Hitter’s Mentality

Brewers topple Reds 12-2 @ St. Helena Park (300 Willow Spring Road Baltimore, MD 21222).  standings_2016-05We remain undefeated, with 3 Wins and Zero (0) Losses.  Our current standings would have more games played if it weren’t for all the bad weather.  Unfortunately, we had over 5 weeks of rainouts and holidays so we have a lot of games that need to get made-up.  For more info, visit www.over40baseball.org

Well, if you have been following my “web logs” AKA blogs, then you would know I came out of retirement three (3) years ago.  As a matter of fact, I am playing “Major League Rules” baseball with my old high school glove (over 30 years ago).  It’s a very small infielder’s glove that is broken in and I love it! I also acquired a newer glove to play softball for US Army – Aberdeen Proving Ground team back in 2010 which is a little bigger and I use for pitching.

BrewersLogoWe are required to use wooden bats and most little league and high school folks don’t understand why?  The simple answer is power.  A wood bat’s sweet spot, although usually quite smaller than composite or alloy, may perform as well as a certified bat. Also, wood bats are heavier to swing compared to aluminum and composite. Interesting side story: last year my son lost his little league glove (left at the field of the Essex Father’s day tournament).  Obviously, a baseball player’s glove is “irreplaceable” and arguably the most important piece of equipment.  It generally takes a few months to break a good Rawlings glove in properly.

So, to make a long story short, if MLB used aluminum they would have to build larger ball parks.  Home run fence would need to be extended at least another 100 feet.  The “Green Monster” is a popular nickname for the 37’2″ high left field wall at Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The wall is only 310–315 feet from home plate.

Nevertheless, the main reason for starting this article is because of my very poor performance this past weekend.  Even though we destroyed the Reds, I batted 0-4.  Batting lefty, I hit 4 ground balls all to the 1st and 2nd baseman.  However, one of them I hit on the “screws” but infielder made a nice play.  I need to start hitting line drives.  Hopefully, next weekend, Jun 12 when we face the Royals @ Martindale Park (990 Homberg Ave Baltimore, MD 21221), things will be different.  Last year I had two stand-up triples and anybody who has ever played the game KNOWS there is no better feeling.


Why tracking your Batting Average is HURTING your Batting Average

Every season, players and coaches set goals based on how they want to perform over the course of the season. Hitters want to hit .300. Pitchers want to have a sub-3 ERA. Coaches want to win 20, 30, 50, or 100 games, depending on the level of play. These measurable stats have existed since the beginning of baseball, and in particular the batting average has become the go-to number to illustrate a hitters success.

But is batting average, hits, or strikeouts really the way to measure the success of hitters throughout the course of the season? When they line out to the shortstop and see “0-1” in the stat book, is that a way for them to build confidence as a hitter? It’s probably the way for them to LOSE confidence as a hitter. Because according to baseball history, an out is the definition of a failed attempt. Which is crazy, because so much of this is out of our control!

Think about it, you did everything right over the course of an at-bat. You visualized hitting a missile in the on deck circle, and strolled up to the plate with a slight smirk knowing you were about to do DAMAGE to this baseball. You had a simple plan of attack. To HUNT the fastball, be on time for it, and LET IT FLY. You were focused, relaxed, and calm.

As you saw the first pitch fastball seeming to move in slow motion to your happy-zone, you did exactly what you had planned. YOU LET THE BARREL FLY! The barrel met the baseball with so much speed and pureness, that it sent it sizzling on a line…directly to the shortstop, whose momentum took him 2 steps back after catching the baseball at such a high speed…0-1

You’re not terribly mad at your at-bat, but you are disappointed you didn’t get the end-result. According to baseball you failed. According to the stat of all stats (batting average), you are a worse hitter than you were going into the at-bat. Which is starting to weigh on your head. Because going into the last month of the season, you’re hitting .308…and your average has been steadily declining over the last couple weeks.

If the mental aspect of the game is really 90% of success in baseball, then why not approach the game with a mindset that enables consistency? If consistency is the ultimate sign of a great player, why don’t we change our mindset to allow it to happen? Read more


Bryce Harper’s Hitter’s Mentality

Do you feel “lost’ at the plate? Have you had that feeling like there is nothing you can do to get a hit no matter what you try? Does self-doubt overtake you when you step in the batter’s box?

Sometimes, a string of bad at-bats can overwhelm a hitter. You may even start thinking that you are in a “slump” and feeling that you can’t hit anything. The fact is that you can’t hit every pitch, nobody can. The only way a string of bad at-bats turns into a slump is if you buy into the “slump” mentality.

