The Ripken Way

Cal Ripken Jr. acknowledges the crowd after officially breaking Lou Gehrig’s record.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Practice does not make perfect. How is that possible? Because bad habits may be practiced, and practicing a flawed technique will get a player nowhere. The only way to do something is to do it right. Practicing good habits is what makes a better player. Habits are formed in practice and then become automatic in the game. You play like you practice; If you practice correctly, you will play correctly.

Introduction

Iron Man – Cal Ripken plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record; truly one of baseball’s magical, once-in-a-lifetime moments. Watch Video

Teaching BaseballPrintable Lessons as well as Video Lessons (click # links below) on the Basic Fundamentals of Hitting, Infield & Outfield Play, Pitching and even a Glossary. Instructors include Cal Ripken Jr., Billy Ripken, John Habyan and Joe Orsulak.

HITTING

Hitting is probably the most difficult part of the game. However, it is also the most enjoyable and satisfying part, as we all love to hit a baseball. It’s difficult because the pitcher has the ability to throw the ball hard, or not so hard, or to make it curve or sink. As the hitter, we not only have to determine what pitch has been thrown, but also whether it is a strike or a ball. If it is a strike, we have to attempt to hit it. All of this must be done in a fraction of a second. Like all parts of the game there are basic fundamentals that can help make us become better hitters. Lessons 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11

INFIELD

Infield defense can be broken down into two parts: catching and throwing. It’s as simple as that. If we don’t catch the ground ball, we certainly can’t throw it. If you take that concept to its extreme form, a double play is five simple parts: a catch, a throw, a catch, a throw and a catch. Lessons 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

OUTFIELD

Outfield play, especially at the youth levels, often gets overlooked. Even though the outfielder is not directly involved in the majority of plays, coaches need to stress the importance of the position. An outfielder has to be able to maintain concentration throughout the game, because there may only be one or two hit balls that come directly to that player during the course of the contest. Those plays could be the most important ones. There also are many little things an outfielder can do — backing up throws and other outfielders, cutting off balls and keeping runners from taking extra bases, and throwing to the proper cutoffs and bases – that don’t show up in a scorebook, but can really help a team play at a high level. Lessons 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 10, 11, 12

PITCHING

As a pitching coach or an instructor, you do most of your work from behind the mound watching pitchers throw. There is a certain progression to use when you are observing pitchers. The first thing to do, especially when watching pitchers for the first time, is to just observe. Resist the urge to discuss any theories or any expectations. Just give them the ball and let them throw for 10 minutes. When watching pitchers throw for the first time, it’s important to look for three things, and one of them isn’t mechanics. Don’t really concentrate on mechanics as one of the first things. Lessons 00, 00b, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10

LIGHT BULBS

Lessons 00, 01, 02

Bat Guidelines

If you are in the market for for a Big Barrel Baseball Bat (Senior), it might make more sense to wait until the fall of 2017 to purchase or better yet 2018.  For example, the 2-5/8 barrel Louisville Slugger similar to the 2-1/4 pictured above costs $350.

BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) is something you’ve probably heard a lot about; it’s the standard currently governing adult baseball bats used in High School and Collegiate play. Rather than measuring the ratio of the ball exit speed to pitch and bat speeds, BBCOR measures the trampoline effect of the bat.

Effective January 1st, 2018

USA Baseball is introducing a NEW standard.  Traditionally, rules were always based on age groups.  For example, 12U players are allowed to use baseball bats up to thirty-three (33) inches in length and less than two and one-quarter (2¼) inches in diameter.  Now the new rule requires that bat barrels up to 2 5/8 inch barrel diameter are REQUIRED to carry the new USABat stamp.

