Education for our Athletes

I am going to discuss an issue that is very important for our athletes and their future. This is a shout out to all athletes, parents, coaches, counselors, and agents. We need to prepare our players for life after sports and what it takes to be responsible adults.

We have baseball players drafted out of high school or college and they all think they will be playing in the major leagues. The chance of this happening is very minimal. It is important to be honest and stress the importance of an education whether this is college or learning a trade. Here are a couple of links that will give you the figures on the chance of playing professional baseball. This is professional not the major leagues.  http://www.businessinsider.com/odds-college-athletes-become-professionals-2012-2?op=1  –http://www.hsbaseballweb.com/probability.htm

This all starts with the family when the athlete is young and has the desire to be a professional athlete. Education must be stressed from the time they are in elementary school all the way through college. I love the player who has the desire to be the best that he can be and to have a great work ethic. But there is a need for all involved to know about how difficult it is to rise to be the best in a professional field.

Even if he is the best in the state this does not mean he can be a major league baseball player. He may not have the talent and may reach his ceiling at AA or AAA. So he has toiled in the minor leagues for 5-6 years and what does he have to show for it? The long bus rides from small town to small town and staying in cheap hotels with a roommate.

Myself I would shake his hand and say congratulations! You were a professional baseball player and you got to meet a lot of interesting people. But that will not put food on the table and has not prepared you for your future. Even if you want to go into coaching you will need to start down on the bottom rung of the ladder.

There is a solution and we are going to encourage our athletes, parents, counselors, coaches, and agents to actively consider online college. This is perfect for the professional baseball player; this can all be done on his own time. Most community colleges offer a good online program and we now have major universities getting involved! If your season runs into late August or September you can start to take your classes while in season. If you can take a full load of classes in the fall, I think it would be very beneficial.  In the spring you will be playing ball, so try to take six in the spring and six in the summer.

The player who signed a contract after his junior season of college, you are so close, it is important to continue your education immediately. If you say to yourself that you will wait and do it later, chances are it will not get done.

My son Jeff will be getting his business administration degree from Drury University even though we are an hour and a half away from Springfield Missouri. He will be taking all of his courses online and will graduate in the fall of 2014. He started his college education at a couple of junior colleges and was able to transfer his classes over to Drury.  I would recommend the players that go pro out of high school go the community college route in order to save money.

I heard this news a couple of months ago, what percent of MLB players have their bachelor’s degree? You will be shocked, 25 not percent a total of 25 players. The Cardinals have two of them in Matt Carpenter, who was a 5th year college player when he got drafted. The other is Allen Craig. We need to do better than this and we will! The online education is getting more popular every year and I think it is very good for our athletes! Check out this link for major colleges offering an online degree.  http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/16/leading-colleges-announce-for-credit-online-courses/   http://www.ehow.com/list_7274821_major-universities-offering-online-degrees.html

I understand that not everybody is college material and there are a lot of people that prefer to work with their hands. I am envious of these tradesmen that are carpenters, electricians and other trades. There are technical schools for all of these trades and so much more.

Most of these schools have different sessions that start at different times of the year. These schools are hands on and some have the option of online classes.

This is very important for all of our athletes to be the best that they can be in their lives. We are all dedicated to make a difference on the field, court, ice and in the class room!  This is some very important information to get out to players, parents, counselors, and agents.

Here is an article about Paul Goldschmidt and what he has done to receive his education. Pat Combs is also in the article an ex Phillie and Big Dog Baseball USA writer. http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-16/job-wanted-baseball-mvp-candidate-seeking-work-on-wall-street.html

This is another article that deals with this subject-http://reflector.uindy.edu/2013/02/20/student-athletes-need-their-degrees/

Here are some education options for our athletes.

Drury University–http://www.drury.edu/

Columbia College–http://www.ccis.edu/

Metro Business College–http://www.metrobusinesscollege.edu/

Vatterott College–http://www.vatterott.edu/index.asp

University of Phoenix–http://www.phoenix.edu/

This issue is on the front burner and needs to be discussed and passed on to others. This is our future and we want our athletes to be educated and to give 100% in their sport!