Bryce Harper, 21, is the youngest player in the MBL, despite being in his third season in the big leagues. Harper hit .143 through the first five games for the Washington Nationals. Harper even showed signs of frustration slamming down his helmet and throwing his bat at a few bad at-bats. Harper started to think he was in a “slump.”

Harper said he received some good advice from his father who coached when he was young:

“Man, you need to stop thinking so much. Just go out and hit the baseball. Plain and simple… It’s sometimes where you start slow and that’s just part of the game and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just have fun, smile, laugh, just be as happy as you can all the time and good things will happen.”

Harper took heed to his father’s advice and it paid off with an eight-game hitting streak and a jump in his batting average to .340.

Harper started to trust his abilities, stopped over-thinking when in the batter’s box and knew the hits would eventually come if he focused on the process…

Maybe you had swung at some bad pitches… so what? Learn from the at-bat, have a calm mind, trust your swing, and move forward.

Adopt a hitter’s mentality: Take charge of your mental game. Focus on quality at-bats instead of your hitting average. This can help you focus on the process. (Read more).


 

 

All for one and one for all

Today at our 1st little league “playoff game”, I told the players afterwards that I was very impressed with our Team Chemistry and Cohesiveness.  My wife reminds me of the positive vibes she feels from the parents as well watching the kids interact with one another so seamlessly.

The World Champs are a testament to great chemistry.
The World Champs are a testament to great chemistry. (USATSI)

Team chemistry is a complicated issue, but it’s also the key to getting the most out of a team’s talent. Task cohesion, refers to a team’s ability to function as a collective unit and perform effectively on the field. “United we Stand”.

To compile a list of the best Major League Baseball teams of all time, there’s more than a century of data to mine and parameters to set. For one thing, a team can’t be great if they lose in the playoffs. For the Ruth and Gehrig Yankees (and every other team before 1969), the postseason simply meant the World Series. The best of the American League played the best of the National League for a winner-take-all best of seven.  Based on Baseball Almanac’s calculations and other tales of epic clubs of yore, here are the eight best MLB teams of all time.

8. 1970 Baltimore Orioles

1970 Baltimore Orioles

In the modern era, 100-win seasons are special achievements. The 1970 Baltimore Orioles posted 108 wins and went 115-55 with their playoff run included. They beat the Reds in five games to cap off a season for the ages that was defined by the Birds’ pitching staff.

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer led the staff that featured three 20-game winners in the rotation and a team ERA of 3.15. Big Frank Robinson and Boog Powell supplied the power while Paul Blair and Brooks Robinson worked their magic on the field and at the plate. This was Earl Weaver’s best team, one of five 100-win squads skippered by the late Hall of Fame manager but the only one to win the World Series.

7. 1961 New York Yankees

Yankee Stadium

The 1954 New York Giants could have claimed this spot, but the 1961 Yankees’ dominance (109 wins) was simply too much for for teams in their era to handle. Mickey Mantle had a monster season but Roger Maris ended up stealing the headlines by slugging 61 home runs to claim the record from Ruth. Mantle cracked 54 dingers and hit .317 with a .448 on base percentage while three other players hit at least 20 homers for this new version of Murderers’ Row.

On the mound, the Chair of the Board ran the show. Whitey Ford went 25-4 in the regular season before pitching 14 scoreless innings in two World Series wins to nab MVP honors. The Yankees beat the Reds in five games, but the outcome was never really in question. Maris’ 61 in ’61 seemed predetermined for this all time great club.

6. 1929 Philadelphia Athletics

Back in the day, Philly was a two-team town and the A’s were a dominant force in the American League with Connie Mack as their manager and Shibe Park as their home field. Whether the 1910 club was better than the 1929 squad is debatable, but the latter had to take the AL title from Ruth and Gehrig’s Yankees, so they win the race here. Jimmie Foxx (or, “Double X”) led the charge in ’29, hitting .354 with 33 home runs and a gaudy .463 on-base percentage, but Al Simmons was the team’s beast with 34 dingers and 157 RBI to go along with a .356 batting average. Yeah, they were that good.

The A’s went 104-46 in the regular season, blowing out the second-place Yankees by 18 games (the Red Sox ended up 48 games behind in the standings). On the mound, Lefty Grove (20-6) and George Earnshaw (24-8) combined for 32 complete games. They beat the Cubs in five games to win the World Series as Jimmy Dykes hit .421 and Foxx drove in five for the A’s.

5. 1939 York Yankees

New York Yankees

Based on the 1939 Yankees’ 411 run differential, you could rank them at the top of the list for best team of all time, but they’ll get their due. Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, and Red Rolfe did plenty of damage that year, but it was Joe DiMaggio’s team. Joltin’ Joe hit .381 with 30 home runs in a Yankee Stadium where fly balls to left field went to die (490 feet to left-center, 415 to left.) The Yankee Clipper had an on-base percentage of .448 and somehow struck out only 20 times in 524 plate appearances.

