Friday, December 7, 2012

Ode to Libby Mae this Christmas

You’re a sweet one, Libby Mae.
You really are a prize.
You’re as cuddly as a lovey,
You’re as charming as an rose,
Libby Mae.
You’re a ripe tomato with plumpy red fruit.

You’re a beauty, Libby Mae.
Your heart’s so innocent.
Your brain is full of unsaid thoughts,
You’ve got smiles in your soul, Libby Mae.
I would hold you every hour,
Three hundred sixty-five days a year.

You’re a smart one, Libby Mae.
You have laughter in your smile.
You have all the tender goodness of a new born poddle dog,
Libby Mae.
Given the choice between the two of you,
I’d take the lovely Libby Mae.

You’re a cute one, Libby Mae.
You’re a fancy, dancey blonde
Your heart is full of spawkaley jewels,
Your soul is full of joy,
Libby Mae.

The three words that best describe you,
Are as follows, and I quote,

You’re a toddler Libby Mae.
You’re the queen of fashion shoes,
Your heart swims like fishes with flashy purple stripes.
Libby Mae!

Your soul is an overflowing fountain
Flooded with the most precious
Combination of personality and wit imaginable,
Wrapped up as pleasant Christmas gifts.

You excite me, Libby Mae.
Your purpose is secure.
You’re a funny bunny runny and
You run a runners gait
Libby Mae!

You’re a three flavor sundae,
And frozen yogurt
With pineapple sauce!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Please Overhaul the Baseball Playoffs

There is nothing wrong with the game of baseball and very little wrong with the sport itself.  One of those wrong things happens to be the current construct of the playoffs.  The current system is terrible to put it bluntly.  Even worse with this "play-in" game with the bonus wild card team.  Can I tell you how I really feel?

Never have I been a fan of the wild card.  The main reason is that it reeks of imitating the NFL.  Not.A.Football.Fan.  The other reason is that allowing it diminishes the division winners.

I know, this current experiment has been a smashing success.  The money is flowing because more teams are in contention at later dates within the long season.  I get it.  Collect a bigger pile of cash and brag.

Please allow myself to propose a playoff plan that serves the progressive "let's change for the sake of change" crowd, the cash starved people in charge and the classical baseball fan who just wants to see the best play in the purest form.  Don't be a hater, just give me a chance to explain.

The playoff system cannot be fixed unless there are some changes to the way the regular season is played.  First, division winners play to determine a champion.  No wild card.  Realign the 30 teams within the same 2 league format.  Next, create 4 divisions in each league that promotes regional rivalries.  Local media outlets would benefit with more intense attention and the fans would have something to follow despite their favorite teams standing good or bad.  Here is how I would make those divisions:
National League 
* North *
* West *
LA Angels
LA Dodgers
San Diego
* South *
* Midwest *
Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
American League 
* North *
NY Mets
NY Yankees
* West *
San Fransisco
* South *
Kansas City
St. Louis
* Midwest *

Next, with this restructuring there will no longer be a need for inter-league play.  That was a good experiment for a few years, but now the only thing good about it is when the Yankees or Red Sox come into town and boost ticket sales.

Another tough decision will be to finally eliminate the awkward blending of 2 styles of play.  As much as I love the strategy of the double switch and the accountability of the pitcher holding a bat, I think it is time to promote the DH across the board.  The chicks dig the long ball.

The benefits of all of this beside the increased regional interest (especially in weaker markets) is the prolonged competition for division crowns throughout the summer and fall.  Smaller divisions keep hopes high and the wheels turning as it relates to fan interest and General Manager tinkering.  Additionally, teams can cut costs on travel as more shorter trips would be made because a large percentage of those games would be located not too far away.

This "new" season poses some scheduling difficulty, but I will go there in a minute.  (What is worse--playoff problems or schedule problems?)  Now for the playoff format.  The division winners are the playoff teams.  There would be 8 teams--more than your grandfathers era but fewer than the current "get close because even though we weren't good enough to win our division, the 4th and 5th best records in our league is good enough" policy.  Win to play is a better format and tournament.  The first round series of 5 games in each respective league would be seeded according to regular season record with the better earning home field advantage.  (1v4, 2v3).  You have noticed that I said "series".  Please read between the lines to understand how I feel about the current 1 game play-in game.  |awful|.  The second round will also be a best of 5 game series with the winners earning the right to play in the World Series.  Home field advantage means the team with the better overall record plays games 1, 2 and 5 at their park and their opponent gets games 3 and 4.  The World Series, of course, pits the winners of the previous round; 1 from each league.

What I have always loved about the World Series (I mean, used to love) is the mystery of the battle.  With this reformed season as I have proposed, the teams competing would only know each other on paper.  No prior experience to gauge how it may turn out; just a scouting report and a hunch.  Outside of Cincinnati, who honestly thought the '90 Reds had a chance against the (puffed up) A's?

