Month: February 2016

Opportunities Provided by Youth Baseball

Opportunities Provided by Youth Baseball

Youth baseball has played a major role in my life. From the time I was able to walk, I wanted to be playing baseball. With age, my roles in youth baseball have changed. I have gone from player, to umpire. Being the regulator of little league drama has been difficult at times, yet rewarding all the while. Through umpiring, I have been presented an opportunity that I would be an absolute fool to turn down.

I have been an umpire for Federal Way National Little League for a little more than four years. Through the little league, I was able to work a couple select ball tournaments. The Federal Way Knights hold a pair of tournaments, that I have worked for the past few years. During the tournaments, I have learned more about the game than I could have imagined. Those kids play spectacular baseball that is incredibly fun to watch.

In January, I received a call from one of the higher ups in the Federal Way Knights organization. Every couple of years, the Knights participate in a tournament in Cooperstown New York. About a thousand teams participate in this tournament each year. Each team is required to bring an umpire, and the Knights chose me.

The organization will take care of my travel, room and board, as well as my food for the week. Every umpire who works the tournament will be inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame. By September, I will be in a baseball Hall of Fame. You better believe I will wear that out.

As part of the trip, I will get a pass into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I will take a walk through Cooperstown, just months after Ken Griffey Jr. will be inducted. The Hall of Fame is something I figured I would get to when I was 60 or 70 years old. Just a few days after my 21st birthday, I will be in New York, seeing baseball’s greatest museum.

Baseball is providing me with incredible opportunities. Being willing to work any game for Federal Way National has payed off. Taking what I do seriously during the Federal Way Knight tournaments has lead to great things. For the rest of my life, I will be grateful for what youth baseball has given me.

Dae-Ho Lee: Who Are You?

Dae-Ho Lee: Who Are You?

On Wednesday the Seattle Mariners signed Korean first basemen Dae-Ho Lee to a minor league contract. The contract includes a spring training invite. Jerry DiPoto has tried to add four new first basemen to the roster. The deal with Travis Ishikawa fell through, leaving three players competing for one spot. One of the new players is Adam Lind, who we know will be on the opening day roster. With the acquisition of Lee, the back up role is still a question.

Jesus Montero had fans begging for a call-up in 2015. Montero batted .355 with 18 doubles, six triples and 18 home runs. Jesus Montero’s roller coaster career now has fans cheering for him. Montero started the 2013 season as the Mariners primary catcher, but received a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. When Montero arrived to spring training in 2014, he was 40 pounds over weight. Montero cut the weight in 2015, and his performance for the Tacoma Rainiers was beyond impressive. Montero seems like the perfect fit to play a platoon role at first base with Adam Lind.

Earlier in the offseason, Jerry DiPoto signed Gabby Sanchez to a minor league deal. In his seven-year career, Sanchez has hit .254 with 126 doubles and 61 home runs. Sanchez played the 2015 season in Japan as a member of the Rakuten Eagles. Sanchez hit .226 with an on base plus slugging of .720. Sanchez hit 12 doubles, seven home runs and drove in 18 runs. By the numbers, Montero has a much better chance of playing in Seattle in 2016 than Sanchez. However another player has been added to the mix.

Dae-Ho Lee was signed to a minor league deal on Feb. 3. Lee turns 34 in June, and provides a right handed power bat to the Mariners organization. Last season for the Fukuoka Softbank, Lee posted a .282 batting average, with 31 home runs, 20 doubles, 98 runs batted in and had an OPS of .892. In four seasons in Japan, Lee hit .293 with 98 home runs, 112 doubles and 348 RBI’s in 570 games. Lee was the league’s most valuable player in 2010, and is a three-time batting champion. Lee is a huge human being, standing at 6 feet 4, and weighing more than 280 pounds. The Korean exchange student who lives with my family described Lee as a Korean Prince Fielder. Like Montero, Lee has struggled with fluctuating weight, but his statistical numbers make up for the numbers that appear on a scale.