Bob Brown

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

 

Pete Rose – Betting, Steroids and Character

Growing up in the 60s and 70s a lot of young boys and adults looked up to Pete Rose and his ability to play baseball. He not only was a very good player but he gave total effort when he was on the diamond. Pete never failed to disappoint and was always very enjoyable to watch him play the game.

Rose played mainly second base, third base, left field, and first base and he did it all with a lot of  flair and high energy. He played 24 years mainly with the Reds and the Phillies. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/rosepe01.shtml

There is quite a story to tell about Pete who was born in Cincinnati on April 14, 1941. He was one of the fortunate players to be able to play major league baseball for the team he grew up supporting.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Rose

This conversation isn’t so much about baseball, because most people know the type of player that Rose was in his career. This is going to be about people and some of the bad decisions that they make in their lives. We have all made mistakes and we have to own up to them and try to correct our flaws.

I think what started baseball to crack down on any kind of gambling was the 1919 Black Sox scandal. I saw the movie Eight Men Out and need to someday read the book that the movie was derived.  Here is some good information on the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sox_Scandal

Gambling is legal in parts of the United States and back when this was occurring, Nevada was where the action took place. It was legal for the American people or tourist to place bets on sporting events. Pete was using a bookie to place his bets that is how he got caught, with the paper trail. Here is an article that Rose admitted to only betting on his team the Reds. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2798498

 What transpired from MLB was the permanent expulsion of Rose from the game, I have always agreed with up until a couple of weeks ago. I started to weigh the different issues that have been taking place in the game, in the years since Pete has been expelled.

There was a player Steve Howe that was suspended seven times for alcohol and drug problems. Howe had so many chances to clean up that it ended up being a joke. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Howe_(baseball)

Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins got busted for possession of cocaine, hash and marijuana and only received a two week suspension. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_Jenkins

Another Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda one of my favorites was busted for drugs, and was still able to enter the Hall! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_Cepeda

Gaylord Perry was known for being a spitball pitcher and even admitted to loading up. Everybody knew he was doing it and it was really quite comical. He got voted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaylord_Perry

Here is some more information on the spitball, and a little history.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Spitball

There have been other MLB players that had drug and alcohol problems that were able to get second chances and more.

The latest event involves former MLB player Jack Clark and current player Albert Pujols. Jack Clark makes a statement that Pujols is a steroid abuser, and now there are all kinds of accusations and denials. I have written an article discussing this issue that needs to be read.  http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/08/albert-pujols-and-jack-clark-steroids-and-the-character-issue/ This article and other links get more into the steroid and character issue.

On the steroid issue any known abuser should not be able to join the Hall of Fame fraternity! The cheaters must be kept out as they have done enough damage to the game!

I have a huge problem with liars! I don’t see how some people are able to sleep at night with how they live their lives. I was always taught and believe that when you tell a lie, God will pay you back somehow. This can mean stubbing your toe or twisting your ankle.

Rose was in complete denial for about 15 years on his gambling in baseball. I don’t see how it is possible to look a person directly in the eyes and lie! The commissioner’s office knew the truth and Pete went along with the lifetime ban. This was in essence meant that he was guilty of gambling on baseball. But he would still go out into public and say he was not involved in gambling on the game.

I believe that if Pete would have admitted from the beginning that he had a gambling problem. Then had gone out and received help and then apologize to MLB and the fans, he would have been forgiven.  I think the Hall of Fame in time would have allowed a vote and Pete would have been selected.

I think with some of the examples that I have given and a lot of players receiving second and third chances in the game, it is time for Pete Rose to come back to the game he loves! Pete when he wagered on games he only bet on his own team to win. Then he proceeded to bust his rear to win the game for the Reds.

Somebody with the love of the game like Rose would bring a lot to the table. If baseball would announce that they will allow Pete back into the game, he should take the microphone and apologize to the baseball world and say that he will make amends! He should agree to a two year probationary period to prove that he is worthy of being back in the game. He will need to donate time to youth baseball and give free appearances. After this has all been completed and Pete is in good standing, I would hope that the Baseball Hall of Fame would be open to Mr. Charlie Hustle!

Bob Brown

 

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

Cardinals or the Reds who will finish on top in the Central?

