Midsummer Classic

89th annual Midsummer Classic will be held Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 8 p.m. at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.

Home Run Derby is on Monday, July 16 @ 8 p.m.

Read more => http://www.mlb.com/all-star/schedule

Robinson Cano’s 10th inning home run lifts American League to All-Star Game victory (read more).

Aaron Judge currently has the top 5 hardest hit baseballs (e.g. approximately 121 mph.) in MLB history. He was the 2017 champion of the “Home Run Derby” the day before All-Star game.

It was also fun to watch Jose Altuve leadoff for the American League, who is one of the top hitters this year batting 0.353 (as of 7/20/17).


American League wins 4-2. Since 1988 the

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American League has dominated, winning 22 of 29 with 1 tie (2002). Since inception, National League (43 Wins) American League (42 Wins).

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I 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 game

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sanctioned by Major League Baseball (MLB) contested between players from the American League (AL) and the National

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League (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

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San Diego (Read more).

Giancarlo Stanton turned the Home Run Derby at

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Petco 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

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talent and the camaraderie of the best athletes.

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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!


PyeongChang Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as PyeongChang 2018, is an ongoing international multi-sport event hosted by the county of Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country was selected as the host city in July 2011, during the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa. It marks the first time that South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics, and the second Olympics held in the country, the first being the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. And it’s the first time since 1998 that the Winter Olympics are held in Asia.

The Winter Olympics runs from 8 to 25 February 2018. The games feature 102 events in fifteen sports, including the addition of big air snowboarding, mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling, and mixed team alpine skiing to the Winter Olympic programme. A total of 2,952 athletes from 92 National Olympic Committees are slated to compete, including the debut of Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.

The lead-up to these Games was affected by the ongoing tensions between South Korea and North Korea, and also the ongoing missile crisis involving the country. These led to security concerns, with several countries threatening to skip the games if their safety was not ensured, including the United States. In January 2018, after their first high-level talks in over two years, North Korea agreed to participate in the Games. The countries also marched together during the opening ceremony and agreed to field a unified women’s hockey team. Read more


 

https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/game-time/results/OWG2018/en/general/competition-schedule.htm

https://www.cbssports.com/olympics/news/winter-olympics-2018-full-tv-schedule-team-usa-medal-count-channels-streams/

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/winter-olympics-2018

 


Shaun White

 

Copper Mountain, CO – DECEMBER 9: Shaun White of USA in action during men’s final of snowboard halfpipe of Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain on December 9, 2017. White finished in 3rd place. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

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

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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World Series

Things started going awry for the Dodgers early in Game 7, and they couldn’t find a way to right the ship and win the World Series for the first time in 29 years.

Game 7

Instead, the Astros took home their first World Series since the franchise started in 1962 by beating LA 5-1 on their own field. Winning it in Houston might have been sweeter, but something makes me think they don’t particularly care where they lift the trophy postgame, just that they lifted it at all.

A lot happened in Game 7, which seems right since it was a Game 7 after all. If a Game 7 can’t be a little crazy then what are we doing here?

Yu Darvish got pulled after just 1 2⁄3 innings for the second game in a row, and gave up five runs (four earned) while he was at it. Lance McCullers only lasted 2 1⁄3 innings for the Astros. Clayton Kershaw pitched four shutout innings, letting up only two hits and striking out four Houston batters. Brandon Morrow, Chris Devenski, and Francisco Liriano all pitched one out for their respective teams.

The Astros won it with Charlie Morton pitching four innings in relief and didn’t use a closer. Morton ended up getting the win instead of the save, and didn’t allow a baserunner for the last three innings of the game. Kenley Jansen, Alex Wood, and Brad Peacock all made appearances as well.

And that was just the pitching!

George Springer set or tied home run and extra-base hit records. Cody Bellinger set the record for most strikeouts in one series with 17, breaking the one Aaron Judge just set in the ALDS this October. Alex Bregman, who is not allowed to make fielding mistakes at this point, made a mistake. Read more


Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, the 2017 World Series will begin with Game 1 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. The Dodgers are playing in their first World Series since 1988. The Astros were in the World Series as recently as 2005, though as an NL team. This is their first since moving to the AL.

Top 5 MLB Playoff Sweeps Since 2000

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.

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