The Baseball Saga Continues…

I have a AA game tonight.  It is against the Indians, again.  We have three games in a row against them.  At our last meeting, we were destroyed, there really isn’t another word for it.  The final, as I know I have written, was 28-8.

In speaking with the other coaches and reflecting upon the season, we’ve come to realize that part if not most of the issues are with our pitchers.  We seem to be good for about 2 innings and then the pitchers lose control.  This causes “bad” hits and then the team seems to lose confidence, almost immediately.

So, tonight, the Pitching Technical Director for Babe Ruth is coming out to take a look at the pitchers live.  I plan on pitching 7 guys so that he will be able to look at most of the staff, take notes and then will be able to advise on areas where improvement is needed and what work can be done.

Moving forward, I am going to only schedule my starter for 2 innings, regardless of pitch count.  If he is at 20-30 after 2, he may be able to continue into the 3rd inning, BUT, that has not worked up to this point.  For some reason, my pitchers arm strength doesn’t seem to be improving this year like it should.  By this point last year, I had players pitching well into the 5th inning without any issues.

If I need to adjust my pitching rotation, so be it.  Something needs to change so I will start there.

One of my coaches, SS, suggested a non baseball related event for the boys to try to build up some level of familiarity with the players, other than just playing together.  I am going to see what they want to do.  I am having a quick discussion with the parents before the game to go over the season thus far and pretty much tell them what I’ve written here.  I am sure that none of them will object to spending $50 for a team event – players only (and coaches), no parents, no siblings.  I am thinking laser tag or mini-putt or bowling and then food.  Something along those lines.  Something fun and then food – teen boys like food, don’t we all?

Hopefully we can get the team back on track.  Wish us some luck (again).

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Well, that didn’t work…

We had a great practice on Monday evening.  Did a lot of infield and outfield work, catcher work as well.  The boys were working hard and doing a good job.

So I was optimistic for last evenings game.  We had a great pre-game.  Infield was solid, outfield was solid.

We had two good innings.  It was 40 pitches over two innings which is a bit high but the score after 2 was 3-0 which isn’t that bad.  The third inning saw the wheels fall off.  We gave up 9 runs in pretty quick succession. By the time I got a reliever ready to go, it was pretty much too late.

I tend to learn from mistakes. Perhaps, even though it is 1/3 into the season, arm strength isn’t there and the starting pitcher can only go two innings.  I don’t know but that is the way it seems.  So, for Thursday and beyond, until the pitchers get with it (arm strength wise), they get pulled at around 40 or so – 50 tops maybe?  Seems to be a low pitch count, VERY low but if that is what needs to be done, so be it.  We have a lot of potential pitchers.  Actually, the last pitcher in last nights game threw very well.  Mind you, we were down 19-0 at the time.  Our opponent might have been giving us mercy outs…

I have never had a team quite like this, never.  Individually, I think we have a good group of ball players.  Put them all on the field together and it becomes quite the show.  I have my work cut out for me.  Wish me some luck, wish US some luck, would ya?

Thanks.

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Start of the ball season (round 2)

Had a very good baseball practice last night.  Most of the team was out, which was a good thing.  I had two players missing because they were at the final try-out for the travel team.  I could have been a mean guy and made them come to the practice as team events come first but I wouldn’t want to risk them not making the team and at least they were doing baseball.  One other player was away for school flag football, not overly happy that he missed because of that.  The last missing player was sick.

We worked on infielding, outfielding, catchers throwing to first base and second base, double plays…  All things that they boys know how to do, yet, in games, have not been able to do with any regularity.

Last night they were confident with their fielding skills.  We will see how it plays out tonight at our game.  We are starting over.  We have forgotten the last month and a bit of baseball – there wasn’t too much worth remembering really…

I received a call from a new doctor yesterday.  There is a service in Alberta that will find a new doctor for you.  I had a doctor but they were across town, very near where I used to live.  This doctor is close to where I am now.  It is a meet and greet.  I am sure he will want me to do blood tests or something, they always seem to want me to do that.  In general, I think I am in pretty good health.

I do plan on starting to work out in the near future.  When?  Not exactly sure.  The office has a great gym in it and it is free.  I am thinking I will start working out either after baseball at night or early in the morning – like right now.  I’d work out today, except I am writing this blog entry.  :)

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Healing – Personal and Baseball

It has been just over a week since I had to make the hardest decision of my life and put Zeus down.  It was a bit of a hard week, for both myself and Blondie.

Blondie still isn’t eating quite properly, only about half as much as she normally does.  She is drinking water though, so that is good.  She’s eating when she’s hungry so I am not overly worried about it.

I have tried to keep her quite busy and we’ve made many trips to the dog park, I think that has helped her.  She has been tired, we tend to go to bed late in the summer and get up early.  She has been trying to catch up on her sleep I think.  When I have been out for baseball, she has been left out of her crate and has been good – this is something new.  She hasn’t chewed on anything that doesn’t belong to her.  If this continues until the middle of June or so, I will disassemble her crate and will put it in storage.  I am hopeful that she has gotten past that stage.

