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Former Texas Ranger Gerald Smiley Giving All Kids A Chance To Play Ball!


-David Strobach-

I recently had the pleasure of being contacted by former Texas Ranger Gerald Smiley and his organization, the BLP Academy.  As a result, I was fortunate to be able to conduct an interview with Mr. Smiley.  Smiley played with the Texas Rangers for 5 years and after hanging up his cleats, he founded the Big League Prep Academy for kids, as well as share his knowledge in other coaching endeavors.  Mr. Smiley will describe this great academy best himself in the interview below – It sounds like a great alternative to overpriced, political, “elite clubs.”  He is doing great things and making baseball available to all kids, no matter their situation.  I truly have enjoyed conversing with Mr. Smiley as he is a stand up man, plays/teaches in the name of his Faith, and is doing all the right things for the young generation of ballplayers.  Make sure to check out their website HERE! Hope you enjoy the interview!

Tell me about your baseball career in the pros. Why did you choose baseball as your sport?  Who did you look up to?

My career was good but way shorter than I wanted it. I had three surgeries, two on my elbow and one on my shoulder.  It was the best time of my life though.  I met lots of people, built lots of relationships, was mentored by some of the best coaches in the game and got to see how pros carried themselves as pros. I chose baseball at the age of 6 because my older brother played.  I was good at basketball, football and baseball but knew baseball was my best chance to do it professionally.  I look up to my brother, Carlos Subero, Bill North, Dusty Baker, Frank Neville, Frank Velasquez, Mark McLemore and Cam Walker.

You had three surgeries in your career.  How did they affect your career?  How did you mentally deal with these injuries and what advice would you give to any player at any age dealing with an injury?

My first surgery was tough mentally.  The Rangers almost pulled my contract because they thought I lied on my medical history form and was hurt when I signed, which I was not.  I no longer felt a part of the team after I got cut on.  Kevin Harmon and Frank Neville helped me big time mentally.  They made me believe that my faith had to be in my rehab process and trust it.  I was scared to let it go 90-94 again after I got hurt until they talked with me.  I recommend players trust their rehab, don’t slack off, do the things that got you strong during rehab, after your doctor says you are clear.  Don’t be afraid to air out full speed after your recovery.

You ended up scouting for the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mets, and Brewers. What were your experiences as a scout? Did you have a favorite organization that you were a part of?  What did you learn as a scout? And did you scout or recruit any big name players?

It is a lot of travel and chasing kids around.  A kid may get rained out today and you have to go back and see him tomorrow.  Lots of time away from your family.  It is a gift to go watch baseball games and scout talent. It is not considered work when you do the things you love to do.  I learned how to really trust my judgement and utilize the 20-80 MLB Scale properly and how to write reports properly that the front office and area guys want to see.  Also not being afraid of saying you don’t like a kid even though other clubs do and you know he may go in the draft still.  Our job is to draft guys we think will get to the big leagues, not max out in the minor leagues.

You went on to coach college and high school baseball and found a passion in developing kids.  What are the major differences among age groups?  Other than pure mechanics, what mental errors do you see in kids and the various age groups?

Major differences are focus, desire, commitment,

What advice can you give to high school kids aspiring to play in college?

Get your reps the right way every day.  Out work everyone around you no matter what.  You must stand out amongst your peers or it will be tough to go to the next level.  Do not allow yourself to make excuses why you could not train that day or why your performance was not your best that day.  Accept full responsibility for your career.  It is on you!

What is your overall coaching philosophy?

Play the game hard, follow a player development system.  Don’t worry what others think, be yourself and be the best you.  Be explosive in everything you do, run hard, slide hard, master your craft through unlimited reps. Review your work daily and require 100 percent perfection out of yourself during your side work and skill work.

Did you have a mentor{s} or coach that was significant to you?

Yes.  Loren Colello, Carlos Subero, Bill North, Joe Staton, Lee Tunnel.  They taught me life not just the game.  Told me things other people wouldn’t and called me out when I needed to be held accountable as well.

With your passion of developing kids, you started the BLP Academy.  How did you come to start this?  What exactly is the academy and how is it different then any other club/academy/little league?  What are your goals with this academy and how do people get involved with the organization? What does the future hold for you?

BLP Academy came about by the sickening business behind youth sports today and the vision the Lord put in my heart.  BLP Academy is a FREE app with professional instruction, training and more all in one place from myself and other coaches and info around the world that will help train parents, coaches and athletes.  We travel around the world and train kids, coaches and leagues professional player development.
My goal is to open indoor sports complexes through a unique strategy that I have to help all kids.  Kids who can afford it and cannot afford it. We will turn no kid away who cannot afford it through our resources and the glory of God, and His love for His children.

