PostSeason


As of Oct 21…

Astros’ offense and emotions wake up in do-or-die win over Yankees in Game 6

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.

Midsummer Classic

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 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!


 

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

 

Lost Art of Bunting

Our little league recently tried a new strategy to encourage all hitters to pay closer attention to the strike zone and weaker hitters to have a better chance of getting on base…

I am a big believer in “base hits” win ballgames!

Unfortunately, our team has struck out 59 times in seven games. Breakdown per game: 13, 4, 6, 6, 10, 12 & 8.


MLB Traditional Methodology

Many coaches are in favor of giving up an out by bunting a runner over to second or even third base. I believe this is a bunting strategy that should be determined by a number of factors.

  1. Is it a close game
  2. Is it late in the game
  3. Can the runner steal second instead of being bunted over
  4. How well can the hitter bunt
  5. What is the batting average and on base percentage of the hitter

It really doesn’t make any sense to me, to have a batter at the plate with a high on base percentage or batting average and have him make an out just to move a runner over one base, especially
third.

I may give you in a very close game where one run will win it to
bunt a man over to third with no outs, then have a squeeze bunt if the next hitter is a capable man who can get the job done.

In Pony baseball, the chances seem to be better in favor of attempting
a steal, but again factors such as the runners ability to get a good jump and the catcher’s arm come into play.

In most situations, bunting a runner over early in the game just doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you are fairly sure it will
be a close game.

There is also something to be said for scoring the first run giving your team a psychological advantage. But before you bunt a man over consider who is coming up: are the chances favorable he can get
the job done with a base hit or fly ball, or is the hitter weak and bunting is probably the best option for him?

Even so, you’ve got to consider who is coming up after him whether they can
be counted on to get a hit or fly ball.
Here is one bunting strategy that works almost every time.

Runner on third, or runners on any other base. Less than two outs. The batter at the plate is an average or less hitter,
with weaker hitters coming up behind him….and you really want
to get a run in.

The batter bunts the ball down on the ground towards the third baseman. Have the runner on third follow the third baseman down the line, staying back from him 10 feet or so.

When the player throws to first for the out, you’ve got yourself an easy run. Do remember, if the shortstop is playing heads up ball and the third baseman is in the game, there may be an out at third, depends on how far the second base runner is advanced and how far the ball is bunted. But the chances of this happening are fairly slim, the odds are in the offenses favor.

There really are no hard and fast rules that are absolute, but the one thing I’m not in favor of early in the game is to
bunt a man over with decent hitters at the plate.

Even though everyone should be able to lay down a bunt if called upon, the better hitters in the lineup usually have little bunting experience in the game and so as a general rule are not really
that good at bunting simply because in most games in their past, they hit and didn’t have to bunt.

Remember what Earl Waver said: “If you play for one run, that’s usually all you’ll get.” Read more


Reading the pitcher

In this bunting strategy – recognize a pitcher’s weakness and exploit it for more bunt hits.

Bunting for a hit is an extremely valuable skill, and can even be the deciding factor in a close game when hits and runs are scarce.

Baseball players are creatures of habit!

Most people – and pitchers in particular – are creatures of habit. You can use this to your advantage.

How many times have you seen a ground ball hit back to the pitcher? He usually reacts in one of two ways: Take his time and make a nice throw to first base for the out, or secure the ball start running over to first base and give an underhand flip. As insignificant as this play seems it may tell us a few things about the pitcher and his mindset. This can be extremely important if you can and are willing to bunt.

Typically pitchers work on bunt plays where the baseball is bunted right back to them or towards third base where they can pick it up and throw it to first base. The whole thing becomes very instinctive and doesn’t require much thought or variation on the pitcher’s part.

So how can this help you out?

This can tell you if you should try to bunt against this particular pitcher.

(1) There’s a good chance you’ll be able to predict how he will handle that same scenario in the future

(2) You’ll have a clue as to what type of play is difficult for the pitcher (i.e. if this is a weakness for him) and then you can use this to your advantage.

Will he make a throw to first, or try to run and flip it?

Now lets go back to our pitcher and how he handles a throw to first base on a come backer.

If the pitcher throws the ball to 1st base, it’s a clue that he may be fairly athletic and feels comfortable in throwing a ball outside of his normal pitching motion. In this case, bunting may not be the best option.

However, if a pitcher runs it over towards first base and under hand flips it, there is probably a reason for that. It could be that he not confident in his throwing ability. Maybe he has thrown balls passed the first baseman in the past and now this is his go to move, or perhaps throwing to bases is something he doesn’t practice and doesn’t feel comfortable with. Either way, it can indicate a weakness you can take advantage of by bunting for a hit.

Taking advantage of the pitcher’s weakness

You can force the pitcher to make an athletic throw by laying a soft bunt down the first base line.

This is not a standard push bunt, you want to make sure it’s hard enough where the catcher can’t get it and the ONLY person that can make a play is the pitcher.

