The Eclectic

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. – William Gibson

Archive for the ‘The Locker Room’ Category

Rice and Henderson to the Hall of Fame

Posted by David Leslie on January 12, 2009

Rickey Henderson is a 5 tool freak of a player. Take this example among many as what Rickey could do from the 1989 playoffs rebroadcasted on MLB Network (my new wake up channel).

Game tied, Rickey draws a walk. Carney Lansford to the plate. Rickey steals second base and then third. Infield now in to try and keep Rickey on third if Carney hits a ground ball. Lansford hits a line drive that would have been caught by the shortstop at his normal depth to drive in Rickey. So with just a walk, Rickey was able to change the game in just one at bat.

Then there was the night I saw him go from home to third on a passed ball third strike. You want to talk pain. That was pain. Pitcher was on the bump just stunned how he when from striking Rickey out to Rickey on third base due to a pass ball and a throwing error trying to chase him.

Last, you’ve gotta love how Rickey inspired a new generation of great players like the Phillies’s Jimmy J-Roll Rollins

BTW: Who are the 28 morons writers who didn’t vote Rickey on the first ballot?

Jim Rice had to replaced a Red Sox hero and Hall of Famer. While the city never let him forget who’s came before him, Jim became himself a Hall of Famer. Only question here was why did it take so long?

This also starts the new debate. Since Jim Rice is in the Hall, who is the best eligible player still waiting for the call?

My take is still for Buck O’Neil.

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Berry Bonds and 756

Posted by David Leslie on August 9, 2007

I was watching SportsCenter and got to watch 756

fly over the right center field wall live.

Given the whole mess about Bonds, I wanted to take a beat to talk about what this means for the game.

First, Steroids do not help you hit the ball. What they do is help your body recover so that you can be in the batter’s box with muscles that are less sore.

Pop Fisher: People don’t start playing ball at your age, they retire!

That’s the crux of the problem for Bonds. The ‘roids didn’t cause him to hit those home runs but they put him in a position to have a chance to hit them as his body aged and took longer to heal as he past age 34. (34 is an important baseball age because of “The Natural”)

At a time when Bonds’ number should have been dropping, they were going up. That hasn’t happened before.

But the urge to hit the ball the older you get isn’t just an MLB thing.

Where I play softball, there are guys who drop $300 a season for a Miken bat.

Think the bat doesn’t matter? Well here is a story from my batboy days.

The Men of Steele (Steele softball bats) came to Cooper Stadium for a pregame home run contest. Best softball power hitters in 1989 played for Steele. One 1 ball got close to going out of the park.

The Easton Long Haul Bombers are hitting over 10 balls out per man on average. One of them even hit one out of the new yard in Cincinnati last year.

Oh, and Berry uses a maple bat that is harder than the white ash Hank used.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Baseball will not be hurt by this. Chicks dig the long ball as the ad goes.

 

In a way, I wonder if Bonds will go after Sadaharu Oh’s mark of 868?

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Cory Lidie and Ohio State football not on TV. Or the closest I’ve come to being on the radio

Posted by David Leslie on October 12, 2006

I did something today I last tried when I was a kid listing to an interview with Otto Graham. I called into a sports talk show. In this case, The Big Show with Bruce Huley on WBNS 1460 The Fan.

Now if you know me, you know that I hate Ohio State football and the sheer arrogance of Buckeye fans. However that’s not why I was going to call in.

No, I wanted to talk about the death of Cory Lidle. Lost in the reporting so far was two eery events involving crashes and the Yankees.

Well needless to say after making it past the call screener (who reminded me it was Wilson who was Mo’s best friend) I waited and when I got picked up after 45 minutes my cell phone barfed.

The first was the death of Thurman Munson in much the same way Cory died. In a airplane crash with his flight instructor at 32. I can still remember where I was when I saw the report that Thurman was dead. I was 9, in my grandparent’s room watching a newscast out of DC. I wasn’t a Yankees fan but I loved his name and the way he played. He was why I wanted to be a catcher.

