As Notre Dame was about to play Army in 1928, football coach Knute Rockne invoked the name of former player George Gipp. Gipp’s deathbed request eight years earlier supposedly had been to use his memory to motivate the Fighting Irish for a big game. “‘Rock'”, the coach said Gipp told him, “‘some day when things look real tough for Notre Dame, ask the boys to go out there and win one for me.’
Given the 2016-17 Presidential climate, I (Coach Brooks) never knew the history of this quote. I suspect just about every competitive athlete and coach has heard this expression, “Win one for the Gipper“, but now it’s even more meaningful understanding the origin!
Well, I’ve never used Gipp’s request until now. This is the time.” Notre Dame won. A New York Daily News writer later reported Rockne’s emotional locker room speech in a feature story headed, “Gipp’s Ghost Beat Army / Irish Hero’s Deathbed Request Inspired Notre Dame.” Two years later Rockne embellished the legend when he wrote in a magazine that Gipp told him, “‘Some time, Rock, when the team’s up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys—tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper.” In 1940, an adaptation of these words, “Tell’em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper,” provided the dramatic denouement of a movie in which Ronald Regain played George Gipp. That movie (whose script was written by Robert Buckner), and Reagan’s lifelong identification with this role, made “Win one for the Gipper” a permanent part of America’s athletic-political lore. (The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When by Ralph Keyes. St. Martin’s Press, Apr 1, 2007). Read more
George Gipp (February 18, 1895 – December 14, 1920), nicknamed “The Gipper”, was a college football player who played for the University of Notre Dame. Gipp was selected as Notre Dame’s first Walter Camp All-American. Gipp played several positions, particularly halfback, quarterback, and punter. Gipp died at the age of 25 of a streptococcal throat infection, days after leading Notre Dame to a win over Northwestern in his senior season, and is the subject of Knute Rockne’s famous “Win just one for the Gipper” speech. In the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American he was portrayed by Ronald Reagan. Read more
Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician and actor who was the 40th President of the United States, from 1981 to 1989. Before his presidency, he was the 33rd Governor of California, from 1967 to 1975, after a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader.
Raised in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois, Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to Hollywood in 1937, he became an actor and starred in a few major productions. Reagan was twice elected President of the Screen Actors Guild, the labor union for actors, where he worked to root out Communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories.
Reagan essentially did not become very FAMOUS until after his 56rd birthday – Governor of CA and especially after his Presidency. He often used the expression, “Win one for the Gipper” in his political speeches.
He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency in 1968 and 1976; four years later, he easily won the nomination outright, becoming the oldest elected U.S. president up to that time, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. Read more
This will continue to be my #1 “locker room motivation pep talk” until I retire from coaching (which probably won’t be until Blake goes to college). Reagan is often regarded as one of the most popular and influential American Presidents alongside Kennedy and Lincoln in the history of the United States.
William Joseph Patrick “Pat” O’Brien (November 11, 1899 – October 15, 1983) was an American film actor with more than one hundred screen credits. Of Irish descent, he often played Irish and Irish-American characters and was referred to as “Hollywood’s Irishman in Residence” in the press. One of the best-known screen actors of the 1930s and 1940s, he played priests, cops, military figures, pilots, and reporters. He is especially well-remembered for his roles in Knute Rockne, All American (1940), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), and Some Like It Hot (1959). He was frequently paired onscreen with Hollywood legend James Cagney. O’Brien also appeared on stage and television. Read more
Answer: By regulation, baseball bats may be no more than 2.75 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches long. A MLB baseball is only 3 inches in diameter. Thus, it is very, very difficult. As a matter of fact, you can fail 7/10 times and be qualified for the Hall of Fame (.300 batting average). Read more
5 Ways To Help Your Infield Skin Rebound From Rain Quickly
(following excerpts are from original material at Ballfields.com)
While the western quarter of the US is battling a daunting drought, the central portion of the US has been dealing with lots of rain over the past couple of months. Think about it. In a three week span, the entire state of Texas went from a major 4-year drought to being totally drought free. It takes a lot of rain to knock out four years of drought in just three weeks. With all that rain, surely there are many who are having issues with trying to get their fields ready after a rain. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help your fields recoup from a rain event as quickly as possible.
