Tag Archives: Teamwork

Sportsmanship

Every year thousands of players participate in the great game under the Babe Ruth League banner. Many of them dream about someday becoming professional athletes.

It used to be that only young male athletes could dream of reaching such lofty heights through athletic participation. But now because of women’s professional basketball, softball and soccer leagues, young female athletes have been able to share those dreams.

While it’s great to dream and strive for success in all of your endeavors, the reality is that a very, very small percentage of athletes ever get the opportunity to play a sport professionally. In fact, only a handful of the athletes who participate in youth baseball or softball will play at the collegiate level. More, but probably not the majority, will play in high school.

At some point all of us – even the most successful professional athletes – have to venture out into the business world or what some people like to call the “real world.” While it is our primary goal to help the young baseball and softball players improve in those sports, we are very aware that there is more to life than athletics. There are many valuable life lessons that can be communicated through sports participation, and it is our hope that the young athletes will take away something that will help them later on in life. One of those key lessons that we hope to impart is the value of sportsmanship. Read more 


MVP

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Every game we handed out a trophy for the Most Valuable Player.  This idea came to me from watching my son’s Head Baseball Coach, Doug Bassett (Facebook).  My son left RPBL in 2014 and he and I got involved with the WM Warriors.  I was the Assistant Coach on the 8U-B travel team.  In 2015, Blake had the most success season to-date winning the MVP in the “35th Annual HCYP Invitational Baseball Tournament in Ellicott City, MD”.  This medal was awarded by the opposing Manager.  His 8U-A team also went undefeated in the 2015 Essex Express Baseball Father’s Day Summer Classic

Positive Reinforcement

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August, 2001 my girlfriend Rene and I drove to the Eastern shore with our first born child AKA dog Brendan.  The breeder named him Snow because he was so white.  So, when we set out to train him and enrolled him in multiple obedience classes.  This is where I learned one of the most valuable lessons in life. She said,

“Have you ever wondered how trainers are able to get dolphins to jump out of the water on command and do a flip at SeaWorld? It’s through “positive reinforcement” using fish.”

So, instead of fish we used Cheese Balls and it was AMAZINGLY effective.  I managed to train Brendan to Sit, Stay and Come on command beautifully.  He was literally like a son to us.  We loved him so much he became our “ring bearer” at our wedding @ the Inn at Perry Cabin.

This style of teaching proved to be very important in my teaching career, as well as coaching.  I began awarding a Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy at every game. There is NO “I” in TEAM. For example, Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez was named 2015 World Series MVP. Read more He wears jersey #13. Guess who else wears that unlucky number on the Orioles? Gold Glove 3rd baseman – Manny Machado

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At Closing Ceremonies this year, we will be presenting the first ever RPBL Coaches Award to one player on each National League Team (9-10 age group) who best represents the values of RPBL.   These values include:

  • Sportsmanship
  • Teamwork
  • Effort
  • Positive Attitude
  • Proper Manners
  • Enthusiasm
  • Fair play

The winner on the Blaze goes to Henry Fischel.  He always had a smile on his face, hustled, followed direction well, cheered for his teammates and most of all was a great asset to the overall success of our team this year.  In fact, he managed to have some key offensive hits when we needed it most and his defensive pitching performance was outstanding.

However, it was not a land slide.  We had many players who were very easy to teach and seemed to be enjoying the game.  But there were two special players who deserve to be recognized.  Amelia Overton & Wyatt Winstead – Honorable Mentions.  I believe their best example of “Sportsmanship” was shown when they consistently went out of their way to acknowledge me not only after every game, but after every practice as well.  “Thank you Coach” are the 3 magic words any Skipper loves to hear!

One last player who made remarkable improvement was Sawyer Ross.  He wins the “Most Improved” award.  Here’s a guy who had never played baseball before.  Yet, I knew he was a great athlete because he played soccer with my son.  He became my “pet project”.  I worked with him and tried to teach him how to bat.  Sure enough, when the game was on the line, he came through. Read Victory & Defeat

Don’t be a Sore Loser

Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors. A “sore loser” refers to one who does not take defeat well, whereas a “good sport” means being a “good winner” as well as being a “good loser”. (Someone who shows courtesy towards another in a sports game).

positions

RPBL requires that we play every player in the outfield. So, we will continue to make adjustments this season experimenting with players at pitcher, 1B and SS. I will continue to keep the batting lineup in descending order alphabetically. This gives everyone equal plate appearances.

