And so this makes two consecutive Opening Days where I have absolutely nothing to do with Major League Baseball. Before last year, I’d worked in and around the game from 1989-2012, with my only interruption being ‘96 and ‘97 when I took a couple of years off. In some ways I miss the game, but in other ways I don’t. I always loved being around the players, on the field during batting practice, observing their rituals and regimens. And I liked writing about the game’s nuances. What I don’t miss is critiquing players on a daily basis, I guess, because I know all too well how difficult the game is, and I know asking them to talk about what has just happened goes against the grain of what players must truly practice, which is always looking ahead to the next pitch, the next play, the next game, the next series.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Is something wrong with me? I cannot watch the Dick’s Sporting Goods “Sports Matter” ads without getting tears in my eyes. It’s not a new phenomenon. I get misty during sports movies all the time. The Rookie. Remember the Titans. Of course, Field of Dreams. “Wanna have a catch?” But these Dick’s ads, wow. They touch a chord because I’ve spent so much of my life trying to explain to people why sports matter. When people stand up at board of education meetings and say things like, “Shouldn’t we improve the science labs before we worry about the baseball field?” I think, well, sure, but sports matter. When I try to explain to people that I don’t want a job that will keep me away from my sons’ games, I try to explain, sports matter. Most people don’t seen to get it. So I ask, “Is something wrong with me?”
Monday, March 24, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Monday, March 17, 2014
Facebook suddenly turned into the party where Mom comes downstairs into the basement and asks a bunch of teenagers, “Want warm brownies?” The world of social media moves fast and it’s hard to tell what comes of it. I’ve been trying to build a following on Twitter and Instagram for Leather Head baseball gloves lately, and it’s been fun. But my 17-year old has told me I’m overdoing it. “One Instagram a day, Dad. You’re starting to become obnoxious.” I guess we have to rely on the youth to keep us informed on what’s cool and what’s uncool, even if we’re not gonna hang out together. Whatever. More brownies for me.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
As a writer covering Major League Baseball for 25 years, I had no choice but to incorporate statistics into my work. Fans crave statistics. Players earn big paychecks based on statistics. But now, as I’m around high school players who are trying to improve, I am preaching for them to ignore their stats. Why? Because, statistical goals are stupid and out of a player’s control The only goal every high school player should have is to win the next pitch. As a hitter, see the next pitch. As a pitcher, execute the next pitch to the best of your ability. As a fielder, make sure on the next pitch, you’re ready to snag a bullet. They say baseball is a "game of failure.” Not really. By setting out to win the next pitch - treating each pitch as a brand new game - players will succeed more than they fail.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
Michael Bradley is my nephew. Clint Dempsey is not. So Saturday at 4:30, I will be rooting for my nephew and Toronto FC when they take on the Seattle Sounders, but also hoping Clint puts on a helluva show. I’ve heard the stick they’ve taken from fans (fans are allowed to be fans) for coming to MLS. Those who say they’ve lost ambition. Bull. Wanting the ball at your feet, in Michael’s case. Wanting to be counted on to score goals, in Clint’s case. Wanting the weight of your team and its supporters on your shoulders, is ambitious. Clint went to England at the age of 23, stayed there for six seasons. Set a new standard for American attacking players abroad. Michael went to Europe at 18, played in five countries, for 10 coaches, over eight seasons, and never stopped trying to prove himself. Saturday begins a new chapter.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
There's a new book out called "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma," written by former Sports Illustrated writer and editor Kostya Kennedy. All I've seen to this point is the excerpt, from which I gather Kennedy and I are on the same page regarding Rose. A lot of Rose supporters use the defense that he never bet on the Reds to lose. Kennedy thankfully realizes that managing a MLB team is about more than trying to win one game at a time. Today's moves influence tomorrow's game. So unless someone can prove Rose bet exactly the same amount of money every day on the Reds to win, color me as one who remains un-swayed by the argument that he never bet on his team to lose. I do not believe Rose should be reinstated. As with all matters related to Cooperstown, I trust that in the hands of the Baseball Writers.