Baseball and Its Marvelous Imperfections


-David Strobach-

Baseball is the most imperfect and perplexing, yet alluring of all sports. Hitting a round ball, whistling by at ninety miles-per-hour, with a round bat defies logic. I can then square this round ball as hard as I possibly can, but still get out? The opposing force of this contact may cause my bat to explode in shards. Actually, I don’t have to hit the ball to get on base, it can hit me. I can fail seventy percent of the time and be regarded as one of the best. There is nothing perfect about baseball, yet it continues to be America’s pastime and my greatest passion. Baseball, the game of failure, entices me because its imperfections have an uncanny resemblance to life and invaluable lessons to be learned.

Baseball is one of the only sports without a clock, but always has an end. There’s no telling how long a game could last, especially if it goes into extra innings. In this fast paced world people want a faster paced game, but they fail to see all of the intricacies within the long game. Jahred Adelman, Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago describes baseball as “a beautiful game that allows people to watch and understand physics at work.” Adelman also explains that the same physics of hitting, catching, and throwing a ball can be found in the motion of roller coasters, rocket ships, and in the acceleration of a car. It is so much more than see the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. It is mixture of mathematics, physics, and luck accompanied by rituals and dressed in tradition. The game is surrounded by sights, sounds, and aromas that stir the soul. The variables are endless and just as in real life,  we never truly know when we will be thrown a curveball or when the game will come to a close.

Like no other sport, baseball keeps people honest and tallies their mistakes and imperfections. It is intimidating for most people to have to address their demons so to speak, knowing their errors are out there for all to see. However, we all face adversity. People and players that continually fail, often do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different outcome. The most successful people in life make many errors, but it is the ability to adjust that leads to further success. In life and baseball, it’s important to embrace mistakes and failures, learn from them, and improve for that next opportunity, that next at-bat. The beauty of baseball lies in going up to the plate after batting 0-3, making contact or better yet, hitting it out of the park. I never go down just “looking,” instead I observe and make adjustments.

Baseball is truly a game of failure! In fact, the best players fail at least seventy percent of the time. These same players have a .300 batting average putting them into elite company. Anyone who fails seventy percent of the time would be regarded as terrible in the private sector, but instead they are considered a leader simply because their peers are failing slightly more. In a world where everyone wants to be a homerun slugger and a hero, it is often a player that sacrifices their own personal gain that is the true hero. A sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, or getting hit by a pitch can be a game changer that garnishes respect.

The physique of the baseball athlete is also an enigma. There is no average body type as baseball invites everyone from the imperfect to the athletic, from short and stubby to tall and thin. According to Eric Ding’s 2010 Harvard study, over 55% of players are overweight. A seemingly out of shape and overweight pitcher in their late 30’s with a beer belly can have an amazing command of the game. Yet a seasoned physically fit athlete, such as Michael Jordan, struggled to find any success. Contrary to reason, baseball doesn’t encourage conditioning as much because fitness doesn’t matter in the traditional sense unless you are stretching a double into a triple. Heart, grit, passion, skill, and other intangibles make up for any shortcomings in physique and this is all part of baseball’s imperfect charm. It is a truly an American sport, played and watched by American bodies. All sizes, on the same field, compete together at next level. It allows the fans to think, “Hey I can do this too.”

Life and baseball can be disappointing and hard at times. Baseball is a game of failure and so is life with many unpredictable variables, but that’s what makes it so exciting! I may miss that fastball down the middle, my golden chance at success. In life, there are times I may have a great opportunity, but miss it. I may even drive a ball hard, but the competition makes a spectacular play. I gave my best effort, yet still failed! This frustration motivates me to come back and hit the ball even harder, strengthening my determination to improve. Author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the “10,000 hour rule” stating that most skills can be mastered by practicing correctly for 10,000 hours. So, I take responsibility and action through practice, pushing myself and trying new things. This beautifully imperfect game has taught me that despite one’s best efforts, things may not go your way. It has also empowered me to know that when life throws me a curve, there will be another at bat, and when that time comes, I will be ready for the long game.

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Video: How Baseball Fits Democracy and the American Culture


-David Strobach-

Here is an amazing video on why baseball is considered America’s Pastime done by Prager University.

Baseball – THE CASTRO CONNECTION


-David Strobach.-

In response to a feature article on Bleacher Boy in the newspaper, The Journal Times, I am reposting a topic that was highlighted.

There is no Hall of Fame where Castro is going……

Fidel Castro, the cruel and harsh Cuban dictator, may have had an opportunity that could have altered the path of Cuba, history and his own life.  Fidel Castro was a star pitcher at the University of Havana.  It was always rumored that Fidel tried out for either the Washington Senators or the New York Yankees.  So…what if?  What if he had made the team?