The other was the story captured in Buster Olney’s excellent book, The last night of the Yankee Dynasty. The story is that had the Yankees won game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Enrique Wilson would have been on American Airlines flight 587 that crashed in Queens. However because of the loss, Wilson caught another flight. Telling the story to Mariano Rivera who took the loss in game 7, Rivera replied that he was glad to have lost the World Series than lose a friend. The irony here is that if the Yankees had won one of the games in Detroit, Cory would still be with us.

Most of the calls were about Buckeye fans losing their minds about not being able to see the game without getting a satelight dish. The level of freakout is unreal given the following:

1. The game is vs. Indiana. Who should play the Buckeyes close until just after the coin flip.

2. Its the only game not on either ESPN, ESPN 2, ABC or WBNS TV all season

3.The game is going to be on ESPNU so its not like it isn’t on TV, just that none of the cable companies carry this channel. However you can get it on both of the dish services.

4. If anyone had noticed, theirs a war going on. While Cory’s death is tragic, think about the folks who are dying everyday in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

5. Keep in mind that some fans like those of the University of Hawaii Warriors can only get their games on pay per view

Oh well, gave me something to blog tonight…

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Bill Synder’s 12 Coaching Princpales

Posted by David Leslie on September 21, 2006

Take from Bill Cury’s article on ESPN 

Snyder Solution

As I racked my brain to remember someone who could address this moment with authority, I had a flashback to a speech at last year’s convention of the American Football Coaches Association. Former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder knows exactly how to handle both sets of circumstances. He did so against all the odds, sustained excellence and now calmly reflects upon it in the simplest terms. His address was not like any I have ever heard from a coach. There was no flash, dash or touting of his systems. There was no ego trip about how long and hard he trained. There was simply a careful explanation of how one of the greatest college football achievements of all time was accomplished.

For the uninitiated, Manhattan, Kansas, was considered the end of the earth in football terms prior to Snyder’s arrival. Coaches snickered about the “impossible” job. After Kansas State’s transformation under Snyder, which is a matter of record, people like Barry Switzer were calling him “The Coach of the Century.” Only people who have built programs understand just how remarkable his accomplishments were. He is the only coach I know who has a major highway named for him. Through it all, he remains the same guy, calm, unaffected and true to himself.  

There are 12 principles. Here they are, unembellished. Some are obvious, and some will surprise you. They are self-explanatory, so I will present them as he did:

1. I promise we will get better every day.
2. Be where you are.
3. We must have the total commitment from the president of our university.
4. This is the most complicated time in history for our young people. There is an epidemic of teen suicide in our country. For teens, the single most prescribed medication is for depression.
5. Bring better people and better students into the program every day. Find a way.
6. Involve as many people as possible.
7. Build a wonderful relationship with the faculty. Our goals are the same as faculty goals.
8. Perseverance is a must.
9. Expectations are established by the leader. I will set the example.
10. Tamp down limitations. Find ways to eliminate each one.
11. Have the players understand they will not be judged by the scoreboard. We will assess progress.
12. I will make the decision most beneficial to our program … every time.

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Buck O’Neil Must be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Posted by David Leslie on July 29, 2006

It’s Hall of Fame weekend and while Bruce Sutter will be up on the dias, the Man I most want to see in the Hall will step up as a living representative of his 17 fellow Negro Leaguers who will be honored for their roll in that league with induction into the Hall.

Sadly, that Man, Buck O’Neil will not be on that list of 17. At 94 years old, Mr. O’Neil has been for my generation, a life link to that league. A reminder of a time when the best players in the world had been split into two leagues because of nothing more than the color of their skin.

This is not to say that Mr.O’Neil doesn’t have the numbers to enter the Hall, the man had an All Star career in the league. Yet he has been the Man who keeps the league in our minds and hearts. A man who helped get his fellow players their own museum, who worked to have major league baseball extent its benefits to these men to take care of them in their golden years.

It is an embarassment to the selection committee that Mr.O’Neil was left out of the Hall. But Mr. O’Neil isn’t bitter. He is there to talk about the game and the people whom he loved who played it with him.