My preseason prediction had the Reds winning the division over the Cardinals because of their pitching and defense. I figured this as a very close race that would go down to the wire. I had the Pirates as an improving team with good pitching and would have the ability to finish above 500 for the first time since 1992.  I have done a recent article comparing the Cardinals and the Pirates position by position and the Cards finished on top. I will now update what I wrote on April 2 with some comments   http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/04/central-division-2013/

I am going to discuss what has changed in my player by position rating.

First Baseman – I knew Allen Craig was going to be good, he is showing that he has what it takes to be an upper tier baseball player. His ability to hit in the clutch is unmatched in the Major Leagues. Joey Votto is a favorite of mine and what I call a professional hitter like Allen Craig. I give a slight advantage to Allen Craig for the season he is having and how I think he will finish the year.

Second Baseman – Here is another change from what I wrote earlier, I had Brandon Phillips as the better player. Matt Carpenter is what I refer to as a baseball player! He is a professional hitter that hits well in the clutch and is a double hitting machine. He is an above average second baseman after making the move from third base this year.  I give Matt a slight edge over Phillips because of his hitting ability.

Shortstop – Zack Cozart seems to be having a better year than the Cardinals Pete Kozma. I was wrong on Kozma, I thought he had found his swing and was going to be a contributor and hit between 260-270. I am giving the edge to Cozart because Kozma has fallen off the edge on his hitting.

Third Baseman – The rating is the same with the Cards having the edge. But the edge should increase with Carpenter playing some third with the Cards bringing up young prospect Kolten Wong to play some second base. When this happens the Reds will have the advantage over the Cards at second base. I have only seen Wong play a couple of games and he has yet to get a hit, but he is a player. He has a short quick compact swing and turns the double play with the best. There is very little wasted motion when he redirects the ball to first to turn two! Wong gives the Cards so much more depth and then if Freese can return and start to drive the ball again it will benefit the Cardinals.

The Cardinals everyday lineup has so much talent and is better than any of the competitors. When this race for the division is over the Cardinals should be at the top followed by the Reds and then the Pirates.

Pirates can they stay on top?  http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/08/pirates-can-they-stay-on-top/

Bob Brown

 

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

 

Pirates can they stay on Top?

The Pirate team of 2013 is the first team since the 1992 squad to be competitive and above 500 for the season. They go into the series against the Cards with a three game lead and will retain first place by themselves as long as they don’t get swept. This is a Pirate team that I wrote about before the season began that I had figured as being competitive and above 500. I knew they had some strong pitching but didn’t figure for them to be in first place this late in the season.

The Pirates are in the best division in the National League and will need to play some very good baseball to beat out the Cardinals and Reds. I predicted the Reds and Cards would be battling it out for the top of the division and the Reds would win in a close race.

For this discussion I will compare the Pirates position by position with the Cardinals.

Catcher

Cardinals – Yadi Molina is the best all round catcher in the game. He is another coach behind the plate and has no defensive peers in MLB. Molina is a professional hitter that can drive the ball to all fields. The MVP of the Cards and the one player if injured is difficult to replace. He has been on the DL and will come off on August 15 and will be ready to go. Matheny will give him a lighter load and will be counting on backup Tony Cruz to do a good job.

Pirates – Russell Martin has been on a downward slope for a few years but he seems to be playing some better ball this year. His average is up along with his OBP.

Advantage – Cardinals by a wide margin.

First Base

Cardinals – Allen Craig has become one of the best players and most clutch hitters in the game. This is another of the Cardinals professional hitters and all he does is drive the ball to all fields. He always works hard and is doing a good job at first base.

Pirates – Garrett Jones had his best year in 2012 with 27 home runs and 86 RBIs. His stats are way down from last year and the Bucs are anticipating a hot finish from the big lefty.

Advantage – Cardinals by a wide margin.

Second Base  

Cardinals – Matt Carpenter was a deserving All star in 2013 and is the catalyst for the team. As Matt goes so goes the Cardinals. Matt is a professional hitter that hits the ball to all fields and is also a clutch hitter. Matt has been a third baseman in the past, but shifted to second this year and is doing very well.

