Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Evolution of Baseball

The Evolution of baseball
Just like most things, baseball has evolved. No matter what phase baseball has gone through, the objectives remain the same; scoring runs for the offense and preventing runs for the defense. Unlike the other two major sports, basketball and football, time is not a factor. The evolution of baseball can be compared to the fashion industry. People design different style and looks and if others like what they see, people will wear it and it becomes a fashion craze or fad. Baseball has a tendency to follow the same pattern. If one team does something that show a certain degree of success, other teams will eventually adopt the same philosophy creating change.
    Many changes have been made in the passing years for various reasons; to promote safety, speed up the game, promote more offense or to bring the level of competition between the pitcher and hitter closer just to name a few. Some view these changes as being intrusive and unnecessary while other see it as progress improving the game. There are some who contend, to some degree, that these changes have contributed to the declining use of some of the game’s most exciting skills: base stealing, base running, bunting and complete games while promoting others such as the home run, strike outs and relief pitching.
   The changes in the game have affected the way players perform, managers manage, and coaches instruct. Marketing of teams has affected the way team dress and owners run their organizations. For better or for worst, the game has survived all of our interference and tinkering.
    Some of the most obvious changes are in the offensive schemes of more teams. Teams have shifted their focus to relying more on power, even those that once was known for their passion or dependence on speed, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A’s and let’s not forget the New York Mets. Positions that once were considered defensive positions are now asked to have a heavier offensive impact. The arts of base stealing and bunting have dwindled but appear to be making a comeback. Where speed was once a priority is now a luxury. Pitching has become more specialized and bunt defensives have become more sophiscated where bunting itself is used less. As bigger, stronger athletes claim their influences on the game, smaller ballpark has forced many of these changes as well. Accept for Sunday afternoon, day games are a rare occurrence. However, Sunday afternoon games are often being adjusted to night games because of TV. For marketing purposes, teams are regularly changing color schemes. Teams once owned by families now have corporate ownership and all of us have noticed the economics of the game. I’m not saying that the changes are bad or good just noting the changes I have seen in my short career.
   Baseball, once only considered the great American pastime and now the life line of many communities, is constantly evolving and I am waiting for the next phase. Until it happens, I will continue to enjoy and promote the great game of baseball.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Freqently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
As professional athlete and member of a championship team, I am asked to attend many functions. It is not uncommon to be asked to speak to the audience. The topics are usually predetermined by the organizers. Part of my presentation requires me to allow the people in attendance to ask questions. This is always the highlight of the evening. I will take this opportunity to answer some of those frequently asked questions.
How did you get the name Mookie?
Contrary to a previously publicized explanation, I did not get my name because of not being able to pronounce the word milk nor did my grandmother give it to me. I don’t know how I got the name and I don’t know what it means. To my knowledge, it has no specific meaning. Sorry, that’s the best I can do.
Do you miss playing?
Most players will not admit it but they are some that would love to turn back the clock to get one more chance to play the game that they love. This is not to say that they miss playing but they miss the competition. When you get to a certain age, playing is easy but preparing to play is what becomes difficult. No, I don’t miss playing but I do miss the thrill of competition.
What field was your favorite to play on?
Every ball player prefers playing at home because he always has the fan behind them and playing on the road can be difficult because of the fan factor. That being said, there are ballparks that have great playing surfaces, good hitting backgrounds and perfect lighting. Wrigley Field was that park for me.
What manager did you enjoy playing for the most?
During my career, I played for 5 managers but for discussion purpose, I will only name the 3 that I had for a length of time, David Johnson, Joe Torre, and Cito Gaston. All were very good managers that communicated well with their players. Because of his coaching style, I must say Cito Gaston.  He seemed to embrace the running game more which I enjoyed the most. It must also be noted that I was a little older at this time and was more accepting to the managing and coaching philosophy. In other words, I had a better understanding of the game and the manager’s job.
Do you ever see or talk to Bill Buckner?
People ask this question a lot and they appear surprise when I give them the answer. Bill and I have become very good friends over the years and we either see or speak to each other quite often. As a matter of fact, we are currently working on a joint project that will hopefully be announced in the near future.
How often do you get asked about the Buckner play?
I’m asked about that play very often.  If it is baseball season, the topic comes up every day.
What were you thinking when you hit the ball to Buckner?
Because of censorship, I can’t say what I was thinking, just trust me, you don’t want to know.
Would you have beaten Buckner to the base?
I would love to tell you yes because it would work wonders for my ego. In all honest, I don’t know. Bill and I have talked about this many times and we both agree that it would have been interesting to know what would have happened.
Do you feel sorry for Buckner?
I do not and he doesn’t want me or anyone else to. I do regret that both of our careers have come to be defined by one play. If you are a baseball fan, you must know how good of a player Bill was.
Would you like to manage in the future?
Yes! I don’t think that there are many coaches in the majors or minors that would not want to try managing at some point. As coaches, we must keep in mind that all good players and coaches do not always mean that you will be a good manager but I think that I can handle it.
The questions can go on for hours but just like at most events, I have to stop at some point. See you next week.