Keep Your Infield Properly Graded
First and foremost, make sure that your infield is properly graded to promote positive surface drainage. Ideally, the infield should be graded so that the area around the base of the pitcher’s mound is the highest point on the infield with the surface grade then sloping away from the mound in all directions. However, depending on the lay of the land that the field was built on, the other way of grading an infield would be to “sheet drain” it. This means the entire infield is tilted in one direction; for example, the infield may tilt from the first base foul line towards left field. In either instance, both of these surface grades are only efficient at draining the water off it if the surface is smooth and consistent. In other words, there are no high spots or low spots to impede or deflect the drainage. Proper nail and float dragging are crucial maintenance practices that, when done correctly, will keep your skin surface in smooth and consistent surface draining condition.
Maintain Your Turf Edges
Maintaining your turf edges to prevent lip buildup will allow the water to easily pass over from infield skin to turf area without any issues. When infield soil and infield topdressing buildup in the edges of the grass, that ridge or “lip” impedes the water from freely moving off the field. The more severe the lip, the more water it will hold back onto the infield skin. Properly maintain those lips to keep them from slowing your field from recuperating.
Choose Appropriate Infield Soil Material
The right infield soil material has a huge impact on speed of reentry onto an infield after a rain. Infield soils that are either high in silt or high in fine and very fine sand drastically effect how quickly the field is playable again after a rain. Even worse is when you have both problems! High silt and high fine sand content infield soils can take a day or multiple days to recuperate. Have your infield soil tested to check to see how your soil material lines up with the acceptable specifications. Strive for a balanced infield soil with the right amounts of medium to coarse sand and the proper ratio of silt to clay. It’ll make all the difference in the world as to how easy it will be getting the infield back into playing condition.
Use an Infield Top Dressing
Use a topdressing on your infield skin surface. An infield topdressing is a ¼” to ½” layer at the infield skin surface of a granular material that will not stick to a players cleat, even when wet. These materials, usually made of calcined clay, vitrified clay, expanded shale, crushed aggregate or crushed brick, tend to dry more quickly on the surface then if you just had the bare soil exposed. The topdressing will dry on the surface while your infield soil underneath is still moist, but the topdressing allows you still to reenter the field. It acts much like a mulch in a landscape bed and provides many benefits in the performance of the infield.
Drag the Field Before Rain Storms
When you know a rain is coming, keep the field dragged smooth if at all possible. The water will flow more easily and rapidly off the infield if it is smooth and not pock marked with cleat marks and divots. Additionally, keep the field TIGHT! A tight field absorbs less water than one that has been deeply nail dragged, which will create pore space for water to fill and slow the drying process down considerably after the rain event.
How it rains also can have an impact in how fast your field will recuperate and come back up online for play. A long, slow light to moderate rain of a couple hours or more is very penetrating and will be deeply absorbed by your infield soil. This type of a rain usually requires longer for the field to dry from. Compare that to a heavy rain lasting 15 to 30 minutes, or even an hour. This kind of rainfall, while possibly dumping many times the amount of water than a slow rainfall did, is a violent rainfall to the soil.
A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Read more
Sometimes things don’t always work out between owners and managers.
David Allen “Davey” Johnson (born January 30, 1943) is an American former professional baseball player and manager. He played for the Baltimore Orioles (1965–1972) and was the head coach for the Orioles (1996–1997). He also managed the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and several other MLB teams.
Johnson was the starting second baseman for the Orioles when they won four American League (AL) pennants and two World Series championships between 1965 and 1972. He made four All-Star Game appearances and received the Rawlings Gold Glove Award three times. Johnson won the American League’s Manager of the Year Award in 1997 when he led the Baltimore Orioles wire-to-wire to the American League East Division Championship. He won the same award in the National League in 2012 when he led the Nationals to the franchise’s first division title since 1981.
His biggest success as a manager was when he led the Mets to the 1986 World Series title.
The ball club captured the National League (NL) East under his watch in 1988. The teams he piloted in the three years from 1995 to 1997 all made it to their respective League Championship Series – the Cincinnati Reds in 1995 and the Orioles in both 1996 and 1997. He later managed the Dodgers and Nationals.