Coaches, players and parents can download the #1 FREE Baseball Training app at:

Itunes App Store:
https://t.co/hPlS1LWQYS

Android Google Play Store:
https://t.co/uxZqu35o6g https://t.co/cwQjwHzeWq

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The Greatest Gift


-David Strobach-

I’ve been reflecting on my favorite Christmas presents over the years and I have been blessed to have had many awesome gifts.  But, my favorite is still this baseball cross plaque that my crafty and thoughtful mom made for me.  I have shared this with many:

“This plaque that my mother made, helps me to remember to always get over errors and leave it all on the field.  It reminds me to “give thanks” to God and to my family. It encourages me to become a better teammate, to listen to my coaches, and be a good sport.  I like to live by the motto: “God, Family, Baseball.”   God always comes first.  What I see is that God has a massive hitting streak going (all the gifts he has so generously given us).  It’s game seven of the World Series against all evil.  God understands that we make mistakes and always will, which are our  errors.  He forgives us for the BIG errors, and we should forgive ourselves for mistakes, learn from them, and move on.  With a runner on third, a sacrifice bunt will win the World Series, but what if Jesus only needed a hit to break a record?  To save his team (the world), he sacrifices! He sacrifices to save us all!!!!  We all need to remember this each and every day.  So whatever your beliefs, have FAITH.  It will get you further than any home run.”

Under the cross it says: "EVERYONE COMMITS ERRORS, BUT HIS SACRIFICE WILL GET YOU HOME..."

Under the cross it says:
“EVERYONE COMMITS ERRORS, BUT HIS SACRIFICE WILL GET YOU HOME…”

Everyday I see it, it reminds me who I am and what I stand for as a Catholic.  It reminds me that God is with me and helps me to be a better person.  It helps strengthen my faith.  We all will make mistakes, but that is ok.  Forgive others, forgive yourself.   Since Jesus died for us as his sacrifice to save us from sin, he will bring us home to heaven.  During this joyful Christmas time, let’s keep Christ in Christmas.  Let’s remember what Christmas is really about, the birth of the Christ child. It is a time of Peace and Hope.  So during these troubled times, be a good teammate for the human race –  God Bless You!!

Follow me on Twitter: @BleacherBoy10

Email me: thebleacherboy@yahoo.com

 

The 3 Winning Principles


-David Strobach-

“Show class, have pride, and display character.  If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

-Paul Bryant

Above is a fantastic quote that applies to not only sports, but life in general.  Class, Pride, and Character are more important than any athletic talent in the world.

Something that I always preach is to exemplify class and good character.  Some might say I’m the “Preacher Boy” as well as the Bleacher Boy! 😉  Always respect the umpires and coaches no matter what.  An ump may call a strike that skips to home and a ball that was surely down the pipe.  That skipping strike was called a strike, so the umpire is correct, not the batter barking back.  If there is a problem, it’s the coaches job to deal with it.  Take that called strike back to the dugout with a head held high, respecting the call.  Let’s face it, we all get mad at awful calls, but the call is the call, and that margin of error is part of the game.  Go back next time and succeed! When errors or strikeouts occur, never slam any equipment or throw a temper tantrum – trust me, you look like an idiot. These mistakes happen to the best of us…even Mike Trout!  Stay up, keep a positive attitude, after all, baseball is a game of failure. If other players are melting down, support them, don’t push them down.  If someone is getting crap from his own teammates about a mistake he already feels bad for, how is he supposed to recover for the next one?  Not all players agree with the decisions of the coach either –  which is fine, but never talk back or bad mouth your coach or the opposing team’s coach.  It is completely reasonable to voice an honest concern or question about the team in the appropriate place and time with respect – but NEVER during the game.  If your team is getting pounded, don’t take the frustration out on your opponents in any way, other than winning.  Yes, they may be crazy waving cowbells and blowing fog horns after everything (trust me I’ve been through this), but if someone barks at that team, it makes them no better. Don’t give away the game by showing the other team that they have gotten in your head.  Also, please DON’T be that cowbell team!  Have pride in success, but don’t shove it down their throats. Like the great Vince Lombardi once said, “Act like you’ve been there before.”

If these three qualities are shown, respect will be earned.  Abiding by these three principles will allow winning to take care of itself.

Always remember, when you are playing you are not only representing yourself and your team or school, but also your family and what they stand for. 

