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

Baltimore Superstars

Most “baby boomers” who recall the photo from the 1966 World Series (Box Score) recognize Brooksey, but who is Etchebarren # 8 & McNally #19? So many notorious Orioles have played in Baltimore but don’t get the same recognition.  In fact, depending on who you ask, you may get a wide variety of answers to the question, “who is your favorite Oriole”?

If you ask some of the 9-10 year old players on my team (RPBL Blaze) they might say, Manny Machado (my personal “active roster”), Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy.   But if you ask my adult league Brewers players, they might say Cal Ripken.  I want to take some time and recognize the “Iron Man”.


… more to come

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


 

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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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).


 

 

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