Charlie

“In moments of crisis, the initiative passes to those who are best prepared.”
Charlie Morton

Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton is 34 years-old. In 2018, Morton became an All-Star for the first time in his career. His 2018 numbers are excellent: 11 wins and 2 losses with a 2.96 ERA. Charlie Morton came into his own in 2017 in what was his 10th Major League season. He was 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA. In 2017, Charlie Morton became the first pitcher to win the both the 7th game of the League Championship Series and the 7th game of the World Series in the same season.

Charlie Morton pitched for the Indianapolis Indians in 2009 and 2010. You could see that he had the potential and the work ethic to be a fine Major League pitcher, but at that time, his self-confidence needed to improve. Morton had some success with the Pittsburgh Pirates but did not really “breakthrough” until last season with the Houston Astros. Charlie changed his approach and threw more four-seam fastballs. That increased his velocity, and he also threw more curveballs. Those changes enabled him to strike out more batters, and his results were fantastic!  I always enjoyed being around Charlie because he is a very kind and considerate person. His story is heartwarming since he did not have much success until age 33. A terrific life lesson about “hanging in there” because it can take time to reach your full potential.

 

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Kerr

“I think it is imperative to follow your heart and to choose a profession you’re passionate about.”
Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr has been the head coach of the Golden State Warriors for four seasons. During this time the Warriors have won three Championships! Steve Kerr starred at the University of Arizona and then played in the NBA for 15 years with Phoenix, Cleveland, Orlando, Chicago, San Antonio, and Portland. Steve Kerr was an outstanding three-point shooter who played on five NBA Championship teams: three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs. In his post playing days, in addition to being a coach, Kerr has been a front office executive and a broadcaster.

Steve Kerr has the “heart” of a champion and the rings to back it up! Kerr is an eight-time NBA Champion: five as a player and three as a coach. When Kerr was a teenager, his father Malcolm, who was the President of the American University of Beirut, was murdered in Lebanon. Kerr showed that he is a very “strong” person who treats people well. He has gone on to achieve so much in the game of basketball. Kerr’s players respect him because he relates very well to them. Kerr treats each player as an individual and is flexible in his approach. This enables Steve Kerr to maximize each player’s potential. He may yell at a player; however, he never will insult a player personally. Steve Kerr is less about confrontation and more about collaboration. Steve Kerr has terrific players. You must have them to win, but great coaches have an “edge and fire” to them, which Kerr possesses. Congrats to Steve Kerr and to the Warriors on winning another Championship!

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Victor

“If I continue to keep growing & make everything more consistent, I’m going to get better each year.”

Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo just completed his fifth NBA season. Oladipo played his college basketball at Indiana University and was the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He began his pro career with Orlando; was traded to Oklahoma City and then after the 2016-2017 season was dealt to the Indiana Pacers. Oladipo is 26 years old and this past season he became an NBA All-Star for the first time.
Victor Oladipo went from a solid player to an excellent player during his first season as an Indiana Pacer. Oladipo has an incredible work ethic and his dedication to exercise and diet last off season enabled him to be leaner, faster and more explosive. When the Pacers acquired Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Paul George, most people felt the Pacers did not get enough in return for George. Oladipo changed their minds! He went from averaging 15 points a game with Oklahoma City to 23 points per game with Indiana, along with five rebounds and four assists a game.
Not many people expected the Indiana Pacers to make the Playoffs this past season. With Oladipo leading the way and with a wonderful team concept, the Pacers not only made the Playoffs, they took the Cleveland Cavaliers to a seventh game. Victor Oladipo also is a terrific defensive player! A team man all the way!
Will Victor Oladipo sit back and rest on his laurels? Oladipo texted his trainer, David Alexander, right after the loss to Cleveland and asked about workout plans. Someone said to Oladipo, “Take a break and enjoy life.” Oladipo responded, “This is my life!”
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Uncle Ray

“It’s not my way or the highway, it’s our way.”

Ray Searage, Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Coach

Ray Searage pitched in the Major Leagues for the New York Mets (1981), Milwaukee Brewers (1984-86), Chicago White Sox (1986-87), and Los Angeles Dodgers (1989-90). He was a relief pitcher whose career won-loss record was 11-13 with 11 saves and a 3.50 E.R.A. 2018 marks Ray Searage’s 41st year in professional baseball as a player and a coach. He has been the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach since late in the 2010 season.

I got to know Ray Searage very well when he was the Indianapolis Indians pitching coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He is a great guy with a “heart of gold ” who helped a number of pitchers get to the Major Leagues during his time in Indianapolis.

Late in 2010, Ray became the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach. Ray Searage has thrived in that role under Manager Clint Hurdle.

Not only has Ray done a terrific job with young pitchers, but he has helped to resurrect the careers of veterans like Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ, A.J. Burnett, Edinson Volquez, Ivan Nova, Joe Blanton and others.

