Mike Matheny

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Manager Mike Matheny #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on while taking on the San Francisco Giants in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on October 14, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 14: Manager Mike Matheny #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on while taking on the San Francisco Giants in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on October 14, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The other day, my new boss gave me the following letter => Click Here.
It is arguably the BEST comprehensive baseball coaching philosophy I have ever read!!!  I’m so grateful to be working for a great baseball manager who understands the game I love so much!  More importantly, I’m glad I have enough humility to be teachable because I do not know all the answers.  However, I have lots of heroes! For example, lately I’ve been telling my 10 year son Blake to watch Robinson Canoe turns a double play.

Michael Scott Matheny (born September 22, 1970) is an American former professional baseball catcher and the current manager of the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB), a position he has held since 2012. A product of the University of Michigan, Matheny was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the eighth round of the 1991 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut for the Brewers in 1994 and retired in 2006 with the San Francisco Giants. He also played for the Toronto Blue Jays and Cardinals during his thirteen-year catching career.

mike_matheny_catcherThough not a prodigious hitter, Matheny was one of the most accomplished defensive catchers of his era, winning four Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. Further, he established major league records among catchers for consecutive games played without committing an error (252), and consecutive chances fielded without an error (1,565). Matheny is one of only three Major League catchers with an errorless season of at least 100 games, and he set a Giants single-season team record in 2005 for catcher’s fielding percentage at .999. He retired from playing due to persisting concussion symptoms, and has since become an advocate for its prevention and for improved catcher safety.

mike_matheny_umpireAfter his playing career, Matheny coached Little League Baseball. The Cardinals hired him to manage following the 2011 season in spite of having no previous professional experience. In 2015, he became the first manager in MLB history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, and, in 2014, just the fifth to a League Championship Series appearance in each of his first three. His furthest title claim occurred in 2013, when the Cardinals won the National League pennant, only to fall to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Read more

Gatorade Shower

In the 2016 spring baseball season I experienced one of the most gratifying experiences from our successful team known as the Gatorade shower.

We had about a half dozen players return from the 0-14 losing season in 2015.  So, to make it to the championship last year was quite an accomplishment. Read more

I kept reminding the players – practice fundamental baseball. Simultaneously, always keeping them motivitated, “who wants to bring home the hardware?”

It paid off!

Also known as the Gatorade dunk or the Gatorade bath, is an American sports tradition that involves players surreptitiously dumping a cooler full of liquid (most commonly Gatorade mixed with ice) over the head of their coach (or occasionally a high-profile assistant coach, star player, or team owner in professional leagues) following a meaningful win, such as the Super Bowl or World Series. Read more

Interestingly enough, I had the pleasure of leading our soccer team to a championship season as well. Read more

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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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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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).