Red Ruffing paced the pitching staff with 21 wins and 22 complete games. The 1939 World Series against Cincinnati wasn’t even fair. Charlie Keller hit .438 with 3 home runs as the Yankees outscored the Reds 20-8 in a four-game sweep. With the playoffs added in, the 1939 Yankees went 110-45.

4. 1907 Chicago Cubs

While there are several stats that make the 1907 Cubs special, the one that catapults off the page is the team’s mind-boggling 1.73 ERA. Even in the Dead Ball Era, this pitching staff defined stingy. They outscored opponents by nearly 200 runs on their way to a record of 107-45.

In the World Series, the 1906 Cubs team that won 116 games got to redeem itself and enter the pantheon of best clubs ever. The pitching staff allowed a total of six runs in five games. How do you manage a four-games-to-none sweep when playing five games? Game One was called off after 12 innings with the teams deadlocked in a 3-3 tie. Yes, baseball was like soccer back then.

3. 1976 Cincinnati Reds

1976 Cincinnati Reds

Though one could argue the “Big Red Machine” of 1975 was one of the best ever, that club needed all seven games to win the World Series. That was not the case for the 1976 Reds who swept the Phillies in three games in the NLCS and then manhandled the Yankees in a four-game sweep of the World Series.

Johnny Bench hit .533 in the World Series with 6 RBI to take home MVP honors while George Foster and Dave Concepcion added to the onslaught. In the regular season, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and Ken Griffey led the offensive juggernaut to 102 wins. Scrappy and scruffy in the way only a 1970s ballclub could be, the Reds of 1976 were fun to watch and one of the game’s greatest.

2. 1998 New York Yankees

Take David Wells, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera in their prime. In mid-season, add Cuban sensation Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Start the batting order with Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, then mix in Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, and Tino Martinez in high-production years. Round it out with Jorge Posada, Scott Brosius, and Chili Davis. Call in Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd, and Ramiro Mendoza from the bullpen and DH or pinch-hit Darryl Strawberry when you want to intimidate a pitcher. That’s how the 1998 Yankees went 125-50.

Manager Joe Torre had access to the most talented pool of players in the modern era during the 114-48 regular season. The only vague threat that year came in the playoffs when Cleveland took Game Two of the ALCS at old Yankee Stadium, then roughed up Andy Pettitte to take game three in Cleveland. These were the only two losses the Yankees had in the postseason. El Duque righted the ship with an epic performance in game four before Cone and Wells sealed the deal. The World Series was more like a vacation to San Diego for this team, which took home the trophy in a four-game sweep.

With all this talent, who was the MVP of the World Series? Scott Brosius, whose brutal treatment of Trevor Hoffman in Game Three ended the best closer argument and signifies just how deep the ’98 Yankees were. Joe Torre insisted “Best Ever” go on the World Series ring along with the club’s impossible record. His assessment holds up to objective scrutiny.

1. 1927 New York Yankees

 1927 New York Yankees

In a time when the baseball season lasted 154 games, the 1927 Yankees went 110-44. Babe Ruth mashed a record 60 home runs (more than 12 whole teams hit that year) and Lou Gehrig hit .373 with 47 home runs and 52 doubles. Outfielders Earl Combes (.356 BA) and Bob Meusel (.337 BA) combined for 83 doubles. They were called “Murderers’ Row” for a reason.

The 1927 Yankees could also pitch with the best of them. Ace Waite Hoyt went 22-7 with a 2.63 ERA while closer Wilcy Moore chalked up 19 wins out of the bullpen with an ERA of 2.28. Their run differential (number of runs they outscored opponents) was a staggering 376. In the World Series, the Babe hit .400 with seven RBI as the Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games. It’s what happens when the best player ever leads the best squad ever against any opponent.

To put Babe Ruth’s achievement in perspective, the World Series opponent Pirates hit 54 home runs as a team in 1927 — six fewer than the Sultan of Swat. No wonder they wanted to put an asterisk next to Maris’ 61.  Reference | Other resource

 

ESPN Highlights

Our Roland Baseball – National League playoffs… GO BLAZE.

IMG_2119Not every picture is “Sports Illustrated” quality.  However, one of our parents captured some FABULOUS candid photos that clearly differentiate the average “smart phone”.  Click here  Here is the latest reel (click here).

Above from left to right (clockwise), Coach Craig, Coach Carl, Coach Dave, Amiela, Wyatt, Luke, Mason, Krrish.

 

Day at the Yard

I was going to title this blog, “Day at the Ballpark”.  But in Baltimore we call it the “Yard”.  How many other teams use the same name?