Johnson rankled Mets management with his easygoing style. Years later, he summed up his approach to managing by saying, “I treated my players like men. As long as they won for me on the field, I didn’t give a flying fuck what they did otherwise.” When the Mets struggled early in the 1990 season, starting the season 20-22, he was fired. He remains the winningest manager in Mets history and was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame with Frank Cashen, Darryl Strawberry, and Dwight Gooden on August 1, 2010. Johnson and Schott had never gotten along, and relations had deteriorated to the point that he had nearly been fired after the 1994 season. Also, Johnson and Orioles owner Peter Angelos never got along. In fact, the two men almost never spoke to each other. On October 1, 2012, Johnson led the Nationals to the franchise’s first division title since 1981 (when they were the Montreal Expos), eventually achieving a franchise-record 98 wins—the most wins in baseball that year. Read more
(June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970)
Professional football coach Vince Lombardi became a national symbol of single-minded determination to win. In nine seasons as the head coach of the previously moribund Green Bay Packers, Lombardi led the team to five NFL championships and to victory in the first two Super Bowls.One of my favorite quotes–”It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
Life is full of bumps. “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense” –Winston Churchill
There are so many people who I have met and experiences that I have had that I hope I can communicate some of that wisdom to others. Stay Inspired.
Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind. Think about what you want written on your tombstone“. I hope that they will engrave, ‘Brooks was a man of integrity’ on my grave. B. Robinson certainly is a CLASS ACT and a very hard act to follow.
There have not been many success stories as a head coach, but enough to make me feel complete. Two of the most significant experiences was last year when we came back from a 9 run deficit with 2 outs at the end of the game. Then in the championship game, in spite of our lost, receiving the Gatorade Shower and the opposing team players saying, “That is the happiest LOSING team I have ever seen!” Play every game as if it were Game 7.
You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend. When I was down you just stood there grinnin’. You’ve got a lotta nerve to say you got a helping hand to lend. You just want to be on the side that’s winnin’. You say I let you down, ya know its not like that. If you’re so hurt, why then don’t you show it? You say you’ve lost your faith, but that’s not where its at. You have no faith to lose, and ya know it.
I know the reason, that you talked behind my back. I used to be among the crowd you’re in with.
Do you take me for such a fool, to think I’d make contact. With the one who tries to hide what he don’t know to begin with? You see me on the street, you always act surprised. You say “how are you?”, “good luck”, but ya don’t mean it. Positively 4th Street. Bob Dylan Listen
Betty White: This superstar wasn’t a household name until the age of 51 when she began playing “The Happy Homemaker” Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973-1977).
Regis Philbin was on the small screen on many occasions before his big rise to fame with Kathie Lee Gifford in 1988. When the pair launched Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Regis was 57.
Sharon Osbourne: Although husband Ozzy Osbourne had been famous since the late 60s as lead singer of The Black Sabbath, his wife wasn’t a household name until The Osbournes premiered on MTV in 2002.
Morgan Freeman didn’t become a superstar until playing chauffeur Hoke Colburn in “Driving Miss Daisy” at the age of 52 (although he was 50 when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the film “Street Smart”).
Although Tommy Lee Jones has been on the big screen countless times for decades, he didn’t achieve household recognition until his role in “The Fugitive” at the age of 53.
Although Chris Gardner made it big in the business world years earlier, he did not become a household name until the release of the autobiographical movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith
Julia Child didn’t start cooking until the age of 40 and she didn’t have a television program until “The French Chef” aired in 1963 when Child was 51.
Every year thousands of players participate in the great game under the Babe Ruth League banner. Many of them dream about someday becoming professional athletes.
It used to be that only young male athletes could dream of reaching such lofty heights through athletic participation. But now because of women’s professional basketball, softball and soccer leagues, young female athletes have been able to share those dreams.
While it’s great to dream and strive for success in all of your endeavors, the reality is that a very, very small percentage of athletes ever get the opportunity to play a sport professionally. In fact, only a handful of the athletes who participate in youth baseball or softball will play at the collegiate level. More, but probably not the majority, will play in high school.