This is more than baseball…this is world history.

Castro, one of the most cruel dictators in the world; could things have gone differently?  He ranks among the inhumane ruthless dictators in history.  Let’s review:  Castro, a communist, lived in an obscenely luxurious palace, ruled with violent military force, while his own people would average an income of about 19 dollars a month.  Human rights were being stripped from the people including: freedom of choice, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.  Embargos left the people hungry and without employment. Whoever would oppose him was imprisoned, many “disappeared”, and thousands were forced to flee Cuba.  So many innocent lives and families were affected.  Sadly, numerous people were tortured and killed.

Think about this.  What would’ve have happened to Cuba if Fidel Castro made it to the “Bigs?”  Would so many lives still have been ruined? Would another ruthless dictator just have taken his place in history?  How would the Cuban missile crisis have turned out?  Would it ever have happened at all? Would Cuba be communist?  If not, would they have been our allies?  Could the Cold War have ended differently or at least the threats?  Could world history have been totally different?  What if headlines read, CASTRO THROWS NO HITTER! instead of CASTRO KILLS PROTESTERS????

Image result for fidel castro baseball

It’s amazing to think . . . what would have happened if he had only made the team and been part of something awesome, like BASEBALL !?!?!?

PERHAPS NOW, AFTER HIS PASSING, RELATIONS WITH CUBA WILL CHANGE……AND IN TURN, WE CAN ENJOY BASEBALL TOGETHER!

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Pic from: http://sabr.org/bioproj/topic/fidel-castro-and-baseball

 

 

Baseball, a Game of Failure


-David S.-

Baseball = Failure

In response to a feature article on Bleacher Boy in the newspaper, The Journal Times, I am reposting a topic that was highlighted.

I am always reminded that baseball is a huge game of failure.  Great hitters hit a .300 average.  Look at it this way, it means you FAIL 70% of the time.  That’s a huge percentage.  You are guaranteed to fail.  If while at bat, you advance a runner and he gets into scoring position, but you get out, do you fail?  Absolutely not.  Your batting average will be lower, which may look bad on the surface.  However, you are part of a team whose goal is to score runs.  Let’s say the winning run is on third and you crush the ball to the outfield and the fielder makes an amazing play.   You don’t fail because your goal is to hit the ball solidly and you succeeded.  You tip your cap to the defender and try again.  This unfortunately is a scenario that’s happened to me many times.  Another scenario would be if there is a full count and bases are loaded in the last inning.  You strike out.  Yes, this is failing, but it’s part of the game.  It happens to everyone.   No matter how hard you try, the game of baseball will always win.  So you will always face adversity, but it is how you respond to it that makes the difference between good players and great ball players!

Negative Thinking = Contagion

On my traveling baseball team, many of the kids get very upset after committing an error or not batting well.  ( Parents, it doesn’t help if you’re screaming or putting pressure on your kid.)  If this ever happens to me, I just try my best to be positive and to keep my head up as well as encourage teammates.  Otherwise, this can cause you to play horribly because you are not in a good mental mood.  If one person starts having a bad attitude, it spreads like a disease.  Everyone starts getting upset and frustrated and the team starts to fade. The other team smells this frustration and  takes advantage of it and then uses it against you.  They will crush you to pieces.  I’ve seen this happen to my team numerous times.  Kids crying, helmets thrown, missed grounders, bad throws -it’s ugly.  I’ve heard that scouts hope to see errors when looking at players.  They want to see how a player handles mistakes mentally and how/if they can recover.  My advice:  Let it go!  Don’t  mix offense and defense.  Leave the error on the field.  Leave the strikeout in the batter’s box.   Each player needs to find what works for them – so learn to forgive yourself and move forward!!!  And “PLAY BALL!!”

Slingin’ Stearns Brewing Up Magic


-David Strobach-

All stats are starting from the morning of July 5th

At the beginning of the season, not one single sporting agency predicted the Milwaukee Brewers to be in first. The Cubs were suppose to ride easily into another postseason and repeat.  Yet, it is past July 4th and the Brewers are riding high in first place.  How has GM David Stearns done it?

