The Ripken Way

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

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

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

Introduction

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

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

HITTING

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

INFIELD

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

OUTFIELD

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

PITCHING

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

LIGHT BULBS

Lessons 00, 01, 02

 

Help me, Help you

“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

  1. 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.
2. 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.

The Drill: 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.

  1. 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.

The Drill: 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.

  1. 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 Drill: 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.

Team Building

Pizza

 


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.

Dream Big

Always be reaching for the stars! Because in case you fall short, at least you can visit the moon.

For example, look @ Elon Musk & Roger Federer

Never, Never Give Up. Just Do it! Training definitely leads to Success. So practice, practice, practice. That’s also how you get to Carnegie Hall.

The future of travel? First photos of Hyperloop test track built in Nevada desert. Read more

It was designed by California company Hyperloop One, who has unveiled ambitious plans to transport people or cargo between cities at near-supersonic speed.

The 500 metre-long Hyperloop test structure, which has a diameter of 3.3 metres, is located around 30 minutes from Las Vegas.


Elon Reeve Musk (born June 28, 1971) is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor.

He is the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-founder and chairman of SolarCity; co-chairman of OpenAI; co-founder of Zip2; and founder of X.com, which merged with Confinity and took the name PayPal. As of February 2017, he has an estimated net worth of 13.9 billion, making him the 94th wealthiest person in the world. In December 2016, Musk was ranked 21st on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.

Musk has stated that the goals of SolarCity, Tesla, and SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multiplanetary” by setting up a human colony on Mars. Read more

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California, United States. It was founded in 2002 by Tesla CEO and former PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both designed to be reusable, and the Dragon spacecraft which is flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with cargo. A manned version of Dragon is in development. Read more

Roger Federer (born 8 August 1981) is a Swiss professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Many players and analysts have called him the greatest tennis player of all time. Federer turned professional in 1998 and was continuously ranked in the top 10 from October 2002 to November 2016.

Federer has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in history for a male tennis player, and held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a total of 302 weeks. In majors, Federer has won seven Wimbledon titles, five Australian Open titles, five US Open titles and one French Open title. He is among the eight men to capture a career Grand Slam. He has reached a record 28 men’s singles Grand Slam finals, including 10 in a row from the 2005 Wimbledon Championships to the 2007 US Open. Read more

Three things we learned from AO 2017
1. 35 is the new 25
Perhaps not, but this fortnight will force us to review the idea that once a player has a 3 before their age, their best days are over and they’re in the twilight of their career. What it also shows is the value of taking a break. Players who compete in Grand Slam tournaments have, of necessity, devoted their life to tennis and known little else since their age was still well in single digits. So it’s hardly surprising if after several years as a professional they get tired. Roger Federer said his break from tennis was a result of him getting bored with having “practice, treatment, practice, treatment, match, treatment, practice, treatment”, so taking a six-month hiatus to let all his injuries and niggles heal and rediscover the fun in tennis was a crucial part of his unexpected fifth title here. We may well find players continuing their careers well into their 30s as a result of this AO, especially if the idea of sabbaticals catches on.

  1. The middle generation may get by-passed
    With the Big Four of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (and arguably Stan Wawrinka too) having dominated tennis for so many years, much attention has been focused on which generation of players will succeed them at the top of men’s tennis. The next generation has been led by 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, and his contemporaries Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov. But Dimitrov’s semifinal aside, the results at this year’s AO suggest that generation might get by-passed. Raonic struggled to make much impression on Nadal in the quarterfinals, and Nishikori and Cilic lost early. By contrast, the leader of the following generation, Sascha Zverev, made great strides in taking Nadal to a four-hour five-setter in the third round, and Dominic Thiem and David Goffin also had good tournaments. With the Big Four likely to be around for a while, it may be some time before we know who the next generation of men’s tennis really is.
  2. There’s a vacancy in women’s tennis
    Much as the Williams sisters emphasised what brilliant players they are, even at a youthful 36 and 35 they won’t be around for that much longer. Yet there seems to be no-one emerging to assume Serena’s mantle. Coco Vandeweghe was the player whose stock rose most at this AO, but much depends on how she follows up on the WTA tour from her semifinal. Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza reached the quarterfinals without ever looking a potential champion, and Belinda Bencic had the misfortune to draw Serena Williams in the first round. With Petra Kvitova off the tour, Angelique Kerber with a lot of ranking points to defend in the next few months, and Simona Halep still struggling for consistency, everything looks teed up for two former Australian Open champions to seize the limelight when they return to action in the next few weeks: Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Read more


