What Makes Baseball The “Mental Game”


-David Strobach-

 

Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,” to explain how valuable the mental side of the game is.  What makes baseball the “mental game?”

There’s a nice amount of time in between each pitch whether you are hitting or fielding.  When you are fielding, you can think about what you’ll do with the ball if it’s hit at you.  Then, when the ball is hit, the reaction has to be within a split second.  If you make an error in those few seconds– everyone knows you’re the one who screwed up.  Baseball isolates you when you fail.  With all the time in between pitches, negative thoughts start creeping into your mind.  “How did I miss that?  What did I do wrong?  Was it my mechanics?  Did I misjudge it?”  Then, another ball is hit in your direction and you airmail it over first base.  “Jeez, 2 errors in the same inning.  What is wrong with me!?!!  What am I doing?”  An inning can feel like an eternity as you stand at your position, internalize the error and start to second guess everything. The fact that baseball gives you time to think and analyze before every pitch should be a positive attribute of the game. Unfortunately, for some, it can also be its most negative and self defeating attribute.

A sort of fear can build up inside of you, and you begin to hope that you don’t get the ball so you don’t mess up again.  You have already lost, if you have the fear of opportunity and fear of failure.   This dead time can kill you mentally.  As you start to second guess everything, you start to lose focus and perform even worse. Everything becomes very forced. Yogi Berra also said, “A full mind is an empty bat,” which exemplifies exactly what I’m trying to say.  The more you think, the worse the outcome.  It is fine to think about the situations in the game, but never to think about personal failure.   There’s even a medical term for this, “paralysis by analysis.”  By over analyzing yourself, it will paralyze your results. Clear your mind and visualize yourself succeeding, the results can be amazing by simply not overthinking.

Instead of  fear of another failure, a great player wants another opportunity to show they can get the job done.  If they make an error, or strike out, they look forward to the next time.  Self-confidence, is the common trait in all great players.  They know and believe in their abilities.  If you don’t believe in yourself, how are you supposed to ever succeed in anything?  The greats know they can hit and field-they’ve been training their whole lives.  During a slump, they just have to work through it.  You have to have the mental toughness to understand failure and how to over come it.  When I make an error at third base, I always think to myself that my favorite player, David Wright, who is a fantastic defender even makes errors.  He knows how to recover and make the next play. Self-confidence, not cockiness is key.  You have to trust yourself.

What makes baseball the “mental game” is the time it gives you to think.  Those who succeed have the self-confidence to overcome any obstacle.  It’s an amazing thought that a game can be won or lost in your head.  The most athletically gifted person in the world may lose to an average athlete because of a lack of mental toughness.  So, get out there, play ball, and don’t think too much!

 

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Take Note Sports World, The MLB Got It Right With Domestic Violence


-David Strobach-

Commissioner Rob Manfred made his first domestic violence stance since the new policy was implemented in August.  Closer, Aroldis Chapman, of the New York Yankees was punished and accepted a 30 game unpaid (will lose $2 million) suspension starting Opening Day for his abusive actions back in October, 2015.  Chapman allegedly pushed and choked his girlfriend and fired gun shots into the wall of his garage.  No charges were filed, but that didn’t stop the MLB from stepping in swiftly to lay down the law and send a powerful message to the MLB.  Manfred’s statement below:

Manfred did a good job conducting an investigation and acting quickly, within four  months, to discipline Chapman.  Aroldis denies he harmed his girlfriend, but in his statement he said he acted inappropriately:

“Today, I accepted a 30 game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015. I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family. I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees’ quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.”

 

The MLB, MLPA, and Rob Manfred have my approval and respect for their handling of this domestic violence issue.  They created a new policy, stuck with it strongly, and sent a message to the league.  There will be no appeal, which is thankfully avoiding more conflict with the commissioner and arbitration.  If Chapman would have lost the appeal, he could have ended up having more games added to his suspension.  30 games is a good time length because if the suspension lasted 45 games or any longer, it would have prevented Aroldis Chapman from becoming a free agent due to service time.  Hopefully,  Aroldis will use this time to reflect on his actions and perhaps receive some counseling.   The message that domestic violence will not be tolerated in professional baseball by any means was well sent.  The whole situation was not a “circus” and it was handled professionally, unlike similar issues in the NFL.  Other sports take note, the MLB got it right with its domestic violence stance.  Let’s hope this step in the right direction continues across all sports.

