Help me, Help you

Some of my favorite players include Hank Aaron, Aaron Judge, Rickey Henderson and Babe Ruth.

Batting Lineup

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.


Hustle

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.”

RPBL Coaches’ Clinic

Train the Trainers

sponsored by Roland Park Baseball Leagues (RPBL)
will be a series of four WORKSHOPS at local indoor facilities convenient to Roland Park.  These events are designed to address all five of our little league age groups teaching various SKILLS including hitting, base running, infield, outfield, pitching and catching as well as, organizing an effective practice.

Workshops

Beginner – targeting T-Ball and International League Teams (ages 5-8)
Intermediate – targeting National and American League In-house Teams (ages 9-11)
Advanced – targeting Teen League and Travel Teams (ages 9-15)

Handouts

Agenda – Session1

Impact Baseball – Skill Benchmarks

Impact Baseball – Training Camps

Calvert Hall – Drills

Archbishop Spalding – Drills

Gilman – Drills

Grand Slam Baseball Camp

S3 Training Center – Programs

Extra Innings – Lessons & Tunnel Rentals


Three Sessions in One

Date: Saturday, February 17
Times: (each workshop is approx. 90 minutes each)

9:00 AM – Beginner

10:30 AM – Intermediate

12:30 PM – Advanced

LocationS3 Training Center
Address: 1412 Shoemaker Road Balt., MD 21209
Guest Speakers: Impact Sports founder Brett Linnenkohl and Coach Dave Meile;
Bill Greenwell, Boys Latin Coach; Brooks Kerr, Calvert Hall Coach and Joe Palumbo, Archbishop Spalding Coach

 


Advanced Workshop

Date: Sunday, February 25  |  Time: 12:00 – 3:00 PM
LocationGilman (middle school gym)  | Address: 5407 Roland Avenue
Guest Speakers: Larry Sheets and Russell Wrenn, Gilman Coaches


 


 

 

Intermediate Workshop

Date: Sunday, March 4  | Time: 12:00 – 3:00 PM
LocationBoys Latin (middle school gym)  | Address: 822 W Lake Avenue
Guest Speaker: Bill Greenwell, Boys Latin Coach



Beginner Workshop

Date: Sunday, March 11  |  Time: 2:30 – 4:30 PM
LocationFriends (wrestling room / gym)  |  Address: 5114 N. Charles Street
Guest Speakers: Impact Sports founder Brett Linnenkohl and Coach Dave Meile



Bios of our Trainers

(and a few Cameo Appearances)

Brooks Kerr
Calvert Hall Varsity Coach

A 1987 Calvert Hall graduate, played varsity baseball as well as basketball and football during his years at Calvert Hall. After graduating from The Hall, Coach Kerr attended Frostburg State University and was a 4-four year baseball letterman and captain his senior year. He is among Frostburg State’s leaders in on-base-percentage, stolen bases and fielding percentage.Coach Kerr joined the Calvert Hall coaching staff in 1992 as the first Freshmen Baseball team Head Coach. He then became the Head Coach on the Junior Varsity in 1993 and won 5 MIAA championships from 1993 to 2000. Coach Kerr became the assistant varsity coach in 2002 and currently is a Guidance Counselor at The Hall. Frostburg State Univeristy – B.S.

 


Joe Palumbo
Archbishop Spalding Varsity Coach

As a high school player, Joe Palumbo provided the spark that drove DeMatha to three straight WCAC baseball championships. When Archbishop Spalding named him as his father’s replacement as head coach on June 19, it was Palumbo’s competitive fire and winning ways that once again set him apart.At DeMatha, Joe was always a coach on the field, says DeMatha Head Coach Sean O’Connor. He was a great two-sport athlete. I am really happy for him and I think he will do a great job at Spalding.In 2004, the All-County shortstop was the Stags’ co-captain and co-MVP on the baseball diamond as well as the valedictorian of his senior class. Palumbo’s efforts earned him a scholarship to the University of Maryland where he went on to play. At Maryland, Palumbo earned All-Academic ACC honors and was known by his coaches for his leadership abilities and clutch hitting.

As an alumnus of Spalding and being Joe’s brother I’m excited, said Dan Palumbo, head coach of the 14U Chesapeake Baseball Association champion Southern Maryland Red River Dogs. Spalding baseball is in good hands. As far as a transition is concerned, Joe will carry on many of my dad’s traditions at Spalding and the players will benefit greatly from that.Continuity in the hand-off between father and son will be a key element in the Cavaliers’ continued success. After winning the MIAA A championship in 2011 and coming close in 2012, Jeff Palumbo, Joe’s father, stepped down from his position at Spalding this spring and accepted the job of president and principal of Pallotti High School in Laurel.Joseph will be great for the players at Archbishop Spalding, says Jeff Palumbo. He is intensely competitive with a great knowledge of the game. He understands what it takes, on and off the field, to compete at the highest levels of high school and college baseball.