In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence, and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents.  The four elements of sportsmanship are often shown being good form, the will to win, equity and fairness.

The important thing to remember is that we win and lose as a TEAM. “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” –Babe Ruth

Orioles_Infield

Since every sport is rule driven, the most common offence of bad sportsmanship is the act of cheating or breaking the rules to gain an unfair advantage. A competitor who exhibits poor sportsmanship after losing a game or contest is often called a “sore loser” (those who show poor sportsmanship after winning are typically called “bad champs”). Sore loser behavior includes blaming others for the loss, not accepting responsibility for personal actions that contributed to the defeat, reacting to the loss in an immature or improper fashion, making excuses for the defeat, and citing unfavorable conditions or other petty issues as reasons for the defeat. A bad winner acts in a shallow fashion after his or her victory, such as by gloating about his or her win, rubbing the win in the face(s) of the opponent(s), and lowering the opponent(s)’s self-esteem by constantly reminding the opponent(s) of “poor” performance in comparison (even if the opponent(s) competed well). Read more

The Ripken Way

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

IRONMAN

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.

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.

TEACHING BaseballPrintable Lessons as well as Video Lessons (click hyperlinks 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. Click on Hitting Lessons with Cal: Fundamentals, Choose Right Bat, Right Grip, Stance, Weight Shift, Release Point, Stride, Swing, Tee Drill, Soft Toss Drill, One Hand Drill, Make It Fun

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. Click on Infield Lessons with Bill & Cal: Defense-Catch & Throw, Playing Catch, Get Wide, Roll Ball Drill, Backhand, Throwing Side Foot-Backhand Drill, Glove Side Foot-Backhand Drill, Routine Backhand Play, Infield Throwing, Underhand Flip, Underhand Toss Drill, Box Drill Short-Second, Box Drill Second-Short, Double Play, Firstbase Fundamentals

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. Click on Outfield Lessons with Joe Orsulak: Straight Away, Good Stance, Pick Up Ball Off Bat, Cross Over Step, Drop Step, DS Drill, Get To Spot, Catch Ball, Fast-Slow-Fast, Throwing-Grip, Throw Using Body-Crow Hop, Make Accurate Throw

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. Click on Pitching Lessons with John Habyan: Mechanics-Strikes, Five Links, Four Seam Fastball Grip, Two Seam FB Grip, Five Links of Chain, One Knee Drill, Tee Drill, Power Position Drill, Breaking Balls-Grip, Breaking Ball-Mechanics, Change Up

LIGHT BULBS

Lessons: First Baseman, Box Drill-Cross Over Step, Following Pitch

Skipper

Al Gallagher

The BEST thing I heard after our disappointing 10-0 loss in the Championship game was from a complete stranger.

A young boy was walking by immediately following my Gatorade shower and said,”That’s the happiest losing team I ever saw”!

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Every baseball player and coach wants to win, generally. That’s why you keep score. The biggest showcase of the year is the World Series and that’s where all the hard work throughout the season comes to a close. If you had a successful season and won enough games to make it to the playoffs you have a shot at taking home a National Championship.

However, there have been many, many great baseball players that were not very popular like Al Gallagher. So, when you think of the BEST ballplayers, you automatically associate their stats. What was his batting average? What was his ERA? And yes, coaches also are measured on stats. Yet, considering how difficult it is to make it to the World Series, it is fascinating to me that Joe Torre won the Championship four (4) times. Read more.

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Buck Showalter

If you want to be the best ___ [fill-in the blank]. Find someone who has already achieved that success. Then just copy everything they do! Eventually, you’ll develop your own “signature”. I’ll stick with the home town hero, Buck Showalter.

Earl Weaver

Notice that Buck was the Yankees coach before Torre. But I grew up watching Earl Weaver. Buck Showalter loves scouting reports — except when it comes to assessing the personalities of people he’s never met. In that regard, the Orioles’ manager insists upon formulating his own opinion. “People will start to tell me about a player that’s coming,” Showalter said, “and I stop them and say, ‘I got this. We’re starting fresh. I’m going to make up my own mind about him.'”

Buck Showalter

Showalter’s reputation preceded his arrival in Baltimore. Taskmaster, drill sergeant, disciplinarian — those words were often associatedwith him during his tenure as manager of the New York Yankees (1992-95), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and Texas Rangers (2003-06). So when the feisty skipper was hired by then-president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to turn around a franchise in search of its first winning season since 1997, the players knew what was coming…

“Some people’s reputation before you meet them is not the same after you get to know them.

