Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Return of Sportsmanship: One Child at a Time

In today's sports environment where a lack of sportsmanship is seen throughout all the major sports, one person is trying to instill the concept of sportsmanship to children. As is often seen on avenues such as Sportscenter, athletes run around glaring and leering over opponents on dunks and sacks. Players come up with ridiculous dances to celebrate homeruns often doing so when the team is behind or woefully ahead. We also hear of those athletes who unless motivated by the lure of new contracts just dogging it on the court, the field and the diamond. Now, if these athletes were doing these things in an isolated bubble then their effect would not be felt. But since these actions are played and replayed not only on TV but also on the internet over and over again, there is one segment of the population that is deeply influenced by what they see: Children. The kids see their idols acting a certain way and as we all have done at one time or another, they emulate what they see thinking that it is the right way to act not realizing that in doing so they not only disrespect themselves, but they disrespect their opponent and the game. Here is one person's attempt to change that.

My friend Daniel Demers is currently basing his philosophy for the good sportsmanship of his son's little league team on the Navy SEAL's Creed. But enough of me rambling on, read what Daniel has to say in his own words:

I'm coaching Sol's Little League team this year and I am trying push the concept of good sportsmanship as hard as I can. I asked the kids to come up with a team name. Since our color is navy blue one kid suggested Navy SEAL's, the other kids protested the idea of being called seals until it was explained that the SEAL's are an elite fighting force. Needless to say thay jumped all over the idea. To help cement the idea I adapted the Navy SEAL creed to baseball terms.

In times of baseball there is a special breed of player ready to answer our team’s call, a common team with an uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by good sportsmanship, we stand alongside America’s finest Little League teams to play baseball, the American pastime, and protect the honor of the game. We are that team.

My bat and glove are symbols of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, they embody the trust of those I play alongside of. By picking up the bat and glove I accept the responsibility of my position on the team. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to League and team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow players always ready to defend the honor and integrity of the game. I voluntarily accept the team first concept, placing the goals of the team before my own.

I act with honor on and off the baseball field. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other players. I am humble in victory and gracious in defeat. I do not engage in “trash talking”, my bat and glove will say all I need. When the time arises I will take charge and lead my teammates by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My team expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my opponents. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to give my teammates 100%. I am never out of the game.

We play with discipline. We expect cooperation. The goals of my teammates and the success of our team depend on teamwork. I practice hard to sharpen my defensive skills, offensive proficiency, and attention to the ball. My training is never complete.

We train to play and play for fun. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of my ability to the field in order to achieve the goals established by my coach. The execution of my abilities will be swift when required yet guided by the very principles that I play to defend.

Honorable players have won and lost building the proud tradition and famed reputation that I am bound to uphold. When I step onto the baseball field, the legacy of past Little Leaguer’s steadies my resolve and silently guides my every play. No matter what the score I am victorious when I play with love for the game. Baseball is my game and I play with heart.


I 'll try to keep you good folks posted on the progress of Daniel's charges in their upcoming season. For those of you who can spread the word, please do so. Children need to know that sportsmanship and respect is not only valuable on the field of play but also throughout life. How can someone respect themselves if they do not respect others. What do you think.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Baseball Tidbits 5/9/2010

So far in this young season a few things of mention have happened. So here are a few impressions from yours truly

Milton Bradley
Bradley has shown that most of baseball was accurate about his effect on the Mariners. Now the reason that they are in last can not be attributed to Bradley. Cliff Lee missed the first month of the season to an abdominal injury and the offense has been abysmal. As I said in an earlier post, Bradley would be a distraction to the team. Which he has by not being in the lineup.

I'm not the kind of person to kick someone when he's down. I give Bradley credit for being able to ask for help in trying to solve his stress related issues. To be honest, I have no clue as to what these stress issues are and what causes them, but I wish him well in trying to resolve them and returning to help his team.

The Mariners on the other hand might be regretting trading Carlos Silva (who is having a decent season with the Cubs) to get Bradley. To their credit, the Mariners are sticking with Bradley with their support. Hopefully things can work out for both sides.

Dallas Braden
After saying this past week that he wanted to go mano-a-mano bare knuckles with A-Rod, he goes out and becomes the 19th player to throw a perfect game. Congratulations to him. Maybe more players should get pissed off at A-Rod. Its done wonders for Braden's career. LOL.