Happy Thanksgiving!


-David Strobach-

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Have a safe and happy day!  What are you thankful for?

 

Effort Deserves The Reward


-David Strobach-

Two kids are trying out to play shortstop.  Jeremy has all the talent in the world to be a five tool player,  always making the sensational play or getting a big hit. However, he is always fooling around and not working hard. He never encourages is teammates.  Jeremy enjoys his parties and late night video games.  He shows up to practice half crapping it, but still is obviously the best player on the field despite that he drags his butt going on and off the field.  Jakob on the other hand has some talent, but isn’t close to Jeremy’s natural “level.”  Jakob, however, comes to practice early ready to work, stays late for extra batting time and always gives it his all.  He loves nothing more and desires no more than to be on the ball diamond.  He always hustles and leaves it all on the field.  Let me ask you this…what should the coach do?

Most coaches may start the more talented kid and I don’t disagree with that.  They are the better player and deserve to start.  The problem is that I see that some coaches can be blinded by talent and their own desire to win and they tend to forget about their hardest working players on the bench.  Let’s say Jeremy plays no other position, so there is no room for Jakob.  Jakob may barely touch the field the entire year, yet still gives the most effort.  Sometimes, effort is never ever rewarded.

Effort needs to be rewarded so that those hardworking players don’t lose heart. If you reward effort,  Jakob gains more confidence and this motivates him to keep working at his 3 P’s like I’ve preached.  If Jeremy sees Jakob getting rewarded and not himself, it may very well light a fire under his butt.  If the most talented, but “lazier” player feels that someone much less talented than him is taking his position, it has to scare them.  They’ll either cry to their parents about it so they can yell at the coach or hopefully they will work harder.  If a coach gets that call from a parent, they should tell them straight up that he is being out hustled.  Jakob has the heart and the desire….I don’t think you can teach those qualities in a player.   The value is not measurable.  In the long run, those with the heart, the desire, the hustle, eventually beat out the Jeremys of this world.

The cocky, no effort, uncoachable kids all eventually hit their peak, and never climb any higher.  Coaches may not notice at first, but eventually they will, trust me.  Coaches need to put the Jeremys of a team on notice early on, encouraging them to change their entitled ways – it will help them from sinking when and if they move on in the game and aren’t the big fish in a little pond anymore.   A season shows character and the type of people on a team – There is room for success for both the Jeremys and the Jakobs on every team.  Don’t lose HEART! Be that “little engine that could” and give it your all and you’ll eventually be the tortoise passing up the hare.

 

Thank you to Wicked Baseball for the picture to inspire this article.

 

 

Living Strong


-David Strobach.-

In honor of the ten year anniversary of my brother Zach kicking cancer’s butt, I wanted to post our story!

 


I was sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, in early October, 2005 drawing a picture.  My sister Delilah was at her friend’s house, my brother Zach went to a car show with friends, and my twin, Sophie, was home with me. The sun was shining, trying to add warmth to the crisp cool fall day.  And, there I sat, carefree, enjoying the pretty fall colors, drawing leaves with assorted crayons of red, yellow, and orange.  Then, my mother received a troubling phone call from one of Zach’s friends.  His friend, Nate, with a sickening worry in his voice told my mother that Zach was having intense pain in his groin and lower back.  He couldn’t even walk.  I saw my mom put down the phone, knowing something was wrong from the look on her face.  Even though I was only five years old, I could sense something wasn’t right.  That was when the darkness came.

As soon as Zach got home, my mother rushed outside.  I never actually saw Zach and that’s when I knew that it could be more serious.  She told me she had to take Zach to the hospital.  That’s when I flipped my picture over to draw something else.  I started to draw a picture for Zach of him in an ambulance.  I was hoping everything would be okay.

Looking back, I remember my mother telling me that she thought Zach may have just torn or popped something in his groin or lower back because he was a skater and may have fallen.  She thought some movement may have made it “out of whack.”  Zach had a slight pain for a little while before the car show day.  He even went to a chiropractor for some physical therapy.  This was a very reasonable and a logical thought.  She was very wrong and the darkness stayed.

Mom transported Zach from his friend’s car to our car and rushed him to the hospital.  There, they found a mass on one of Zach’s testicles.  My mom heard a vague comment about Lance Armstrong, but was confused. They wouldn’t tell her anything other than to come back the next morning to see a specialist.  They decided to do immediate surgery even without a biopsy.  A biopsy was too risky because there was a risk that trying to extract this suspicious mass would cause some cells to fall into the bloodstream.  If some cells fell into the bloodstream, it could spread throughout his body.