 

Travis Shaw

Stearns worked has his magic by wheeling and dealing earning his nickname “Slingin’ Stearns.” The Brewers totally robbed the Red Sox.  Stearns sent reliever Tyler Thornburg in exchange for 3B Travis Shaw, RHP Josh Pennington, SS Mauricio Dubon, and SS Yeison Coca. Pennington and Coca are both raw young talents while Dubon is the top prospect in this deal, currently hitting .266 with 32 stolen bases across AA and AAA. Most notably, the Brewers have appeared to find their cornerstone 3B in Travis Shaw. Shaw currently hosts a .928 OPS and 18 home runs and is better than the reigning MVP Kris Bryant in just about every category. The Brewers have years of control on Shaw as he is not set to hit free agency until 2022. Shaw is putting up all-star numbers and it appears he will miss out on the midsummer classic which would be a travesty. An injured  Tyler Thornburg has still not pitched in a game for Boston…

MLB flexing travis flex brewers GIF

 

Eric Thames

It was controversial when Stearns decided to cut ties with NL home run leader 1B Chris Carter and sign WWE wrestler, I mean Korean baseball player, 1B Eric Thames who was a huge question mark. Thames first MLB stint did not go well, so he went to Korea to figure things out. There he mashed over .320 every year, an overall OPS of 1.178, and slugged 124 home runs in 3 years! He was so good in Korea that there was even a song made for him and he was viewed as a god!  There was no way of telling how he would translate back into the MLB, but he has been a stud  with a .949 OPS and 23 home runs. He has become a fan favorite in Milwaukee as we all “revere the beard.” He has brought so much energy to this team, just look at this crazy celebration.

To back up Eric Thames, Stearns claimed minor league slugger Jesus Aguilar off of Waivers from the Cleveland Indians. Aguilar has been a fantastic back-up and pinch hitter, posting a .866 OPS.

Orlando Arcia

Orlando Arcia is hands down one of the most exciting players in the MLB. Every day Arcia is making a dazzling a play, interacting with a fan, or doing something insane on the base paths. Arcia is always dancing, laughing, and the having the time of his life. He plays the game how it’s supposed to be played, with heart!

He has worked himself up to the same young elite shortstop category of guys like Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager. He is fully living up to his top prospect status. Even though his career started slow in the batter’s box, he has hit .366 since May 18 which leads the MLB. His average has risen from the low .200s to .295 now!

Just watch this play:

And a little bit of what he can do with the glove:

 

ChACE Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, and Corey Knebel

Chase Anderson (acquired via the Jean Segura trade)  and Jimmy Nelson have broken out as aces for the Brew. They have posted a 2.89 ERA and 3.20 ERA respectively. Both keep the Brewers in every single game. When Junior Guerra (claimed off waivers from White Sox) has his location, he’s an ace. The bullpen is shaky except for when all-star Corey Knebel (acquired via the Gallardo trade) is called upon in the 9th. He has been unstoppable posting a 1.13 ERA and breaking the record for most consecutive games with a strikeout by a reliever to start a season.

Former A’s and Nerd Power

2B Eric Sogard was injured all of last year, but Stearns took a chance on the former Athletic. As Villar has struggled and battled injury, Sogard has filled in incredibly well hitting over .330 and an OPS of .924 while playing outstanding defense. The A’s waived 2 time all-star Stephen Vogt and Stearns took a chance on the catcher. Vogt has started off hot with the Crew hitting 3 home runs in his first 6 games. Vogt is complimented by breakout catcher Manny Pina who has an OPS 0f .818 creating a dangerous catching tandem.

David Stearns has assembled a pretty complete roster that is only a few pitching pieces away from being a World Series Threat. Led by the pieces mentioned above and other key contributors  Domingo Santana (acquired via Carlos Gomez deal), Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton (acquired through Pirates minor league deal), and Hernan Perez (Claimed off waivers by Tigers), the Brew Crew are a new force to be reckoned with. David Stearns has shown absolute brilliance in assembling this roster.  There is a slew of rich minor league talent that is yet to arrive, led by top prospect Lewis Brinson.  This team hasn’t even scratched the surface of their potential and will only get better. There is something special brewing in Milwaukee.

Tebow Continues To Inspire Us All


-David Strobach-

Tim Tebow’s first spring training is officially underway!  Recently in a press conference, he responded to a reporter with an eye opening statement…

What a beautiful statement…

This press conference reminded me to keep things in perspective.  In our world today, we are often so self absorbed, spoiled, overindulged, and happy to be rewarded with participation trophies. The result is that we are often overly sensitive allowing the slightest correction or criticism to offend/hurt us.  In sports,  we feel so defeated about matters that mean nothing in the long run like making an error or being in a slump.  How can we feel so pressured, so worried about ourselves when there are so many people suffering? There are people without clean water or shelter and we are worried about selfish superficial “1st world problems” like purchasing the latest cleats or high tech bats.   There are much bigger things to worry about than my baseball games or being angry when my team loses in the playoffs.  So much of our life is just a game filled with noise and stuff – it’s a social media profile.  Life should be more than a stat line and likes/views on a post.