At some point all of us – even the most successful professional athletes – have to venture out into the business world or what some people like to call the “real world.” While it is our primary goal to help the young baseball and softball players improve in those sports, we are very aware that there is more to life than athletics. There are many valuable life lessons that can be communicated through sports participation, and it is our hope that the young athletes will take away something that will help them later on in life. One of those key lessons that we hope to impart is the value of sportsmanship. Read more
Every game we handed out a trophy for the Most Valuable Player. This idea came to me from watching my son’s Head Baseball Coach, Doug Bassett (Facebook). My son left RPBL in 2014 and he and I got involved with the WM Warriors. I was the Assistant Coach on the 8U-B travel team. In 2015, Blake had the most success season to-date winning the MVP in the “35th Annual HCYP Invitational Baseball Tournament in Ellicott City, MD”. This medal was awarded by the opposing Manager. His 8U-A team also went undefeated in the 2015 Essex Express Baseball Father’s Day Summer Classic
August, 2001 my girlfriend Rene and I drove to the Eastern shore with our first born child AKA dog Brendan. The breeder named him Snow because he was so white. So, when we set out to train him and enrolled him in multiple obedience classes. This is where I learned one of the most valuable lessons in life. She said,
“Have you ever wondered how trainers are able to get dolphins to jump out of the water on command and do a flip at SeaWorld? It’s through “positive reinforcement” using fish.”
So, instead of fish we used Cheese Balls and it was AMAZINGLY effective. I managed to train Brendan to Sit, Stay and Come on command beautifully. He was literally like a son to us. We loved him so much he became our “ring bearer” at our wedding @ the Inn at Perry Cabin.
This style of teaching proved to be very important in my teaching career, as well as coaching. I began awarding a Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy at every game. There is NO “I” in TEAM. For example, Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez was named 2015 World Series MVP. Read more He wears jersey #13. Guess who else wears that unlucky number on the Orioles? Gold Glove 3rd baseman – Manny Machado
At Closing Ceremonies this year, we will be presenting the first ever RPBL Coaches Award to one player on each National League Team (9-10 age group) who best represents the values of RPBL. These values include:
The winner on the Blaze goes to Henry Fischel. He always had a smile on his face, hustled, followed direction well, cheered for his teammates and most of all was a great asset to the overall success of our team this year. In fact, he managed to have some key offensive hits when we needed it most and his defensive pitching performance was outstanding.
However, it was not a land slide. We had many players who were very easy to teach and seemed to be enjoying the game. But there were two special players who deserve to be recognized. Amelia Overton & Wyatt Winstead – Honorable Mentions. I believe their best example of “Sportsmanship” was shown when they consistently went out of their way to acknowledge me not only after every game, but after every practice as well. “Thank you Coach” are the 3 magic words any Skipper loves to hear!
One last player who made remarkable improvement was Sawyer Ross. He wins the “Most Improved” award. Here’s a guy who had never played baseball before. Yet, I knew he was a great athlete because he played soccer with my son. He became my “pet project”. I worked with him and tried to teach him how to bat. Sure enough, when the game was on the line, he came through. Read Victory & Defeat
Don’t be a Sore Loser
Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors. A “sore loser” refers to one who does not take defeat well, whereas a “good sport” means being a “good winner” as well as being a “good loser”. (Someone who shows courtesy towards another in a sports game).
RPBL requires that we play every player in the outfield. So, we will continue to make adjustments this season experimenting with players at pitcher, 1B and SS. I will continue to keep the batting lineup in descending order alphabetically. This gives everyone equal plate appearances.
In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence, and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents. The four elements of sportsmanship are often shown being good form, the will to win, equity and fairness.
The important thing to remember is that we win and lose as a TEAM. “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” –Babe Ruth
Since every sport is rule driven, the most common offence of bad sportsmanship is the act of cheating or breaking the rules to gain an unfair advantage. A competitor who exhibits poor sportsmanship after losing a game or contest is often called a “sore loser” (those who show poor sportsmanship after winning are typically called “bad champs”). Sore loser behavior includes blaming others for the loss, not accepting responsibility for personal actions that contributed to the defeat, reacting to the loss in an immature or improper fashion, making excuses for the defeat, and citing unfavorable conditions or other petty issues as reasons for the defeat. A bad winner acts in a shallow fashion after his or her victory, such as by gloating about his or her win, rubbing the win in the face(s) of the opponent(s), and lowering the opponent(s)’s self-esteem by constantly reminding the opponent(s) of “poor” performance in comparison (even if the opponent(s) competed well). Read more
Some of my favorite players include Hank Aaron, Aaron Judge, Rickey Henderson and Babe Ruth.
THE LEADOFF: Your leadoff should be one of your team’s best hitters and fastest players. The goal of any good leadoff hitter is to get on base, however they can. Your on-base percentage leader should fit well in the leadoff spot, if you’re keeping track of that stat. Remember, whether they hit the ball for contact or they walk, they’ve got to get on base.