A baseball park, also known as a ballpark or diamond, is a venue where baseball is played. A baseball park consists of the playing field and the surrounimg_546943302_0430161912ading spectator seating. While the diamond and the areas denoted by white painted lines adhere to strict rules, guidelines for the rest of the field are flexible.  The term “ballpark” sometimes refers either to the entire structure, or sometimes to just the playing field. A home run where the player makes it around the bases, and back to home plate, without the ball leaving the playing field is typically called an “inside-the-park” home run. Sometimes a home run over the fence is called “out of the ballpark”, but that phrase more often means a home run that clears the stands and lands outside the building. The playing field is most often called the “ballfield”, though the term is often used interchangeably with “ballpark” when referring to a small local or youth league facility (read more).

The following is a list of Major League Baseball stadiums, sorted by capacity, their locations, their first year of usage and home teams.  img_547075254_img_1653The newest MLB stadium is Marlins Park in Miami, home of the Miami Marlins, which opened for the 2012 season. All except eleven MLB stadiums (Angel Stadium of

Anaheim, Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Kauffman Stadium, Marlins Park, Nationals Park, Oakland Coliseum, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Turner Field, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium being the exceptions) have sold the naming rights to their stadiums to corporations. Turner and Wrigley are named for the individuals and not the corporations; Kauffman is named for Ewing Kauffman who brought baseball back to Kansas City; while Fenway is named for the neighborhood and realty company at the time of ownership. This list will decrease to ten when SunTrust Park opens in 2017 as Turner Field’s replacement (read more).

The next time I visit the yard, remind me to thank Lawrence Berry, usher next to dugout.  I don’t know if my son Blake appreciates how cool it is to see Manny, Chris, Adam and others so close, but I certainly appreciate their long road of hard work!  Some of the pix above are from our 9-10 little league team, “Blaze” for Roland Park Baseball and I was excited to see good turnout, in spite of the rainy weather.  Also, note the “Kids run Bases” which some of our players participated in and I’m sure it was a lot of fun!

hardy_manny

Unfortunately, the games I attended on Saturday and Sunday (4/30 & 5/1/16)against the White Sox ended in losses.  However, it was a nail bitter, where the lead changed 3-4 times.  Thus, all this back-n-forth made it suspenseful. Moreover, the best part was the 2 out bunt by the CWS which turned out to be the game winning run.  It goes to show, any way you can get on base counts.  What was very monumental about this offensive strategy is Orioles closer Zach Britton sprained his left ankle while trying to field a bunt single by White Sox leadoff hitter Adam Eaton (read more).  This was after Zach struck out the first two batters.  Thus, CWS went on to win the game in the top of the 9th inning.

On Sunday, we saw another very unusual play defensively when Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy found an inventive new way to get an out at first (read more). A ball hit by Chicago White Sox’ Todd Frazier gets by Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado during the fourth inning of a baseball game, but shortstop J.J. Hardy, was able to get the ball and throw it to first to get put out Frazier on the play (read more).   Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has a knack for making incredible diving stops down the line, but sometimes it’s nice to have some help (read more).  Check out the box score.

orioles_recap

 

Always like a Girl

I would be remiss if I did not include some stories about my daughter.  She is turning 12 next month and I’m so proud of all her accomplishments.  In particular, she has done exceptionally well in school and extracurricular activities like Piano, Dance and Theater.

When it comes to sports, there tends to be a big “misperception”.  My wife found this video and it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

Chelsea is an excellent runner and swimmer.  This is her 7th year playing soccer and continues to excel with great success.  This spring she is playing lacrosse (2nd year) for the Roland Park Middle School “B” Lacrosse coached by Sarah Layng and Kelsy Mugele.  Read more

Personally, I played baseball my whole life so I was not familiar with some of the skills she needed to develop.  Thankfully, her coach suggested the following sites that has proved to be very helpful from the Denver, Colorado Women’s Lacrosse Team:

Home team wins 4

What an exciting weekend.  The Orioles beat the World Series Champions – Kansas City Royals 8-3.  The Birds record is 11-5 as of Saturday.

Our Over 40 team, Brewers beat the Nationals 15-2 and our record is now 2-0.

The Roland Park Rangers travel team beat the TowsonTowne Tbirds 6-5 and continue to remain undefeated this season (record 5-0).

Our RPBL In-house team (9-10 Nationals Little League) the Blaze beat the Ironbirds 5-3 and we have a 2 game winning streak (record 3-1-1).

Here are some quotes to pump you up:

  • Every game is game seven.
  • Teamwork makes the Dream work.
  • Attitude is Everything.
  • Be prepared! “If only” are the famous last words of those who weren’t.