God

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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Living Strong


-David Strobach-

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

 

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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

 

Jose Reyes Gets A Second Chance With The Mets


Kathy Willens/AP Photo

 

-David Strobach-

The New York Mets have signed free agent shortstop, Jose Reyes, to a minor league deal after clearing waivers with the Rockies to reunite the two parties.  Jose Reyes was a star for the  Mets from 2003-2011 and left for a $106 million contract spanning 6 years with the Marlins.  He was then traded to the Blue Jays, then the Rockies acquired him in the Troy Tulowitzki deal.    Reyes was suspended without pay (lost $6.25 million) through May 31 for his domestic violence incident last October where he grabbed his wife by the throat and pushed her into a glass door while in Hawaii.  He was arrested, but after his wife was uncooperative with the prosecution, the charges were later dropped.   Even though he was never formally charged, he still violated the MLB domestic abuse policy which led to his suspension. The Mets GM Sandy Alderson feels Jose has learned from his mistake, served his punishment, and deserves a second chance saying:

 

“I did meet with Jose personally. We talked for about an hour. Obviously, this domestic abuse issue was the focal point of that conversation. I came away feeling that he had taken responsibility for this mistake on his part, that he was remorseful. He obviously has paid a penalty for this, both financially and in terms of his career. He, I believe, is committed to ongoing counseling and support of organizations working against domestic abuse. And obviously, in addition to this personal meeting, we had a lot of internal conversations. [Chief operating officer] Jeff Wilpon was directly involved in this every step of the way. We were aware of the possible controversy this would generate. We’re also fully aware of the responsibility we sort of have to be leaders in this area of fighting domestic abuse.”  Sandy also said, “At the same time, Jose was a member of the Mets organization for 12 years. He was signed at 16 years of age. He was a solid citizen during all of that time. And so, if you think of it in those terms, us as a place where Jose grew up, almost as a surrogate family, we felt that he deserved a second chance, and that second chance was most appropriate with us.”

Also saying:

“We fully understand there will be differences of opinion about this. Some people will feel strongly and differently. I think we accept that. We respect that. All I can say is both Jose and the organization will be held to a standard going forward that recognizes the seriousness of domestic abuse and a commitment to stand against it.”

Reyes expressed regret for his actions and is looking forward to future saying below:

“As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family. I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York.”

Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger

The Mets are hoping this second chance for their former star helps a line up desperately looking for a boost as well as add depth.  He will spend around a week in the minors to recalibrate his skills before joining the MLB roster.  The Rockies are responsible for the $39 million he’s owed and the Mets only have to pay him the league minimum of $507,50.  This is a great low-risk, high-reward opportunity for New York.  His role will not be as shortstop with the Mets as Asdrubal Cabrera blocks him there.  He will be playing 3rd and even work in the outfield.  Reyes should be slotted into the leadoff spot to boost the Mets order.  He will also bring a much needed speed to a team barren of it.  It is unfair for anyone to expect his 2011 batting title days coming back as Alderson said on his expectations:

“Do we expect him to win the National League battle title this year the way he did in 2011? No. Has he lost a step – maybe? Is he the premier shortstop that he once was? It doesn’t really matter — he’s not going to play shortstop. So we’ve taken all of those things into account. We think he can help us. You know, from a motivational standpoint, I don’t think we would be able to find a player who is more determined, more highly motivated to perform than Jose is today.”

I personally used to be a fan of Reyes, but lost all respect for him after his altercation with his wife.  With the statements from Alderson, it seems that the Mets have and are continuing to handle the situation well.  It is great to see the MLB as a whole handling domestic violence seriously.   I hope Reyes has truly learned from his mistake.  Based on the statements, both parties feel that he has.  It is good to see that his counselling will continue while in New York.  Even though I will never look at him the same like many others and rightfully so, I wish the best for him and his family and hope he grows from this experience.  You can spend your life working hard, building up your reputation, and respect, doing great things – but it only takes one regrettable act to have it all come crashing down.  Any man that hurts his wife is not a man at all. However, I do believe in second chances.

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Who is the True “Hit King,” Rose or Ichiro?


-David Strobach-

Ichiro Suzuki lined a double off San Diego Padres pitcher  Fernando Rodney for his 4,257th hit of his baseball career from Japan and Major League Baseball which combined passed Pete Rose for all-time hits.  In Japan Ichiro had 1,278 hits and 2,979 MLB hits.  Many people are crowning Ichiro the “Hit King” which is spurring much debate, is Ichiro the true “Hit King,” or is it Charlie Hustle?