Let us all try to follow Tebow’s words as wanting to be a person that brings “faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” The world is so much bigger than us and we must keep things in perspective. So let’s do better! Get out there and be someone’s home run while helping the less fortunate. It will result in the most rewarding stats of your life.

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Jeter’s 10 Life Lessons


-David Strobach-

In The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieveing Your Dreams, Derek Jeter lays out his top 10 life lessons.  These are wonderful guidelines that can apply to everyone. Here is my take on each of Jeter’s life lessons.

Image result for derek Jeter top 10 life lessons

1. Set Your Goals High

Always set your goals high.  If you don’t dream big and set goals to accomplish your dream, then you will be disappointed. The quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” applies perfect.  Derek does not want you to wish for things.  He wants you to make that wish a goal and work for it.

My goal is to be a journalist covering baseball one day.  I hope my plan of creating a name for myself through this platform can help me accomplish my goal.

2. Deal With Growing Pains

The road to success will never be easy.  There are always bumps on the road.  Derek Jeter had numerous slumps throughout his career, but he dealt with them and got back on his feet. Mistakes carry value.  It’s where we learn, build upon ourselves, and get better.

People are always going to doubt you.  Sometimes they are threatened by your potential. Harness that doubt and negativity into positive energy.  When someone doubts me, it only fuels my fire to become a better player,  writer and person.

It’s all about the attitude we posses when confronting our growing pains that ultimately helps us deal with and overcome them.

3. Find Role Models

Role models can be crucial to one’s success.  They are someone you can always go to for advice and help.  Some people may not have any role models they know personally in their lives, so they may look up to their favorite star as a role model.  This is why I feel it is of utmost importance for “stars” to lead by example.  We are all watching and many follow in their steps.

Some huge role models of mine are my parents, coaches, friends, and siblings.  They are my number one fans and will always be there for me through thick and thin.  Another role model of mine, a friend I made though my platform, is Tom Pipines of Fox News.  He has taken me under his wing and I’m grateful for his mentorship.  Pip is always there for me.

4. The World is Not Always Fair

The worst of things can occur to the best of us.  Only focus on what you can control and strive to be the best in it.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Who better to tell us this than a superstar in the game of failure? If all we did was succeed, do we truly know what success is?  Our worst of times, bring out our best.  Failure is a constructive obstacle that makes success more fulfilling.  Failure is our opportunity to learn, improve and challenge ourselves.

6. Have a Strong Supporting Cast

I have never been forced to like or do anything by my role models.  I have been able to discover my identity on my own with the unconditional support of people around me.  You can’t reach your dream by yourself.  It takes a village to raise a star.

Another way to look at a strong supporting cast is competition.  Look at others in your prospective field as friends, but also as competitors to challenge you.  Most importantly, STAY AWAY FROM THE HATERS!

7. Be Serious, but Have Fun

If you want to be successful in whatever it is you want to do, it has to be taken seriously. Work harder than anyone you’re competing with.  Understand the task at hand and do everything you can to accomplish it.

If you have a true love and passion for what you desire, the fun should come along with it. Nothing is more fun for me than baseball practice everyday and writing countless number of articles to share.  Everyone has heard that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life and it has to be true.  However, as soon as the fun is lost, everything goes down with it.  Work becomes a chore and motivation is lost.  You start to “go through the motions.”  Maintaining that fun, love, and passion is crucial to a happy successful life.

8. Be a Leader, Follow the Leader

Showing the traits of leadership will help you rise in the eyes of others as well as the ranks of your job/task.  This certainly includes, but does not have to mean a vocal leader.  Actions speak louder than words.  Coaches will always notice heart, hustle, and attitude and they will eventually be rewarded.  Derek Jeter was one of the best “lead by example” types out there.  Not once did I ever see him not hustle and his heart was always undeniably in the game.

Another part of this lesson from Jeter, is to follow the leader.  This can be taken two ways. One way is to follow in the footsteps of a role model.  Another is, until you are at the very top, there is always someone above you to look up to.  It is always very important to respect a superior.  It will pay off in the end.

9. Think Before You Act

Every action has a consequence, good or bad.  Ask yourself, is this good for me?  Is this going to help me accomplish my goal in life?  If the answer is no, it’s probably something to avoid.  We must all control our impulses and focus on the bigger picture.

10. Life is a Daily Challenge

Every day we are met with challenges.  There will always be good and bad days.  Life is not easy, but we if we attack it with the right mindset and work ethic, we might just be up to the challenge.

 

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Header image from Jordan Derek Jeter tribute ad

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