Pirates – Neil Walker in the last three seasons put up some real good numbers for a second baseman. His numbers this year are not close to what his past numbers have been.

Advantage – Cardinals by a wide margin.

Shortstop 

Cardinals – Pete Kozma started out well but has fallen off the cliff in the last month. I had him figured for a 260-270 hitter and above average shortstop. I like his short compact swing but he is just missing the ball and I would advise using the thin bat with small ball or beans. This always worked for my players; it makes the baseball look bigger. His glove has been a plus and I think he can still finish around the 250 mark.

Pirates – Clint Barmes is a veteran shortstop that has a good glove and has showed some offense in the past. Unfortunately he hasn’t done anything with the bat this year.

Advantage –  Barmes gets the slight edge being a veteran and having hit some in the past.

Third Base

Cardinals –  David Freese has had a difficult season with a bad back from a fall into the dugout. This occurred in spring training and the injury set him back in trying to get his timing down for the season. Freese had only 2-3 games on rehab and then was brought North with the team to open the season.

I have written before that Freese needed to stay on the farm to get his hitting together. He had a terrible early season and then he went on a hot streak. After the hot streak he cooled off and now he is starting to drive the ball to the right side which is a sign that he is in the groove.

Pirates – Pedro Alvarez is the Pirate third baseman and the organization has always had high hopes that he would be one of the players to build around. This was not happening and the Pirate fans were giving him a lot of heat. Pedro has 28 home runs and 75 runs batted in. He has a 236 batting average and an OBP of 296 which isn’t anything to brag about. His defense is mediocre at best and with very little range.

Advantage – Alvarez gets the advantage because his season totals are a lot better but I expect Freese to relax and to finish the year strong.

Left field

Cardinals – Matt Holiday has had a down year but since the All star break has taken off and is hitting the ball extremely well. Matt is the kind of player when he gets hot he can carry a team for a long time. There are very few players that hit the ball as hard as Matt in the major leagues. His defense has been subpar this year and he has had some criticism from some in the media. I am a fan of Holiday and appreciate his hitting ability.

Pirates – Starling Marte is the young leftfielder of the Bucs and is regarded as a possible impact player. He is hitting a solid 282 with an OBP of 343 and with 33 stolen bases. He is very athletic and it seems he could have a bright future with the Pirates.

Advantage – Holiday has the edge because of his years in the game and his potential to carry the team the rest of the year and into the post season.

Centerfield

Cardinals – Jon Jay is the Cardinal center fielder that slaps the ball and uses the whole field. He has been a 300 hitter in the past, but has had a rough year at the plate. He has a tendency to be a very streaky hitter and is hitting under 200 this year against the south paws. Jay plays an above average center field but has a below average arm.

Pirates – Andrew McCutchen is an excellent baseball player that can do it all. He is a 5 tool player that will keep improving and is the anchor for the team. I love to watch him hit, his hands are just so quick and he has excellent power for a man that is not real big. He is excellent on defense and can really cover some ground.

Advantage – McCutchen by a wide margin because of his all round ability.

Right Field

Cardinals – Carlos Beltran is the veteran right fielder that still has gas in the tank. Beltran has had another very good season for the Cards and with proper rest should finish strong. He is a switch hitting potential HOF player and if he can stay healthy for 2-3 more years he could get his own bust.  I have been critical of the handling of Beltran and Molina by Cards manager Mike Matheny. He needs to give these two more time off so they don’t get run down!

Pirates – Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones share time in right field. They are 250 hitters with some pop and cannot compare to Beltran.

Advantage – Beltran by a wide margin because of his potential to carry the team on his shoulders.

Pitching

The Pirates have the number 1 ranked pitching staff in the National League.  The Cardinals have very good pitching, but rank 5th in the league.  http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/pitching/year/2013/seasontype/2/league/nl

Advantage – The Pirates have the advantage and good pitching can beat good hitting.

Ace in the hole goes to the Cards with Matt Adams on the bench. Matt is a power hitter and plays first base when Beltran, Holiday or Craig needs a rest. He is also an excellent pinch hitter who has had some clutch hits.