In college, Joe Palumbo faced some of the ACC’s best talent, including future big-leaguers Matt Wieters, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Buster Posey, but big challenges have never daunted the 26-year-old Bowie native.  When it comes to baseball I’m very similar to my father, says Joe Palumbo. We’ll play aggressive baseball at Spalding. We’ll take some chances on the base paths. We’re going to create runs any way possible. At the plate we’re going to be a team of tough outs. We’ll play with passion and it will be my job to put my players in a good position to succeed and win games.  Read more


Larry Sheets
Gilman Varsity Coach

Born December 6, 1959 in Staunton, Virginia, and is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and designated hitter who played for the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners from 1984 to 1990 and 1993. He also played one season in Japan for the Yokohama Taiyo Whales in 1992.Sheets attended Eastern Mennonite University, where he played basketball. He was named to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s all-conference second team in 1980 and to the first team in 1982. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite in 1984. He was named to Eastern Mennonite’s athletic hall of fame in 1988.  Sheets currently operates a youth sports facility in Westminster, Maryland, and serves as Gilman School’s head Varsity Baseball coach.He has a son named Gavin in the Chicago White Sox organization.  Read more  |  Stats

 


Russell Wrenn
Gilman Varsity Coach

Coach Wrenn was a three-sport athlete at Gilman. His senior year, he played on the 1996 A Conference championship baseball team; Gilman’s first A conference championship in baseball. Wrenn went on to play baseball and football at Washington & Lee. Wrenn’s college coaching career started in 2000, when he coached football and baseball at Dickinson College. Wrenn next moved to Johns Hopkins, where he worked for legendary baseball coach Bob Babb for two seasons, before returning to Dickinson as the head baseball coach from 2003-2006. As the youngest full-time college baseball coach in the country, Wrenn led Dickinson to their first (and only) conference playoff appearance in his first season. The program established eight school records during Wrenn’s tenure.

Wrenn spent a decade coaching at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta before returning to his alma mater Gilman in 2016. Wrenn’s Westminster baseball teams experienced unparalleled success, culminating in the school’s first baseball state championship in forty-one years in 2016. Wrenn’s Westminster teams won two region titles and advanced to the state semifinals or finals four consecutive seasons – no other school in the state of Georgia accomplished this level of sustained success from 2013-2016. Wrenn was named the state coach of the year in 2013 and 2016, Atlanta Braves Metro Coach of the Year in 2016, and the America Baseball Coaches Association’ Regional High School Coach of the Year in 2016. Wrenn helped mentor Westminster baseball players who went on to play for LSU, Georgia Tech, Duke, Missouri, Notre Dame, Harvard, Wofford, Butler, Mercer, Richmond, W&L, and the 2016 1st-round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians. Russell is married to Erin Wrenn, a lawyer in the state Attorney General’s office, and they have three children, Ronan (8), Cormac (6), and Cavan (4). Gilman News | Read more


Bill Greenwell
Boys Latin School of MD Varsity Head Coach

MIAA B Conference (Champions 2017 and 2016)
1992-2012 Grand Slam USA Owner and director of instruction
1999-2001 Seattle Mariners Associate Scout
2001-2003 Park School Varsity Head Baseball Coach
2004 Harford Community College Assistant Baseball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator
2008-2013 Diamond Pros and Fowble Foundation Head Coach
2011-Present Boys’Latin Head Baseball Coach

Baltimore Sun #1 | Baltimore Sun #2 | Baltimore Sun #3


Brett Linnenkohl
Founder of Impact Sports Baseball

Former Friends School Varsity Baseball Head Coach (MIAA B Conference).  Impact founder Brett Linnenkohl always had passion and talent for sports. His dedication took him from little league all-star teams to all-state awards in high school, successes which made him the envy of top Division-1 programs like University of Washington, Oregon State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Dartmouth, NC State, and Washington State University.In 2004, Brett was a projected 7th round draft pick by MLB.com, but decided to attend Wake Forest University and become a Demon Deacon. Between seasons at Wake, Brett played on college summer circuit, including the notable Alaska and Cape Cod Leagues. An unfortunate injury in 2008 extinguished Brett’s playing career, but sparked a fire for coaching that still burns today.  Impact Baseball | Baltimore Sun | College Baseball


Dave Meile
Impact Baseball Instructor

Coach Dave played at Shepherd University on scholarship, playing infield and providing the power in the middle of the lineup. Dave continued his career as a coach a Frostburg State University, assisting the team to their first CAC championship. He has worked with numerous kids in surrounding leagues through Impact and has earned the reputation as one of top youth development coaches in the area. Coach Dave is an expert not only in the game of baseball, but a true expert in inspiring athletes to give their all in every workout, while making it fun and enjoyable. Read more

 


Mike Gottlieb
Former Towson University Coach

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.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.