 

Ichiro right away was his respectable humble self saying, “For me, it’s not about the record, it’s about my teammates and the fans.”  He has always been a such a humble and great man.  He did not claim himself as “Hit King” or boast about it in any way.

Ichiro’s iconic at-bat routine will forever be remembered- Nick Wass/Associated Press

Pete Rose made his opinion known to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale saying,

“It sounds like in Japan they’re trying to make me the Hit Queen. I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro, he’s had a Hall of Fame career, but the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits. I don’t think you’re going to find anybody with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to Major League Baseball. There are too many guys that fail here, and then become household names there, like Tuffy Rhodes. How can he not do anything here, and hit (a record-tying) 55 home runs (in 2001) over there? It has something to do with the caliber of personnel.”

As much as this pains me to say it, I agree with Pete Rose.  All of Ichiro’s hits in Japan shouldn’t be in consideration when talking about MLB records.  It is incredible that Ichiro has hit that much in his career and even more incredible that he is approaching 3,000 MLB hits after coming into the Majors as 27 year-old.  Pete Rose, however, should still be considered MLB’s “Hit King” because he hit all 4,256 of them in the MLB.  He really does have a strong point that I agree with concerning the type of play here and in Japan.  The talent is simply better here and they are completely different leagues.  There’s reason tons of Japan players dreams are to play in the MLB.   Only MLB stats should be in consideration when talking about MLB records.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Ichiro deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and should be considered to be one of the greatest hitters the world has ever seen.  Not only has he been one of the greatest, but Ichiro is an international icon.  Many around the world will recognize the name Ichiro.   He plays with all his heart and has made great contributions to the MLB.  I am not trying to take anything away from his stellar career, but unfortunately, the one and only Charlie Hustle deserves the title, “Hit King,” not Ichiro.

Let’s all enjoy the major milestones of future Hall of Famer:

 

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The Revelation of Jonathan Villar


-David Strobach-

Brewers shortstop, Jonathan Villar, has been nothing short of a revelation.   He was supposed to be just a gap shortstop until top prospect, SS Orlando Arcia, made his way up.  He was acquired this past off-season from the Astros in exchange for minor league RHP Cy Sneed.  Jonathan Villar has been a stud for the Brew Crew this year. Why is no one talking about him?  Let’s see just how good Villar has been.

Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

Villar, only 25 years old, is slashing .296/.387/.426 with an OPS of .813, 5 home runs, and a league leading 23 stolen bases.  Jonathan has exceptional on-base skills with his .387 OBP.  As soon as he gets on first, it’s almost a sure bet he’ll be swiping second.  Villar has been hitting around .300 all year and it is far enough into the season to say he is no fluke.  He’s challenging pitchers with every aspect of his game.  His most underrated tool is his defense.  Defensively, Villar makes the plays and is always smooth at short.

FanGraphs states in their post on Villar: “Villar is on pace to hit 13 home runs, steal 60 bases, and bat .292. That’s 2014 Jose Altuve, but more power and less batting average.” That’s a pretty darn good way to look at how well he has been performing.  Mentioning Jose Altuve‘s name in the same sentence as Villar’s shows what kind of player he has been.  If you would like a more advanced breakdown on his success, I encourage you to read FanGraphs work.

From a fantasy perspective, ESPN fantasy baseball has him ranked as the seventh player in all!  Pretty amazing for a huy that was only supposed to be “gap player.”

Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

What makes Villar even more valuable is that not only is he playing All-Star caliber baseball, he’s young (25) and controllable (Brewers control through 2020).  David Stearns, Brewers GM, has said time and time again how his main goal is to find young controllable talent and he has found quite a hidden gem in Jonathan.  Villar should be a valuable core in the Brewers rebuild by moving positions (probably 3rd) when Arcia comes to take his spot. Let’s all applaud David Stearns for this fantastic find.

 

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Run or Slide to 1st? The Science Behind It


-David Strobach-

In many games this year, runners have been sliding to first on very close plays.  Every time the announcer is heard stating that it’s actually faster to not slide.  This sliding/diving into first has been occurring noticeably more to me this year, so I decided to research it.  Let’s see what the truth is in this scientific breakdown done by ESPN’s Sport Science to see if sliding or running is faster.

Moral of the story after watching the science, always make sure to run through first!

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My Baseball Mom


-David Strobach-

Here’s a poem I wrote for my amazing 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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