 

 

Mickey Mantle

mickey_mantle2Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995), nicknamed “The Commerce Comet” and “The Mick”, was an American professional baseball player. Mantle played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the New York Yankees as a center fielder and first baseman, from 1951 through 1968. Mantle was one of the best players and sluggers, and is regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history. Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.

Greatest switch hitter in baseball history.

Mantle was arguably the greatest offensive threat of any center fielder in baseball history. He has the highest career OPS+ of any center fielder and he had the highest stolen base mickey_mantle1percentage in history at the time of his retirement. In addition, compared to the four other center fielders on the all-century team, he had the lowest career rate of grounding into double plays (by far) and he had the highest World Series on-base percentage and World Series slugging percentage. He also had an excellent 0.984 fielding percentage when playing center field. Mantle was noted for his ability to hit for both average and power, especially tape measure home runs. He hit 536 MLB career home runs, batted .300 or more ten times, and is the career leader (tied with Jim Thome) in walk-off home runs, with a combined thirteen, twelve in the regular season and one in the postseason.

mickey_mantle3Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956, leading the major leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in (RBI); he later wrote a book about his best year in baseball. He was an All-Star for 16 seasons, playing in 16 of the 20 All-Star Games that were played. He was an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times and a Gold Glove winner once. Mantle appeared in 12 World Series including 7 championships, and holds World Series records for the most home runs (18), RBIs (40), extra-base hits (26), runs (42), walks (43), and total bases (123). Read more

 

The main inspiration for writing this Blog  was a boss @ McDonogh.  She told me her parents named her after “The Mick”.

Cubs & Indians

roberto_perez

Who breaks their World Series curse first: Cubs or Indians?

It will be, no matter the outcome, a historic World Series, because whichever team wins, there will be black-and-white footage shown before the champagne has dried.

The Chicago Cubs, as we all know, haven’t won the World Series since 1908, a season in which they hit 19 home runs all season. That team has a seemingly mythical characters, such as Three Finger Brown, Orval Overall and Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Finally! The Cubs’ six darkest days leads to their brightest

Can you believe it? The Cubs are headed to the World Series. Let’s examine just how much almost-clinching heartache led Chicago to this moment.

Is this the Cubs’ year? Will the Indians’ run continue in the Fall Classic? We’ve got you covered for every pitch of the 2016 postseason.

And then there are the Cleveland Indians, who haven’t won the World Series since 1948, the second-longest current championship drought in baseball. That team had Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Gene Bearden in the rotation, and — this seems impossible today — those Indians had Lou Boudreau as a player/manager, a role he had for 10 years, winning the American League MVP as a shortstop in 1948.

It’s 1908 versus 1948. It’s about ending a drought. It’s about two teams with great stories to tell. This will be fabulous.

Here are five questions.

(1) How good is the Indians’ bullpen?

It is terrific and, more importantly, it is different than any other bullpen. Tribe relievers posted a 1.64 ERA in eight postseason games. In Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, the Indians became the only team in history to win a postseason game in which no pitcher went as many as two innings. In the clinching Game 5, the Indians became the only team in postseason history to throw a shutout in a game in which the starter didn’t pitch five innings.