Junior Brady Policelli led the CAA with a .375 average on his way to earning First-Team All-CAA honors. Policelli would be drafted in the 13th round of the Detroit Tigers. Under his guidance, Gottlieb has had 16 players selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, while a handful of other players have signed professional contracts. Left-hander pitcher Chris Nabholz became the first Towson player under Gottlieb to make it to the majors. Nabholz made his major league debut for the Montreal Expos on June 11, 1990, after being selected by the Expos in the second round of the 1988 draft. Nabholz is still the highest drafted player in Towson history.

Casper Wells became the second player from the Gottlieb era to make it to the majors when he made his debut with the Detroit Tigers on May 15, 2010. Wells was selected by the Tigers in the 14th round of the 2005 draft. 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.  Read more


Rob Slade
Strength & Conditioning Trainer

As owner and developer of the Sport-Speed-Strength Training Program, Rob Slade is the true keystone of S3 Training Center. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S) NSCA, Rob has been training sports teams and individual athletes as well as Police and Firemen since 1981. Rob was awarded the Division 1 Collegiate Conference Strength Coach of the Year (Two times) NSCA. Rob’s past training experience also includes being the former strength and conditioning coach as well as the Assistant Track Coach for UMBC. He also was the former Strength Coach for the USA Sailing and Chessie Racing Teams. Rob has personally trained and provided fitness training for several Police and Fire Departments including Howard County, Maryland State Police and Baltimore County. He is a graduate of Towson State University and is from the Baltimore area. Rob is the physical education instructor for several schools in the area. Finally he holds several patents for the design of exercise equipment used in training. Facebook

 


Joe Orsulak
Private Instructor

Joe’s career spanned 1983 to 1997, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, and Montreal Expos. Orsulak, who threw and batted left-handed, played mostly in the outfield, although he played some games at first base. On the basepaths, he had better than average speed, until a 1987 knee injury slowed him down.[1] His strong arm helped him lead the league, in 1991, in outfield assists.[2] In 1992 he made the first out at the Orioles’ new Camden Yards ballpark, going on to lead the team that year in batting average. Despite his relatively long career (with five major league clubs), he never played in the post-season in the Majors. Wikipedia / NY Times / Baseball Warehouse

 


Sam Snider
Private Instructor

Sam was with the Baltimore Orioles from 1980-2007 serving as the batting practice pitcher, bullpen catcher and bullpen coach. Sam was hired full time with the Orioles by Cal Ripken Sr. in 1987. In his time with the Orioles he threw batting practice to Hall of Famers Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. and warmed up greats such as Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor and Mike Mussina in the bullpen. After the Orioles, Sam went on to coach in the Atlantic League alongside Orioles Hall of Famers Chris Hoiles and Tippy Martinez for the York Revolution. He briefly managed the team in 2009. Sam has 30 years of professional baseball experience and is a wealth of knowledge in all areas of the game. Facebook

 


Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Kurt Overton, Bill Greenwell, Rob Slade, Andrew Wolfe, Chris McCullough, Tim Holley and all the Athletic Directors for making this happen and letting us use their indoor facility! 

Also, special thanks to ALL the Trainers, including Brett Linnenkohl for providing solid support to RPBL for many years and making a big impact on the development of some outstanding baseball players.

Brett Linnenkohl of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons hustles into third base versus the Clemson Tigers during the second game of a double header at Gene Hooks Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, Sunday, March 9, 2008.

These events are a direct response to some of the feedback from our parents during the 2017 Spring In-house season.  We heard your voice and want to make RPBL better.  Instructors will include the very best in the business – high school, college and MLB professionals.  Also, be sure to check-out some of the Ripken Way online videos and RPBL Coaches’ page. +

 


 

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PostSeason

Astros shut out Yankees in ALCS

On Saturday night in Houston, the Astros defeated the Yankees by a score of 4-0 (box score) in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Astros will now advance to take on the Dodgers in the World Series, which begins Tuesday in Los Angeles.
As for Game 7, Houston starter Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers pitching in relief combined for the three-hit shutout. For the Astros, Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve homered, and Alex Bregman shined on defense. On the other side, CC Sabathia allowed only one run despite putting eight men on base in 3 1/3 innings. However, Tommy Kahnle, who had been perfect in the 2017 postseason, gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings. On offense, the Yankees as a team went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.
Here are 14 more things to know about Game 7.
Morton was nails
What an effort from Charlie Morton in the biggest game of his life. He coughed up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in his previous ALCS start, but this time around, he threw the ball very well.

