showcase U gives high school student athletes a way to showcase themselves so that they can increase their opportunity to be recruited by college coaches and pro scouts. To read more about ShowcaseU follow this link to their About Us page or just read what Chad has to say about it below (or you can do both).
Now, without further ado...the interview!
Peter @ Baseball Reflections: By the way, congratulations on your first major league hit this year! Can you tell us what it was like to accomplish that feat?
Chad Durbin: First Major League hit, man...that one was a long time coming!! I grew up dreaming of my first hit and not my first strikeout...so, it was great!
BR: This may be a dumb question, but which do you prefer starting or pitching in relief?
Chad: I prefer succeeding, to be honest. I had some success in Detroit starting, and in the previous year in AAA-Toledo starting. The bottom line, though, is the obvious jump into an important role in the bullpen. So, I’ll do what I’m asked to do…but I enjoy where I am and what I’m doing now, winning.
BR: Would you say that you have finally felt at home in the bullpen now after a year that saw you pitch in 71 games while keeping an ERA of 2.87 with a WHIP of 1.32?
Chad: I definitely agree with you, I’m comfortable in the bullpen knowing how important a bullpen is to accomplishing the ultimate goal—A World Championship.
BR: What would you say you’d attribute your new found success to? Was it working with Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee or bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer or something else altogether?
Chad: I would say the new found success was attributed to feeling like I’m playing an important role and my family was in a good situation having signed a contract before the 2008 season for $900,000. I had great pitching coaches throughout my career, so it’s not to take away from anything they did or didn’t do. Mick and Rich are fantastic and help out on every level they can and it’s very appreciated.
BR: Aside from Philadelphia (for obvious reasons), where did you like playing the most (KC, Cleveland, Arizona or Detroit)?
Chad: Cleveland and Detroit stick out most because of the personal relationships I had with some great guys. Kansas City will always be memorable because it’s where I broke into the Big Leagues.
BR: What adjustments did you have to make after having Tommy John surgery? Did it affect your velocity?
Chad: I made some mechanical adjustments after reconstructive elbow surgery in 2002. The obvious thing about having surgery is that you’ve done something mechanically to expose a weak point in your body.
I put a lot of time and effort into looking at the pitchers with longevity and a look of effortlessness. I try to incorporate those aspects of pitching into my own pitching motion today.
BR: What has been the best thing that has come from being a World Series Champ?
Chad: I might not be ready for this question. I think the sense of accomplishment, permanent accomplishment, is amazing...knowing that the World Series Championship can never be taken away. I think I’ll be better equipped to answer this question as my career goes forward.
BR: Who are you most impressed with as a player in the way they handle the pressures with being a major league player both on and off the field?
Chad: The person that sticks out most to me, because of the demanding exposure and venue, is Derek Jeter. It just seems like he never has an off the field incident and anything he says in the media is said with integrity and conviction. And let’s not forget the caliber of baseball he brings to the park every game.
BR: How much longer do you think you will be able to pitch at the major league level?
Chad: I’ll work hard every season and off season to stay healthy and competitive. I can’t control the variable of time, it will not wait for anyone. So, I try to take notes as to what Jamie Moyer has done, or Kenny Rogers did, or anyone who has had that type of longevity.
If I can play one or two more years than I otherwise would have because of their experience, I’ll take it!
BR: Who had the original concept for ShowcaseU; Jake Chapman or yourself? When did you both start talking about this concept and how long was it before the concept became a reality and did the website come after the forming of the company or in conjunction with it?
Chad: Jake Chapman had the original conceptual idea for ShowcaseU.com. Jake mentioned his experience with the recruiting process to me while we were playing minor league baseball together in the Kansas City organization and it was compelling.
When Jake retired in 2004, he started kicking the idea of an Internet database where college coaches could find players by criteria (such as velocity, GPA, SAT, Batting Average, 60 yard dash, etc.).
In 2005, he approached me again with the idea after he’d fine tuned some of the concept. From there, we took the idea to fruition over the next two years. Jake continued to work and I continued to play while we exchanged phone calls and emails to finish our Business Plan and Business Model.
The Web site was always in concept, but the actual beta launch was in late May 2008 and we took the beta tag off the website in August. So, we’re young!
BR: Has the concept of ShowcaseU changed since you first started it?
Chad: The concept of ShowcaseU.com is changing right now. The users, mentors, investors, friends, etc…they all give feedback and our community will drive the site, with our subtle guidance.
BR: How do you see ShowcaseU evolving in the next few years?
Chad: I see ShowcaseU.com evolving into a hub for students and student athletes to Showcase themselves to colleges through video, messaging, verified information, and eventually through live feeds where anyone in the ShowcaseU Community can sign in and experience a virtual “audition” or “tryout.” Every day we have new ideas.
BR: How do you think that the current economic downturn will affect ShowcaseU?
Chad: I’m not going to say that the company is “Recession Proof,” but the aspects of what we do help families find options for their sons and/or daughters to find athletic scholarships. College is expensive and the more options available, the better off a student is moving forward and making those tough decisions.
At $99/year, we are very affordable and provide many of the resources in the site for no cost. The site is free for college and high school coaches, as well as summer coaches, facility owners, instructors, and vendors. The cost per student athlete is in place for two reasons.
One being the unlimited video uploads, and the second is the verification of statistics and information.
BR: How well would you say that ShowcaseU is going so far?
Chad: I would say that ShowcaseU.com is gaining momentum every day. I’m also ambitious in my vision for the company and think we are about 5-10 percent of where we want to be in the next 12-24 months.
BR: Do you see yourself coaching, broadcasting or working with ShowcaseU after your playing career is over?
Chad: Good question! I see myself taking a hard look at the options available and making a decision involving my family as the lens through which I view those options.
Thanks Chad, I had a lot of fun on this one! I’m sure Phillies Phans are sure glad to be seeing No. 37, Chad Durbin back on the mound in 2009. Good luck with the Phillies this year, Chad.
And for all of you student athletes, college coaches and recruiters who read this blog, please check out ShowcaseU if you have NOT already done so!