Speed is a plus for this position. Don’t look for power in the leadoff—save power hitters for later when there are more baserunners positioned. If your kids are competing for this spot, remind them that the leadoff hitter usually only leads once.
2 SPOT: The 2-spot player is on-deck at the start of the game and should be a fundamentally sound hitter. You must rely on them to make contact with the ball. The goal of the second hitter is to advance your leadoff player, as well as make it on-base themselves. Players who frequently strike out will kill momentum in this position.
3 HOLE: Just as before, the 3 hole should be one of your team’s best hitters. This can be someone who has a great batting average and doesn’t lack power.
This position should be filled by a good all-around hitter who really gets the concept of batting against another player. You want the 3 hole to move players around, or drive in the first runs of the game. If you look at your stats and see a player with a comparatively high batting average, a couple doubles and several RBIs on the season, try batting them third.
CLEANUP: One of the most admired spots in the batting lineup, the cleanup position is typically your most powerful hitter. In youth baseball, that doesn’t just mean the player that has a lot of homeruns. The cleanup player hits the ball hard. Hard hits typically get through the infield and sometimes can get to an outfield gap or even past an unskilled outfielder. When this player steps to the plate, the infielders take a step back.
5 POSITION: Sometimes the cleanup hitter doesn’t quite clear the bases—and that’s what the 5-spot is for. Like the cleanup position, the player batting fifth should have higher than average batting power. This player should not strike out as much as feast-or-famine cleanup hitter, but should still be able to crank out a few doubles or hard-hit singles. When you examine your stat sheet, look for players who are hitting more than singles and are in the bottom half of all strikeouts (or who have a lower-than-average strikeout to at-bat ratio). Throughout the year, you’ll want to switch up your fourth and fifth positions. This will challenge your players and give you a better idea of who fits best in which role.
SPOTS 6 & 7: Unless you’re one lucky youth baseball coach, this is where you’ll probably reach a challenge in your lineup. The 6 and 7 spots are important in your lineup, even if they don’t perform as well at the plate. A batting average of .200 or .225 can wreak havoc on the other team. Hope for singles from these players, or try putting a good bunter in this role. If you’ve got players who are about equal in hitting ability, speed should be the deciding factor.
BATTING 8: At the youth level, the 8 spot is ideal for developing hitters. In many cases, the 8 position is for a player who is the worst fundamental hitter on your team and strikes out the most. Remember, every team has a player who has not yet caught onto hitting.
9 PLAYER: This less-than-desirable spot is often reserved for the weakest hitter on the team—but we think the nine guy is worth extra consideration.
At the youth level, you should make it a habit to shuffle your 7 to 9-spot hitters, so you do not consistently send a negative message to any one player. The 9 spot should not go to your player who strikes out the most, but someone who you’ve seen scatter singles throughout the season. This player could jumpstart a middle inning for the top of the order.
BATTING THROUGH YOUR LINEUP
In many youth baseball organizations, your team must bat through the lineup. That is to say, if you have 12 kids on a team, all 12 must bat before you start at the top of the order. In these cases, we suggest you follow the above guidelines for positions 1 to 7 then rotate players 8 to 12, keeping them even on at-bats when the season closes.
Remember, your job as coach is to ensure your roster is having fun, developing skills and gaining confidence. Playing a less competitive team? Consider changing up your lineup to challenge your team and give everyone an opportunity. They may surprise you—and themselves.
Well Coached Players: “The best situation for all of us is for you to plan on handing these kids over to me and the assistant coaches when you drop them off, and plan on them being mine for the 2 or so hours that we have scheduled for a game, or the time that we have scheduled for the practice. I would like for these boys to have some responsibility for having their own water, not needing you to keep running to the concession stand, or having parents behind the dugout asking their son if they are thirsty, or hungry…
Players on the bench will not be messing around. I will constantly be talking with them about situations and what they would be doing if they were in a specific position, or if they were the batter.” ~Mike Matheny. Often I find myself saying to my 10 year old son, “Help me, Help you” similar to scene from Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise. However, be careful showing this to young women because clip ends with Cuba Gooding parading around locker room in the nude (Caution: R rated).
Nevertheless, whether you are a sports agent or a parent coach, the responsibility and sacrifice can be daunting at times, to say the least.
