Wednesday, September 30, 2009

JIM MORA JR. CALLS OUT KICKER

I was watching Sportscenter at the field yesterday when I saw Jim Mora Jr, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, give a post-game press conference about his loss to the Chicago Bears 25-19. Coach Mora was extremely upset about the close defeat, and called out his kicker for missing two makeable field goals costing his team the game. He has received a lot of attention in the last few days, mostly because his father, Jim Mora, was known for his post-game rants, but also because it raises the issue of whether or not a coach should publicly criticize a member of his team in front of the media. It got me thinking about how I would handle a situation like this if I were the head coach or manager of a professional franchise. I have always felt that issues between players, or player and coach should be kept inside the locker room. There is no need for the media to know what is being said behind closed doors, and it can do nothing but cause friction in a clubhouse. I have also never liked blaming a loss on a single play or player. No single play wins or loses a ball game. It drives me nuts when people blame a loss on the player who makes a mistake at the end of a game. A football game consist of 60 minutes and over one hundred plays, and the first minute or play of the game is just as important as the last. I've talked to a lot of people about this and they say, "he makes millions of dollars to make field goals not to miss them." Most professional athletes get paid well, but they make mistakes all the time. Mistakes are part of the game, so you can't say because a player makes a lot of money he should be perfect.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

GAMES AT TEXAS AND AT HOME

I've played in two games since the last time I had a chance to write on here, an away game against the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, and a home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. We traveled to Surprise, Arizona, to play in our second game of the fall season. I played nine innings again at 2nd base and hit third in our lineup. I ended the game 2 for 4 with a line drive single to left field and a ground ball single through the six-hole. One adjustment I have been working on is staying on top of the ball and trying to hit hard ground balls and line drives, staying away from hitting the ball in the air. It has really paid off so far as a lot of the balls I have hit on the ground and on a line have found their way through the infield for base hits.
Our third game was played at home against LA and Chicago. In my first at bat of the game I hit a line drive to left field and as I made my turn around 1st base to head to 2nd, I came down awkwardly on the bag and twisted my ankle. I seem to be inventing new ways every few weeks to hurt myself this year. I finished the game 1 for 3 with a walk. In our three games this fall season I am hitting 4 for 4 with 2 walks in my first two at bats of every game, and 0 for 6 with 0 walks in my last two at bats. I noticed this same trend happening a lot during my season in Portland this year. I am not sure for the reason, but I definitely have to find a way to finish off games better at the plate.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

GAME AT CINCINNATI




Today was our first game of the Fall Ball season against the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds minor league organizations. The league is set up a little different from your ordinary Fall Ball season. Each team is made up of two minor league teams, our team consists of the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners. We traveled a few miles down the highway to play at the Cincinnati Reds complex in Goodyear, Arizona. It was nice to finally get out there and play in a game for the first time in a month and a half. I played nine innings at 2nd base and hit third in our lineup. I haven't hit third in a game since the summer of 2006, when I played for the Eugene Emeralds in the Northwest League. This year in Portland I started the season hitting lead-off, but also spent a lot time hitting in the nine hole. I know every spot in the lineup is just a number, but there's something about the top of the order that just makes you feel a lot better than the bottom does. I had a line drive single to center field in my first at bat of the game and added a walk in my next plate appearance, finishing the game 1 for 3. I actually felt a lot better at the plate that I thought I might, considering all the time off I have had lately. Your rhythm and timing is something that can easily be thrown off when you haven't played for a while. More importantly than getting hits, the at-bats in the games are used to test the mechanical changes of my swing that I have worked on in practice. Many of the changes, including creating more separation and using my hands to initiate my swing instead of my shoulders, have been improving over the last few weeks. I am happy that the first game went well and hopefully I will be able to continue making small improvements each day for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A FULL DAY OF PRACTICE

