After back to back to back trips to the College World Series, and finding that this year’s TCU baseball team would be ranked at the top of the preseason polls, Horned Frogs coach Jim Schlossnagle decided that he had to go by the book.
Not that book.
Author Ryan Holiday’s book, Ego is the Enemy.
Schlossnagle finished it in three days during his vacation, and he had his mantra for this year’s team.
“There’s a line in there that says, ‘You can’t learn what you think you already know,’ ” Schlossnagle said on the eve of the Frogs’ season opener against Penn State.
“In other words, you have to be a lifelong learner. You have to be coachable, believe that you’re coachable and be open to it. That’s been the challenge since the summer, and these guys have done great with it.”
The 2016 TCU team won 49 games, captured the Big 12 title, swept its NCAA regional, knocked off Texas A&M in College Station in the super regional and triumphed in its first two games in Omaha.
And still, the Frogs found themselves one victory short.
“We just needed to win one more and we would have played for the national championship,” Schlossnagle said. “But I think that helps these guys. They are very aware of how quickly the game of baseball can turn and bite you in the rear end.
“We had to win one game. Coastal Carolina had to win three. To their credit they did it. They played for a national championship and won it. We sat at home and watched them do it.”
We live in the age of instant gratification. College kids being college kids, how can Schlossnagle motivate his team to climb the mountain again after coming so close last time?
“It’s going to sound coachy,” he said, “but it’s about doing a great job with today. The acronym is WIN – what’s important now.
“And enjoy the season. That’s the other thing. Just enjoy this, man.”
There’s a story for each team, Schlossnagle said, and we wants his Frogs to enjoy theirs one day at a time.
“We’re excited to start all over again,” junior infielder Michael Landestoy said. “We love the process. We enjoy looking back at last year and seeing how we can improve, be better baseball players and have a better chance to win the national championship.
“Here we welcome the idea of starting over again. We love it.”
Of the 11 Frogs with the most plate appearances last season – a team that batted .302 and averaged nearly seven runs a game – 10 return for 2017. In addition, Colleyville Heritage product Nolan Brown, the starting right fielder on the 2015 team, returns after missing most of last season with a broken hand.
The starting pitching rotation includes two experienced seniors, the Big 12’s top freshman pitcher of a year ago and a left-handed freshman who was a first-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates last June.
It’s not hard to see why TCU sits at the top of all the preseason polls.
On the day the Frogs returned from Omaha, Schlossnagle gathered the team in the locker room and tried to prepare it for what was to come.
“I knew we were getting all of our team back, and I knew this was coming, though not necessarily the No. 1 thing,” Schlossnagle said.
“I said, ‘Here’s what you need to be prepared for right now. So start figuring it out in your mind. How are we going to handle that?’ ”
The story continues Friday night.