Thursday, April 30, 2009

Attack the strike zone


Let Kyle Davies explain his pitching strategy long enough, and you start to hear some familiar phrases.
"Be aggressive, get ahead and work both sides of the plate," Davies said on Wednesday.
It's simple stuff, really. So it may not be much of a surprise to hear Davies explain exactly what went wrong in his last start against Detroit on Saturday, when Davies allowed seven runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"I have to be aggressive to both sides of the plate with my fastball, and I have to attack," Davies said. "And I think I got a little bit away from that in that last start."
His outing against the Tigers was the first time Davies had given up more than four runs in a start since July 3, 2008, against Baltimore.
"It takes starting pitching to win," Hillman said.
And this is where Davies' pitching strategy comes in. He has to be aggressive, he has to work both sides of the plate and, most importantly, he has to get ahead, something he didn't do well his last time out.
"As you could see, if you watch the way I started, it was 2-0, 2-1 on a lot of hitters," Davies said. "And it's very tough to pitch in the major leagues like that."
He certainly found that out against the Tigers, who battered Davies for two home runs.
"That's what happens when you're not aggressive early in the count," Davies said. "You have to come back over the plate late, and it doesn't matter what pitch it is, the guys is swinging the bat, and he's going to be pretty aggressive when he's swinging in his count. So that was a little bit of the problem."
Davies, of course, would know. The control issues weren't a problem during his first three starts -- Davies went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA -- and he thinks he knows the way back to success.
"[Just] be aggressive," Davies said, "And pitch to both sides of the plate."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What it takes to get to the top.........PRACTICE!

Coach K on his USA basketball team that included LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and many other great players:
“I never had one second of problem with any of them. They truly are professionals,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s the way they conduct themselves and practice. It’s also what they do when you’re not practicing.
“People would be shocked at how hard they work away from practice … early in the morning, after practice, late at night. They may have one or two workouts they do every day in addition to practice to keep themselves prepared.”
If you want to get to the top, you have to OUT WORK others.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Here are a few good quotes form Husker QB Zach Lee DL Suh:

“During conditioning, I just feel like I have to work as hard as I can every time out there and set an example in that way,” said Lee, who was 15-of-18 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns in the Spring Game. “Guys see me out there, working hard and hopefully they’ll be inspired by it and work hard, too.”

“As you’ve seen in the past here, the best teams— the great teams— are run by the team and that allows the coaches to just coach and manage,” Lee said. “All the little stuff that happens within a team, within a group of 130 college guys is managed by that internal central group, so I definitely think that’s a role we’ll look to take.”

“It’s starting to grow and we were starting to get it toward the end of these last couple of practices when we were going live and everybody was understanding what they have to do, but it’s still not there 100 percent,” Suh said. “That’s how teams win championships: They have great chemistry, and that’s the thing we’ve got to work on.”

Keep in mind that glorious moments like the one pictured above are often proceeded by preparation that is not quite so glorious.

Who wants it the most? STAYING HUNGRY

Great article from Chris Broussard of ESPN the Mag about what it takes to win in the NBA playoffs: HUNGER

Here is an excerpt, with a link to the story:

Hunger is not an emotion, not quite a mentality and certainly not a skill. What it is, though, is as vital as anything drawn up on a whiteboard or honed in a gymnasium. Coaches come up with syrupy speeches and perform wild pregame stunts in an effort to generate it, and moderately talented players -- "energy guys" -- earn millions for providing a form of it. It's unquantifiable and only vaguely identifiable, and that allows every baller to think he's hungrier than the man he's facing up. Only some of them, of course, have a case. "It's that old cliché: 'Don't talk about it, be about it,'" says Hornets coach Byron Scott, who won three rings with the Lakers. "A lot of teams talk about how hungry they are, how dedicated they are. But until you go out and show it, it's just talk."

Now, some examples of hunger are textbook: Mine are Willis Reed limping onto the court in the 1970 Finals. Dominique and Bird dueling it out in Game 7 in 1988. MJ's 38-point performance while battling defenders and the flu in the 1997 Finals. Derek Fisher sinking a clutch three in 2007, an hour after flying 2,000 miles from his daughter's eye-cancer surgery.