Orioles Team Rebuilds

Orioles Announce 2021 Spring Training Schedule

The Orioles today announced they will begin their 2021 Grapefruit League season at home on Saturday, February 27, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla. against the Atlanta Braves. The club’s home Grapefruit League schedule, which features 16 dates, will conclude with a home game on Saturday, March 27, against the Minnesota Twins.

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Tuesday, February 16, and position players on Sunday, February 21, with the first full-squad workout set for Monday, February 22. The 2021 season will mark the Orioles’ 12th consecutive Spring Training season in Sarasota and the club’s 11th at renovated Ed Smith Stadium.

The Orioles will face nine different Major League opponents during the club’s 16-game home schedule. The Orioles will host the following teams twice at Ed Smith Stadium: the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Orioles will also play the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers each once at home. The Orioles will play half of their home schedule on weekends, as eight of the club’s 16 home games fall on either a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

The Orioles will play 16 road games during the Spring Training season, including two trips each to visit the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Tigers, Twins, Braves, and Pirates; and one trip each to take on the Blue Jays and Phillies.

In the 11 years since the Orioles moved Major League Spring Training to Sarasota, more than one million fans have enjoyed Orioles games at Ed Smith Stadium. The Orioles’ engagement with the Greater Sarasota community goes far beyond baseball.

Read more


MLB rumors: Orioles could leave Camden Yards in 2 years

The Baltimore Orioles’ lease with Camden Yards is set to expire in 2023.

Never say never.

The Baltimore Orioles could leave Camden Yards in two years, if the two sides can’t work out a new lease.

The Baltimore Sun reports “The current lease expires at the end of 2021, although the Orioles have long had the option to extend it for five years. The stadium authority said Monday that the parties agreed to extend the current agreement for two years through Dec. 31, 2023, with the club retaining the right to exercise a one-time, five-year extension by Feb. 1, 2023.”

The negotiations have been complex. The club has spoken publicly about its hopes of capitalizing on the stadium’s popularity by using it increasingly for non-baseball activities such as music. That could involve new venues such as bars, restaurants — possibly even a sports betting room — in the stadium area. But officials from the club and the state say no such plans have been finalized, and that it was too soon to publicly discuss modifications to the stadium itself that are expected to be part of lease negotiations.

Camden Yards opened in 1992, with its original 30-year lease set to expire in 2021. The ballpark launched a wave of stadium construction aimed at tapping into the retro feel of Camden Yards. Three decades after opening its gates, Camden Yards remains one of MLB’s quintessential ballparks, worthy of discussion with Fenway Park and Wrigley Field as one of the true gems in the majors.

Read more =>

https://www.nj.com/yankees/2021/02/mlb-rumors-orioles-could-leave-camden-yards-in-two-years.html

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Baltimore amassed a huge ERA (5.18) while serving up 234 home runs. The ace of the franchise was Dylan Bundy who now plays for Los Angeles Angels. Read more

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Renato Nunuez (39), shortstop Jonathan Villar (2) and first baseman Trey Mancini (16) at Yankee Stadium.

In 2019, the Orioles (54-108) were just as bad. In 2020, these Orioles took some steps forward and should improve. Read more


Back in April 2016, I had an exciting weekend.  The Orioles beat the World Series Champions – Kansas City Royals 8-3.  The Birds record is 11-5 as of Saturday. Our Over 40 team, Brewers beat the Nationals 15-2 and our record is now 2-0. The Roland Park Rangers travel team beat the TowsonTowne Tbirds 6-5 and continue to remain undefeated this season (record 5-0). Our RPBL In-house team (9-10 Nationals Little League) the Blaze beat the Ironbirds 5-3 and we have a 2 game winning streak (record 3-1-1).

Here are some quotes to pump you up:

  1. Every game is game seven.
  2. Teamwork makes the Dream work.
  3. Attitude is Everything.
  4. Be prepared! “If only” are the famous last words of those who weren’t.

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60 Game Season


What you need to know about 60-game season

Baseball is back. Three glorious words.

After months of unsuccessful negotiating with the players’ association, MLB has imposed a 2020 season and the two sides have agreed on health and safety protocols.

The new season will not, however, include a few of the rule changes you may have recently read about.

Here are all the details you need to know about baseball’s shortened upcoming season.

When does the MLB regular season start?
Opening Day will be July 23, with two games taking place — Yankees vs. Nationals and Giants vs. Dodgers. The Phillies will begin play on July 24. MLB will attempt to cram 60 games into about 66 days. Players reported to camp on July 1 for Spring Training II.