Ok, now for the various problems to iron out.  The main one is scheduling.  Because of the imbalance of the divisions, gaps are created.  Teams within division play each other the most as compared to the other league teams.  Beyond that, the remainder of the schedule can be determined using the NFL formula (if you have to use football as a model).  Better record teams from the previous year play each other more while the bad teams play each other more.  Each team will make all the trips, coast to coast.  So, the schedule isn't balanced per say, but the "playing field" is smoothed out to give even the Kansas City Royals a glimmer of hope.

Another problem someone is bound to make is the extended number of games on the playoff slate.  Easy fix--no days off, just play everyday like what ball players are used to.  If TBS doesn't approve, then offer the rights to HSN!

What else?  Critics, on your mark, get set, Go!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Inning 4: Respect

I have been off the grid for awhile but busy doing the things that as a baseball coach and instructor you would expect.  My motivation now is flowing from the excitement of the MLB playoffs.  Game #1 today, right now inning #4 in this series [why baseball matters personally].

What I love about October baseball is the esteem that is given to the participating teams.  These playoff teams are considered the best for this season.  The players and coaches that represent these teams are revered for making it through to the end.  The grind, as a MLB season is often referred to, is done and October serves as the season where ultimate respect is earned.

Baseball is a training ground for learning respect.  The best teams are not always those with the best skilled players.  Teams that win the games that matter most are those filled with players who respect the game, their opponent, their teammates, and themselves.  Respect is learned through the thrill of victory, the disappointment of defeat, the process of competing--the whole experience of playing the game.

Respect does not mean getting along with everybody all the time.  Heck, even liking someone is not required to respect them.  In baseball, respect looks like this:

  • accepting the best that others give (teammates, coaches, opponents, umpires)
  • trusting coaches to teach and help
  • listening to instruction and learning from expertise and experience
  • accepting the calls made by umpires
  • celebrating the accomplishments of teammates (tipping the cap to rival accomplishments)

Lately I have been working with 8 year old players teaching pitching mechanics.  Pitching is hard no matter what age but especially for players who have never done it before.  My policy for this age group is that pitchers must also catch.  There is nothing like wearing the gear and running repeatedly to the backstop chasing wild pitches, blocking baseballs off the chest, and taking batted balls off the mask to learn respect.  Getting practical perspective helps both pitchers and catchers to understand how difficult it is to perform.

It is in the environment of process and experience that respect is truly learned.  Working within a framework where certain outcomes are pursued is a learning environment like no other.  A team with expectations and a plan to execute is a unit of individuals who are taking responsibility; acknowledging and maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses; and purposing toward and end that is bigger than themselves.  This is the mission of Upside Baseball.

We as people are capable of big things; much bigger things than we actually believe.  Expecting more is to respect potential.  Respect is a stepping stone to achievement.  It is not a one time deal but an on-going management of belief, effort, teamwork, and trust.

As to the outcome of the playoffs?  A toss up.  The differences in skill and performance is so small among the teams.  One thing you can be sure of--there will be plenty of respect dished out on all fronts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Nowhere Is Somewhere

I'm silenced God
My thoughts are rushing
So many thank yous
Nerves pressing in
My stomach is tight
A headache is surfacing

The time to think is good
Quiet stillness heals
Your presence commands
a patient outlook
and a humble perspective
Lord, you are right

What's next
Your plans for me
Not knowing
can be wisdom
To seek your face
You, God, find and hold me

New energy comes
Lord, your resources are deep
You take meager things
and produce fruit
Out of nowhere blessings flow
Nowhere is somewhere

To adequately thank you
seems impossible
In spite of my limits
Lord, Your love is pure
Nowhere is somewhere
That somewhere is You


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Line Between Waiting & Trusting

If you have been following then it is more than obvious that my prayer writing plan is shot.  Summer has been busy to say it mildly.  I have a great deal to be thankful about as well as significant questions pertaining to my immediate future.  At least I have God.  No, at most I have God!

Line Between Waiting & Trusting

Lord, life has been moving fast.  You have watched me the whole way.  I hope I have represented you well. Not just that, I hope I have made an impact.  Thank you for placing me in the path I find myself.  I feel like a kid again.

This summer has been full of gifts.  God, you have blessed me with new connections.  You have allowed me to fulfill dreams.  Fresh focus you have granted for my benefit.  Mostly God, my family has been provided for because of your generous open hand.

Summer is almost gone.  There are questions and needs that are gaining momentum.  I need to take action, but I wait for you.  Where is the line between waiting and trusting?  You have told me to "go the distance" and to "sacrifice."  I don't feel like I've done either even though my circumstances paint a different picture.  What does this mean?  Am I confused if I don't know which to ask:  "How much longer?" or "Has it started yet?".

Lord, come meet me in this place.  In the depths of my heart and in the bewilderment of my mind--come.  Infuse in my life more of your peace.  Grant me wisdom, God as I sort through next steps.  Please provide me options to sort through.  Make your voice loud and the distractions silent as I walk with you.

My thanks and needs I present sincerely,