After surgery, the doctors reported to my parents that Zach had cancer for sure.  It was called testicular cancer.  They told her it was the most aggressive type of cancer cell.  The doctors did say that they believed that they extracted all of the cancer.  Zach was sent home and everything was thought to be okay.  They also found nothing in his blood cells to detect cancer.  They didn’t know Zach was “marker negative,” which means the cancer cells would not come up in blood tests.  My mother thought it was strange that he was just fine.  Maybe it was just the darkness, but she had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
Just to be sure, my mother wanted a second opinion.  She took Zach down to Rush hospital in Chicago.  The doctor they saw was a trained specialist in this field.  He worked under the doctor that treated the famous biker, Lance Armstrong, who also had testicular cancer.  After Zach was checked out, the doctors brought back terrible news.  The cancer had already spread to parts of his abdomen and lymph nodes. It would be awhile before the light and laughter would return to our home.

It’s so weird how life can literally change in an instant.  Before this, Zach was on top of the world.  He had just turned sixteen, had a girlfriend, got a driver’s license, and he got a sharp little sports car.   He had just started his junior year at Walden H.S.  Then it came all crashing down on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  The clouds and the darkness came in the form of cancer, an uninvited stranger in our home.  If left unchecked, the cancer would have progressed to the lungs and to the brain.  Zach again needed a very complicated and immediate surgery.  If my mother didn’t trust her gut and didn’t bring him in for a second opinion, the doctors said Zach would have died within six months to 2 years.

My mom and dad, understandably, had trouble dealing with the news.  They felt overwhelmed, depressed and shocked.  They couldn’t process and learn all the necessary information fast enough.  My sister, Delilah, was in fifth grade and adored Zach.  She was scared, but young enough to be a little clueless.  Sophie and I could sense something was wrong, but we were confused.  Cancer was like having an unwelcome stranger move in, where everyone is acting differently, and I tried to be on my best behavior. Sadness clouded our family.  We were scared that we didn’t know what was wrong.  There many hushed phone calls and sleepless nights for us all.  Zach was down mentally and physically, scared, exhausted, yet hopeful, and strong.  It was frustrating for him to have to rely on everyone else to do things for him.  Zach was used to being thought of as a good-looking guy and vanity wise, it began to hurt his ego.  He just wanted life to get back to normal.

In the surgery they removed all of the cancerous areas that were shown on the MRI’s.  Then, they ordered several treatments of chemotherapy to flush out all remaining cells.  He was out on a six month plan which was considered short, but still treacherous.  Chemotherapy is a variety of medicine that they put through an IV in your body to attack your cancer cells.  But in fact, it really is poison that kills the fastest growing cells in your body which include the lining of your mouth, your intestines, white blood cells, hair, nails, skin, and finally cancer cells.  So while you’re attacking cancer cells, you are attacking all of those other things.  A lot of people think chemotherapy is one thing, but each phase is different.  It’s specifically designed for each patient.  There is also some trial and error because too much can harm you and too little wouldn’t help at all.

Just when you think having cancer is bad enough, going through the chemotherapy results in devastating side effects.  When mom brought Zach to the chemotherapy section of the hospital she said it sucked the air out of her lungs and she couldn’t breathe.  Everyone around her looked like they were dying.  She realized Zach would look like this soon.  Zach lost his hair everywhere on his body.  He once said that you don’t realize how much you need you nose hair because when you bend over everything drains out. He laughed, a little bit of light broke through.  His hair follicles even hurt.  A vivid memory my mother still sadly tells me is when Zach was lying in the hospital bed and complained that his head hurt.  When he shifted, a huge chunk of his beautiful, black, thick hair was now part of the pillow and no longer a part of Zach.  It took my mother’s breath away and she was speechless as she started to tear up.  When Zach lost his hair I remember being terrified of him. Until then, the scars and gory stuff was buried beneath bandages and clothes.  Now, I could see the metamorphosis left behind by cancer.  Sunken, lifeless eyes and pale grey, hairless skin moved into my brother’s body. Zach was so weak, so sad that his little siblings, including myself, were scared of him.  He was frightened, not recognizing his own reflection in the mirror.

The darkness grew and black spots began to appear on his fingertips and toes.  It was the chemo burning his body from the inside out.  Also as a result of the chemo, Zach had painful ulcers in his mouth and intestines.  He experienced nausea and brain fog.  My mother tells me that one day Zach woke up screaming and peeing blood because of kidney stones caused by the chemotherapy.  To try to counteract some of the side effects they gave Zach steroids.  These at least provided some relief and gave Zach an appetite, but also resulted in a bloated look, further distorting his normal good looks. But Zach, my brother, my inspiration, was not going to be beat.

