So, as I wrote yesterday, my brother Scott became a regular attendee at Dean Smith’s practices in the early 90s. Since I worked in the Sports Information Office, I’d been privy to a few practices, and was keenly aware of Coach Smith’s meticulously choreographed sessions. I’d told Scott and he wanted to see for himself because, as he says, “There’s a connection between all sports.” What he witnessed was down-to-the-minute schedules, where student managers ran the clock, where balls were racked and quickly positioned for the next drill. The horn would sound, instructions were relayed, and it was on to the next thing. Statistics were kept in practice. Not so much points, but things like charges drawn, loose balls recovered, successful box-outs, as well as fundamental errors. My brother hasn’t taken it to that extreme in baseball, but I know he’s tried to make efficiency one of his coaching hallmarks.
Monday, February 9, 2015
The end of pro baseball was nearing for my brother Scott, so he decided he was going back to Chapel Hill to get his degree. He wrote a letter to Dean Smith. Paraphrasing, Scott wrote: “I played baseball at UNC and I’ve played pro ball for the last 10-11 years. I’m coming back to graduate and I want to be a coach someday. Can I come to watch some of your practices?” Carolina practices were closed to the public. Scott quickly got a letter back from Coach Smith, telling him, “I remember you and followed your career. Your name is going on a list. Come anytime.” Scott became a regular attendee. Years later Scott became the coach at Princeton. He never told Coach Smith, but one day there was a knock on his office door. The Heels were playing at Jadwin that night. Coach Smith was there, just checking in.
Monday, February 2, 2015
When I covered the Yankees from 1992-95, captain Don Mattingly refused to talk about his swing. He’d talk about anything else. But ask him, when he was going good or bad, to discuss his swing and he’d say, “I’m not going to talk about that.” Privately, he once said to me, “I’ve learned that it doesn’t do me any good.” I understood, which is why I think Tiger Woods now has to follow the lead of Donnie Baseball and stop talking about his swing. Ever since he started losing his grip on the game, it’s been one take after another on what he’s tweaking, why he’s changing, etc. Stop talking about your swing, Tiger. Better yet, stop focusing on your swing and focus only on the numbers you’re putting up. Get back to grinding, competing, scoring. And for God’s sake, stop telling everyone you’re close! The score’s all that matters.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
|Teammates, friends for life.|
Every day, it seems, I read another story on all that’s wrong in youth sports. We are pushing our kids too hard! Let them have fun! I could go on and on, but I’d use up the entire buck-fifty. So, I’ll cut to the chase. What’s right for me, might be wrong for you. What’s right for you, might be wrong for me. I played sports like my life depended on it, from the age of 10-19. Agonized over bad days, lost sleep worrying about the next game. Big deal! Today, in large part because of all I poured into trying to be a good athlete (I was NOT a good athlete), I have life long friends who don’t remember if I booted a groundball to cost our team a game, or delivered a game-winning hit. What they do remember is that we gave everything we had for each other.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Sometimes I think if you only knew. If you only knew about the former players who’ve told me he changed their lives, inspired them to be better players, better people, to stop drinking or doing drugs. If you only knew about the texts that come, often from players who barely speak English, to thank him, because they just got called up to their national team for the first time, or because his words, which maybe didn’t make sense when he coached them, now make perfect sense. If you only knew that coaching is so much more than putting on a nice suit on the sidelines on game day and looking the part. That coaching is time spent preparing to speak to players, because you know every word counts, every word has the potential to inspire or deflate. If you only knew him like I know him… But no, that’s impossible.
Friday, January 23, 2015
By Bob Bradley
I've not said one word about the Hall of Fame, so today I'll offer up a few with a guest appearance on my brother’s #BuckFiftyADay blog, starting things off with two names. Walter and Manfred. You see, long before my journey took me through places like Cairo and Oslo this ride began in my VW Rabbit, which I'd drive from Princeton to Union where I'd jump into Manfred Schellscheidt's Rabbit and make the four-hour trip to State College with a Union Lancer team or Region I team, or a pickup team, for a game at Penn State. Walter Bahr's Penn State. Manfred always made sure we'd spend a few hours at the Bahr home where we'd be welcomed by Walter's beautiful wife Davies. Sitting in the living room, a young coach had the amazing opportunity to listen to two great men discuss experiences, challenges, ideas and wishes for our game. Doing it with intelligence, humor and humility. I'll never forget their wisdom. I hope those two Hall of Famers know how much it meant to me. Congratulations also to Kristine Lilly and Brian McBride on your induction.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
I’ve never read a book on fatherhood or parenthood, I guess, because I find it hard to believe that there’s a book worth reading. A book on fatherhood would have to be written in pencil and you’d need plenty of erasers on hand. Or, it would have to be written on a Word document, so you could continually make changes. What I did right today may not work tomorrow. Words that didn’t get through last week suddenly registered today, but will probably evaporate soon. Sometimes yelling works. But yelling too much becomes a din. Sometimes a quiet mentoring session resonates. Sometimes you see your son glancing at his phone. I’ve been at this for 18 years and every day is a new test, a new challenge. The only thing I could write that would hold up is this. I love every single minute of it, even on the worst days.