Can the Pirates hang on and beat the Cards and the Reds to the finish line? The Cards have not been able to beat teams with a 500 record and up. They are dominating the teams under the 500 mark.   I think the Cards will win the division because of having the superior position players. The Bucs lack quality everyday players and I think we will see the Cards and possibly the Reds pass them. I think there will be a one game playoff between the Reds and the Pirates.

Bob Brown

 

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

 

 

Albert Pujols and Jack Clark, steroids and the character issue

I am exhausted and simply sick of all the lying, corruption, excuses, and poor character that has seeped into our society.  I would really like to see more people take a stand and say we have had enough of the prisoners running the prison!

This discussion is going to center on the character issues of athletes and the people they associate with in their field. I often think to myself how some of these athletes can go out in public and not to feel shame. In the business world or in sports if I did something so stupid, as to steal or cheat, I would be over taken by guilt. I see so little remorse in our society and this worries me as we go on as a country.

During the steroid years I think it was common knowledge among the players that there was a steroid problem in the game. One player remarked about how a wiry second baseman came to spring training and was built like a weight lifter. This player proceeded to hit home runs at a much higher rate than in the past. I can give you many more examples, but my point is some of the players and coaches had to know what was going on in the game.

The players that I feel sorry for are the guys that were clean and gave a full effort going against the cheaters. How about the AAA or the AAAA players that could have had a MLB career or a more successful career. If I was a player at this time, I would have raised all kinds of heck!

How about the fans of the muscle bound cartoon characters and their reaction after it was found they cheated? It seems to me the average Joe fan felt it was ok for my guy to cheat and put up big numbers but for the opposing player it is not acceptable.

How about the steroid hearing in 2005 and all the denials of the players and one player pointing his finger and sternly denying the accusation. He was found guilty of steroids at a later date. Here is a good article on the hearing-http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/03/17/steroids.baseball/

Now we get to Albert Pujols and former Cardinal Jack Clark. Here are some other articles that explains the situation. – http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/jack-clark-fired-los-angeles-angels-albert-pujols-ped-steroids-tigers-justin-verlander-080913

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/pujols-says-he-ll-sue-clark-slaten-dumped-by-station/article_f5220a8b-891d-599a-a265-45b449399a90.html

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-albert-pujols-fights-back/article_dc83a1ae-8a96-5ca4-8a65-cd651ce497e5.html

My concern is there are three people that are directly involved in this situation. You have Albert Pujols, Jack Clark and the former personal trainer of Pujols a Mr. Chris Mihlfeld.  Somebody is lying, and it could be one of the guys or it could possibly be two of them. The combatants are claiming they are telling the truth. This is another example of somebody with poor character getting out of line! Then you throw in Kevin Slaten a St. Louis sports talk radio shock jock that has had numerous issues over the years.

Clark and Slaten have been terminated from the radio station. This in itself could get very nasty, and then you throw in the potential lawsuit coming from Albert Pujols. I personally don’t think Pujols will sue because the radio station fired Clark. If he happens to go ahead with the law suit there will be a can of worms opened and it will not be good for all involved.

Why would Jack Clark say what he said on the air and not have solid proof? Some people will say it was for publicity for a new sports radio station. This wouldn’t be smart to attempt to gain publicity through a lie. Jack has always been very up front on the issue of PED’s in baseball.  There are people ripping Jack without knowing the truth.

Albert Pujols is reacting in a stern way in order to protect his reputation and to tell the world he is clean. This is how a person of strong character would act if they were accused of an act they did not commit.

The same can be said of Chris Mihlfeld in his statement to the public that what Clark said was false.  

Everybody  needs to remember when Jose Canseco came forth with his book “ Juiced” he got very little support from the sport writers and the general public. I was one of the people fooled and didn’t think baseball players would mess with steroids. I was wrong as there was a good percent of them on the juice! This really bothers me to think of all the players cheating and messing up the game and the records. The records are tarnished because of these jerks!

I remember when the issue came up of Mark McGwire using steroids when he was with the Athletics and the Cardinals. Tony LaRussa was vehemently in the corner of Big Mac and talked about how hard his work outs were and that he got all his power from hard work. There were a lot of people fooled and a lot more knew there was a problem with steroids.