As much as I love baseball I have never been to the Hall. I will say this publicly here and now that I will not go to the Hall while Mr. O’Neil is alive unless he is inducted in it. Further more when he is inducted, I will travel to Cooperstown with my family to be there in person when he gives his induction speach. My only prayer is that Mr. O’Neil is with us and in good health when that honor he deserves in rewarded to him.

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That’s just our runner writhing in pain

Posted by David Leslie on July 11, 2006

Softball this year has been pretty much a wash.

First I had to leave my team for the past two seasons due to the logistics of going from Dublin to Gahanna to Westerville while mixing in a stop to my in-laws to drop off John. While I was able to do last year, the road construction and my work hours just made it too much of a pain.

Thanks to a buddy of mine who used to work with me at OCLC, I was able to join his team which plays at Burliner on Wednesdays. My first game of the season was something to forget. I struck out swinging my first at bat. That’s how bad my timing was off. We were slated to play two games that night with an hour break between them. While the rest of the team headed to our sponsor’s place (Victories), I acted as spotter to let the guys know when the game between ours was wrapping up. I also took advantage of the break between games to hit the batting cage to find my stoke.

By the 2nd game I put a few balls in play and while I was still disapointed by how I did, it was an improvement.

The next game was against the first place team and was also a double header. Most of the guys on the opposing team I know from playing against them in Westerville. An older team, these guys play at a very high level and can both mash the ball out of the park as well as base hit you to death. They also roll to the yard with some of the best bats on the market.

First game we have to forfit due to the umpire not giving us a grace period for our 9th guy to show. The next game started once we picked up 2 guys and the ump got back from the snack bar. After hitting my first nice shot of the year the batter behind me hit a roller to short. I knew the 2nd baseman had a bad knee and since I was forced out at 2nd already, I did the honorable thing and ducked out of the baseline to give a clear throwing lane.

This is when my back just locked. This had never happened before but this was a classic ‘I can’t stand up without major pain’ grab for the lower back. Thing was we didn’t have any subs so I had two more innings and one at bat (a so so ground out trying to backside to the left field side to avoiding twisting my back pulling the ball) before a sub did get there. And thank God that sub was Murphy, a man who I’ve seen just crush a ball when I’ve played against him. I made no bones about giving up my slot to him and we won the game.

The past five days I’ve been on a mixture of muscle relaxers, Aleve and Vicodin. Needless to say with one game left, my season is over.

The irony, the team we played is sponsored by a chiropractor.

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John’s first Clippers game

Posted by David Leslie on May 6, 2006

Friday night: Jean and I with Patty and Jay took John to his first baseball game as the Clippers took on the Tidewater Norfolk Tides at the Coop. John had a blast thanks in part to playing on the inflatables the Clippers have over by gate 1. John did the slide plus the jumping castle while I took a ill session of BP against the whiffleball machine. In fact, had I known it was whiffleballs, I wouldn't have even steps in since those things have aways screwed with my swing. Next thing I knew my sister-in-law sent my son over to drop the "Hey batter batter swing batter" on me. Heckled by my own flesh and blood.

While waiting in line for a helmet sundae for John, we ran into some friends of my uncle's family who's we'll see on Sunday at a cookout.

Once we found seats on the 3rd baseline, we settled in and I was taken back 19 years to when I was a bat boy. There are times when I'm stuck about how that experience shaped me and how I can still recall it. I've toyed with the idea of wiki'ing them down along with the paths the players took since those two seasons.

I sometimes feel a ting of regret that I didn't take more of an advantage in being there for my own playing career or at least landed a girl's digits. Yet I'll never forget the first time I watch the team take infield. A few of the guys we're only 2 years older than I was but I watched them throw and in my gut knew that I could never throw like that. I watched a pitcher with a 'dead arm' throw harder than I had ever seen. I didn't want to believe it, but in my heart of hearts, I knew I would never transition from batboy to player. I wonder if anyone has.

John loved playing with seat hinges, eating his ice cream and learning how to yell as taugh by his Aunte.

Plans are underway to move the team to a new ballpark by the arena district. Not sure how I feel about it. The Coop was the gem of AAA but he's 30 years old. While the changes to the fence and the change from AstroTurf to grass has done wonders to the field itself, the rest of the park isn't even to the new AA standards let alone the new yards in places like Toledo.