Morton was efficient, needing only 54 pitches to get through five innings, 37 of those pitches going for strikes. He had the stuff, sitting mid-90s with the fastball and masterfully weaving in the ol’ 12-to-6 curveball. He allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking one.
The Astros were likely prepared for anything when it came to the pitching plan in this one. Among the most unlikely outcomes heading in, at least for outside observers, was Morton dealing for five scoreless.
It was only five innings — by design — but Morton deserves heaps of praise in this one. He stifled a very good offense.

Home field rules

We just witnessed a seven-game series in which the home team won every game. It feels like this happens often in the NBA, but in MLB it’s not commonplace. In fact, there have only been four postseason series where the home team won every single game (via Dan Hirsch):
1987 World Series – Twins over Cardinals
1991 World Series – Twins over Braves
2001 World Series – Diamondbacks over Yankees
2004 NLCS – Cardinals over Astros

Read more and CBS News


Astros’ offense and emotions wake up

Jose Altuve has led the American League in hits each of the last four seasons, his total adding up to 845. It’s likely none of them evoked the kind of animated display the Houston Astros second baseman let loose after his fifth-inning single Friday.

Jose Altuve was the Astros’ emotional leader in Game 6, firing up the team with a pair of huge key hits.

His fellow Astros hitters were nearly as pumped.
For five-plus games, the most prolific offense in the majors had been bottled up in the AL Championship Series, held to a mere nine runs and a .147 batting average by the New York Yankees pitching staff.

Friday’s do-or-die Game 6 was looking much the same until Brian McCann broke through with a fifth-inning double for the night’s first run, after Houston had gone 4-for-27 in its previous chances with runners in scoring position in the series.

But it wasn’t until Altuve followed three batters later with his two-RBI hit that Minute Maid Park truly exploded, as the sellout crowd of 43,179 sensed a decisive Game 7 would be in the offing.

GAME 6: Verlander dominates again as Astros force decisive Game 7

Read more


Wow, it’s hard to believe the season is almost over! 2017 has been an exciting pennant race with the Boston Red Sox going out early and my local favorite – Washington Nationals losing again.

It just seems like Dusty Baker chokes when it counts. They say that baseball is a game of inches. Well, their lost to last year’s World Series Champions – Chicago Cubs was very disappointing given the fact that they had an incredible regular season.

What has been very frustrating this year is the fact that the Baltimore Orioles started off the season with one of the best winning records. However, by late April / early May they fell apart and never saw first place again.  The O’s finished in last place.

So, now I’ve switched to the Houston Astros, which I predict are going to beat the Yankees and play the Dodgers in the World Series.

McNally & Etchebarren

1966 World Series ~ Heroes  of the Incredible Sweep

The 1966 World Series matched the American League (AL) champion Baltimore Orioles against the defending World Series champion and National League (NL) champion Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Orioles sweeping the Series in four games to capture their first championship in franchise history. It was also the last World Series played before Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced the Commissioner’s Trophy the following year. Read more


Dave McNally

Pitcher
Born: October 31, 1942 Billings, Montana
Died: December 1, 2002 (aged 60) Billings, Montana
Batted: Right Threw: Left
MLB debut: September 26, 1962, for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance: June 8, 1975, for the Montreal Expos

MLB statistics
Win–loss record: 184–119
Earned run average: 3.24
Strikeouts: 1,512
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1962–1974) / Montreal Expos (1975)

Career highlights and awards
3× All-Star (1969, 1970, 1972)
2× World Series champion (1966, 1970)
AL wins leader (1970)

David Arthur “Dave” McNally (October 31, 1942 – December 1, 2002) was a Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher from 1962 until 1975. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles and played with them every season except for his final season with the Montreal Expos.[1]

Career
McNally is the only pitcher in Major League history to hit a grand slam in a World Series game (Game 3, 1970, a 9–3 victory). The bat (lent to him by teammate Curt Motton) and ball are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

McNally is also part of World Series history for his (and his pitching mates’) performance in the 1966 World Series, which the Orioles swept over the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers. In the fourth game, he and Don Drysdale matched four-hitters; one of Baltimore’s hits was Frank Robinson’s fourth-inning home run for a 1–0 Oriole victory. McNally’s shutout capped a World Series in which Baltimore pitchers set a Fall Classic record by pitching 331⁄3 consecutive shutout innings, beginning with Moe Drabowsky’s 61⁄3 scoreless innings in relief of McNally in Game One, followed by shutouts from Jim Palmer and Wally Bunker. Ironically, the trio had pitched one shutout total during the regular season—that by McNally on August 6 against the Washington Senators.