The incredible Andrew Miller starred again in Game 5, as he did through the whole postseason, posting this line: 11⅔ innings pitched, 5 hits, 0 runs, 21 strikeouts, 2 walks. No pitcher — starter or reliever — struck out more batters in his first nine innings of any postseason than Miller’s 20 this year. He was the first reliever ever to strike out five batters in back-to-back appearances in the postseason. In the ALCS against Toronto, Miller struck out 56 percent of the batters he faced; no one in postseason history has had a strikeout rate like that. But what makes him so great — and the Indians so dangerous — is the way he is used. In Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Red Sox, he was summoned in the fifth inning and pitched in three different innings. In the crucial Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, instead of handing the ball to closer Cody Allen, Miller pitched the final 1⅓ innings for the save. In the clinching Game 5 of the ALCS, he pitched 2⅔ scoreless innings and brought the game to Allen, who also has been brilliant in this postseason.

The record for most innings by a reliever in one postseason is 18⅔ by Frankie Rodriguez with the 2002 Angels and Tug McGraw with the 1973 Mets. Miller is going to break that record — and a few others — in the World Series.

(2) How set up is the Cubs’ rotation?

Jon Lester and Javier Baez of the Cubs were co-MVPs in the National League Championship Series. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It is in good shape. By winning the final three games of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, the Cubs not only get some rest before the World Series, but they have their starters aligned relatively well. Most important, Jon Lester will start Game 1. He has a 0.86 ERA in this postseason, including a marvelous performance in the crucial Game 5 of the NLCS in Los Angeles, going seven innings and allowing just one run. He now has a 2.50 career ERA in 17 postseason starts.

Since 1969, the only pitchers (10 or more starts) with a lower ERA are Madison Bumgarner and Curt Schilling.

Jake Arrieta likely will start Game 2, but he labored in September (4.40 ERA) and in two starts in this postseason (4.91 ERA). But Arrieta in Game 2 will allow the Cubs to push Kyle Hendricks back to Game 3 at home, where he posted a 1.32 ERA this season. Hendricks, who led the NL in ERA in 2016, was sensational in the clinching Game 6 at Wrigley, allowing two hits and no runs in 7⅓ innings.

(3) What is the status of the Indians’ rotation?

Somehow, the Indians made it this far without any contribution in the postseason from Carlos Carrasco (broken pinky) or Danny Salazar (tightness in his forearm), making them the first team since the 1970 Reds to go to the World Series with zero playoff appearances from two pitchers who started at least 25 games with an ERA under 4.00 during the regular season. But now, there’s a chance Salazar will be ready for the World Series. He hasn’t pitched since Sept. 9, so there will be rust, but he still will be a boost to the rotation. His stuff, when right, is spectacular. Closer Allen said Salazar “is the most gifted pitcher I’ve ever been around.”

Trevor Bauer, who sliced his right pinky in a drone accident on Oct. 14 and bled all over the mound in his start in Game 3 of the ALCS, said he will be able to pitch as often as possible in the World Series. We’ll see about that. It’s possible we’ll see Ryan Merritt, whose 4⅓ scoreless innings in Game 5 — the second start and fifth appearance of his major league career — were stunning. There are uncertainties in the Cleveland rotation, but it’s certain that Corey Kluber will start Game 1, and surely he will be ready to try going on short rest again in this series. In 18⅓ innings in this postseason, Kluber has a 0.98 ERA. His breaking ball is from hell. Josh Tomlin likely will start Game 2. After that, it’s up in the air, but it has been for the whole postseason — and here are the Indians, in the World Series.

(4) What are we to make of the Cubs’ offense?

No worries now. Still, like every other team in the major leagues in this all-or-nothing era of baseball, the Cubs’ lineup can be pitched to, if a really good pitcher locates well. In the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Cubs averaged 7.75 runs and had 21 extra-base hits in the four victories, including pounding Clayton Kershaw in the clinching Game 6, a 5-0 shutout.