USSSA has had a stated 1.15 BPF Small Barrel (2¼” barrels) and Big Barrel (2⅝” and 2¾” barrel bats) baseball bat performance standard in its rule book for 6 years for its sanctioned programs up to and including its 14U program. Read more 

Traditionally, there has long been some confusion on the specific weight/length ratio limits, as well as the composition differences between wood, metal (aluminium), composite and BBCOR. When you move up to 13U they can use thirty-four (34) inch bats, and composite is allowed if BBCOR barrel is no larger than 2 5/8.  Read more  | Bat Standards | Announcement

Youth Baseball Bats that feature a 2 1/4 inch barrel diameter and are often lighter, with a length to weight ratio between -8 and -13. Youth bats are sometimes referred to as small barrel bats or Little League baseball bats, and are used by players that play in leagues that mandate a bat with a 2 1/4 inch barrel. Most will be Little League approved bats and should also be legal in one or more of the following associations: Babe Ruth, Dixie, Pony, AABC, or USSSA. If you’re in search of youth baseball bat sales, check out our Closeout Youth Bats or Youth Bat Packs page for discount bats and great deals!  Read more


The new USA Baseball bat standard (USABat), which will apply to bats that are classified below the NCAA and NFHS level of play, will be implemented on January 1, 2018, allowing the bat manufacturers sufficient time to bring these bats to the marketplace.

Similar to the NCAA and NFHS BBCOR standard, which helped to eliminate discrepancies with different length bats and thus provide a more direct measure of bat performance, the new USA Baseball bat standard will allow youth baseball organizations in the United States to reach their goal of establishing a wood-like standard, a standard that will provide for the long-term integrity of the game.

There will be no immediate change to youth baseball organizations’ bat rules. All bats, currently accepted for the respective leagues, remain permissible through December 31, 2017. Each participating national member organization will incorporate the new standard into their rules for the 2018 season and will begin, with this announcement, to inform their membership of the USABat standard.

Frequently Asked Questions about the USABat standard:

Which national member organizations are implementing this new standard?
To date, the following organizations are participating (in alphabetical order): American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball.

Why the change to a wood-like standard?
USA Baseball’s national member organizations believe that a wood-like performance standard will best provide for the long-term integrity of the game. The new standard will not have a drop-weight limit, so young players can use bats made with light-weight materials.

Why not just use wood bats?
Wood is a scarce resource. The new bats will be designed to perform much like wood, where its performance will be limited to the highest performing wood.

How is the USABat standard different from the BBCOR standard used by the NCAA and NFHS?
Both the USA Baseball and NCAA bat performance tests are based on the coefficient of restitution from a bat-ball impact. The scale of results is different, however, since they use different test balls and test speeds. The testing difference is necessary to address the various levels of play in the respective age groups.

Why is USA Baseball involved?
The national member organizations asked USA Baseball as the national governing body to take the lead in this process to establish a new standard. Many other national governing bodies set and enforce standards for the equipment in their respective sports. To that end, USA Baseball established a Bat Study Committee of leading scientists and conducted theoretical modeling, field testing and lab testing. The committee shared its findings with the national member organizations, who then endorsed the new USABat standard.

Why wait until 2018?
The implementation date of 2018 will allow bat manufacturers sufficient time to conduct the appropriate research, design, testing, manufacturing and shipping needed to get new bats into retail outlets. This date also allows the participating national member organizations adequate time to educate their memberships of the USABat standard.

Is my current bat good for league play?
Yes. Current league-approved bats can be used through December 31, 2017.

Is safety the reason for the change?
No. Youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports for youth participants.

How will I know which bat to buy?
All new bats that bear the USABat licensing mark will be permissible for play in the leagues and tournaments of the participating youth baseball organizations.

When can I buy the new bat?
It is the intention of the bat manufacturers to make the new bats available in the fall of 2017, in sufficient time for the 2018 season. Read more


Other bat retailers I recommend include:

Championships

Blaze Runner-up

Picture above is from our 2016 season. Congratulations Blaze! Notice the guy to my right is Tippy Martinez.  He along with catcher Rick Dempsey, and the starting pitcher Scott McGregor—were to have leading roles in the Orioles’ World Championship of ’83.  Read more.tippy_martinez2

May-June is an exciting time of year for all the school championships.  At all levels- high school and college, the game begins.  Pressure.  Intensity.  Cheer for your local team or perhaps you have a relative or neighbor playing this month?

Currently, our team is in the “FINAL FOUR”. 2-4-6-8 who do we appreciate?  Remember that cheer?  Win or Lose, this is where TRUE sportsmanship comes in.  Our team has made REMARKABLE progress this season.  Great players, coaches and parents!