A pitcher who isn’t too confident in making an athletic throw will have difficulties with this play.

He has to get to the ball quickly, so his momentum not going in the direction of first base. Then he needs to make a throw to the first baseman without hitting the runner or throwing it into right field.

Since this isn’t a play that is practiced often, and it is a very difficult play, you will quickly tell how athletic the opposing pitcher is and if bunting may be a way for your team to scratch across a few runs.

The reason I picked this type of bunt strategy is because a bunt down the third base line is a play that happens so fast for the pitcher that he doesn’t have time to think about it. This tends to be an easier throw for him to make. Also, pitcher’s practice fielding this bunt often.

Of course, just because a pitcher runs and under hand flips a ball to first base on a come backer doesn’t guarantee that he is uncomfortable making an athletic throw. But paying attention and seeing this as a potential way to attack the pitcher may help you get to a pitcher that is tough to score runs against.


No More Easy Outs

Alfonso Soriano studied Willie Randolph, the Yankees’ third-base coach, as he touched his cap, his nose, his ear, his arm and his belt, and somewhere in Randolph’s rapid collection of movements was a sign for Soriano to bunt. This happened three different times while the Yankees played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last month. Each time, Soriano looked inept as he failed to produce a sacrifice.

When Soriano was reminded of his failures, he offered a facial expression that made it seem as if he had gulped salt water. Then Soriano added revealing words to his already revealing actions.

”Bunting?” Soriano said. ”No. Sometimes when they ask me to bunt, I bunt it straight to the pitcher. I’ll be really mad if I make an easy out. I’m not really comfortable bunting. If I could put it down the line, O.K. It’s very important, but I’d rather hit the ball.”

Soriano made his comments while sitting near his locker at Yankee Stadium, but the words could have been spoken by almost any position player in any major league clubhouse. For other than a small percentage of adept bunters, the ability to deaden a pitched ball with a bat while simultaneously placing it away from the charging opposition is not considered a critical talent. Remember, baseball stages a home run derby at the All-Star Game, not a bunting contest.

”It’s not a glorious or a glamorous thing,” Mets pitcher Tom Glavine said. ”Other than starting pitchers and a handful of leadoff guys, players don’t do it. It’s lost its prominence.”

Baseball’s evolution has included smaller parks, bigger players, livelier balls and thicker contracts, but not necessarily heftier paychecks for a player who can bunt for a hit or to advance a runner. And just as influential, there are statistically attuned executives who dispute the traditional notion that bunting builds rallies, and they have data to support their theories.

Those general managers, like Oakland’s Billy Beane, Toronto’s J. P. Ricciardi and Boston’s Theo Epstein, are the current equivalents of Earl Weaver, who despised using the bunt as manager of the Baltimore Orioles across 17 seasons. The general managers have statisticians who support their belief that they should resist it. Read more

 

Junior Orioles Dugout Club

The official Kids’ Club of the Orioles for fans 14 and under

2017 EXCLUSIVE MEMBER BENEFITS
* A ticket to six selected Orioles games (see plan schedule options below)
* Official Junior Orioles Dugout Club items:
– Hat
– Socks
– Pencil case
– Lanyard

* Official Membership Card
* All inside an Orioles Backpack!
* Member-only giveaway item at every Dugout Club game
* Season subscription to Orioles Kids magazine
* Plus, for Dugout Club games, family and friends will have the opportunity to purchase additional tickets starting at just $6!

Purchase here

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.

World Baseball Classic

Adam Jones’ game-saving catch robs teammate Manny Machado in WBC

U.S. outfielder Adam Jones makes a catch above the wall, stealing a home run from the Dominican Republic’s Manny Machado during the seventh inning of a World Baseball Classic game on March 18.

Few things can stop an entire clubhouse of major league players in their tracks, but when the highlight of Adam Jones’ highlight-reel robbery of teammate Manny Machado in Saturday night’s World Baseball Classic elimination game was played on the televisions inside the Orioles clubhouse Sunday morning, all eyes were fixed on the screens.

Jones’ leaping grab over the center field wall at PETCO Park – which came at a critical-moment Team USA’s elimination-game win over the Dominican Republic in Jones’ hometown of San Diego – was spectacular by any standard, but was the latest in a WBC that had given Jones national recognition on an international stage. It occurred well after midnight Sunday morning, so few on the east coast saw it live, but the buzz around the grab lingered well into morning.

With the USA leading 4-2 in the seventh inning, Machado hit a blast to center. Jones sped to his left and just in front of the 396 foot marker, he jumped against the wall in mid-stride, fully extending his arm over the wall as he hit the wall to bring Machado’s ball into the ballpark all while avoiding several fans also attempting to take home a souvenir.

Jones bounced off the wall and took the ball out of hisloved about it the most is that there was a Yankee fan trying to get into the field of play that he took it away from. That was probably the highlight for me.”

The catch was pivotal in Team USA’s do-or-die win against the Dominican, as they advanced to the WBC semifinals for the first time in the tournament’s history. Robinson Cano followed Machado with a solo homer, so the game could have been tied had Machado’s ball gone out of the yard.