I've been out in Phoenix now for three days and am starting to fall into a routine that will stay somewhat similar for the next four weeks. The daily schedule during a day of Fall Ball is a lot different than a normal day during the season. Everyday involves a practice in the morning for about two hours before we start our games in the afternoon. We have practice Monday through Saturday, and games Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Sundays are completely off allowing everybody to get a nice day of rest and relaxation and catch up on some football. The average temperature out here during this time of year is around 100 degrees and it really starts to wear on you as the week goes on. I've received a lot of questions regarding Fall Ball and what exactly goes on while I am out here. Most of our days go as follows: I wake up everyday at 6:30 a.m. and get ready to head over to the field. I eat breakfast at around 7:15 which is served buffet style. Our staff does a really good job of having all types of different foods for us during both breakfast and lunch. After breakfast I will get a quick fifteen minute stretch in and head out to the batting cage at 8:30 for a quick thirty minutes of hitting to loosen up for the start of practice. Practice starts at 9:00 and usually goes until 11:30. A typical practice starts off with a team stretch followed by some running and throwing to loosen up. We will usually go into a quick ten minute infield/outfield. We then break up by position and will work on specific defensive drills for about thirty minutes. Next, we will hit in the batting cage off of the batting tees and also soft toss, building our way up to batting practice on the field. At 11:30 we will head in to eat lunch, followed by the game at 12:30. Since I just arrived a few days ago I am not playing in games yet. At 12:30 I head back out to the field for extra hitting for about an hour or so. When 1:30 rolls around I go to our gym for a workout for about 45 mintues and then hit the shower. I'll typically get out of the field on non game days around 3:00 and on game days around 4:00. It seems like it would be a long day of baseball, but it really does go fast when you are running around all day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

PLANE RIDE TO PHOENIX

I just arrived in Phoenix after another long six hour flight from Boston's Logan Airport. I've made this exact flight at least twenty times in the last four years and you definitely don't get used to it. I'll usually try to pass the time by reading all kinds of different books and magazines, listening to music or watching movies on my I-Touch, and playing games on my computer. Yeserday I went to Barnes and Noble to buy a few books for the ride. I bought "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch and "The 50th Law" by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Robert Greene. I have always enjoyed reading non-fiction books on just about anybody. I like finding different thoughts and ideas from other successful people's lives that I can apply in some shape or form to my own life, whether it be helping me with baseball or with everyday life. I read about one-hundred pages of 50 Cent's book on the plane, and I've got to say it is a good book. It talks a lot about the doubts and fears that everyone possesses and how to not allow them to get in the way of your dreams and aspirations. I am looking forward to finishing it over the next week.
Tomorrow is the first day of workouts and I am interested to find out how the next month or so will play out. I really have no idea what is in store for me, except for the fact that it will probably involve a baseball in some way. I will be staying in a hotel within walking distance of the park which is really convenient. I will probably still rent a car for the month though so I don't have to walk to the same four or five restaurants around the area. It will also be interesting to see who I have for a roommate. That is the one tough part about Fall Baseball and the Minor Leagues in general. The hotel rooms are usually very small with two beds practically touching each other and one bathroom for two grown men. One perk about the Big Leagues is every player is given their own room in a luxurious hotel. You never have to worry about your roommate waking up too early in the morning or staying up too late at night, or if he wants to watch an episode of The Bachelor when you want to watch Monday Night Football. I can't really complain about that though, because as many of the players in Triple-A will say when someone complains about stuff they don't like, "If you don't like it, play better." I'm excited to start bettering my play starting nice and early tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MADDEN 10

Anyone that owns Madden 10 on Xbox 360 and wants to lose let me know! I will be playing all off-season long. My gamer tag is Manto9.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BATTING PRACTICE

What's up guys? Next Sunday I will be leaving for our spring training facility in Phoenix, Arizona for fall baseball. I will be there from September 20 through October 17, practicing six days a week and participating in games four days a week. Fall baseball is always a good time of the year to practice on alot of things you are not able to work on during the season. It is hard during the regular season to really work on things because we play so many games. When the game starts you have to forget about the mechanics of your swing and just "see the ball". Having too many thoughts going on in your head at one time will lead to nothing but trouble. I learned this leason last year when I was struggling and tried to work on one hundred different things a day. Changes and adjustments made during the season should be more like adding band aids to your swing. It isn't until the off-season that you can perform the actual surgery. I have been hitting about every other day since I have been home, working on some of the mechanics that my coaches and I have gone over since the season ended. I have put a few videos up of me hitting with one of my buddies Alex Markakis. Whenever we hit, we start off with a few drills using the batting tee. We then will move back a few feet with some soft toss, followed by live throwing. The video work is done by none other than Jack Antonelli.









MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Last night I watched the Monday night Patriots vs. Bills game. Football season is my favorite time of year, and there is not better way to kickoff week one than with a Patriots Monday night game under the lights. I must say, if I was a betting man I would have had all my money on a Patriots blow out. The Bills played a great game for about fifty-eight minutes, but unfortunatly for them, and Leodis Mckelvin, it wasn't enough. In the end the Patriots did what they always do, find a way to win the game, and the Bills did what they are known for, finding a way to blow it. I guess crazy Al Davis has atleast one thing right, "just win baby."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

GAME FOOTAGE


This is some game footage taken at PGE Park in Portland, Oregon a few days after I returned from my leg injury. My dad had just bought a new video flip camera and was testing it out. Jack loves new toys.