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Waiting for the Weekend: MLB Is Trying to Force the Orioles Out Of Baltimore 0

Posted on July 15, 2017 by Dean Hybl
There are a lot more empty seats for a Saturday afternoon Orioles game than there used to be.

There are a lot more empty seats for a Saturday afternoon Orioles game than there used to be.

I used to think that the New York Yankees were the greatest enemy of my favorite team the Baltimore Orioles. However, it is now becoming abundantly clear that the greatest threats to the future of the Orioles is not a division rival, but instead the evil duo of the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball.

While it may take another decade or two to come to fruition, it now seems abundantly clear that the goal of the Nationals and Major League Baseball is to force the Orioles out of the city they have called home since 1954 (during which time three different franchises have called Washington home).

Considering that for 50 years the Orioles were one of the model franchises of the league, the fall from grace is quite surprising and disappointing.

It all started when Major League Baseball seized ownership of the Montreal Expos and in 2005 moved the team to Washington, DC.

At that time, Baltimore owner Peter Angelos fought the effort to move the team fearing that it would negatively impact the Orioles television revenue and fan base since Northern Virginia and Washington had long been an important part of the fan base for the Orioles, but while he could not stop the move, he did get some short-term financial concessions.

The Orioles received majority ownership of the MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) network and were given the rights to broadcast Nationals games at a discount from 2005 through 2011. While this was a short-term win for the Orioles, it seemed to have created resentment from both the Nationals and MLB.

When the initial broadcast compensation agreement ended in 2012, the Orioles were looking to secure future rights at a rate of $34 million per year, but the Nationals and MLB wanted closer to $100 million. Eventually, an arbitration panel made up of executives from other franchises said the value was as much as $66 million. The Orioles appealed the ruling saying the rate should be decided by a group not selected by MLB. The case was in the courts for several years before the ruling came back this week saying that MLB had the right to select the arbitrators.

So, in the five years that this issue has been festering, it appears that MLB and the Nationals have decided that they don’t just want more money from the Orioles TV network, they eventually want the Orioles out of the market. Read the rest of this entry →

Sudden Sam McDowell 0

Posted on July 04, 2017 by Dean Hybl
sam_mcdowell_1965

Sudden Sam McDowell

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a hard-throwing lefthander who often led Major League Baseball in both strikeouts and walks. His off-the-field story also made him the prototype for a famed television character.

Sudden Sam McDowell made his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians a week before his 19th birthday and pitched in the majors for 15 seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

Flash and Burn – Rookie of the Year Doesn’t Guarantee Long-term Greatness 0

Posted on June 18, 2017 by Dean Hybl

 

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was a baseball phenomenon in 1976.

Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was a baseball phenomenon in 1976.

The recent Major League Baseball Draft has brought a new crop of prospects vying to one day secure major league stardom. It is likely that a significant number of players selected in the draft will reach the majors, but even if they achieve short-term success, forging a long and successful career is much harder.

Many players who burst onto the scene as rookies have struggled to maintain that success over the long-term. Below is a look at some former Rookie of the Year winners whose careers soon flamed out.

Earl Williams – 1971 NL Rookie of the Year: At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Earl Williams was a powerfully built versatile player who was primarily a third baseman when he came up with the Atlanta Braves late in the 1970 season. After hitting .368 in 10 games in 1970, Williams earned a starting position for 1971. He began the season at third base, but despite having never played catcher in the minors was soon planted behind the plate and caught 71 games out of the 145 he played as a rookie, On a team with all-time slugger Hank Aaron, Williams proved to be another valuable weapon as he finished second on the squad with 33 home runs and 87 RBI while hitting .260. Playing primarily behind the plate the next season, Williams again had strong offensive numbers with 28 home runs and 87 RBI. However, after striking out only 80 times as a rookie, he whiffed 118 times in 1972. The Braves traded him to Baltimore in the offseason for second baseman Davey Johnson and several other players. He gave Baltimore much needed offensive pop in 1973 with 22 home runs and 83 RBI. His power numbers started to decline in 1974 as he hit only 14 home runs with 52 RBI. He was traded back to Atlanta after the season and spent a year and a half with the Braves before finishing the 1976 season in Montreal. After being released by the Expos, he hit 13 home runs with 38 RBI for the Oakland A’s in 1977. That proved to be the end of the line for Williams, who finished his career with 138 home runs, 457 RBI and a career batting average of .247. He passed away from Leukemia in 2013.

Mark “The Bird” Fidrych – 1976 AL Rookie of the Year: Few players have enjoyed the meteoric rise or quick fall of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. Earning a spot on the Detroit Tigers roster as a rookie in 1976, Fidrych made only two relief appearances during the first month of the season. However, in his first major league start on May 15th, he allowed the Indians only two hits and one run in a 2-1 complete game victory and the legend of “The Bird” had begun. With his curly hair and lanky body, Fidrych quickly was dubbed “The Bird” in reference to Sesame Street character Big Bird. He also entertained the crowd with his many mannerisms, including grooming the mound and talking to the baseball. Though he lost a 2-0 decision to Boston in his next start, Fidrych rebounded to win his next eight starts, with seven complete games, including back-to-back 11 inning performances. He took his act national on June 28th when more than 32 million people watched on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball as he defeated the New York Yankees 5-1. After losing a 1-0 decision to Kansas City on July 9th, Fidrych entered the All-Star game with a 9-2 record and 1.78 ERA and was named the American League starter for the All-Star Game. For the season, Fidrych completed 24 of 29 starts (five of which went extra innings) and had a 19-9 record and 2.34 ERA in 250 innings. He won the Rookie of the Year Award and finished second in the Cy Young voting. Fidrych suffered a knee injury while fooling around in the outfield in spring training before the 1977 season. However, he appeared fine after his return as he posted a 6-4 record with a 2.89 ERA, but suffered a shoulder injury (later diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff) that proved to be the beginning of the end of his career. He would make only 19 starts for the Tigers over the next three seasons with a 4-6 record. The Massachusetts native tried to make a comeback with the Boston Red Sox, but eventually retired after pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Fidrych died on April 13, 2009 after an accident on his farm.   Read the rest of this entry →