Baserunning is a fundamental of the game that incorporates many facets that players can work on no matter what their running speed. Coaches of young players often do not work with their teams on this part of the game. Running the bases is an art. If coaches teach baserunning correctly, they will increase the ability of their players to steal bases and take extra bases. Fast base runners force fielders to throw to another base because the runner got there quicker than the fielder expected. In the field, faster players are able to get to and catch more balls. Before working on baserunning, coaches need to teach young players how to run properly and have them run every day to get faster. Speed and agility training is an important part of helping young players develop their athleticism. After a young player has developed his athleticism, all the facets of baserunning become a lot easier. Most of the time players cannot develop athleticism by playing baseball. This should be a priority when it comes to helping young players run the bases better.
To work on running and running the bases, your warm-ups in practice and before games need to be organized around running. Running needs to become a habit for young players. You can begin and end practices with fun running drills and games. Keep in mind that you always want to end practices with a competitive and fun activity because the last thing they do is what they remember. You want them remembering that practice was fun so that they learn faster.
Coaches should talk to track coaches to learn the proper running techniques so that they can help their players run better. Track coaches can teach the techniques and drills that allow players to perfect their running.
A few things need to be taught to help with all facets of baserunning. First is the ability to move quickly from one spot to another. This art is used in baseball and in many other sports. It begins with the hip turn, pushing off one foot and going. This turn will help runners and fielders. In this technique, players turn their hips as quickly as possible, keep the feet low to the ground, and turn on the angle that they need to run. The hip turn helps them move their feet faster. As they turn their hips and their feet touch the ground, they push off with the back foot. This turn can be practiced in warm-up drills, as we explain in the following drills. Read more
To be a well-rounded baseball player, you must develop and practice your base running skills. As my Guide To Base Running Strategy states, because rounding the bags happens almost every play, it is critical to allot time each practice to base running.
To be a talented base runner, you must first recognize when the defense makes a mistake, then be able to capitalize on the opportunity. Develop your team’s base running skills with the following four drills. Each base running drill can be practiced individually, in small groups, or as a team—to incorporate a unified base running mentality.
Base Running Drills
Ground Ball Reads: Anytime a player can eliminate the need for a sacrifice bunt to preserve an out, it’s a huge advantage for the offense. Consider the benefit for your team if you habitually advanced from first base to third through a series of steals.
The Drill: The drill begins with a runner at first, taking a conservative lead. The coach feeds himself the ball and hits it toward centerfield. When the coach feeds himself the ball—the toss serves as the pitch—the runner takes a secondary lead. Once the ball is hit, the runner reacts to the ball by sprinting to second base, while keeping his eye on the ball and the fielder. Before arriving at second base, the runner should have already made a decision on whether to advance to third. As a rule of thumb, continue to third base if you reach second before the outfielder has the ball. Keep in mind: it’s far easier to slam on the brakes than turn on the jets. If the fielder has the ball, simply round the bag and watch the throw, ready to take advantage of a throwing error.
Dirtball Reads: When a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, take advantage of the opportunity by stealing an extra base. If a ball skips away from the catcher, runners must take advantage of the situation by advancing. The trouble lies with in-between balls, those that stray out of the batter’s box but not out of the dirt circle. This is where a little anticipation comes in handy. Know the count, the situation, where the other runners are and what they may be thinking. If it’s a breaking ball count (0-2, 1-2, even 1-1), expect a ball in the dirt and take an extra step toward the next base. This drill should be performed with a loaded infield and any number of runner combinations. The runners should start at any base in the infield. The coach short hops the ball to home plate, so the catcher, forced to block the ball, allows the runners time to read the situation and quickly decide whether to advance to the next base. The coach should keep the runners honest by mixing in strikes.
Tennis Ball Drop: Obviously, there is no better way to improve your stealing skills than to face a pitcher practicing his pickoff moves. However, this opportunity isn’t always available. When a pitcher isn’t available, use the Tennis Ball Drop drill to improve your reaction time. With a player on the pitcher’s mound holding a tennis ball, the runner takes a lead off first base. The player releases the tennis ball, triggering the runner’s break for second base. Whether the runner runs the full distance to second base, the first ten feet, or halfway, it doesn’t matter, since the first few steps are most important. The player on the mound should vary his release time to eliminate any chance for the runner to time up the pitch.