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Today, I'm going to write about the baseball glove business. It is a love story. A year ago, Paul Cunningham and I saw our first Leather Head glove prototypes. We liked, did not love them. We tweaked them. We secured Jon Contino to handle our branding. We launched. Every day we learn. All the time we know that gloves are personal. We answer a lot of questions from people who want information, but have no interest in purchasing a glove. We get a lot of requests from players (and a lot of kids) who tell us, "If you give me a glove, I'll promote it for you." We'd love to find a major league player willing to try our glove, but we don't really want to pay him to wear the glove. We want him to put our glove on his hand and, well, become part of the love story.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
A couple of my best friends were among the men who created Rotisserie League Baseball back in the early 80s. Long story short, they never cashed in on their invention and what’s now known as “fantasy” sports is said to be a $4 billion business in the U.S. To be honest, I don’t know anything about fantasy sports. It would be fair to call me a “hater.” While I know not every fantasy player claims to be an expert when it comes to sports reality, enough of them have rubbed me the wrong way to help me form a strong opinion. That said, today I have officially entered the fray, having entered a Major League Soccer fantasy league that kicks off at 3 p.m. I’m sure I don’t have the passion necessary to excel at a game based on number-crunching, but I’m in. I’m calling myself the 50-year old virgin.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it 1,000 times. “You’ve got to re-invent yourself.” And so I’m trying, though I’m convinced it’s just a sales pitch. It’s not that I don’t realize times have changed, and many of us who once earned a living as journalists, are now being forced into different roles. It’s just that I don’t think enough people realize that we journalists spend most days re-inventing ourselves. It’s part of the job. Here’s a subject and here’s a deadline. Acquaint yourself with it and write confidently about it in the next hour. Every day is a new class complete with research, analysis, fact-finding, and then communicating. I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone lately, trying to explain to people why I’m equipped to do a job that’s not on my resume. They say, “So you’re trying to re-invent yourself.” And I say, “Always.”
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
I wonder how many others there are, out there like me? How many others ashamed to admit they've kept a secret? Afraid to admit that, for a long time, they were homophobic? I don't even know if "homophobic" is the right word, honestly. "Dumbass" is more like it. Good news is I believe I'm a changed man. At least, less ignorant. Because, as more gay people have stepped out and told me who they are, I've learned that I've had gay friends even when I didn't know it. That I've gotten incredible advice from gay co-workers. That, while I've had bad experiences with gay people, I've had far more bad experiences with straight people, which means their sexuality had nothing to do with it. So, I’m ashamed of my past – and embarrassed – but want to thank those who've come out and slapped a little sense into this dumbass.
Monday, March 3, 2014
On my brother Bob's 56th birthday I will write 150 words about what it's like to be his little brother. No one believes me, but I was just as nervous when his Princeton teams played as when his Fire, MetroStars, Chivas, U.S. and Egypt teams played. I can remember, in the early 90s, stopping in the middle of games I was covering to call the Princeton hotline for scores. The feeling of relief when they'd slipped past Cornell or Hartwick. The feeling of despair when they lost. Sometimes I hate being his brother. Like when nut jobs assaulted me on Twitter after the U.S. lost to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup. But on the rare occasions in the last 32 years when he hasn't had a team to coach, I've always felt a void. He loves to coach. I love to be the brother of a coach. Happy Birthday.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Happy Birthday, a day late. It was an honor to stand and cheer for the teams you coached. An honor to be a student at the school you represented so proudly. Even though I was never allowed inside a huddle or a team meeting, you were my coach. As you taught your players to respect each other and to respect the opponents, you coached those same ideals into everyone at Carolina. Sure, it may have been frustrating to not wave our arms and jump up and down when opponents shot free throws at Carmichael, because everyone else was doing it. But you didn't care what everyone else was doing. You coached us exactly the way you coached your players. And looking back now, and seeing how things have changed in sports and society in general, I want to tell you how grateful I am to have been coached by you.