But the Cubs were shut out (with only one extra base hit) in their two losses, the first time they had been shut out in back-to-back games since May 2014. It took a bunt single by cleanup hitter Ben Zobrist leading off the fourth inning of Game 4 to get the Cubs going, and it took a couple of cheap hits in Game 5 to keep it going.

But now, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell are out of their funks, NLCS co-MVP Javier Baez (13 hits in this postseason) has arrived and Willson Contreras is swinging so well that the Cubs look like the team that scored the second-most runs in the NL this year. Ten different Cubs, including all three catchers (the first time ever to have three catchers hit home runs in one postseason), have hit home runs in this postseason. And only hours before Game 6 of the NLCS, Cubs president Theo Epstein said there is at least a chance that Kyle Schwarber, who tore ligaments in left knee in the third game of the season and hasn’t played since, might be ready to play in the World Series. If so, it would be as a designated hitter or a bat off the bench. It is intriguing.

addison-russell-grand-slam

(5) What about the managers?

Indians manager Terry “Tito” Francona is looking for his third World Series title. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Indians’ Terry “Tito” Francona has been masterful in this postseason. He has known exactly when to take his starter out, what reliever to bring in and when to take that reliever out. He did a great job this season of getting run production, despite not having his best outfielder, Michael Brantley, for most of the season and having to mix and match at several positions. Should Francona win the World Series, it would be his third ring, and it would mean a spot in the Hall of Fame — because he would have ended an 86-year drought in Boston and a 67-year drought in Cleveland.

But Francona might be on his way to the Hall anyway, with his three pennants, 1,381 wins and a .533 winning percentage, plus an 8-0 record in the World Series. Francona’s secret is his communication skills — his touch and feel with people, especially his players. Every player has a button, and Francona always knows where it is and when to push it. In spring training every year, he calls his players into his office, one by one, to talk. In the case of Bauer, who has had some communication issues, he called him in all the time, just to talk. Apparently, it worked. Francona will jump on a player privately if he gets out of line, but he also is one of the best at making players comfortable and relaxed so they can play their best.

The Cubs’ Joe Maddon is an expert at that, as well. He once pulled a bunch of his Rays players out of the batting cage and took them in the clubhouse to watch a magician work, another case of Maddon valuing time away from the game as good, not bad. His calm hand and great communication skills are two reasons the Cubs have been able to handle the pressures that comes with extraordinarily high expectations from the first day of spring training.

And no one is going to outfox Maddon in the running of a game. He and Francona have managed against each other 133 times in their careers; Maddon has a 69-64 advantage, including 5-3 in the postseason. Now they’ll get four, five, six or seven more shots at it.

The pick: Cubs in seven.  Read more


The 2016 World Series is set, and no matter who wins, it will be a celebration a long time in the making.

The Chicago Cubs are considered the team of destiny as they try to win their first championship since 1908. On the other hand, the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a title since 1948, and their fans will be just as excited about the possibility of a win.

Both teams will come out with a lot of energy to provide fans with the best possible matchup on the sport’s biggest stage. Here is what you need to know about the upcoming battle.


When it comes to the Cubs, it’s hard not to talk about history. Not only has it been more than 100 years since the last World Series win, but the organization hadn’t even won the pennant since 1945.

After the Cubs clinched the National League Championship Series, that was just about all anyone could talk about.

“To stand on that platform afterwards,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “and you’re looking at the ballpark and the fans and the ‘W’ flags everywhere. I think about the fans, and their parents, and their grandparents, and great-grandparents, and everything else that’s been going on here for a while.”

However, it’s important to remember that the current squad stands on its own as an elite team. The players aren’t necessarily carrying history with them; they won 103 games with a lot of talent in just about every part of the roster.

The starting pitching has been great all year, especially Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. The duo has allowed just five earned runs in 37.1 innings this postseason, including just total three runs in four starts in the NLCS.  Read more


 

Click here to watch video of Game 1

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World Series Game 7: For Cubs and Indians, It All Comes Down to This

In baseball’s 37th winner-take-all World Series game, the Cleveland Indians will host the Chicago Cubs, a team that had the best record in baseball this season and is now trying to be the first team since 1985 to win a championship after trailing in the series three games to one.