What separates the two? Jerry DiPoto and Scott Servais are in love with the walk. Offensively, the club wants to draw as many walks as possible. Defensively, the philosophy is to avoid giving the opponent a free base. Montero has struck out 172 times and drawn 48 walks in 865 plate appearances in five seasons at the MLB level.  Lee has been to the plate 7,103 times, striking out 998 times, while drawing 711 walks in 15 seasons in Korea and Japan.

Lee’s ability to draw walks may put him over the top in comparison to Jesus Montero. However Montero is out of minor league options. If Dae-Ho Lee does beat out Jesus Montero for the back-up first basemen job, the club would have to designate Montero for assignment. Montero being out of options makes the job Montero’s to lose. Spring training begins in just two weeks. The acquisition of Dae-Ho Lee has increased the questions surrounded the back-up first basemen role. The only question answered, is who Dae-Ho Lee is.

Playing vs. Playin’: Super Bowl 50’s Quarterback Matchup

Playing vs. Playin’: Super Bowl 50’s Quarterback Matchup

What is the difference between playing and playin’. Denotatively, nothing at all. Connotatively, the two are black and white. As we enter Super Bowl week, the first focus looks directly to the quarterback matchup. Two players who play the same position, couldn’t do it any more differently from one another. One has spent his whole life playing, the other is just playin’ the game and having fun.

Peyton Manning is already being argued for as the greatest quarterback of all time. Manning has thrown 539 career touchdown passes, thrown for 71,940 yards and has averaged 270.5 passing yards per game. Manning gets it done in a way that is methodical. Home stadiums sit in silence as the 18 year veteran decides what his offense will do after seeing the opposing defense. He is cerebral in his attack. Manning has been as good with his mind, as he has been with his arm. Late in his career, the mind has out done the body. Manning will compete in Super Bowl 50, after being bench during the 2015 regular season. He has experience career lows in passing yards, (2,249) yard per pass (6.8) and touchdowns (9). His body has deteriorated, yet Peyton Manning’s football wisdom has taken him further than his body. Throughout his career, Manning has perfected the art of playing football.

Cam Newton has played at an MVP caliber during the 2015 regular season. Through his first five seasons, Newton has thrown 117 touchdowns, 18,263 yards, averaging 234.1 per game. Cam Newton has the ability to get away from defenses with his legs. Newton stands in at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs 245 pounds and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. Newton has rushed for more than 3,000 yards in his NFL career, scoring 43 touchdowns on the ground. Plays are not designed for a quarterback’s to evade tacklers. Newton creates plays on the fly. Cam Newton competes at an NFL level, like he is with the kids, playin’ football.

Two quarterbacks enter the 50th Super Bowl with two different perspectives on what an NFL career is like. On February 7, Manning will be competing in the big game for the fourth time in his career. The Broncos quarterback is taking a business as usual approach to what could be his last NFL Game. For Newton, this Super Bowl will be his first. Cam Newton won a national championship with the Auburn Tiger in 2011. The stage will not be too big for the Panthers quarterback.

From a personality perspective, these two players couldn’t be more different. Manning comes off as the next door neighbor. His ‘awe shucks’ sense of humor has landed him endorsements with Gatorade, Nationwide Insurance and Papa Johns Pizza. His lovable character has earned the respect of both fans and peers alike. Newton is brought a new attitude on what’s excepted from a quarterback. Newton “Dab’s” as often has he steps in the end zone. Most critics aren’t accepting of Newton’s end zone antics. Newton’s rebuttal to this critics did not earn any new fans.

“I’m a firm believe that if you don’t like it, keep me out (of the end zone),” Newton said.

The way these two players dress, talk, behave and play do not match each other. The similarities between the two stop at the quarterback position. Peyton Manning has been cerebral in his approach to playing football. Cam Newton has been playin’ at a MVP clip in 2015. Two different playing styles, personalities and people have proven successful in the same sport. Super Bowl 5o will be a match up of two different players, competing for one championship.