How many games?
It will be a 60-game regular season. The league had proposed as few as 50 games and the players’ association had proposed as many as 114. In the end, 60 was the number the league chose when it unilaterally implemented the 2020 season.

Given MLB’s new coronavirus cases, the league’s desire to play the postseason in October, and the length these negotiations took, a regular season much longer than 60 games was no longer feasible. But the players still rejected the league’s 60-game proposal for a few important reasons. Read more

It began and suddenly halted four months ago in spring training and then restarted as summer camp. Now, filled with trepidation the time has come.

It’s the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

It finally has arrived, 119 days later than originally scheduled, and will be the first major team sport to return to the world beginning at 7:08 p.m. ET Thursday with the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals playing the New York Yankees in the nation’s capital.

There will be no fans in attendance. Only cardboard cut-outs. Pumped-in fake crowd noise required by every team. No smell of hot dogs. Virtual advertising everywhere you look. Players sitting in the stands and makeshift dugouts, socially distancing, six feet apart. And there will be displays of social messaging too, with players permitted to wear “Black Lives Matter” or “United for Change’’ patches on their uniforms, with “Black Lives Matter” stenciled on the pitcher’s mounds during the opening weekend of games. Read more


M.L.B. Proposes an 82-Game Season Starting in July

The Korean Baseball Organization is back from the coronavirus shutdown. Is this what MLB games will look like? In South Korea and Taiwan, where its league also recently resumed the season, stadiums are empty except for players, staff, umpires and some media members. Base coaches and umpires must wear masks and latex gloves on the field, and the teams’ training staffs wear masks in the dugouts. Read more

Major League Baseball has formalized its plan to return to the field, with teams agreeing Monday on a proposal to send to the players’ union for an 82-game season that would start without fans in early July. The plan would include an expanded playoff field and the designated hitter for all games, even those in the National League, where it is not typically used.

The plan must clear major obstacles to become reality. Even if the union accepts the structure of a truncated season, the sides would also have to agree on a salary structure for players. The league would also need to have enough tests for players and employees without depleting the public supply, and agree with the union on working conditions, including protocols in case of positive tests.

Details of the proposal were confirmed by multiple baseball officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan cannot be official until authorized by the union. The league’s proposal would authorize the shortest season since the early years of the National League in the late 1870s. To minimize travel, teams would play only against divisional rivals as well as teams in the corresponding geographic division of the opposite league. The proposal, which would require approval from the players’ union, would have teams start the season in early July and mainly play teams in their geographic region. Read more

“Needs to get approval by the Players’ Association, the Mets and every other team in the National League East should anticipate…” Read more

MLB Reportedly Considering Playing in Empty Stadiums During Coronavirus Pandemic. Major League Baseball is reportedly considering starting the 2020 season with games at spring training sites in either Florida or Arizona without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Friday the chances of playing games at home parks this summer with a crowd are becoming “increasingly remote,” leading the league to consider alternatives. However, trying to station all 30 clubs in one area would be “extremely complex and potentially controversial” amid COVID-19. There are numerous hurdles MLB would need to jump before making the plan reality. Read more

“The owners of the 30 MLB teams held a virtual meeting Monday and agreed to a proposal for the restart of the 2020 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred is presenting that proposal to the players Tuesday. That’s the good news. The bad news is this: It’s a long journey from proposal to playing, largely because so many things that have to happen are out of MLB’s hands…” Read more

Help me, Help you

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

Batting Lineup

THE LEADOFF: Your leadoff should be one of your team’s best hitters and fastest players. The goal of any good leadoff hitter is to get on base, however they can. Your on-base percentage leader should fit well in the leadoff spot, if you’re keeping track of that stat. Remember, whether they hit the ball for contact or they walk, they’ve got to get on base.
Speed is a plus for this position. Don’t look for power in the leadoff—save power hitters for later when there are more baserunners positioned. If your kids are competing for this spot, remind them that the leadoff hitter usually only leads once.

2 SPOT: The 2-spot player is on-deck at the start of the game and should be a fundamentally sound hitter. You must rely on them to make contact with the ball. The goal of the second hitter is to advance your leadoff player, as well as make it on-base themselves. Players who frequently strike out will kill momentum in this position.

3 HOLE: Just as before, the 3 hole should be one of your team’s best hitters. This can be someone who has a great batting average and doesn’t lack power.
This position should be filled by a good all-around hitter who really gets the concept of batting against another player. You want the 3 hole to move players around, or drive in the first runs of the game. If you look at your stats and see a player with a comparatively high batting average, a couple doubles and several RBIs on the season, try batting them third.