Ray takes into account that while each pitcher is different, he wants his staff to try to make something happen in 3 or fewer pitches and they must be able to command the fastball.

Great coaches seek first to understand then to be understood. Ray Searage is a very understanding man who instills confidence in his pitchers.

Ray Searage: One of the best coaches and one of the best people in Baseball

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Big D

“The best teams have chemistry. Good communication and they sacrifice personal glory for a common goal.”
Dave DeBusschere

Dave DeBusschere played in the NBA for 12 years (Detroit Pistons 1962-68; New York Knicks 1968-74). DeBusschere was an eight-time All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team six straight times. DeBusschere averaged 16.1 points; 11 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his career. Dave DeBusschere was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983, and in 1996 he was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary all-time team.

Dave DeBusschere was a player-coach for the Pistons for almost three seasons. Dave played professional baseball for four years; two of them with the Chicago White Sox. He gave up baseball after the 1965 season to focus on strictly on basketball.

In his post NBA playing career, Dave DeBusschere was General Manager of the Nets, Commissioner of the ABA and General Manager of the Knicks.

It was a privilege to watch Dave DeBusschere play basketball. Not only was DeBusschere a talented player, but he also was totally unselfish, a true “team man” and that added to his greatness. DeBusschere played hard, had a good outside shot, would drive to the basket, played tenacious defense, and was a fine rebounder. It should be mentioned that his fellow Knick teammates, Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, also were completely unselfish. The Knicks’ Captain, Willis Reed, also was a “team guy.” With talented players and the concept of finding the “open man,” the Knicks won two Championships (1970 & 1973).

Dave DeBusschere also had the potential to be a fine Major League pitcher. His win total was in double digits in each of his two seasons with the Indianapolis Indians (1964 & 65). He gave up baseball after the 1965 season to focus on playing and coaching basketball. DeBusschere preferred the closeness and togetherness of the basketball court. He said there was a feeling of “being alone” on the mound.

Bill Bradley said Dave DeBusschere was like an older brother to him. Dave DeBusschere died much too young (age 62). He always will be remembered for what he taught us about teamwork, work ethic, and character. Dave DeBusschere was a real professional and a true champion.

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Chipper

“I’m seeing the ball well, and when I get a pitch to hit, I’m not missing it.”

 Chipper Jones

Larry “Chipper” Jones was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Chipper Jones was taken by the Atlanta Braves with the first overall pick in Baseball’s 1990 Amateur Draft.Jones spent his entire 19 year Major League career with the Braves. Jones won the National League batting title by hitting .364 in 2008. Chipper Jones was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1999. Jones was an eight-time All-Star. His lifetime batting average was .303, and he belted 468 home runs.

Chipper Jones should be remembered as one of the best third baseman of all-time and one of the best switch hitters of all-time. His 1,623 RBI is the most ever for a third baseman. His 468 homers ranked third for switch hitters behind only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Jones is the only switch hitter whose lifetime batting average is over .300  with more than 400 home runs.

We all are after consistency. As William Shakespeare said, “Consistency, thou art a jewel.”

Chipper Jones was mighty consistent. He is 20 or more home runs for 15 straight years,  and on six occasions he hit 30 or more homers. As a rookie in 1995, Jones hit 23 home runs and helped the Braves win the World Series.

Jones’ quote about seeing the ball and making the most of every opportunity is critical. Quite often, the batter only will get one good pitch to hit per plate appearance.

Chipper Jones had great eye-hand coordination and could get the barrel of the bat on the ball even against very tough pitchers. Chipper Jones knew how to set-up pitchers. He had a great approach to hitting and was kind enough to advise young players, thereby making them better hitters. Chipper Jones also was a good base runner.

It is not only understandable that Chipper Jones was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, but it’s also easy to understand why he received 97.2% of the vote!

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“I hate losing and I’m going to do whatever it takes to be the best at whatever I’m doing.”

Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz starred at North Dakota State before being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the second overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz, who recently turned 25, moved to North Dakota at age 3 and was valedictorian of his High School class in Bismarck, in 2011.

Wentz set multiple NFL rookie passing records in 2016, among them, most pass completions. Wentz was having a magnificent season in 2017, when in week 14, he tore his ACL. Wentz led the Eagles to an 11-2 record and despite the injury, still is a candidate to be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

There is no doubt that Carson Wentz has talent; however being an elite quarterback requires much more than talent. Wentz exudes confidence but he does not do it in an arrogant manner. Wentz possesses the leadership skills that are necessary for a quarterback. Carson Wentz has a terrific work ethic and he is able to make good decisions quickly, which is an absolute must at the quarterback position. Carson Wentz also can run with the football – when needed.

Carson Wentz gives of himself with his charity work, and the manner in which he conducts himself is conducive to being a good role model. Carson Wentz is very young, 25, however he already has shown that he is a winner both on and off the football field.

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