He won more than 20 games for 4 consecutive seasons (1968 through 1971) and was one of four 20-game winners for the 1971 Orioles (Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer, and Mike Cuellar were the other three). He was the only pitcher other than Roger Clemens to win 12 decisions in a row 3 times, including 17 consecutive at one time. After winning the last 2 decisions of the 1968 season, he opened the 1969 season with a 15–0 record.

On September 28, 1974, McNally gave up Al Kaline’s 3,000th career hit.

In an article in 1976 in Esquire magazine, sportswriter Harry Stein published an “All Time All-Star Argument Starter”, consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Because of space limitations the Irish team, including McNally as left-handed pitcher, was omitted.

1975 free agent labor grievance
He is also known for his role in the historic 1975 Seitz decision which led to the downfall of major league baseball’s reserve clause and ushered in the current era of free agency. McNally and Andy Messersmith were the only two players in 1975 playing on the one year reserve clause in effect at the time. Neither had signed a contract at the time but both were held with their team under the rule. The two challenged the rule and won their free agency.

McNally retired after the 1975 season and had no intention of claiming his free agency. According to John Helyar’s book The Lords of the Realm, players union executive director Marvin Miller called McNally—technically still an unsigned player—to ask him to add his name to the grievance it had filed in opposition to the reserve clause and he agreed. The reason Miller thought of McNally, Helyar wrote, was “insurance” in the grievance in the event Andy Messersmith decided to sign a new contract after all. Baseball owners wanted his name off the grievance so the Expos offered McNally a $25,000 ($109,941 today) signing bonus and a $125,000 ($549,706 today) contract if he made the team, but McNally declined. The hope was to sign Messersmith at the same time, thus eliminating the challenge.

After baseball and death
After retiring McNally owned car dealerships in Billings, Montana.

He lived in his hometown of Billings, Montana, until his death from lung cancer on December 1, 2002. He was buried at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park in Billings. Read more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_McNally


Andy Etchebarren

Catcher
Born:  June 20, 1943 (age 73) Whittier, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut: September 26, 1962, for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance: April 20, 1978, for the Milwaukee Brewers

MLB statistics
Batting average: .235
Home runs: 49
Runs batted in: 309
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1962, 1965–1975) / California Angels (1975–1977) / Milwaukee Brewers (1978)

Career highlights and awards
2× All-Star (1966, 1967)
2× World Series champion (1966, 1970)

Andrew Auguste Etchebarren (born June 20, 1943) is an American former professional baseball player and minor league manager. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) for a total of 15 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles (1962 and 1965–75), California Angels (1975–77) and Milwaukee Brewers (1978).

Playing career
Etchebarren was born in Whittier, California of Basque descent. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent in 1961. Expected to be the Orioles’ third-string catcher entering his MLB rookie season in 1966, he became the starter in spring training when Dick Brown and Charley Lau each underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor and remedy an ailing elbow respectively.[1] Etchebarren was the last man to ever bat against Sandy Koufax, when he hit into a double play during the sixth inning of Game 2 of the 1966 World Series. Etchebarren helped the Orioles to win the 1966 and 1970 World Series, 1969 and 1971 AL Pennants and 1973 and 1974 AL Eastern Division.

He was named to the 1966 and 1967 AL All-Star Teams. Etchebarren finished 17th in voting for the 1966 AL MVP for playing in 121 games, having 412 at Bats, 49 runs, 91 hits, 14 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs, 50 RBI, 38 walks, .221 batting average, .293 on-base percentage, .364 slugging percentage, 150 total bases, 3 sacrifice flies and 12 intentional walks.

In 15 seasons he played in 948 games and had 2,618 at-bats, 245 runs, 615 hits, 101 doubles, 17 triples, 49 home runs, 309 RBI, 13 stolen bases, 246 walks, .235 batting average, .306 on-base percentage, .343 slugging percentage, 897 total bases, 20 sacrifice hits, 19 sacrifice flies and 41 intentional walks.

Managerial career
In 2000 Etchebarren was manager of the [(Bowie Baysox)] of the [(Eastern League)], in 2001 and 2002 Rochester Red Wings of the International League. He served as manager of the Aberdeen IronBirds of the New York–Penn League for three seasons until his dismissal from that position on October 22, 2007. He was the manager of the York Revolution of the Atlantic League, and retired from baseball following the 2012 season. 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 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).