All kidding aside, if Braden still has a beef with A-Rod don't say you want to knuckle up, especially if A-Rod hasn't continued talking trash back through the media. All that does is makes Braden look foolish and thuggish. As I'm going to allude in the next section, do as pitchers throughout the decades have done when they had a beef with a particular player and/or team. A-Rod or any other Yankees batter for that matter might not like the form of retaliation it but it would be something they'd expect.

Back to the perfect game. Not to take anything away from Braden's performance and achievement; a little humility goes a long way. I had the opportunity to watch the last inning on MLB.com (Thanks Pete, LOL) and in the post game, the announcers ask Braden if there's anything that he wants to say about the game and Braden answers "There's nothing to say, its perfect". Now its not what he said but how he said it. With this tone of arrogance and hubris that seems to be seen more and more within young athletes across the major sports. Sure he was the 19th pitcher to do it but damn, be humble about it.

Maybe I'm just getting old and crotchety and not very understanding these younger players, who they are and what motivates them. I'll address how one person is trying to instill good old fashioned sportsmanship with his son's little league team next week.

Josh Beckett and the decline of the Bosox
Leading in perfectly into this commentary, what is wrong with Josh Beckett and the Red Sox. Beckett is currently 1-1 with a 7.46 ERA and after his 10-3 loss to the Yankees on Friday, it seems that his control is lost.

Having plunked a number of Yankees (especially Jeter with the bases loaded) fans and some Yankees players alike felt as if he was doing it purposely. I think that's ridiculous. Why would a pitcher of Beckett's caliber give up earned runs in that manner (In total he have up 9 earned runs). The Yankees took issue with it, and CC Sabathia hit one of the Red Sox hitters the next day (as would be expected within baseball's etiquette for retaliation as Braden should do if he pitches for the A's from July 5-7 against the Yankees) and the situation was squashed.

I think there might be something wrong with Beckett. Maybe he's hiding an injury. If that's the case, say something, take care of it and stop hurting your team. And talking about the team, I know I picked the Red Sox to struggle and end up in 3rd place but they are struggling due to lack of pitching and irratic offense. As of Saturday, the Red Sox were leading the Major Leagues in hits (289) and ranking second in total bases (485) and extra-base hits (114). This shows they are hitting the ball but it is either at the wrong time, when the game is already lost or when the bases are empty. Regardless of when the hits come, the Red Sox are off to their worst start since 1997.

What can solve their ills? Consistent production throughout the lineup and rotation. Granted, they've lost a few pivotal players such as Jacoby Ellsbury to injury but players like David Ortiz, Victor Martinez and Daisuke Matzusaka need to step up before they fall too far behind the Yankees and the Rays.

Any questions and/or comments? Let me hear them. Later.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Over Reliance on Metrics and Ryan Howard

I just finished reading this article in yesterday's New York Times titled Length of Deal Highlights Howard’s Flaws by Dan Rosenheck. In the article, Rosenheck details how Howard's recent contract extension of 5-year $125 million places him in the game's elite in terms of salary but by comparison via the multitude of metrics afforded to the followers of baseball he is firmly in the second tier. As I've said before, sometimes the over reliance on metrics strips away the true value of a player to his team, the team's fans and the city it represents. Sure, compare Howard to Pujols and he'll come up short in the majority of metrics, but that's not a knock on him almost every player (if not all players in the league) will fall short.

Take the example of Derek Jeter. On many metric scales Jeter falls mid range if not lower offensively and defensively. But there is no denying what effect he has on his team, its fans and the city of New York. The man has the intangibles that seem to rise to the surface almost on cue based on the moment. So should the Yankees not sign him to a decent deal based on what he means to the team or based on a logarithm or a detailed statistical forecast. In no way am I discounting these methods of statistical analysis, but I believe that good old blood and guts should also factor into the decision of any team resigning their best player. Both Jeter and Howard bring that to their respective teams.

Getting back to Howard, will he become a player who remains consistent like Hank Aaron (I'm not comparing their stats, just Aaron to Howard as a potential model of consistency) or will he become this generation's Mo Vaughn, Travis Hafner, David Ortiz, Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder and John Jaha (players who he closely resembles as per baseball reference.com). That truly remains to be seen. But I believe that by the year of 2016 (which is when the extension ends) Ryan Howard will be among the Phillies greats loved and adored by the Phillies faithful as is Schmidt and Carlton.