A master of understatement, Indians manager Terry Francona summed up Game 7 in an interview before the game by saying “I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s a really important game, and we’ll be really excited to play.” Read more


 

World Series: Seven thoughts on Game 7 between the Cubs and the Indians

Cleveland has Corey Kluber and a rested bullpen. Chicago’s bats have finally broken out. Both teams will hope to end a lengthy championship drought. Here’s what to expect in the last baseball game of 2016.

After winning a 3–2 squeaker at Wrigley Field in Game 5 on Sunday, the Cubs took Game 6 with a 9–3 rout, setting up the 38th World Series Game 7 in baseball history and the third in the past six years. Here are some thoughts on the last game of the 2016 season.

(1) History class

Chicago is not only trying to win its first championship since 1908 and the third in franchise history but also trying to become the sixth team to win a best-of-seven World Series by overcoming a 3–1 deficit, after the 1925 Pirates (over the Senators), the ’58 Yankees (over the Braves), the ’68 Tigers (over the Cardinals), the ’79 Pirates (over the Orioles) and the ’85 Royals (over the Cardinals).

(2) The Kluber Plan

Corey Kluber has already put together a postseason for the ages, striking out 35 batters and allowing just three runs in 30 1/3 innings over five starts. His 0.89 ERA is the eighth-lowest mark among pitchers with at least 25 postseason innings dating back to the inception of the World Series in 1903, and he ranks third in the 48 years of the division play era.

(3) The book on the Professor

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks matriculated at Dartmouth, and he’s as gifted on the mound as he is smart off it. After winning the NL ERA title during the regular season (2.13), he has pitched to a 1.31 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings over four postseason starts. That said, Chicago manager Joe Maddon has used a quick hook with Hendricks, letting him go past 5 1/3 innings only in the NLCS clincher, when he threw 7 1/3 innings against the Dodgers with a 5–0 lead. Despite having yet to allow a run, Hendricks lasted just 4 1/3 innings in Game 3 because he had yielded six hits and two walks and left the bases loaded for reliever Justin Grimm, who escaped the jam by inducing a ground-ball double play from Francisco Lindor.

(4) The curious case of Aroldis Chapman

The big question for the Cubs’ bullpen is the state of Aroldis Chapman’s arm and ankle. Maddon called upon his closer in Game 6 with two outs and two on in the seventh inning and a five-run lead, because he apparently no longer trusts any of his other options. Chapman needed just two pitches to get Lindor on a replay-aided groundout to first, but he had to sprint to the bag on the play and subsequently rolled his right ankle, prompting a visit from the training staff. He returned for the eighth and, even after Chicago stretched its lead to 9–2, was on the mound for the start of the ninth, running his pitch count to 20 before departing after he walked Brandon Guyer.

(5) Cleveland’s ‘pen is mighty rested

There was some good news for the Indians in the wake of Tuesday night’s defeat: None of Cleveland’s top three relievers—Cody Allen, Andrew Miller or Bryan Shaw—even warmed up, let alone got into the game. Miller and Allen should be able to combine for four innings of work in Game 7 if manager Terry Francona so desires. Kluber, Miller and Allen have combined for 59 of the team’s 124 postseason innings (47.5%) and will likely push that figure back above 50%, win or lose. So far, they’ve yielded just four runs among them for a 0.61 ERA, striking out 86 (13.1 per nine, or 26% of all batters faced).

(6) Chicago hit parade

The Cubs’ cold bats have heated up, to say the least. After starting the series 1-for-15, Kris Bryant is now 5-for-7 with a pair of homers since then. Addison Russell, who began the postseason 1-for-24, is 12-for-37 with three homers and two doubles starting with Game 4 of the NLCS. Anthony Rizzo, who opened October with a 1-for-23 skid, is 16-for-39 with three homers (including one late in Game 6) and five doubles since NLCS Game 3. Meanwhile, Kyle Schwarber, who was back in the lineup with the DH back in play, went 1-for-3 with a walk in Game 6 and has now reached base in seven of his 14 plate appearances.