Glimmers of light started to appear and brighten our home and Zach’s spirits.  We were all going to battle to fight this!  Zach’s support from Walden was monumental.  Students and staff sent him well wishes and bought him a PSP video game to occupy his time at home. Many of his friends were always there for him.   At my grade school and church, St. Rita’s, we would pray for him every day.  We were fortunate to have many friends and family that helped make and deliver meals to our house.  The support and prayers from others helped us greatly as well. The doctors and nurses were amazing.  They all began to provide hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel that drove out the darkness.


About a year later, Zach was finally done with treatment.  It’s a bitter sweet, and somewhat fearful feeling that treatment is over.  It didn’t feel like an endgame, it felt like a waiting game to see if “it” comes back.   Zach wasn’t going to sit around and wait for anything, there was too much living to do. Zach went on to enjoy prom, graduate from high school and get a degree from Marquette University. He is happy, healthy, handsome again, and the bravest man I know.  And here I sit, nine years later, at the kitchen table, not drawing but typing. The sun is shining brightly, adding warmth to a glorious cool day.

“You beat cancer by HOW you live, WHY you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

-Stuart Scott

 

The Making Of A Successful Sportscaster


-David Strobach-

Recently  I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fox News and their sportscaster, Tom Pipines.  I am not sure when this interview will be aired, but I will surely let you all know!  I spent the afternoon with Tom Pipines, who likes to be called “Pip,” but not be called “late for dinner,” and I learned what makes a sportscaster successful.

As he was trying to learn about me and this blog, Bleacher Boy, I learned a lot from him as well.  I learned that “Pip” is:

  • A confident man with a firm handshake.
  • kind and friendly man with warm hugs for my mom and sister and an even friendlier smile.
  • A polite man that was courteous and apologetic that he was running late–showing that others’ time is valuable too.
  • A giving man that took the time to give me a tour and introduce me to literally EVERYONE at the studio including Katrina Cravy, making me feel like I was part of the family.
  • A sincere man that was interested in what I do as a writer and as a teen, as well as the interests a my family.
  • A knowledgeable man that knows his industry and keeps learning as the world changes.
  • A humble man that thanks his coworkers for a job well done and gives credit to all those who work behind the scenes.
  • A gracious man that wished a coworker the “Best of Luck” in their new job, expressing how much they’d be missed.
  • A stylish man that can pull off wearing a purple shirt! 😉
  • A wise man that is willing to share advice and his personal experiences with a kid who has a dream……

Thank you Pip!!!!!

Your friend,

Bleacher Boy

My Baseball Mom


-David S.-

I wrote this for my amazing BASEBALL MOM!!!  Love you! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

 

My Baseball Mom

 

 

She cleans out stains

 

AND fixes your pains

 

 

 

She cheers for a bomb

 

Everyone loves a baseball mom

 

 

 

She throws soft toss

 

Because She’s the boss

 

 

 

She can always find your cup

 

Because she knows what’s up

 

 

 

She can still even play

 

A baseball mom, YES WAY

 

 

 

You think your mom is better

 

But does she know a table setter

 

 

 

She’ll find your every lost sock

 

And knows the ump’s calls are a crock

 

 

 

She shows up all men

 

A baseball mom is a ten

 

 

 

When you’re in a horrid slump

 

They give you a perfect bump

 

 

 

A baseball mom knows the way

 

What else can you even say

 

 

 

She can calculate an average

 

While drinking her beverage

 

 

 

Have you ever seen her swing

 

A baseball mom is the king

 

 

 

Yes, a king, not a queen is what I say

 

Plays like one every day

 

 

 

She can mend a glove

 

What’s not to love

 

 

 

In the dugout she wants a kiss

 

This is someone you never diss

 

 

 

I love my baseball mom

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Bleacher Boy at #BrewersOnDeck


-David S.-

On Sunday I will be attending the annual Brewers fan festival, Brewers On Deck!  If you would like to meet me please come and find me! Contact me through Twitter, @BleacherBoy10.  I will be wearing my Bleacher Boy jersey.  Looking forward to seeing you!???????????????????????????????

Flashback Friday: Where It All Started


-David S.-
Flashback to my first year playing baseball! Shoutout to Mr. Eric Christensen for being my first coach and fueling my passion for baseball!2015/01/img_4280.jpg

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