“You go through stretches where you get lucky hits.”
Cody Bellinger is in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bellinger was taken out of high school (Chandler, Arizona) by the Dodgers in the fourth round of Baseball’s Amateur Draft in 2013. In 2007, Cody Bellinger played in the Little League World Series. Cody’s father, Clay, was a utility player in the Major Leagues and played on a couple of World Championship New York Yankee teams. Cody Bellinger rose through the Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League System very quickly and got to the Major Leagues in late April of 2017, at age 21.
Cody Bellinger was being very modest when he made this statement about getting lucky hits! Cody Bellinger is the Dodgers answer to Aaron Judge! Both are rookies, All-Stars and MVP candidates. Bellinger, who turned 22 on July 13, is three years younger than Judge. Bellinger was promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City to the Dodgers on April 25th and has been “tearing up” Major League pitching. He belted nine homers in May and became the first rookie ever to hit 10 home runs in a stretch of 10 games! Bellinger already has five multi-homer games and has hit more than 20 home runs this season. Cody Bellinger runs well but when you hit home runs you trot around the bases! It is a joy to watch Cody Bellinger swing the bat. He has terrific wrists and an explosive swing. Whether it is Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve, and many others, it is great to see so many excellent, young players in Major League Baseball!
On Friday, I will be privileged to broadcast my 6,000th Indianapolis Indians game! it has been a labor of love! My thanks to the Indians and to all the wonderful people I have met along the way!
“Every time I go up to hit, I feel like it’s going to be my moment.”
Aaron Judge is in his first full season in the Major Leagues. Judge played college baseball at Fresno State and was taken by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft. Aaron Judge made his Major League debut with the Yankees last August and homered in his first at bat. Judge batted only .179 with four homers in 84 at bats and he struck out 42 times. Aaron Judge has been sensational in 2017!
Aaron Judge is 6’7 282 pounds and his power to all fields is incredible. Aaron Judge is about much more than home runs. He sets a great example by playing hard and with passion. He runs well and gives you everything he has in right field. It is so important to note that since he is hitting home runs to all fields, he is not getting into bad habits at the plate. Many power hitters constantly try to pull the ball so it is much easier for pitchers to pitch to them.
Aaron Judge cut down on his leg kick this season and the results have been astounding. He is batting over .300 with more than 20 homers. Aaron Judge is a fine young man with a terrific work ethic. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and Judge has made some that put him on the path to greatness!
“It’s our people and work ethic. The six Hall of Fame QB’s from Western PA. didn’t do it themselves.”
Johnny Unitas won three NFL Championships and one Super Bowl. He was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection who was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player on three occasions. Joe Montana was a four-time Super Bowl Champion and a three-time Super Bowl MVP. Montana played in eight Pro Bowls and twice was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Joe Namath led the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. Namath was a four-time AFL All-Star and two-time AFL MVP. Dan Marino was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who was the NFL’s MVP in 1984. Jim Kelly was a five-time Pro Bowl selection who led the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls. George Blanda played more seasons of Pro Football (26) than anyone else played. He was a four-time AFL All-Star who also won the AFL’s MVP. Blanda made a name for himself as a place kicker, too.
These six men all from Western Pennsylvania are six of the 26 quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That one region in the Country is the cradle of quarterbacks is truly incredible! Western Pennsylvania has produced other fine quarterbacks but these are the best of the best! I think, like most people, I would rank Tom Brady as the best quarterback of all-time with Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas neck and neck for second and third. Joe Namath was a great quarterback for a short period of time and Dan Marino and Jim Kelly were outstanding for many years. Western Pennsylvania had its foundation in coalmines, steel mills, and railroads. Many of the great athletes from there were first and second generation sons of immigrants. The toughness, work ethic, and great attitude that these people possessed made them really special!
Posted in Inspirational Sports Stories
Tagged Dan Marino, football, George Blanda, Howard Kellman, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Johnny Unitas, NFL, sports, Tom Brady
“I’m 60 years old and want to do things away from basketball.”