CLEANUP: One of the most admired spots in the batting lineup, the cleanup position is typically your most powerful hitter. In youth baseball, that doesn’t just mean the player that has a lot of homeruns. The cleanup player hits the ball hard. Hard hits typically get through the infield and sometimes can get to an outfield gap or even past an unskilled outfielder. When this player steps to the plate, the infielders take a step back.

5 POSITION: Sometimes the cleanup hitter doesn’t quite clear the bases—and that’s what the 5-spot is for. Like the cleanup position, the player batting fifth should have higher than average batting power. This player should not strike out as much as feast-or-famine cleanup hitter, but should still be able to crank out a few doubles or hard-hit singles. When you examine your stat sheet, look for players who are hitting more than singles and are in the bottom half of all strikeouts (or who have a lower-than-average strikeout to at-bat ratio). Throughout the year, you’ll want to switch up your fourth and fifth positions. This will challenge your players and give you a better idea of who fits best in which role.

SPOTS 6 & 7: Unless you’re one lucky youth baseball coach, this is where you’ll probably reach a challenge in your lineup. The 6 and 7 spots are important in your lineup, even if they don’t perform as well at the plate. A batting average of .200 or .225 can wreak havoc on the other team. Hope for singles from these players, or try putting a good bunter in this role. If you’ve got players who are about equal in hitting ability, speed should be the deciding factor.

BATTING 8: At the youth level, the 8 spot is ideal for developing hitters. In many cases, the 8 position is for a player who is the worst fundamental hitter on your team and strikes out the most. Remember, every team has a player who has not yet caught onto hitting.

9 PLAYER: This less-than-desirable spot is often reserved for the weakest hitter on the team—but we think the nine guy is worth extra consideration.
At the youth level, you should make it a habit to shuffle your 7 to 9-spot hitters, so you do not consistently send a negative message to any one player. The 9 spot should not go to your player who strikes out the most, but someone who you’ve seen scatter singles throughout the season. This player could jumpstart a middle inning for the top of the order.

BATTING THROUGH YOUR LINEUP
In many youth baseball organizations, your team must bat through the lineup. That is to say, if you have 12 kids on a team, all 12 must bat before you start at the top of the order. In these cases, we suggest you follow the above guidelines for positions 1 to 7 then rotate players 8 to 12, keeping them even on at-bats when the season closes.
Remember, your job as coach is to ensure your roster is having fun, developing skills and gaining confidence. Playing a less competitive team? Consider changing up your lineup to challenge your team and give everyone an opportunity. They may surprise you—and themselves.

Well Coached Players: “The best situation for all of us is for you to plan on handing these kids over to me and the assistant coaches when you drop them off, and plan on them being mine for the 2 or so hours that we have scheduled for a game, or the time that we have scheduled for the practice.  I would like for these boys to have some responsibility for having their own water, not needing you to keep running to the concession stand, or having parents behind the dugout asking their son if they are thirsty, or hungry…

Players on the bench will not be messing around. I will constantly be talking with them about situations and what they would be doing if they were in a specific position, or if they were the batter.”  ~Mike Matheny.  Often I find myself saying to my 10 year old son, “Help me, Help you” similar to scene from Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise. However, be careful showing this to young women because clip ends with Cuba Gooding parading around locker room in the nude (Caution: R rated).

Nevertheless, whether you are a sports agent or a parent coach, the responsibility and sacrifice can be daunting at times, to say the least.


Hustle

Baserunning is a fundamental of the game that incorporates many facets that players can work on no matter what their running speed. Coaches of young players often do not work with their teams on this part of the game. Running the bases is an art. If coaches teach baserunning correctly, they will increase the ability of their players to steal bases and take extra bases. Fast base runners force fielders to throw to another base because the runner got there quicker than the fielder expected. In the field, faster players are able to get to and catch more balls. Before working on baserunning, coaches need to teach young players how to run properly and have them run every day to get faster. Speed and agility training is an important part of helping young players develop their athleticism. After a young player has developed his athleticism, all the facets of baserunning become a lot easier. Most of the time players cannot develop athleticism by playing baseball. This should be a priority when it comes to helping young players run the bases better.

To work on running and running the bases, your warm-ups in practice and before games need to be organized around running. Running needs to become a habit for young players. You can begin and end practices with fun running drills and games. Keep in mind that you always want to end practices with a competitive and fun activity because the last thing they do is what they remember. You want them remembering that practice was fun so that they learn faster.

