How David Ortiz became one of the greatest hitters of a generation

photo by Parker Harrington

photo by Parker Harrington

Life in the minor leagues is far from glamorous- long bus rides, shoddy hotels, sparse crowds and Podunk towns are just a few of the vast differences between baseball “down on the farm” and in the Major Leagues. But one of the great things about the minors is that quite often, you get the chance to simply sit back and appreciate our national pastime and those who play it. Continue reading

@CoachYourKids… How to Learn from Watching

written by Darren Fenster Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC (@CoachYourKids)

written by Darren Fenster
Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox | Founder/CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC

This past off-season, the San Diego Padres named Andy Green their new manager.  To those outside of the baseball fraternity, and probably to many a part of it, the collective reaction brought more of a, “who?” than it did a, “WOW!”

Shortly after being named manager, Green conducted an interview with MLB Network’s Al Leiter, and said to him, “I sure do remember you, Al… but I doubt you remember me.  Most don’t remember the .200 hitters.”

And most .200 hitters don’t get a ton of playing time.  So their view of the game more often comes from the dugout bench than it does the batter’s box, as was the case with Green, whose primary position is listed as ‘pinch hitter’ on his baseball reference page.

By all means, Andy Green was qualified to become a Major League manager, having spent three years as a minor league skipper in the Diamondbacks system before a season as third base coach in Arizona, where he was widely praised for the work he did on the defensive side of things.  As a player, he spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues with the Diamondbacks and Mets, as part of a ten-year playing career- most of which was spent in the minor leagues- in addition to one year with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. Spanning 140 career games spanning four seasons in the Major Leagues, Andy Green was a .200 hitter.  As is often the case with many coaches in our game, he did not enjoy a star-studded career as a Major League player.

Andy Green (AP photo)

Andy Green (AP photo)

Continue reading

Brian Doyle: an extended baseball family

Interview by Keith Madison

Brian Doyle has had an impactful and influential baseball career. He is best known for leading the Yankees with a .438 batting average in the 1978 World Series. His older brother Denny played in the Major Leagues with the Phillies, Angels and Red Sox. His twin brother Blake is currently the major league hitting coach with the Colorado Rockies. The three of them together were innovators in starting the Doyle Baseball School in 1978. The school has trained over 500,000 players and 300,000 coaches to date. The Doyle brothers were also pioneers in showcases (Doyle Bonanza) and coaches certification. Having competed against Brian in little league, high school and in the minor leagues, I thought it would be fun to talk baseball with him once again.

In an era prior to camps, showcases and travel ball, how did a young Brian Doyle develop his passion and skill for baseball?

Our father, Robert, was a very good amateur basketball and baseball player. He spent a lot of time in the backyard throwing, playing pepper and catching ground balls to us. When Blake, my identical twin, and I were in the 7th grade, Denny, my older brother, was in the Major Leagues with the Phillies. In a small, rural Kentucky town there was only one thing that occupied our time and that was sports. We played all sports, but baseball was the game that seemed to come naturally.

doyleYou come from a well known “baseball family.” How did your father and brothers impact your passion for the game and help you develop your skills?

Having a big brother eleven years older was a huge factor. Denny would come home from pro-ball to teach Dad and us. Dad would quickly make coaching adjustments. He was a good coach who knew “the only way to get better is to get smarter.” I was impacted at a very young age with that principle. So my skill level got better each year. The passion for the game comes from the desire to become better. Continue reading

Balance

article by Publisher Keith Madison

article by Publisher Keith Madison

Both athletes and coaches take what they do very seriously. Sometimes a slump, losing streak or even winning can become all-consuming. For many people in all levels of baseball, faith is the focal point and helps these ultra competitive individuals keep balance in their lives. If eyes are taken off the mark, families, careers and even personal health may suffer.

Recently, I was able to reach out to several baseball men to see if there is a special verse from the Bible that helps them maintain focus and a healthy outlook during the season. They all love to compete and they are all winners, but they also understand what it means to “keep the main thing the main thing.”

Manny Cervantes, Head Baseball Coach, Asbury University

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Manny feels these verses have been a great encouragement because they summarize what his mission needs to be each day. “I will please God if I pursue honoring Him in whatever He has me doing; whether I’m talking to one of my current players or a recruit, coaching in a game, or coming home to my wife and kids after a tough loss. I’m learning that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but rather that I pursue pleasing Him every day by loving Him and loving others. This is easier said than done, but it’s the only way to find true satisfaction in life.” Continue reading

Love the game more… by playing it less

by Darren Fenster Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox | Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC @CoachYourKids CoachingYourKids@gmail.com

by Darren Fenster
Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox
Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC
@CoachYourKids
CoachingYourKids@gmail.com

Major Leaguers have always been the poster example. Their every move is followed, from how they swing the bat or throw a ball, to how they wear their uniform or walk up to the plate. This all makes sense, as they are at a level of the game that amateur players dream to one day reach. While each action on the field is mimicked to a tee, it’s off the field where today’s amateur players need to take note.

Our game has changed. Over the past ten years or so, sport specialization and the explosion of travel organizations and exposure events has completely altered the way amateur baseball is approached. Between camps, clinics, lessons, showcases, travel teams and their accompanying training programs, never before have there been so many opportunities for players to play and hone their craft. Those opportunities have enabled them to play more and develop faster than they ever have in the past, which is a very good thing. But with more opportunities to stay on the diamond, there are some very concerning drawbacks that can take away from what could be done off of the field.

The 162-game Major League regular season ends roughly on October 1. Another 30 games in spring training plus 10 to 20 more in the post-season results in some big leaguers being a part of more than 200 games over an eight month period. That kind of activity takes its toll physically and mentally, and forces the vast majority of the league’s players to not even think about picking up a bat or ball for at least two months or more in the off-season. They give their bodies and minds a much-deserved and much-needed break from the game before getting ready for the next season at some point in December or January. Professional players understand the value of rest and the role that it plays in allowing them to stay healthy and refreshed when they finally do decide to put the spikes back on.

In creating all of these relatively newfound opportunities to play and train essentially nonstop, a vitally important aspect of player development is being lost: NOT playing. Getting away from the game keeps guys enthused about starting back up, while allowing achy elbows and shoulders to recover and get back to full strength naturally. Think about it… if those Major Leaguers who are best conditioned to play the game year round, then how can anyone in amateur baseball justify working at their game without a prolonged break? Continue reading