Stay tuned for possible decisions on Jose Reyes and Yasiel Puig in the near future.

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Baseball Mirrors Life


-David Strobach-

There is no sport that truly shows all aspects of life like the game of baseball.

Baseball is one of the only sports without a clock, but always has an end.  There’s no telling how far the end could possibly be for a baseball game.  This can also be said about life.  We know we are living, but never truly know when the game of life will come to a close.  Throughout the game of baseball, you may miss that fastball down the middle,  your golden chance at success.    In life, there are times you may have a great opportunity, but miss it.  “Strike 3,” calls the umpire as you have your walk of shame back to the dugout after failing.  You may sometimes have that bad day in life, but don’t worry, there is always another at-bat, there’s always another day.  In life and baseball, it’s important to embrace our mistakes and failures, learn from them to make us all better for that next opportunity, that next at-bat. Go up to the plate after being 0-3 and take advantage of your next at bat, make contact or better yet, smack a home run. Don’t go down just “looking.” Flunk that test or bomb that job interview?  There will be another. Go prepare, practice, and kill it when the next opportunity presents itself.  Be proactive and don’t go down looking–with opportunities passing you by. Create an opportunity on the baseball field and in your life. You never know when the time will come, but always be ready.   After all, baseball is a game of failure….and so is life with many unpredictable variables—But that’s what makes it exciting!  Life and baseball can be disappointing and hard at times. So, take responsibility and action through practice, pushing yourself and trying new things.  Play every game and live every day to the fullest because you never know when the last game or day of your life will come.

In baseball, a sacrifice bunt or sac fly can be difference makers in a game.  In life, let’s say you have that big test Monday, but want to go to the football game on Friday.  Maybe money will be tight for you and have to chose whether you spend money on those new shoes or save it for your family’s well-being.  There’s always decisions to made about when and how to sacrifice something, in both life and baseball.  You could look like a big shot with those Jordan’s and look like the hero hitting that game winning three run homer.  Saving that money you spent on those J’s may help your family out a little bit, but you feel no pleasure or status since you don’t have those shoes.  Laying down that sac bunt helps the team win games and you may not get any notice or love for it.  You sacrificed a chance and your personal stats to look the hero for the sake of the team. Sacrificed those  J’s that you think would get all the ladies in order to help  your family.  Sacrifices may not be easy, but in the end it’s what will make all the difference allowing many to benefit.

A popular saying is that it takes a village to raise a child.  Well, it takes a team to win a championship.  In baseball and life you can never be successful on your own without anyone helping.  A strong supporting cast is always needed. So when things are going badly, reach out to your teammates, family and friends.

In life, you can never have full control of what’s going on.  There are always roadblocks.  When you go up to bat, you have to go with what pitches are thrown and make the most of it.  In life, you have deal with the cards you’re dealt and make the most of it as well.  Life and baseball can be incredibly frustrating.  Sometimes you can do everything right in both and STILL fail.  Sometimes things look like they’re going well for both, but change drastically in a matter of moments.  From hitting a line drive straight to the CF, missing a home run by inches, having your bat break, or getting a bad call – baseball is unfair.  In life, you may be doing great at your job and still get laid off.  Everything in your family could be going well, and suddenly tragedy hits.  It’s not fair.  It’s how you deal with adversity that makes you who you are and how you will eventually succeed.  So, get up to the plate, take action, and make something happen.

 

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David Stearns Finding Hidden Gems For The Brewers


-David Strobach-

David Stearns has been making quite a splash in the MLB since becoming the youngest GM, at age 30, for the Milwaukee Brewers in order to help them rebuild.  Other than the splashy Segura move, Stearns has made some under-the-radar moves that could positively impact Milwaukee baseball.  A team like the Brewers is not rebuilding from a dominant, star studded team.  They are rebuilding from the ground up.  It’s important for a rebuilding team to acquire young, cheap, and controllable talent.  David Stearns has been quietly acquiring some low budget, former top prospects under our noses. However, all that’s heard in the media is the Segura trade and Lucroy rumors.  These players below are low-risk, high-reward for the Brew Crew.  I do believe Stearns could be up to something, uncovering some cheap valuable talent that could turn out to be hidden gems.  Meet Garin Cecchini and Rymer Liriano.