But at least my boy can say he saw a game at the Coop even if it was seen between bites of a helmet sundae.

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World Baseball Classic

Posted by David Leslie on March 14, 2006

I’ve been getting into the WBC yet it proves again that we in the US need to get our brains kicked in.

After just getting by Japan on a bogus call, we are now down 6 to 1 to Korea. Our best players are worred about getting hurt while their best players roll in to prove their skills are on par with the best in the world.

Let’s not even get going about the fans. The Korean fans roll with drums, trumpets. The Latin fan hit the yard 6 hours before the first pitch.

Still if the USA gets knocked out before the finals, it might just get folks off their cans for next year.

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Bowling Bowling Bowling…

Posted by David Leslie on March 11, 2006

My cousin Allie had her 14th birthday party tonight at the bowling alley at the Athletic Club tonight. The six Brunswick lanes in the club’s basement were installed in 1947 and still have much of their original parts.

Needless to say it was the first time John had ever been bowling and quite a while since Jean and I had tossed rocks. Yet John proved yet again how strong he’s getting by the fact he could lift many of the bowling balls. We did how ever have to tell him not to kick the ball since that’s the way he most often plays with them.

Jean and I bowled a ton of frames with my cousin Barbara and boyfriend while John played with Allie and my cousin Katlin.

We had pizza for dinner then Jean and I went back to bowling. By the end of the night Jean was racking up strikes and spares like crazy. Sure two of the lanes had foam bummpers to keep the ball out of the gutter but Jean wasn’t using them. I was harking back to my YABA days but I couldn’t make a shot to save my life but that’s what happens when you haven’t bowled in almost 10 years.

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Why I’m not watching the Olympics

Posted by David Leslie on February 13, 2006

I was a major Olympics geek. Note the term was. I was the guy who liked the up close and personals, got chills when Al Trautwig would do the narration over the thematic music matched to the moment. But with the removal of softball from the 2012 London Games, I can’t turn away anymore from the joke the Olympics have become.

The first sign things were heading south was the ‘Dream Team’ in 1992. Sent to Barcelona by a pissed off National Basketball Association who after the loss of the last college team in 1988 had, with the IOC’s blessing, taken over control of USA Basketball so that professionals could now play in the Olympics.

 Next was Atlanta. Or I should say the ticket prices for Atlanta. Come watch the ‘children of the world’ compete if you are a guest of a cooperate sponsor. All others will pay about a 1/3 of a year’s salary for a packet of 6 qualifying events from the nose bleeds in sports you never heard of before.

 By 2002 Salt Lake, the corporations might as well start picking teams with the networks consulting. ‘Prize Money’ was the buzz word in the major events where it wasn’t a poor college kid working his tail off for a dream but rather a 16 year old with $2 million in the bank from that year already with a pushy stage parent who could afford to have their kid coached by the national team coach. Sure you could find a broke college student but they were either in a team sport or in something you never heard about but had a training fund and a job provided by ‘sponsors name goes here’

Then you have the Euros who run the IOC. The IOC is just one major kleptocracy dressed up as a ‘movement’. They get cities to all but write each IOC member a personal check every year when selections come up for the rights to spend themselves broke trying to ‘host’ the games all while begging corperations to come help them while the IOC then pimps the TV and ad rights for billions.

But the dropping of baseball and softball pushed me over. Baseball was dead sport walking. MLB not willing to stop its season for 2 weeks told the IOC to kiss it and the IOC fat from the whole ‘Dream team’ experance expects leagues to bow to ‘the movement’. Softball is not a Euro sport. Plus the fact the USA has won the last 3 Olympics just reminded the Euros that they suck at it. Its a pacific rim sport with the best players coming from nations near or on the Pacific. But remember, the IOC is a Euro organization. So if the Euro don’t like it, then its out. What about Africa you ask? They vote they Euro line or else risk not getting invited to make the trip to get those checks the cities hand out.

I’ll watch the 2008 Games but as for 2006 and after that, well, lets say I’m not setting up the recorder to catch events like I used to.

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