Resistance Steal Breaks: When it comes to stealing, your first step is your most important. This drill can be done with a tennis ball, a live pitcher or verbal signals. The runner starts by taking a normal lead off first base. Instead of balancing his weight on both feet equally, the runner should exaggerate his lean toward second base by placing more weight on his right foot. A partner standing to the right of the runner place his hands on the runner’s forward leaning (right ) shoulder. The runner should feel somewhat unbalanced. Once in this position, the partner lets go, then pushes the runner forward, propelling him into a sprint. This forces the runner to run fast enough to keep his balance. This drill makes the runner explode out of the gate toward second base. Again, the distance you run can vary between the first ten feet to the entire distance. Just make sure to concentrate on a good start. Read more
Excellence: Baseball is an island of activity amidst a sea of statistics. Baseball is also the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated. “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”
Mike Gottlieb has been associated with the Towson baseball program for nearly four decades. Gottlieb came to Towson as a player, before joining Bill Hunter’s staff as an assistant coach. He took over as the Tigers head coach prior to the 1988 season. Since taking over, Gottlieb has led Towson to 713 victories, three conference tournament championships and three trips to the NCAA Tournament. He has averaged nearly 25 victories per season over his tenure. To put that in perspective, the school-record for victories prior to his arrival was 26. Born: October 24, 1956 (age 61) Lynbrook, New York
The Early Years
Gottlieb made an immediate impact in his first season as head coach, leading the Tigers to their first appearrance in the NCAA Tournament. He guided Towson to a 30-17-1 record, including capturing the East Coast Conference regular season championship with a 12-2 record. The Tigers swept through the ECC Tournament to win their first tournament championship. For his efforts, Gottlieb was selected as the ECC Coach of the Year and NCAA Regional Coach of the Year.
In their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers fell, 3-0, to eventual College World Series participant Miami, before rebounding for a 5-1 victory over VCU. Three years later, Gottlieb led the Tigers to their second ECC Tournament championship and the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers opened the tournament with a loss to Mississippi State before rebounding for a 5-0 victory over Princeton. The victory over Princeton was significant as it marked the 100th victory in Gottlieb’s career. Gottlieb would lead the Tigers to another 30-win season in 1992, their final year in the ECC.
The CAA Era
After a down year in 2004, Gottlieb doubled the team’s win total in a 34-24 season in 2005. The Tigers got better as the season progressed, winning 17 of their final 24 games. The Tigers offense featured an explosive offense that led the country with 105 home runs. The lineup was led by Second-Team All-Americans Jason Maxey (23 home runs) and Casper Wells (17 home runs).
Wells, who is the only Tiger to earn CAA Player of the Year honors, would go on to be drafted in the 14th round by the Detroit Tigers. Shortstop Shane Justis would be selected in the 21st round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, marking the fourth time in the Gottlieb era that two Tigers were drafted in the same draft. The 2005 season also marked the first time the Tigers had reached the championship game of the CAA Tournament. Towson overcame an opening-round loss to knock off regular-season champions UNCW and Delaware on their way to the title game.
Gottlieb is also responsible for recruiting and coaching all eight All-Americans and all three Freshman All-Americans in school history. He has also coached seven Academic All-Americans and 18 Academic All-District honorees. The Tigers have produced at least one all-conference performer in 25-straight years under Gottlieb. That list includes four conference player’s of the year, three defensive player’s of the year, one rookie of the year and 77 all-conference selections.
Gottlieb arrived in Towson after playing two seasons at Nassau Community College. He played first base for two seasons before graduating in 1979. After graduation, Gottlieb remained at Towson as an assistant coach for Bill Hunter. Gottlieb spent seven years as an assistant under Hunter. When Hunter stepped down in 1988 to become the Director of Athletics, Gottlieb was immediately tabbed as his successor. Gottlieb currently resides in the Towson area. Read more
1981–1987: Towson (asst.)
Head coaching record: Overall 733–821–10
Mike Gottlieb (born October 24, 1956) is a former American college baseball coach, serving as head coach of the Towson Tigers baseball program from 1988 to 2017. He was named to that position prior to the start of the 1988 season. Gottlieb played two seasons for Nassau Community College before transferring to Towson. He played first base for the Tigers and graduated in 1980. Read more
Towson Baseball History
Three years ago, he became the first Towson coach to win 500 games when he earned his 500th coaching victory with a win over Mount St. Mary’s on March 12, 2008. Coach Gottlieb led the Tigers to a 30-28 record in 2008 as the team came on strong at the end of the year. After earning the sixth and final berth in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 14-16 record, the Tigers reached the CAA finals where they lost to James Madison, 6-1.