I received a call from the vet on Friday that Zeus was ready to be collected.  I will post a picture of the urn that I purchased for him (later).  It looks good and I will always have him with me.  I do miss him, likely will for some time and will always remember him.  He was my first dog and was a good dog.  RIP Zeus.  :)

On the baseball front, the AAA team split a pair of games this weekend.  Lacklustre hitting cost us a win on Saturday, dropping a 7-2 decision to the Dodgers.  On Sunday. our ace threw another complete game for a 6-0 victory.  I don’t think he’s had a start where it wasn’t a complete game thus far this season.  Definitely on of the top pitchers in the league.  He made it look easy on Sunday, cruising with only 69 pitches in 7 innings.

With the AA’s, we are doing a reset, starting tonight.  We currently sit at 1-7.  One win, 2 close losses and 4 blow-outs.  When I say blow-out, that is being generous…  I don’t think I have ever had a team not come together before like this.  Well, maybe that awful season back in 2002, but I try to forget that one…

Anyway, I want to start over.  Forget the past month of ball and start with a clean slate.  I am hoping that the guys agree with me and they start to do what I think they can do.  Guess we will see, we play tomorrow against the team that killed us last week.  We meet them again on Thursday as well.  It’ll be a good test.

Off to work.  Well, not really off, I am already in my office.  Enjoy your day and week.

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First umpiring gig of the season

I have returned to umpiring this summer, albeit in a very part time basis.

With coaching two teams (well, coaching one, managing one), I have very little spare time. On the days that I do have off, I don’t want to umpire on all of them.

Last night I was behind the plate for a Big League game, essentially older Little League players. I figured that the quality was going to be bad but it was a really good game and I enjoyed myself.

After the game, I had the first bonfire of the year.

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It was a perfect night for it, no wind and cool. The fire pit in my year is pretty big, could hold a huge fire. I am a bit of a pyro, so, knowing this, I kept it smallish.

Baseball game at 1pm today. Other than that, no plans. Enjoy your weekend.

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And, it got worse…

I am sort of at a loss.

My AA team last night took a huge step back.  I can’t really describe it in any other way.

We started out well.  We battled in the first inning and gave up on one run.  In the bottom of the first, we scored two, not a bad start by any means.

In the second, the Indians scored 8 runs to take a 9-2 lead.  That can be tough to come back from.

Pitching was an issue.  Infield defense was an issue.  Outfield defense was an issue.  Catching was an issue.

The onslaught continued.  I changed pitchers.  I changed the catcher.  It didn’t seem to matter.

In the bottom of the 5th, we were down a 28-8.  Yes, that’s correct.  28-8.  In case you are wondering, I coach baseball, NOT football.  If it were football, that would still be a blowout but a positive thing would be that perhaps we scored a 2 point convert.

There were no positives last night.  None that I could think of last evening and none that I can think of this morning while writing this blog.

I didn’t really say much at our post game team meeting.  What was I supposed to say?  Should I have yelled at them?  What good would that do?  Each and every one of them knew what the score was…

I really don’t know where we go from here, I really don’t.  In 20+ years of coaching, I have never had a group that played this badly.

We have the weekend off.  That is a good thing.  There are practice sessions that the league is running on both Saturday and Sunday.  I hope that the players will attend.  They need the help.

Our next practice session is Monday.  We need practice.  The league HAS to change things so that we get more outdoor practice sessions.  I am not sure how we do this but it has to be done.  Indoor sessions are fine but when you are practicing on turf, you get true bounces.  On a grass infield, you get crappy bounces.  You can’t practice fly balls in the outfield inside.  We apparently need outfield practice and lots of it.

Two of my AAA players have offered to assist at my practice on Monday work work with the outfielders.  Hopefully they can give them some pointers that I have not been able to give them.

I suppose that there is only one place to go from here, up.  Of course, I said that a few weeks ago and it didn’t happen then.

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A step forward, a couple back

My AA club played last night against the Dodgers.  Great night for baseball, temperature was in the low 20’s and stayed there for most of the game.

We played a great 4 innings.  Unfortunately, we play 7 inning ball games.

Mu starting pitcher did a very nice job, defense was solid behind him.  He left with a 5-4 lead.  My reliever threw well but the guys behind him didn’t quite get the job done.  In 18 pitches that we thrown in the 4th inning, they scored 7 runs.  Only one of those 7 were earned.  Not good.

Over 7 innings offensively, we struck out 7 times.  Six of those times were looking at strike 3.  The boys would claim that the strike zone was off.  Well, yes, it was, but the strike zone didn’t changed in the game, it was consistently low.  If he rings up a guy in the first inning on a low strike and does it again in the second inning, what excuse does the guy that it happens to in the third inning have?  Not much, I would say.  Players need to learn to adjust…

So, we are now 1-6 on the season.  Not a good start.  We play again tonight, hopefully we will improve upon last nights game.  If we can play a full 7 innings like we did the first 4, it won’t be an issue.

We have the weekend off as some of the guys are away for the travel team.  We finally have a team practice on Monday, outside.  We need more practice time.  The league has to find time for teams somewhere.  Indoor workouts are great but outdoor practice is needed.  Hopefully, if I sit on the Board next year as I plan to, I can push the league in that direction.  We will see.