The current players all seem to be on board with getting the cheaters out of the game! I applaud them for this and we need more to step up against the frauds in the game!

We need to compare the MLB players to the NFL and the NBA players in their conduct and character. There is no comparison between the three with all the felons and criminals in their sport, it is difficult to watch and root for bad people to succeed! Here are some figures on the NFL players- http://blog.seatcrunch.com/crime-in-the-nfl/

Here is a book from several years ago about the problems in the NBA. The author claims that 40% of the NBA players at this time had been charged with serious crimes.  http://www.curledup.com/outofbou.htm

As a baseball fan we have our problems with steroids but I do believe the players are willing to police themselves. Baseball needs to come down hard on these losers and give a one year suspension on the first violation and then on the second you are gone for good! This would put a stop to all the fraud in the game.

I have always believed that each generation was supposed to be better than the previous and learn from mistakes and triumphs. We as a society are going downhill because we are allowing the cheaters, liars, and corrupt to make excuses and then go on with their lives with no repercussion.

It is going to be interesting to see where this steroid issue goes and what comes out from under the rock. I am not taking a side on this issue because I don’t know who is telling the truth. I think it is important for the game to get to the bottom of this and get the cheaters out of the game!

Bob Brown

 

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

 

 

 

Cards vs Dodgers- Bunts and Relay

The natives are getting restless, and it is not only the second guessers or Monday morning quarterbacks, but also the real baseball people.  I am going to discuss three different plays and the strategy of Matheny and also the comments from the announcers on another play.

I will start in the bottom of the fourth the Cardinals had Jay on third and Cruz on first and there was one out. Wainwright was the hitter and he squared to sacrifice Cruz to second base. Jay stayed at third base, so then we had two runners in scoring position. This play left Carpenter at the plate with two outs and he ended up striking out. The bunt call would have been fine and the proper call if there was nobody out.

The Cardinals hitting with men in scoring position has been the best in MLB. Matheny was counting on Carpenter to drive in the runners and if this would have been done everything would have been super.

In my opinion if Wainwright is going to bunt, it needs to be the suicide or the safety squeeze. The problem was Matheny called for the sacrifice bunt that moved Cruz over to second base.  The correct call is the safety squeeze, if you are determined to bunt. With this kind of bunt the hitter squares to bunt and once the bunt is down the runner on third dashes home. If this is done you accomplish two different things with one play. The runner from third scores and the runner on first can advance to second base and is in scoring position. The suicide is a good call if the pitcher has good control and if the hitter is ahead in the count. This strategy also depends on the ability of the hitter to lay the bunt down. One more option is to let Wainwright swing away.

Read this article on hitting and fielding coaches for pitchers- http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/07/hitting-and-fielding-coach-for-pitchers/

The next play is in the fifth inning and Allen Craig is on first base and there are two outs. Freese is up at the plate and he hits a long drive to the right center field wall. Rookie Yasiel Puig goes to the wall and picks up the ball and turns and just throws the ball to the infield. He misses the relay man and the ball is caught by the back up relay man. Nick Punto throws home to nail Allen Craig.

Oquedo sending Craig home was the correct play, because there were two outs.

Now we get to what the commentators said about the play. Rick Horton said it was a good play by Puig to throw a bullet to hit his cutoff man.  There are a couple of things that Horton is wrong about on this play. Puig picked up the ball and just threw it to the infield, he missed his relay man. But the back up relay man Nick  Punto caught the ball on the fly and threw out Craig.

I have a couple of issues with Rick and one of them is calling the infielder the cutoff man. This infielder is the relay man and Al made the same mistake also. The majority of baseball people don’t know the difference between the relay man and the cutoff. Horton also said the throw was a bullet; it was a rainbow that was thrown blindly to the infield. Read this article the Dodgers know he just throws the ball to the infield. The players were kind of laughing about him missing the relay man. Punto in this article uses the word cutoff, believe me Punto was the back up relay man.  If I was Puig’s manager I would get his attention and he would start hitting the relay man! I say this but the MLB outfielders are terrible at hitting the relay man and the cutoffs!   http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/la-phenom-puig-shows-his-stuff-against-cardinals/article_49d9d448-f04a-52eb-9e55-7b3674d93d0b.html

The play that most of the Cardinal fans are questioning is what transpired in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Cards had Chambers on second and Carpenter on first base with no outs. Beltran sacrificed the runners over to second and third. Craig drove in a run on a grounder to first base and then Holiday grounded out to end the inning.