 

Garin Cecchini 3rd/1st and LF

Age: 24

 

In 2014, at Triple-A, Cecchini had a very average year, but 2015 is what really made the Red Sox want to move on from the once top prospect with the awful slash of .213/.286/.296 and a OPS of .583. The Milwaukee Brewers decided to scoop him up acquiring him for cash considerations.  3rd base couldn’t be any more shallow for the Brewers and adding Garin seems more like a depth and competition move.  I feel David Stearns could be uncovering a very solid player in here in Cecchini.

 

Pic from: nesn.com

 

Look past his dreadful year to see his potential.

 

Garin Cecchini was once one of the Red Sox’s top prospects before 2014, ranked #51 by Baseball Prospectus.  He plays third base, first, and some outfield. Cecchini’s slash was .322/.443/.471 with an OPS of .915 split between A/AA. These are very good numbers that prove he can handle the bat well.  This shows where the top prospect status comes from.  Cecchini also possesses some speed as he stole 51 bases at the Single A level.  He is a not a complete burner with his speed, but runs well.  Getting on base has always been the strongest aspect of his game.  Pure hitting and his on base expertise has always been praised in scouting reports.  Cecchini is average defensively, not great. Garin has good size at 6’ 3” but his size doesn’t translate into power.  In fact, he has never hit more than 7 home runs at any level in professional baseball.  His lack of power may not be a huge factor for the Brewers at this point regarding the 3rd base position for them since it is so shallow. Scouts have always raved about him and Stearns sees something worthwhile in him.

 

Keith Law scouted Cecchini saying, “He showed he could really hit, projecting as a consistent .300-plus hitter whose future hit grade is a 65 or a 70.”

 

Baseball Prospectus describes him, “Excellent hand/eye coordination; natural bat-to-ball skills; hit tool could end up well above average.”

 

A change of scenery could rejuvenate his career.  Let’s say he bounces back, makes the Brewers and slashes around .285/.390/.425.  That would result in quality player for the Brewers to have. Maybe as he figures things out in a few years, he could be up around .300,  This could all very well be wishful thinking, but Cecchini has had scouts raving about him for reasons. There is definitely a reason to keep an eye on this young man.  It sometimes takes players a little while longer to figure it all out and David Stearns is hoping Garin finds his mojo with the Brew Crew.  Third base is his to win and hopefully that inner top prospect talent comes back for him.  This was literally a no risk, high reward move for Milwaukee, and that reward could be a quality 3rd baseman.  If he still struggles, then nothing is lost.

 

Rymer Liriano OF

Age: 24

 

Rymer Liriano, a toolsy outfielder the Brewers acquired from the San Diego Padres for left-hander  Trevor Seidenberger. Liriano is a very intriguing player to look into.

 

Bernie Pleskoff  wrote in 2014, “That fall, what I saw daily from Liriano was a rare mix of power and speed tools for a player his size. Along with his potent bat and better-than-average speed for his 6-foot, 230-pound frame, Liriano flashed a much-better-than-average arm from right field. In fact, he threw so hard, his mechanics and velocity may have even contributed to the need for his career-interrupting elbow surgery last year. At the time of his operation, Liriano was ranked the No. 3 prospect in the Padres’ organization. He is currently ranked No. 6 on San Diego’s Top 20 Prospect list.”

Pic from: eastvillagetimes.com

 

In 2014 he slashed  .291/.361/.473 with 14 home runs and an OPS of .836 between AA/AAA.  In the 14 games he played at AAA,  he hit a whopping .452 which led his Major League call-up that year.  Then, in 36 games with the Padres, Liriano struggled mightily hitting, .220/.289/.266 with an OPS of .555.  This poor play resulted in his demotion back to AAA for the 2015 season.  Last year, he had similar numbers to those of 2014, even slightly better, .292/.383/.460 with an OPS of .843 and 14 bombs as well.  To show his speed, in 2011, Liriano had 66 stolen bases.

Liriano has a very unique skill set and could be a special player.  His numbers at Triple-A were great in 2015 and for the position the Padres are in, it is baffling  they would trade him right now.  He is a player with an immediate chance to positively impact a team with many tools.  It is unclear where he would fit in with the Brewers in the outfield right now, but could definitely compete for time in center field.  Liriano showed his talent last year and could translate it to the Major League level with the Brewers.  With his track record of minor league success and various tools,  Rymer Liriano could end up being a gem for Milwaukee.

 

These two moves are both low risk, high reward.  It seems that these  transactions could be great for the Brew Crew.  Let’s hope these two players pan out and David Stearns could look like a genius to us all.  If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

 

All stats from: Baseball-Reference.com

 

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Share Your Crazy Coach/Parent Story


-David Strobach-

Everyone knows that one “crazy” coach or parent on their youth sports team.  Before I share some of my crazy coach stories (trust me, it won’t disappoint), I’d like to ask you all to submit your crazy coach or parent stories to me.  I would like to share some of your stories right here on Bleacher Boy.  I’d prefer baseball related, but feel free to submit any sport. Please leave real names out to protect privacy and not ruin someone’s reputation.

Suggestion:

You may want to start your story by saying……

You know your coach is crazy when____________________

For example, I knew my coach was crazy when he came to practice one day and decided to take on the persona of an alter ego in order to “reach” the boys. He proceeded to call himself, Ichiro, and took on the roll of an eager little Japanese kid. Instead of coaching, he took the field like a kid hyped up on Mt. Dew and gummie bears. He stayed in character as Ichiro, and the parents began to question his sanity as they tried to step in and help with practice.  That was only the beginning of crazy………………..(I have many more)

 

Submit your story to:

  • thebleacherboy@yahoo.com
  • Put “Crazy Coach Story” or “Crazy Parent Story” as the subject.

 

 

Bleacher Boy At #BrewersOnDeck


-David Strobach-

I will be attending the annual Brewers fan festival, Brewers On Deck on Sunday, January 31.  Look for me in my retro Brewers jersey that says “Bleacher Boy” with the number 10 on the back!  I will be handing out my new business cards pictured below.  What do you think? Hope to see you there!

Screenshot (9)

BUSINESS CARD EDIT6

Former Texas Ranger Gerald Smiley Giving All Kids A Chance To Play Ball!


-David Strobach-

I recently had the pleasure of being contacted by former Texas Ranger Gerald Smiley and his organization, the BLP Academy.  As a result, I was fortunate to be able to conduct an interview with Mr. Smiley.  Smiley played with the Texas Rangers for 5 years and after hanging up his cleats, he founded the Big League Prep Academy for kids, as well as share his knowledge in other coaching endeavors.  Mr. Smiley will describe this great academy best himself in the interview below – It sounds like a great alternative to overpriced, political, “elite clubs.”  He is doing great things and making baseball available to all kids, no matter their situation.  I truly have enjoyed conversing with Mr. Smiley as he is a stand up man, plays/teaches in the name of his Faith, and is doing all the right things for the young generation of ballplayers.  Make sure to check out their website HERE! Hope you enjoy the interview!

Tell me about your baseball career in the pros. Why did you choose baseball as your sport?  Who did you look up to?

My career was good but way shorter than I wanted it. I had three surgeries, two on my elbow and one on my shoulder.  It was the best time of my life though.  I met lots of people, built lots of relationships, was mentored by some of the best coaches in the game and got to see how pros carried themselves as pros. I chose baseball at the age of 6 because my older brother played.  I was good at basketball, football and baseball but knew baseball was my best chance to do it professionally.  I look up to my brother, Carlos Subero, Bill North, Dusty Baker, Frank Neville, Frank Velasquez, Mark McLemore and Cam Walker.

You had three surgeries in your career.  How did they affect your career?  How did you mentally deal with these injuries and what advice would you give to any player at any age dealing with an injury?

My first surgery was tough mentally.  The Rangers almost pulled my contract because they thought I lied on my medical history form and was hurt when I signed, which I was not.  I no longer felt a part of the team after I got cut on.  Kevin Harmon and Frank Neville helped me big time mentally.  They made me believe that my faith had to be in my rehab process and trust it.  I was scared to let it go 90-94 again after I got hurt until they talked with me.  I recommend players trust their rehab, don’t slack off, do the things that got you strong during rehab, after your doctor says you are clear.  Don’t be afraid to air out full speed after your recovery.

You ended up scouting for the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mets, and Brewers. What were your experiences as a scout? Did you have a favorite organization that you were a part of?  What did you learn as a scout? And did you scout or recruit any big name players?

It is a lot of travel and chasing kids around.  A kid may get rained out today and you have to go back and see him tomorrow.  Lots of time away from your family.  It is a gift to go watch baseball games and scout talent. It is not considered work when you do the things you love to do.  I learned how to really trust my judgement and utilize the 20-80 MLB Scale properly and how to write reports properly that the front office and area guys want to see.  Also not being afraid of saying you don’t like a kid even though other clubs do and you know he may go in the draft still.  Our job is to draft guys we think will get to the big leagues, not max out in the minor leagues.

You went on to coach college and high school baseball and found a passion in developing kids.  What are the major differences among age groups?  Other than pure mechanics, what mental errors do you see in kids and the various age groups?

Major differences are focus, desire, commitment,

What advice can you give to high school kids aspiring to play in college?

Get your reps the right way every day.  Out work everyone around you no matter what.  You must stand out amongst your peers or it will be tough to go to the next level.  Do not allow yourself to make excuses why you could not train that day or why your performance was not your best that day.  Accept full responsibility for your career.  It is on you!

What is your overall coaching philosophy?

Play the game hard, follow a player development system.  Don’t worry what others think, be yourself and be the best you.  Be explosive in everything you do, run hard, slide hard, master your craft through unlimited reps. Review your work daily and require 100 percent perfection out of yourself during your side work and skill work.

Did you have a mentor{s} or coach that was significant to you?

Yes.  Loren Colello, Carlos Subero, Bill North, Joe Staton, Lee Tunnel.  They taught me life not just the game.  Told me things other people wouldn’t and called me out when I needed to be held accountable as well.

With your passion of developing kids, you started the BLP Academy.  How did you come to start this?  What exactly is the academy and how is it different then any other club/academy/little league?  What are your goals with this academy and how do people get involved with the organization? What does the future hold for you?

BLP Academy came about by the sickening business behind youth sports today and the vision the Lord put in my heart.  BLP Academy is a FREE app with professional instruction, training and more all in one place from myself and other coaches and info around the world that will help train parents, coaches and athletes.  We travel around the world and train kids, coaches and leagues professional player development.
My goal is to open indoor sports complexes through a unique strategy that I have to help all kids.  Kids who can afford it and cannot afford it. We will turn no kid away who cannot afford it through our resources and the glory of God, and His love for His children.

Coaches, players and parents can download the #1 FREE Baseball Training app at:

Itunes App Store:
https://t.co/hPlS1LWQYS

Android Google Play Store:
https://t.co/uxZqu35o6g https://t.co/cwQjwHzeWq

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Bleacher Boy’s Best Writings


-David Strobach-
I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! This year has by far been Bleacher Boy’s best year! Thanks to my growing and loyal audience,  I have shattered every personal statistical record.  I was even recently ranked a #2 MLBlog  as well!  My biggest accomplishments were being featured on Fox News and getting a children’s book ready so that I can proceed with publishing it!  In honor of the New Year and my 200th post, I’d like to share my best writings of the past and hope that the future is bright for all of us!  I’d also like to give a huge THANK YOU to my family, all of my viewers making up Bleacher Boy Nation, and those that have helped mentor me –  none of this would be possible without you all.  I am grateful and blessed to be able to share my baseball thoughts with all of you.  Have a JOYFUL, HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!!! Spring training is right around the corner…….

 

The Greatest Gift


-David Strobach-

I’ve been reflecting on my favorite Christmas presents over the years and I have been blessed to have had many awesome gifts.  But, my favorite is still this baseball cross plaque that my crafty and thoughtful mom made for me.  I have shared this with many:

“This plaque that my mother made, helps me to remember to always get over errors and leave it all on the field.  It reminds me to “give thanks” to God and to my family. It encourages me to become a better teammate, to listen to my coaches, and be a good sport.  I like to live by the motto: “God, Family, Baseball.”   God always comes first.  What I see is that God has a massive hitting streak going (all the gifts he has so generously given us).  It’s game seven of the World Series against all evil.  God understands that we make mistakes and always will, which are our  errors.  He forgives us for the BIG errors, and we should forgive ourselves for mistakes, learn from them, and move on.  With a runner on third, a sacrifice bunt will win the World Series, but what if Jesus only needed a hit to break a record?  To save his team (the world), he sacrifices! He sacrifices to save us all!!!!  We all need to remember this each and every day.  So whatever your beliefs, have FAITH.  It will get you further than any home run.”

Under the cross it says: "EVERYONE COMMITS ERRORS, BUT HIS SACRIFICE WILL GET YOU HOME..."

Under the cross it says:
“EVERYONE COMMITS ERRORS, BUT HIS SACRIFICE WILL GET YOU HOME…”

Everyday I see it, it reminds me who I am and what I stand for as a Catholic.  It reminds me that God is with me and helps me to be a better person.  It helps strengthen my faith.  We all will make mistakes, but that is ok.  Forgive others, forgive yourself.   Since Jesus died for us as his sacrifice to save us from sin, he will bring us home to heaven.  During this joyful Christmas time, let’s keep Christ in Christmas.  Let’s remember what Christmas is really about, the birth of the Christ child. It is a time of Peace and Hope.  So during these troubled times, be a good teammate for the human race –  God Bless You!!

Follow me on Twitter: @BleacherBoy10

Email me: thebleacherboy@yahoo.com

 

Pete Rose’s Fate Is Sealed


-David Strobach-

“The banishment for life of Pete Rose from baseball is the sad end of a sorry episode. One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts. By choosing not to come to a hearing before me, and by choosing not to proffer any testimony or evidence contrary to the evidence and information contained in the report of the Special Counsel to the Commissioner, Mr. Rose has accepted baseball’s ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility.”

Statement by then Commissioner
of Baseball, A. Bartlett Giamatti,
August 24, 1989

Bartlett Giamatti Source: mlbreports.com

 

Today, the commissioner of baseball, Robert Manfred, has decided to uphold the ban of Pete Rose from baseball with this following statement,

“Mr. Rose has not presented credible evidence of a reconfigured life either by an honest acceptance by him of his wrongdoing … or by a rigorous, self-aware and sustained program of avoidance by him of all the circumstances that led to his permanent ineligibility in 1989.”

Rob Manfred and Pete Rose Source: http://www.answers.com

 

Pete Rose was caught gambling on MLB teams and even his own, the Reds.  He was rightfully banned and thankfully, that was upheld.  Even worse is that he is STILL gambling to this day on the sport.  Baseball is a sport with a beautiful history, celebrating all the good hearted players, but Pete Rose is not one of those players.  He left the biggest black mark on baseball since the 1919 Black Sox, who were also all banished from baseball.  None of the 1919 Black Sox players including Joe Jackson got reinstated or got a shot at the Hall of Fame, so why should Rose?  The Hall of Fame is for CLEAN and RESPECTED players, not crooks.  “Home Run King” Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire have not been voted into the Hall of Fame, most likely because of their link to PEDs.  That sends a message to baseball players that you don’t’ belong in the MLB if you don’t abide by the rules.  Gambling may or may not have had any affect on his performance, but what he did was wrong and he deserves the consequences. The fact that he is still betting and  just goes to show that some people never get the message…..

Tommy Lasorda preaches my thoughts here:

http://vplayer.nbcsports.com/p/C_ZQDC/philly/select/media/KVji5qsPS1oL?parentUrl=&t=54

Pete Rose paid for his mistake.  Rightfully so, he is still paying for it now.  Kudos to Manfred for keeping Rose out of baseball.

What Are Your Thoughts?

 

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