I spent some time the other day looking up the MLB League Leaders (see below).  Notice Manny Machado is #1 in three categories (read more). You might also want to read about Dexter Fowler.  However, what is more extraordinary, is the Chicago Cubs record of 25-6. That’s a winning percentage of .806.

Compare that to the 1st place team in the AL East Orioles 19-12, you’ll have an appreciation how amazing that it is.  fowlerAlso, remember last year’s “Back to the Future” crystal ball reference that in the movie with Michael J. Fox, the Cubs were predicted to win the 2015 World Series.  They came on strong during the playoffs winning the wild card race, but fell short to the Mets in the National League who eventually went on to play the Royals.

Well, if you like competition, the NCAA College World Series DI Championship will be held on June 18-28, 2016 in TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Nebraska.  This was very exciting last year when University of Maryland had an incredible year and lost to UCLA.  University of Virginia went on to win the National Championships.  The teams to watch in 2016 are Florida and Texas A&M (read more).

It’s pretty cool watching amateurs play at the highest level.  Even if you don’t like baseball, you can tune in to see the very best compete in Tennis, Golf, Lacrosse, Track & Field, and many more sports.

Now, if you are a real enthusiast, you could even visit Ripken Stadium to watch MD Interscholastic Athletic Association A & B Conference championships on May 22, 2016  (read more).  Another local team I found having an amazing season is Dulaney High School with a 17-3 record (read more).  Here are some other interesting links: www.d1baseball.comwww.maxpreps.com, www.varsitysportsnetwork.com and www.prepbaseballreport.com.

See ya at the ball park 🙂

League_Leaders

Skipper

Al Gallagher

The BEST thing I heard after our disappointing 10-0 loss in the Championship game was from a complete stranger.

A young boy was walking by immediately following my Gatorade shower and said,”That’s the happiest losing team I ever saw”!

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Every baseball player and coach wants to win, generally.  That’s why you keep score.  The biggest showcase of the year is the World Series and that’s where all the hard work throughout the season comes to a close.  If you had a successful season and won enough games to make it to the playoffs you have a shot at taking home a National Championship.

However, there have been many, many great baseball players that were not very popular like Al Gallagher.   So, when you think of some the BEST ballplayers, you automatically associate their stats.  What was his batting average? What was his ERA?  And yes, coaches also are measured on stats.  Yet, considering how difficult it is to make it to the World Series, it is fascinating to me that Joe Torre won the Championship four (4) times. Read more.

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joe_torre_record_index

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Buck Showalter

If you want to be the best ___ [fill-in the blank]. Find someone who has already achieved that success. Then just copy everything they do! Eventually, you’ll develop your own “signature”.  I’ll stick with the home town hero, Buck Showalter.

Earl Weaver

Notice that Buck was the Yankees coach before Torre. But I grew up watching Earl Weaver.  Buck Showalter loves scouting reports — except when it comes to assessing the personalities of people he’s never met.  In that regard, the Orioles’ manager insists upon formulating his own opinion.  “People will start to tell me about a player that’s coming,” Showalter said, “and I stop them and say, ‘I got this. We’re starting fresh. I’m going to make up my own mind about him.'”

Buck Showalter

Showalter’s reputation preceded his arrival in Baltimore. Taskmaster, drill sergeant, disciplinarian — those words were often associatedwith him during his tenure as manager of the New York Yankees (1992-95), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and Texas Rangers (2003-06).  So when the feisty skipper was hired by then-president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to turn around a franchise in search of its first winning season since 1997, the players knew what was coming…

“Some people’s reputation before you meet them is not the same after you get to know them.

Sportsmanship

MVP

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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

Positive Reinforcement

IMG_4696August, 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

Major_League_Baseball_LogoAt 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:

  • Sportsmanship
  • Teamwork
  • Effort
  • Positive Attitude
  • Proper Manners
  • Enthusiasm
  • Fair play

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).

positionsRPBL 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

Orioles_InfieldSince 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


 

Heat of the Moment

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.

robinson_fieldingWith 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:

  1. Is it truthful
  2. Helpful
  3. Necessary
  4. Critical
  5. God’s will

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).

Bobby DickersonAlso, 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.

Here’s is what Buck had to say (click here).

 

Victory and Defeat

Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

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 laurel_wreathgeneral 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

 


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