Where will it come from this year? Who's going to commit to playing D for all 48? Who's going to fight through screens or risk lumps and lacerations lunging into the stands after the rock? But know this: It's not about physical effort only. That's the easy part. The hard part is using discipline and maturity to apply your brain as much as your body. Take it from a reporter who's spent a lot of days with players during series: There are guys who scour scouting reports and those who skim them -- and the difference is clear come tip-off. When I look at a player and try to guess how he'll impact a series, I begin by asking how dialed-in he is, on off-days and on-nights. Does he watch film in free time, seeking every edge possible, or just in coach- mandated sessions? Does winning mean enough to him that he'll sacrifice touches, feeding the hot hand even if it's not his? These are the kinds of questions coaches and captains ask all season as they scan the practice court and locker room. If they don't like the answers they see, it's their obligation to ratchet up the hunger quotient.
Are we a hungry team?

The 1-1 Pitch

What MLB Stats Tell Us About The 1-1 Pitch Count --
And How To Use This Secret To Your Advantage When Pitching

The 1-1 count is the crossroads in the hitter-pitcher matchup. It's the difference between a batter moving to the edge of the two-strike abyss or getting ahead 2-1 and being able to anticipate the type and location of the next pitch.

Here are the results for all MLB hitters this season after each count.
1-1 became 1-2 BA: .188 OBP: .241 SLG: .283 OPS: .524
1-1 became 2-1 BA: .263 OBP: .398 SLG: .423 OPS: .821

What do the stats tell you? Get ahead of hitters in the count, PITCH AHEAD!

Why emphasize the bunt game?

In all of baseball, both professional and amateur, management and players do not place enough importance on the bunting game; consequently the players cannot execute this phase of the game. The end result of poor fundamentals is the player cannot bunt for base hits nor sacrifice at critical times to get runners into scoring position.

In failing to have a good bunting game players lose the other values of hitting that come from bunting concepts. The threat of the drag bunt keeps the flanks (third and first basemen) playing close to the hitter. This increases the hitter's advantage to drive the ball past them. In sacrifice bunt situations, the good bunters have the ability to slash hit from a bunting stance, once again taking advantage of the drawn-in infield. The ability to drag bunt, sacrifice bunt and slash hit from a bunting stance will increase every player's batting average at least 100 points. I did say 100 points! Coaches armed with a good bunting game have the weaponry to attack and score in adverse weather conditions, wind blowing in, cold and wet weather. The bunting game helps you create offense no matter what the occasion or condition.

Bunting in baseball is as important as blocking in football. In football if you can't block you won't move the football, you won't generate any offense, and you will lose. In baseball, there is a "ho-hum, don't ask ME to bunt" attitude. In building a house you start with a good foundation. A coach must treat the bunting game as the foundation of hitting and offensive weaponry. There are many aspects of the bunting game, including the drag bunt, the threat of the drag to keep the flanks up, the sacrifice bunt, slash hitting from the sacrifice bunt stance, the safety squeeze and the suicide squeeze. All of these concepts place tremendous psychological pressure on the defense, which can cause havoc with the pitcher and can force errors by the opposing team.

Bill Madlock, former major league all-star, related that the year he won the National League batting championship by one percentage point, he was successful in 22 of 23 drag bunt attempts. This added quite a few points to his batting average. We can only guess how many other balls that he hit went by the drawn-in third baseman.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quotes to think about.............

Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character. - T. Alan Armstrong

Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision. - Muhammad Ali

If you aren't going all the way, why go at all? - Joe Namath You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possibly be - in baseball and in life. - Pete Rose

Ain't no man can avoid being born average, but there ain't no man got to be common. - Satchel Paige

It isn't hard to be good from time to time in sports. What is tough, is being good every day. - Willie Mays

If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat. - Herschel Walker

It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself. - Muhammad Ali

Friday, April 17, 2009


Do you have a burning desire to learn? Can you take constructive criticism or are you a “know it all”? Will you always do your very best to improve? Do you want to improve?

Are you possessed with the spirit of competition which fires an intense desire to achieve? Do you want to win, never taking “no” for an answer when there is a job to be done, a catch to be made, a runner to be moved, a pitch to be taken. DOES IT BOTHER YOU TO GIVE LESS THAN YOUR BEST EFFORT?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It is not easy!

Often we see the result but not the work it took to get there. We see the highlight on SportsCenter but not the hours of practicing the routine plays that lead to that great play. Many athletes have tremendous God-given gifts, but they don't focus on the development of those gifts. Who are these individuals? You've never heard of them- and you never will. It's true in sports and it's true everywhere in life. Hard work is the difference. Very hard work.


Champions do not become champions on the field. They are merely recognized on the field. They become champions in their DAILY ROUTINE. Players do not really decide their future. They decide their HABITS- their HABITS decide their future.