In November of 2002, Coach Gottlieb was honored as the College Coach of the Year by the Middle Atlantic Regional Scouting Bureau. Read more
As their program lay on the edge of oblivion, the Tigers charged ahead, winning the Colonial Athletic Association and earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. The politics surrounding the potential axing of Towson baseball went all the way to Annapolis — and the program received funding to continue for two years.
“For whatever reason, I had a fool’s optimism that things would work out,” Gottlieb said. “I don’t know that I had any reason for that, but that’s how I felt. I never talked to anyone about another college coaching job. I have a couple of friends in the scouting profession, and I said to them that if something was available, could they let me know — but I never actively, once, called someone who had the power to give me a job and asked for one.”
The Tigers will now look to defend their CAA championship title this season. One of the positives for the team is that most of last year’s roster has returned in 2014.
“Every one of our nine starting players returned,” Gottlieb said. “That doesn’t happen very often. We’ve moved a few people around — Zach Fisher’s now behind the plate, and for most of our early games, we’ve had a freshman at third base — but everyone else is a guy who’s been out there already.”
But because of some key injuries on the mound, including Paul Beers and Kevin Ross, the pitching will require some fresh talent to play well in order to stay consistent. Read more
A look beyond the gleaming Towson logo and gem-encrusted baseball diamond on Mike Gottlieb’s 2013 Colonial Athletic Association championship ring reveals a message with deeper meaning. The veteran former head coach had the team’s rings engraved with the phrase “Against All Odds,” a nod to the program’s incredible resilience on and off the field on the way to its first conference title in more than two decades.
On April 1, O’Malley bailed out Towson with a plan to free up $300,000 in state funds to help continue the program. By May 25, the Tigers were CAA champions with a backstory worthy of national headlines. They also won their opener at the Chapel Hill Regional before losing their next two games.
“It’s not like winning World War II, but we fought the good fight,” Gottlieb said.
Now, Towson will move on without Gottlieb. The Tigers hired former Orioles farmhand Matt Tyner for the job June 22. Gottlieb plans to find some way to stay around the game. He’d have to find the right situation to coach in college again, though. Scouting seems a better possibility. Read more
Orioles shortstop Manny Machado and Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura were both ejected Tuesday night following a bench-clearing melee that was precipitated by Ventura throwing at Machado (read more).
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Orioles leading 5-1, Ventura’s first pitch to Machado — a 99 mph fastball — hit the Baltimore slugger in the back. Machado charged the mound as Ventura prepared for the confrontation by taking off his hat and glove. Machado threw a punch at the Kansas City starter and slammed him to the ground.
With the crowd at Camden Yards chanting, “Man-ny, Man-ny,” both benches and bullpens flooded the field. Machado was restrained by teammate Chris Tillman after the initial contact.
I was thinking about this as it relates to how I might react today? What should I tell my kids?
All I can think of is the following: Filter comments and actions according to:
Is it truthful
Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?
I love reading about Brooks Robinson. However, most pictures of him show him posing for the camera. I’m coaching young 9-10 year old players and it is VERY important the kids get into the proper fielding position on every pitch. This is something I’ve been trying to explain for years to my son (read more).
Also, found a funny video of Brooks and his self-deprecating personality (click here). It’s interesting what Buck Showalter said about the situation. Also, notice at the end who is standing next to him. It’s Bobby Dickerson, another favorite coach of mind.
Nevertheless, I like how Manny turned and took the ball on the back. I would argue, as big as he is, it probably did not hurt that much. It stung for about 5 minutes, tops. Notice how out of breath he after the brawl.
I will never forget this commercial growing up => ABC Wide World of Sports featuring Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali.
ABC’s Wide World of Sports is an American sports anthology television program that aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from April 29, 1961 to January 3, 1998, primarily on Saturday afternoons. Hosted by Jim McKay, with a succession of co-hosts beginning in 1987, the title continued to be used for general sports programs on the network until 2006. In 2007, Wide World of Sports was named by Time Magazine on its list of the 100 best television programs of all-time. Read more
A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves. In ancient Greece wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics.
The important thing to remember is that we win and lose as a TEAM. “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” –Babe Ruth Read Sportsmanship
Brewers topple Reds 12-2 @ St. Helena Park (300 Willow Spring Road Baltimore, MD 21222). We 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.
We 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 fatherwho 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).
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: