Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Clear Eyes...Full Hearts...Can't Lose!

While still waiting for word on what NBC plans to do with Friday Night Lights, the critically acclaimed TV series that has had a tough time in the ratings battles, I thought I'd share with you the original halftime speech Coach Taylor made to the players during the season finale a couple of weeks ago. This is slightly different from the version that actually aired on that episode.

Imagine a locker room full of young, impressionable high school athletes facing the biggest collective challenge of their young lives at that very moment. And imagine the thoughts racing through the mind of a 40-something coach trying to give them the incentive to not give up despite what the scoreboard says.

“Every man’s going to lose a battle in his life. But what makes him a man is in the midst of those battles, he does not lose himself.

“His pride and character cannot be reflected on a scoreboard. When Jason Street went down in the first game of the season, everybody wrote us off. Everybody. We did not quit.

“It happens deep inside the human heart, gentlemen. When you look to the guy next to you, and you realize that no matter how difficult things are going to get out there, that he can trust you and you can trust him -- that there is no quit, that you’re going to fight out there to the bitter end – we call that clear eyes, don’t we?

“When you give everything that you’ve got, and then you realize you gave a little bit more that you didn’t even know you had, that you selflessly sacrificed for that guy next to you, we call that full hearts.

“Y’all are winners. There are no losers on that field today. This battle is not over. So let’s hear it one more time, together.

“Clear eyes. Full hearts.
Can’t lose!”

NBC is expected to make an announcement concerning the future of this show within the next few weeks. In a television world populated with one lowest-common-denominator show after another, there has to be a place for a program as well done as Friday Night Lights.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Red Sox - Yankees...17 More Of These?

First things first - no team in the history of Major League Baseball has ever won a pennant in April. Well, OK, there was that 1984 Detroit Tigers team that started the season 35-5 and kind of ran away and hid from everybody else. But you get the idea.

So excuse me if I'm not overly excited about the Red Sox having a two-game lead over the Yankees on April 21st. It's simply too long a season to get all that worked up over anything that happens in April. Injuries, trades...there's a good chance that the teams you saw on the field last night will be a lot different come August.

That said, you just KNOW that I was crowing a little bit last night watching Mariano Rivera implode against the bottom third of the Red Sox lineup. If manager Joe Torre has a flaw, it's the improper use of his bullpen. We're not even through the month of April yet and his relievers are already overused. And just think - these two teams play each other a total of 18 times this season!

Manny can lose the dreadlocks anytime now.
Roger Clemens will be in the Yankee rotation by Memorial Day.
ARod will eventually cool off and the Yankee "faithful" will start booing the best player in the game once again.
Despite the moaning of Mets fans on WFAN, David Wright will start hitting for power again (had to throw a Mets reference in).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Coach Pitch Baseball - Diary Of A Dad's Loss Of Sanity

Between playing or coaching, I have been involved in baseball for 44 years. I've had all differents kinds of experiences from staring off into space during my own Little League games to a free-agent tryout with the Yankees to a front office job with a minor league team. One of the two jobs I have right now involves teaching kids how to play baseball. I've also been a successful coach at the high school level. But nothing - absolutely nothing - could have prepared me for the experience that is called "head coach for a coach-pitch baseball team."

Take this past Saturday for example. At one point in the middle of the game, my second baseman was crouching down in the catcher's position, my right fielder was writing his name in the dirt (his spelling was perfect, BTW), my shortstop - one of the top three players on the field - threw the ball to first base once-twice-three times underhand (!), and my pitcher was rolling around in the dirt. So yes, that was me standing in short right field wondering exactly what I had gotten myself into.

Is it a bit exasperating? Well sure. But it's also a lot of fun and more rewarding than I thought it would be going in. There's nothing like the look on a little kid's face when he swings at the pitch and actually hits the darn thing. And for the parents of that child, it's an indescribable joy as they watch their son or daughter sprint (okay, maybe jog is a better word) to first base. My own son couldn't wait for this season - "It'll be real baseball, Matt. No more T-ball. Coach pitch is the just the start." Of course, he wants to know if when he gets to "kid pitch" the players then pitch to the coaches, so some of the finer points of the game are still beyond his grasp. I can tell you this - nothing...and I mean NOTHING...comes close to describing the rush of emotions when my son comes up to the plate to hit against me. He smiles at me; I smile back. And then I make a motion with my glove to let him know that a "fastball" is coming. He "digs in" even deeper in the batter's box. I wouldn't trade those moments for anything in the world. And I don't think he would, either.

As for the team's performance so far, we're 0-2. Our starting pitcher (that would be me) may have to come to the realization that when 6-year olds start taking you deep it may be time to consider hanging the spikes up. Something tells me that when the Yankees start the process of looking for Joe Torre's replacement I won't be on the short list.