Larry Bird stepped down last week as the Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations. Bird is the only man in NBA history to be the League’s Most Valuable Player, the Coach of the Year and the Executive of the Year. Larry Bird was the National Player of the Year, his senior season at Indiana State (1979). The following season, he was the NBA Rookie of the Year. Larry Bird was named the NBA Most Valuable Player on three occasions. He was named MVP of the NBA Finals twice and was an All-Star in 12 of his 13 seasons. Larry Bird led the Celtics to three Championships in the 1980’s.
I first saw Larry Bird play when he was a junior at Indiana State. I recognized how talented he was but I do not think anyone realized that he would go on to become one of the greatest players in NBA history. Larry Bird had incredible eye-hand coordination. Let’s remember that not only was he a great scorer, but he also was a good rebounder and an excellent passer. Bird was a team player, one who would dive for loose balls.
Larry Bird was the head coach of the Pacers for three years; they went to the League Finals once and the Conference Finals the other two seasons. During Bird’s time as President of the Pacers, they went to the Conference Finals on three occasions. Anyone in that position, will have his “hits and misses.” The last couple of seasons were especially challenging and Bird felt it was time to “move on.” For all of his successes, Larry Bird came close as a coach, but was unable to bring the Indiana Pacers a Championship as a coach or as an executive.
“It’s about run production and run reduction with defense & pitching.”
Buck Showalter has been the manager of the Baltimore Orioles since 2010. Showalter has been a Major League Manager for almost 20 years. He managed the New York Yankees from 1992 to 1995; the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998 to 2000; and the Texas Rangers from 2003 to 2006. Showalter has been named the American League Manager of the Year on three occasions: 1994, 2004, and 2014. Showalter managed in the Minor Leagues with the Yankees for five seasons. He played Minor League Baseball in the Yankees’ system for seven years.
Buck Showalter is one of the best managers in Major League Baseball. Showalter is very detail oriented and that is one of his strengths. I spoke with Don Wener, the Baltimore Orioles catching coordinator, about Showalter. Here is what Werner has to say about Showalter: “Buck is brilliant with the pitching staff. He has a great feel for match ups. Buck runs a great spring training. It is very organized. Buck is concerned about all of his players and treats every one of them with respect. Buck’s work ethic is second to none.” Well deserved praise for Buck from Don Werner. Quite often, managers are given more credit than they should be given when a team wins and conversely managers often are criticized more than they should be when a team loses. A manager must have talent to win; the great ones like Buck Showalter know how to maximize that talent and get their teams to overachieve and to play winning baseball.
“I was brought into situations God couldn’t get out of, and I got out of them.”
Rich “Goose” Gossage
Rich Gossage pitched in the Major Leagues with nine teams over 22.years. Gossage appeared in 1,002 games and led the American League in saves on three occasions. Not only did Gossage save 310 games, but he also compiled 124 wins. Gossage was a nine-time All-Star, who in a seven year period (1977-1983), never had an ERA above 2.62. Rich Gossage was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
The “Goose” was a great pitcher, a tough guy, and a fierce competitor! Gossage is quite outspoken about the way baseball has changed over the years. He makes a valid point about his opposition to players who used steroids getting into the Hall of Fame. Gossage also is correct when he points out that it now takes two or three pitchers to get the same number of outs that Gossage got when he was a “closer.” Gossage frequently came into games in the 7th and 8th innings when there were two or three men on base. 125 of Gossage’s saves required six or more outs. The game has changed with “set up” men pitching and quite often dominating the 7th and 8th innings. Closers usually only pitch one inning these days. Gossage and his fellow Hall of Fame relief pitchers Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers were masters of the difficult multi inning saves. Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley and others also were great with one-inning saves.
Gossage is “old school”. He is a tough guy, and when I share this next story, you will understand why I feel that he is a really good man. When Gossage joined the New York Yankees in 1978, his manager, Billy Martin, told him to hit Texas Rangers outfielder Billy Sample in the head, with a pitched ball. Many pitchers will not disobey a manager’s orders, especially when that pitcher has just joined the team. Gossage realized he could seriously hurt Billy Sample and told Billy Martin that he would not hit him with a pitched ball. Gossage realized it would adversely affect his relationship with Billy Martin, but in the end Gossage did the right thing and showed he was a man of principle.