I was shocked when I saw Beltran lay the ball down. We were down by two runs and a driver was up at the plate. Carlos could have driven in both runs or could have smacked one out of the park.  He also could have hit into a double play. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have had Beltran hitting. The only way it works for Beltran to be bunting is if we were down by one run.  I could see the bunt in this situation; this is where the manager goes into his stats and makes his decision.

The post game show with Matheny he refused to discuss the Beltran bunting situation. Beltran left the clubhouse and didn’t make a comment on the play. I think this play deserved to be explained by Mike and to not be swept under the rug. I am not sure who made the decision to bunt on this play as all we can do is guess. Here are two other articles on the subject.  —http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/mum-s-the-word-on-beltran-s-bunt/article_8ae30a10-0d4b-5c1e-96e7-20b533ab219b.html

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/breakfast-with-bernie-matheny-mum-on-beltran-s-bunt/html_6a562dd9-93b9-5d7d-a7a1-eb734af22055.html

Bob Brown

Cardinals Implosion and what to do next

The first thing that Cardinal fans have to do is to take a deep breath. The 6 game losing streak is not good, but the situation with Yadi is of the most concern. I have made a couple of comments about the handling of Molina by Matheny on a couple of Bernies columns in today’s post.  I also have the comments on my face book page.

I am going to explain what I would do if I was Matheny. If you have read my articles on my website you will see that I am very creative.

What Mike should have done after yesterdays DH sweep by the Pirates was to tell the guys to go home and relax. They need to get a good night’s rest and be ready to play some Cardinal baseball on Wednesday.

It is important for Mike to appear calm and to keep the players relaxed and focused on what they need to do in the game. The players need to prepare as if this is just a regular game and to forget what has happened the last few days.

After the game on Wednesday he needs to call a pre game meeting for Thursday. He needs to take charge and let the guys know they are a lot better baseball players than how they have been playing  in the last few games.  He needs to look at them and say we are all going to work our rears off at practice to get our game where it should be. Mike needs to also stress all the positives and compliment them on how happy he is with their play up until this little detour! At the end of the meeting he tells them to be prepared to work tomorrow.

Personal note – When I was in the dirt if we had a game that we didn’t field well, guess what we worked hard at in practice? It is the same with hitting and the other parts of the game. I loved practice more than the game, that is where the real players shine in preparation. Here are a couple of articles that can make a difference in the way the game is played in the major leagues. I talked to Joe Garagiola Jr.  in the MLB office a couple of years ago and he told me most MLB teams don’t take infield practice before games. Check out this article on this subject-http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/mlb-needs-to-start-taking-infield-practice/  This article is about how MLB needs to improve the way they take pregame batting practice.-    http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/mlb-pregame-batting-practice/

I found out the Cardinals do not have a good old fashion infield practice the coaches just hit grounders while the hitters are hacking away! I wish they could have seen how I ran my infield practice; the players just loved it and enjoyed the challenge. You push and repeat, repeat and repeat some more. I have refined the infield practice to get the players more work. You can never get too many ground balls.  This is how you get in the groove in baseball.

Here is some input on what to do with certain players and how to get them back in the groove. Craig needs to get into the cage and relax and concentrate on hitting the ball to the right side. Holiday is close to breaking out and that is exactly what he is doing, pounding the ball to the right side. When you concentrate on hitting the ball to the opposite field in the cage and on the field, it makes you stay on the ball longer. This is what should be done with Jay, hit the ball to left field. His past says he is a slap hitter that uses the whole field.  Kozma is just missing the ball and would benefit by using the beans or small ball procedure in my hitting program. My players always said that after using the beans or the small balls that it made the baseball look larger. http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/the-best-hitting-program-in-america-3/

There are two problems that I see in the future and one is not having a strong #2 in the rotation. We need to hope that Lynn and or Miller will step up and be that person. The other is the Yadi situation, he is irreplaceable.