Anyway, wish us some luck for tonight, we need some.  Go ROCS !!!

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Starting to get there

Last evening, my AA team had batting practice in one end of town and then when that ended, the AAA team played in the other end of town.

So, I started the night at batting practice.  I didn’t have to throw any pitches which was nice.  I spent the hour talking to players, watching two pitchers work in the bullpen and spent 5 minutes talking to players about stats.

I left the Coyote Den at 7:05 or so and headed west to Optimist Park.  I arrived in the top of 2 with the Rockies (my team) up 2-0 against the undefeated Giants.  We had our Ace on the mound, a hard throwing right-hander.

It was a quick game with our pitcher making it look easy and we held a strong hitting Giants team to only 1 run in a 11-1, 6 inning victory.  In the handshake line after the game, the Manager of the Giants did not look happy, not at all.  He is normally a pretty easy going type of guy, not on this evening.  I get like that at times as well, when my guys don’t do what we expect of them.

So, chalk up another victory for a 4-3 record on the season, second place behind the previously undefeated Giants.

The AA’s play tonight and again tomorrow and then have the weekend off.  A few of the AA players play for the travel club and they are headed to Montana for the weekend – best of luck.

Blondie spent the evening by herself.  I decided when I left not to put her in her crate.  She has been out of it for about 3 weeks and has been good, no chewing or other damage.  Last night would have been the first time in her life that she has been left alone, no people and no Zeus.  I am sure that the transition has to be hard for her.  She is doing better though, she is now eating which is good and eating without me putting anything tempting on it.  She is still holding her tail down but I am sure that will come back up and she’ll be her own, happy, goofy girl in no time.  I am giving her a lot of extra attention and making sure she knows that she is loved.

Well, it is still early, just after 5am but the dark of the night is now being replaced by the early morning light.  Time for a walk and get the day going.

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Back to the routine

Back to work today.  It will be good getting back into a regular routine.  I just got in from walking Blondie, not a long walk but about a kilometer or so.  I can tell she is still not back to normal.  She is holding her tail down, it is normally high and bouncy.  I am sure it will take a little bit of time before all is well in her world, mine too.  She also isn’t eating which is a little concerning but I am sure she will today – she didn’t eat at all yesterday.  If not, I will add some tuna to her food, that’ll get her to eat.

It is a short work week for me.  Today, tomorrow and Thursday is all I have to do.  I was originally supposed to be off this week but since I took a week off at the end of April, I figured I would work now.  No need for an extra week off.  I am off on Friday though, so that will be good.

Back to baseball tonight after a weekend (and more) of rain and bad field conditions.  We have a number of make-up games to get in.  I also have my first umpiring assignment this Friday.  It is Big League which will likely be pretty bad ball, but that’s ok.  Not everyone is cut out to play competitive baseball.

No AA games this coming weekend as one of the travel teams is away and I will be missing a number of players.  I will be busy with AAA games though, so it will keep me out of trouble.

Well, since it is well past 6:30, I should get to work.  Hoping for a good week for you and me.

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Life goes on…

Saturday and Sunday were sort of tough days. I posted my tribute to Zeus on Facebook and a lot of people said how sorry they were for my loss. Zeus wasn’t just a dog, he was my first dog and he was also the first male dog that the D’Arcy clan has ever had.

I posted a bunch of pictures as well, right from the time that I adopted Zeus up until his last day. I enjoyed the memories they brought back, of the good times.

I found a video of Zeus and Blondie from October, 2013 that was taken when they stayed at their pet resort when I went to Ontario for work. It is a great video, they are having a blast playing outside. Zeus looked like the young, vibrant dog that I will remember.

I’m still having a bit of a hard time when I remember my little buddy. I guess when you’ve lived every day together for nearly 9 years, that happens. Tears still come far too easily when I think about him. I’ll get over his loss, not sure how long it’ll take but I know his pain is gone, and that’s the most important thing.

Blondie seems to be doing ok as well. I’ve kept her very busy. We went to the dog park yesterday and spent nearly 3 hours there. She swam in the river for the first time this year and had a great time. We went to a different dog park today and she had a shorter swim this time. We were both kind of tried so we finished the afternoon with a nap. She’s still napping.

I plan on using my experience with Zeus to make things with Blondie better for her and likely better for me. No more skipping walks. I want to make sure that she experiences everything she can, everything that I can give to her, it is the least I can do. 

I don’t think I did a bad job with Zeus, but I want to improve upon it with Blondie.

I’m hoping that’s she’s ok without having a dog buddy for the time being. She hasn’t lived a day on this planet without a 4-legged companion. I’m thinking that when I return from my trip to Ontario in September that I’ll look for a friend for Blondie. I am not trying to replace Zeus, that would be impossible. I think both she and I would like another dog running around and there are always dogs needing good homes in the humane societies around the area. Giving one of them a second chance at a good life can only be a good thing.

Back to the normal routine tomorrow. I am glad I work from home. Blondie doesn’t have to be all by herself. Leaving her by herself will be sometime this week, I can’t take her everywhere with me.

Thanks for your thoughts on this experience, it means a lot to me.

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