“I’m still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball,” Jones said in the postgame press conference. “I mean, off the bat I’m just like this ball’s hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air’s going to slow it down, and just never quit. That’s just the style I play with. I don’t mind running into a wall or two. I just kept going after the ball, and I’ve seen the replay after the game, and I went for the catch.”

Showalter said that Jones probably had an idea of how to position himself against Machado.

“There’s a lot of guts it takes to make those plays, but I got out of it that a lot of people don’t play [Machado] where he was playing him,” Showalter said. “I think he knew kind of where he might hit it if it stayed in the park, and that one didn’t stay in the park until it got into Adam’s glove.”

Both Jones and Machado – the two biggest faces of an Orioles franchise that still doesn’t receive much national attention despite its recent success – have taken advantage of the stage. Machado was the MVP of last weekend’s pool play games in Miami as the Dominican finished 3-0.

In the same way, Jones has emerged as the face of Team USA’s run to the semifinals, even given the unofficial tag as this team’s Captain America.  Jones had on had a game-winning walk-off hit to beat Colombia in pool play. He hit a game-tying home run against Venezuela on Wednesday and added another homer in the second round against Puerto Rico.

“It’s not surprising to us who get to see them,” Showalter said. “It’s great for some of the people that haven’t get to see it. … I don’t know why people don’t see it. You’d have to tell me. But we see that every night.”

All those moments were critical to landing Team USA two wins away from its first WBC title – they play Japan on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium – but the image of Jones reaching over the center field fence as PETCO Park, the Team USA logo across his chest visible with American flags waving behind him might be one of the most memorable images of the tournament.

“I think when you watch him make plays like that you fall back to people who think he’s actually an average outfielder in the big leagues,” Orioles closer Zach Britton said. “We’re like, ‘Do these people actually watch him play?’ And these people watch this and we’re like, ‘Well, we already know he was a great player.’ I just think [the reaction] is kind of funny when we see him make plays like that. Maybe we take it for granted, too.”

In the postgame press conference, Jones’ catch was compared to a leaping home-run robbing catch by Angels center fielder Mike Trout on Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy in 2012, but Jones noted that grab was made in the first inning of a regular-season game in late-June

“… This was on a different scale, different magnitude,” Jones said. “Unbelievable catches, both of them. Just showing the athleticism that we both have.”

Jones hadn’t checked his phone for a text message from Machado before speaking to reporters after the game, but Britton said Jones will definitely make sure Machado remembers it.

“It’s fun watching those guys compete because there’s that friendly rivalry,” Britton said. “I guess Manny’s just going to have to hit it further next time. That’s what Jonesy’s gonna tell him when he gets back.”  Read more


USA & Puerto Rico meet with top spot at stake

Two World Baseball Classic heavyweights will square off tonight at Petco Park in San Diego, as the United States and Puerto Rico meet at 10 ET (live on MLB Network and MLB.TV).  Both teams are coming off thrilling victories in Pool F. The U.S. came from behind to defeat Venezuela, 4-2, on Wednesday night behind home runs from Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer in the eighth inning. Puerto Rico became the first team to defeat the Dominican Republic since the 2009 Classic with a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night.

Last night our Over 40 Baseball Team met indoors for batting practice.  One of my teammates asked if I’d been watching the WBC?  I said, “No”.  Well, I will probably tune in tonight!  Also, earlier this week, I was on the phone with Al Bumbry and he was telling me his experience coaching for USA.

“I don’t have to worry about making the best pitch or trying to strike people out,” Lugo said. “If I can just throw quality pitches in the zone, these guys are going to make great plays behind me like they’ve been making all tournament. I’m just going to try to stay with the same approach, and attack the zone, attack the hitters, and let these guys do what they do best.”  Read more


U.S. Defeats Venezuela on Homers by Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer

The hometown favorite Adam Jones hit a tying home run leading off the eighth inning, and Eric Hosmer added a two-run shot three batters later as the United States rallied to beat Venezuela, 4-2, on Wednesday night in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

Hosmer hit a solo homer and a run-scoring single in the American League’s 4-2 win at the 2016 All-Star Game. Read more


Orioles’ Machado, Schoop, Jones to play in WBC

In addition to third baseman Manny Machado, who said in April he would play for the Dominican Republic, center fielder Adam Jones will play for the United States and Curacao-born second baseman Jonathan Schoop will play for the Netherlands.  Read more


The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international baseball tournament sanctioned from 2006 to 2013 by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and after 2013 by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

The tournament is the first of its kind to have the national teams of IBAF’s member federations feature professional players from the major leagues around the world including Major League Baseball. In addition to providing a format for the best baseball players in the world to compete against one another while representing their home countries, the World Baseball Classic was created in order to further promote the game around the globe.  Read more


MLB Article  |  Orioles’s Schoop  |  Manny Machado to play for Dominican Republic at WBC