On here, I go by Agent Baigent. My real name is Mark, and I am finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences. I have always had a huge passion for sports, and grew up playing hockey and baseball at the highest levels. Hockey was my first true love.
I still love the game, but injuries to my back halted my career. Luckily I was still able to play baseball through my injuries. Pitching took over for me in high school when I was given the opportunity to attend a high-performance baseball academy for my senior year.
The pitching coach came to visit where I grew up to recruit myself and another pitcher in the area. My life changed from that day on, and the experience I gained from my year in The Academy will never be forgotten. They completely changed me as an athlete, a student, and a person. I will never take the lessons I learned from my billet family for granted. Living with the principal of the high school (who was also the director of the Academy), another baseball player, and a women’s hockey billet was an amazing opportunity for growth. Additionally, our billet mother ran a day-care in our home and every one of those kids looked up to us as ball players and role models. I still keep in touch with many of the players and families involved with The Academy to this day. Even though I have hung up the cleats, I learned some valuable lessons that will stick with me for life.
One thing I took away that has had a huge impact on me as a sports enthusiast is the ability to critique myself and others objectively. When I came into the baseball program, I had horrible mechanics. Every time we were learning a new aspect of our mechanics, I was the demonstration of what not to do. By having to change my own mechanics so drastically and frequently, I became very aware of the finest movements that can lead to inaccuracies or inconsistencies. Our coach essentially taught me how to be a coach just by tweaking me so much.
Once I decided to where to play in University after high school, I often found players and even coaches asking me for my opinion on their mechanics – and they trusted me. I realized that my teammates were looking to me for pitching advice more often than they were going to our pitching coach. Partially because they knew how much I’d changed in The Academy, but also because they know how amazing The Academy’s program is.
I fell in love with coaching. I’d coached kids throughout the years at various camps put on by my teams, but I truly enjoyed tweaking the higher-level athletes. There’s just something about working toward making a change and seeing the results when you finally reach your goals. I was never the best at sticking to my goals. This was my chance to see that I could help others realize their potential. Since then, I’ve taken every opportunity to teach and coach that I can get.
My love for the finer mechanics of the game allowed me to fully appreciate what the pros can do. Watching a pitcher throw a gem is one of my favourite things to do. Every pitch is an art form. It translated to other sports as well. Watching hockey, I could appreciate the difficulty of the turns, the edges, the passes that these professionals complete every game. The finer things that most casual fans do not appreciate. I decided I had to expand my acceptance of sports. It wasn’t just about hockey and baseball anymore. I have fallen in love with volleyball, badminton, tennis, ping pong, and of course football.
My father and brother both play(ed) football for the same University. My dad taught me a tonne about football growing up but I never played because other sports got in the way; that’s one of my biggest regrets. My brother grew up trying to follow in my footsteps at first; he played hockey and baseball, but never
truly enjoyed them or excelled at them. He then decided he would do Taekwando and that’s where he first truly took off. Then, it was basketball – he was good, but fell away from the game when he started focusing on football. These were all sports I had never touched growing up (pretty much the only 3) and I’m glad he went his own path and wasn’t “Mark’s little brother”, rather he was “the hot running back” in high school. He is currently in a Shaq Thompson situation but the opposite. He started as running back and went to University where they are trying to convert him to Linebacker, Safety, and DB.
Because my family loves football so much, I felt more inclined to start following it more intently. In the spring of 2014, I downloaded the Bleacher Report app and followed Matt Miller (https://twitter.com/nfldraftscout) to engage myself heavily in my team. That team is the Oakland Raiders. Ever since I was 3 I have been a Raiders fan, simply because of a ball cap my family owned at the time. As it turns out, last year was a good year to follow the draft; tonnes of talent, exciting trades, and a tonne of drama *cough* Johnny no Football *cough*. I guess it helps that the Silver & Black absolutely nailed last year’s draft as well. Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Justin “Jelly” Ellis, Keith McGill, T.J. Carrie, and Jonathan Dowling all had a chance to make an impact last year, with Carr, Mack, Ellis, Jackson, and Carrie looking like future cornerstones of the franchise.
Needless to say, my fanatics grew strong last season, beginning with #StartTheCarr and following the growth of all of the Raiders draft picks, and other teams’ as well! It was a fun year to follow every game, know the ins-and-outs of the league (thank you, Bleacher Report) and
lose play fantasy football every week.
Following so many writers and analysts on Twitter and Bleacher Report, it really made me remember why I was a fan of all of these sports in the first place. Forget the rivalries, the fan bases and the Superbowl. When I took a step back and appreciated what each and every one of those athletes does play in/play out, I found myself in awe yet again of these athletes and how they can control their bodies. I wanted to understand how impressive it was, so I started doing more in-depth reading and truly taking in what the draft analysts had to say about prospects, body types, skill sets, and it made me wish I could be a scout some day. I think I have the same eye for talent as any other scout, no matter the sport. Just teach me some of the things you’re looking for and I believe I could do a fine job at evaluating talent and work that needs to be done to refine said talent.
After following Matt Miller, Chris Simms, Adam Lefkoe, Stephen Nelson, and other Bleacher Report analysts throughout the year, I started to wonder about my life and what I really wanted to do. A combination of journalism and draft/talent analysis for a professional sport really does seem fantastic. Preferably the MLB or NFL, as their recruiting process has many more factors than the NHL or NBA, etc. These thoughts led me to creating this blog/website to share my thoughts with maybe 3 or 4 of my friends who I force to read them, and hopefully a few people take notice on their own. I’m still doing my Bachelor of Science and appear destined for a career in genetics (I absolutely love genetics but this is not a science blog) but I will not push my passion aside any longer. Who knows, maybe something will come of this blog one day that it won’t just be a hobby anymore.
Thanks for reading.