Mike needs to be optimistic and push the guys to be the best they can be. There is so much in between the ears, even at this level of play.

Bob Brown

White Sox – Royals Game 7-27-13

I was watching the White Sox and Royals game and a couple of plays caught my attention. One of the plays should not happen in a major league game. The other was a repeat of a play in the post season of 2012 between the Cardinals and the Giants.

The first situation had Alex Rios on third base with less than two outs. Jeff Keppinger is the batter and he hits a hard sinking line drive in front of the Royals right fielder David Lough. He comes dashing in and dives and makes a great catch and is rolling around on the ground afterwards. Then he gets up and throws the ball to home plate, and to my astonishment Rios never tagged up on this play and did not score. I was shocked as was the announcers because this shouldn’t happen in high school ball.

Rios was half way down the line and didn’t have time to get back and tag up to score. What needs to be understood is the ball was deep enough if the ball is caught the runner has to be tagging up or very close to the bag.

The only time there can be some confusion is on shallow pop ups to the outfield. In these situations there is a need to give this some practice time. A good rule of thumb is if the outfielder is coming in and he catches the ball. His motion is coming towards home plate and there is a chance that the runner will not be able to tag up and score.  It is a different story if the infielder is running out to catch the pop up. His motion is going out to the outfield and he has to stop and plant and then make his throw. There is a real good chance of scoring on this play.

The next play had Adam Dunn on first base with less than two outs. There was a ground ball hit to the left side and the Royals attempted to turn the double play. Dunn is running hard and slides over the bag and nails Chris Getz, and he breaks up the double play. Getz got barreled into pretty good and shakes it off. The announcers call it a good all out play by Adam Dunn to break up the double play. I agree that it was a very good all out hustling play by Dunn!

My point is this was no different than what happened in the playoffs in 2012 between the Giants and the Cardinals. Matt Holiday was on first and a grounder was hit to the left side and the Giants attempted to turn the double play. Holiday did the same as Dunn and barreled over Marco Scutaro. A large number of the press was all over Holiday, but it was his responsibility to break up the double play. In this situation the runner on first is all geared up and saying to himself, that they will not turn two with me running!

My next point is the players take care of issues like this on the diamond. I am not sure but I think Holiday got hit by a pitch in the series to even things up. Guess what that is baseball!

Bob Brown

Tom Herr Cardinal Second baseman

The Cardinals of the 1980s had a very good defensive infield and was led by Ozzie Smith. But the glue and clubhouse leader was Tommy Herr. Tom was a switch hitting second baseman that sprayed the ball to all fields. He was a very good fielder and could turn the double play with the best of them.

Tom played 13 years in the show and had a career batting average of 271. He was a very good hit and run man and could also steal a base. This was all being accomplished with some bad knees. I always thought he could have been a much better player if his knees were sound. His game was his speed and athleticism. There was one thing that Herr was not good at was going into the outfield to catch short fly balls.  He was a very good athlete but was lacking in this part of the game. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/herrto01.shtml

Tom had a career year in 1985 when he hit 302 and had 110 runs batted in and only hit 8 home runs! After this he went back to his regular numbers and for his career had just this one year of hitting over 300.

Tom Herr was a true Cardinal and I always enjoyed watching him play the game! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Herr

Bob Brown

 

Bill Buckner One of my Favorites

Billy Buck is one of my favorite players of all time! He was a left handed hitter and fielder. He had a major league career of 22 seasons and played for 5 different teams. My fondest memories of Bill are his time with the Dodgers and the Cubs. He was able to muscle up and hit 174 home runs in his career and hit a solid 289. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bucknbi01.shtml

When he first arrived on the scene with the Dodgers he could run, hit and throw. He had the speed to cut the off and run down the balls in the gaps and to also steal bases. He was the popular Dodger left fielder and then unfortunately he hurt his ankle. He was never the same afterwards, and was limited to playing first base the rest of his career. I have always wondered how much better of a player Bill would have been if he didn’t mess up his ankle.

I considered Bill a real professional how he handled himself on and off the field. He is what I call a professional hitter because he had patience and would use the whole field to his advantage. He always gave it all on the field and never cheated the game. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Buckner

Bob Brown