Coaches should talk to track coaches to learn the proper running techniques so that they can help their players run better. Track coaches can teach the techniques and drills that allow players to perfect their running.

A few things need to be taught to help with all facets of baserunning. First is the ability to move quickly from one spot to another. This art is used in baseball and in many other sports. It begins with the hip turn, pushing off one foot and going. This turn will help runners and fielders. In this technique, players turn their hips as quickly as possible, keep the feet low to the ground, and turn on the angle that they need to run. The hip turn helps them move their feet faster. As they turn their hips and their feet touch the ground, they push off with the back foot. This turn can be practiced in warm-up drills, as we explain in the following drills. Read more


To be a well-rounded baseball player, you must develop and practice your base running skills. As my Guide To Base Running Strategy states, because rounding the bags happens almost every play, it is critical to allot time each practice to base running.

To be a talented base runner, you must first recognize when the defense makes a mistake, then be able to capitalize on the opportunity. Develop your team’s base running skills with the following four drills. Each base running drill can be practiced individually, in small groups, or as a team—to incorporate a unified base running mentality.

Base Running Drills

Ground Ball Reads: Anytime a player can eliminate the need for a sacrifice bunt to preserve an out, it’s a huge advantage for the offense. Consider the benefit for your team if you habitually advanced from first base to third through a series of steals.
The Drill: The drill begins with a runner at first, taking a conservative lead. The coach feeds himself the ball and hits it toward centerfield. When the coach feeds himself the ball—the toss serves as the pitch—the runner takes a secondary lead. Once the ball is hit, the runner reacts to the ball by sprinting to second base, while keeping his eye on the ball and the fielder. Before arriving at second base, the runner should have already made a decision on whether to advance to third. As a rule of thumb, continue to third base if you reach second before the outfielder has the ball. Keep in mind: it’s far easier to slam on the brakes than turn on the jets. If the fielder has the ball, simply round the bag and watch the throw, ready to take advantage of a throwing error.

Dirtball Reads: When a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, take advantage of the opportunity by stealing an extra base. If a ball skips away from the catcher, runners must take advantage of the situation by advancing. The trouble lies with in-between balls, those that stray out of the batter’s box but not out of the dirt circle. This is where a little anticipation comes in handy. Know the count, the situation, where the other runners are and what they may be thinking. If it’s a breaking ball count (0-2, 1-2, even 1-1), expect a ball in the dirt and take an extra step toward the next base. This drill should be performed with a loaded infield and any number of runner combinations. The runners should start at any base in the infield. The coach short hops the ball to home plate, so the catcher, forced to block the ball, allows the runners time to read the situation and quickly decide whether to advance to the next base. The coach should keep the runners honest by mixing in strikes.

Tennis Ball Drop: Obviously, there is no better way to improve your stealing skills than to face a pitcher practicing his pickoff moves. However, this opportunity isn’t always available. When a pitcher isn’t available, use the Tennis Ball Drop drill to improve your reaction time. With a player on the pitcher’s mound holding a tennis ball, the runner takes a lead off first base. The player releases the tennis ball, triggering the runner’s break for second base. Whether the runner runs the full distance to second base, the first ten feet, or halfway, it doesn’t matter, since the first few steps are most important. The player on the mound should vary his release time to eliminate any chance for the runner to time up the pitch.

Resistance Steal Breaks: When it comes to stealing, your first step is your most important. This drill can be done with a tennis ball, a live pitcher or verbal signals. The runner starts by taking a normal lead off first base. Instead of balancing his weight on both feet equally, the runner should exaggerate his lean toward second base by placing more weight on his right foot. A partner standing to the right of the runner place his hands on the runner’s forward leaning (right ) shoulder. The runner should feel somewhat unbalanced. Once in this position, the partner lets go, then pushes the runner forward, propelling him into a sprint. This forces the runner to run fast enough to keep his balance.  This drill makes the runner explode out of the gate toward second base. Again, the distance you run can vary between the first ten feet to the entire distance. Just make sure to concentrate on a good start. Read more


Excellence: Baseball is an island of activity amidst a sea of statistics.  Baseball is also the only place in life where a sacrifice is really appreciated. “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”

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

betts

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

bogaerts

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

bradley

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

ortiz

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

rizzo

San Diego (Read more).

Giancarlo Stanton turned the Home Run Derby at

russell

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

bryant

talent 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!


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. +

 


 

+

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.

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

 

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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