Welcome to the 600 Club Albert Pujols 0

Posted on June 04, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Albert Pujols became the 9th player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs with a blast against the Twins on June 3rd.

Albert Pujols became the 9th player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs with a blast against the Twins on June 3rd.

While reaching a milestone home run number is not as earthshaking news in the world of Major League Baseball as it once was, that does little to negate the impressive achievement of longtime slugger Albert Pujols. With a grand slam home run Saturday night, he became just the ninth player in major league history to reach 600 career home runs.

When Pujols first joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001, Major League Baseball’s 600 home run club consisted of three members in Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660) and had not added a new member in 30 years.

For multiple reasons that have been well chronicled, home run production has escalated in the last two decades and thus the number of players accumulating large career totals has also risen.

Beginning with Barry Bonds in 2002 and now including Pujols, six players have reached 600 home runs in the last 15 years. Bonds, who hit 509 home runs after turning 30 years old and 340 after turning 35, finished with a modern era record of 762. Alex Rodriguez completed his career with 696, Ken Griffey with 630, Jim Thome with 612 and Sammy Sosa with 609.

What is somewhat different for Pujols than the other five recent players is that he has reached the total through a long period of consistent numbers, without having one or two huge (50+) home run seasons.

During his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, which included two World Series titles, Pujols finished in the top five in the MVP voting 10 times (three MVP Awards and ninth the other year) and hit at least 32 home runs every year with six seasons above 40 and a high of 49. He also had a .328 batting average for the Cardinals and drove home more than 100 runs 10 times. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Basic Tips for Little League Practice Drills 1

Posted on June 01, 2017 by David Morgan

baseball-tips-1The basic little league practice drills are taught with a great focus on fundamental aspects of baseball training. The most encouraging thing about baseball is that by implementing these basic practice drills into your training regime at any age will assist in creating exceptional baseball players. Practicing these basic practice drills on a regular basis will result in great learning and performance of the game of baseball.

It is greatly important to use baseball drills as fun games and competitions, especially with younger players, to make it highly enjoyable. Children love some good competition and will enjoy drills thoroughly if they have a fun and competitive element. Competition will also encourage players to learn the skills needed for the game to improve and ultimately win these ‘mini’ competitions.

Additionally, it is vital that you know all of the little league rules, regulations and policies, in order to be an effective little league coach. In order to be a little league coach for children, it is essential to know all of the current rules and policies. Being up to date on the latest rule will aid your coaching abilities and ensure your players become world-class little league players.

Children are unique to train, so here are some general thoughts that can help your training sessions:

  • Use training stations. For effective training with children, implement stations and group the children into groups of 4 or 5 children each. This is great to reduce idle time when one child is on the pitch. Engaging the children and letting them move around from one stations to the next will ensure they have fun while training to be a great baseball player.
  • Get an assistant coach. Assistant coaches play an important role in training children. It may be difficult for a coach to conduct all training drills on their own and require the help of an assistant. It is highly recommended that you appoint an assistant coach to help you train a world-class team.

Five basic tips for little league practice drills

Drill Tip 1: Fielding on the Knees

Learning to field a ground ball can be done quite automatically at a point player bends to kneel on the ground. Firstly, the kneeling position allows the player to keep their hands out in front. A common problem for children learning to play baseball, is missing the ball when trying to field it deep inside with their open feet. A player should field a ground ball using their hands and keeping them out in a front direction. This allows the player to easily keep an eye on the ball that reaches their glove.

Additionally, this drill teaches players how to read hops better, as well as when to change from the forehand and backhand positions. It is important to teach young players that a fundamental practice in baseball is to have their glove out in front. Read the rest of this entry →

Paul Blair: Defensive Whiz 0

Posted on May 30, 2017 by Dean Hybl

Blair-OriolesMore than 40 years before current stalwart Adam Jones first patrolled centerfield for the Baltimore Orioles, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month roamed the field with grace while also providing the Orioles with timely hitting for more than a decade.

On a team that built its strength through pitching and defense, Paul Blair fit perfectly. He is one of seven members of the Orioles from that era who won at least three Gold Gloves and is tied with Mark Belanger for the second most in team history. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Sudden Sam McDowell
      July 4, 2017 | 8:48 pm
      sam_mcdowell_1965

      Sudden Sam McDowell

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a hard-throwing lefthander who often led Major League Baseball in both strikeouts and walks. His off-the-field story also made him the prototype for a famed television character.

      Sudden Sam McDowell made his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians a week before his 19th birthday and pitched in the majors for 15 seasons.

      Read more »

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