(7) Davis on defense

Cleveland’s outfield defense has been a rough spot at times in this series, as was particularly evident in Game 6. In the first inning, Russell hit a catchable fly ball that fell between rightfielder Lonnie Chisenhall and centerfielder Tyler Naquin because of miscommunication, allowing two runs to score and giving Chicago a 3–0 lead. During the season, the Indians’ outfielders tied for 20th in the majors with -11 Defensive Runs Saved, and three players who combined for +8 DRS—Michael Brantley, Abe Almonte and Marlon Byrd—aren’t on the World Series roster.  Read more

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

Midsummer Classic

American League wins 4-2.  Since 1988 the bettsAmerican League has dominated, winning 22 of 29 with 1 tie (2002).  Since inception, National League (43 Wins)  American League (42 Wins).  bogaertsI found it interesting there have been two ties (first one was in 1961 – Read more).  This year the starting line-up for the American League included 4 Boston Red Sox Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley and Ortiz and the National League had their entire infield made up of 4 Chicago Cubs Rizzo, Russell, Bryant and Zobrist.

Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the “Midsummer Classic”, is an annual professional baseball gamebradley sanctioned by Major League Baseball (MLB) contested between players from the American League (AL) and the National ortizLeague (NL), currently selected by fans for starting fielders, by managers for pitchers, and by managers and players for reserves.

The game usually occurs on either the second or third Tuesday in July, and is meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the MLB season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually found within the previous calendar week). Both of the major leagues share a common All-Star break, with no regular-season games scheduled on the day before or the day after the All-Star Game itself (Read more).    Johnny Cueto and Chris Sale will be the starting pitchers in the 87th All-Star Game to be played tonight at Petco Park in rizzoSan Diego (Read more).

Giancarlo Stanton turned the Home Run Derby at russellPetco Park into a contest of “Can you top this?” For most of the night, the Miami Marlins right fielder found himself trying to outdistance himself, and in the process he stole the show.  In the finals, he went first and put the third-seeded Frazier on the defensive. Of his 20 homers, 11 went 440 feet or more (Read more).

Since I’m a loyal Orioles fan, I was cheering for Machado and the other 4 players selected.  What is really cool is the fact that no one ever hit a ball off the scoreboard at Petco Park until Mark Trumbo hit a 479-foot homer (Read more).  Another really interesting statistic is all the young players who played tonight.

Unfortunately, some people think that the game doesn’t mean anything.  However, winning or losing does affect the “home field advantage” for the 2016 World Series.  Moreover, I personally believe it is a showcase of the “crim de la crim”.  If you love the game as much as I do, it’s exciting to watch the raw bryanttalent and the camaraderie of the best athletes.zobrist  Nevertheless, if you look back over the past 4 years that the A.L. had the home field advantage, Kansas City Royals won in 2015 4–1 over the New York Mets but in the previous year, it did not seem to make a difference losing to San Francisco Giants in Game #7 (2014).  In 2012, San Francisco Giants also beat Detroit Tigers 4–0.  Yet, in 2013, Boston Red Sox with home field advantage won 4–2 over St. Louis Cardinals (Read more).

It was officially decided in August 2009 at the IOC Board meeting in Berlin that baseball would not be included in the 2016 Summer Olympics.  What a shame.  It starts on August 5 (only three weeks away –  Read more).  However, the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has proposed the inclusion of five new sports in their event, with baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing being put forward (Read more).

This past spring at Roland Park Baseball, my son Blake started @ 3rd base in the annual RPBL All Star game (little league ages 9-10).  Also, I had the honor to be selected as the manager and head coach and it was a blast!