Tag Archives: MLB Playoffs

The Work Necessary

The Kansas City Royals are 2015 American League Champions!

The Boys in Blue are in the World Series against the New York Mets!

But a weird thing happened the morning after they won the ALCS over Toronto. Instead of waking up 100% joyful and ready to roll for the Series, I woke up thinking about two plays from ALCS Game 6 and how these two plays spotlight the value of coaches doing the work necessary for their players.

  1. When Alex Rios stole second base against David Price, a left-handed pitcher who allows unbelievably few stolen bases when he is on the mound.
  2. When Lorenzo Cain scored the game-winning run from first base on Eric Hosmer’s double down the right field line.

Both plays, at face value, look totally like big plays made through the exceptional speed and athleticism of those two athletes. But if you look closer, listen to the announcer comments, and the postgame interviews of players and coaches, you begin to see a whole different story.

True, Alex Rios and Lorenzo Cain are two incredibly gifted athletes but that is not what gave them the advantage and confidence to execute those clutch plays on one of the biggest stages of their sport.

What gave both players the edge was the hard work and analysis of the coaches and advanced scouting department.

Yeah. Coaching matters, scouting matters, preparation matters. Hard work IS the magic. Although both plays look to be just a couple of plays of guys running, the amount of time and effort—film study, the scouting report from the scouts following the Blue Jays for the past few months, transfer of that information to the player—are staggering.

Case One – Rios steals second base on a jump he takes off of the first movement home by David Price. Price is difficult to steal on. He’s left handed and although he doesn’t have a great move, he has a quick slide-step delivery which makes it hard for the runner to get an aggressive lead or jump. Scouting appears to have picked up on a tendency for him to sometimes forget about the runner and not give him a “look” when he’s going to pitch the ball to his catcher. For several pitches, he peeks to Rios before delivery to home. On this particular pitch, he doesn’t peek or look to first base and goes straight home, Rios runs on Price’s first movement and is safe with a stolen base–the VERY FIRST stolen base allowed by David Price ALL YEAR. Rios did not end up scoring, but it was a blow to the confidence level of the Blue Jays and added to the pile of things they had to think about.

Scouting, picking up on tendencies, AND being able to relay those details to the player = Makes the game looks easy.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/28898650/v525581583

Case Two – Royals third base coach Mike Jirshele and the scouts studied Toronto’s exceptional right fielder, Jose Bautista. They noticed he often fields a ball down the right field line and spins to throw the ball by turning his back toward the infield instead of opening up frontside where he would be able to see the infield all the time. They also noticed he almost always wheels to the blindside and throws the relay to the shortstop positioned around second base.

Coach Jirshele planned on taking advantage of this if, and when, the situation arose. Well, it arose. In fact not only were the players coached this during practices and meetings, but they were given a refresher before game six AND Coach Jirshelle revisited this with Cain and Hosmer BEFORE the inning even started since they were due to bat.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/135309324/v525692683

Preparation works.

As a coach, when you watch hours and hours of film or live action, you begin to see patterns. When you rewind and watch a play over and over a dozen times or more, the structure patterns emerge. These patterns become tendencies when put together and analyzed.

  • Tendencies allow a coach to focus preparation.
  • Tendencies allow a coach to focus teaching.
  • Tendencies allow a coach to give his players an edge.

The word “Coach” must be used as a verb, rather than just as a noun. 

As a coach, do the work necessary to put your team in a position to succeed.

Hard work is the magic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Coaching, Training

Morning Royals Conversation

The Kansas City Royals did it again last night. They opened the American League Division Series at Anaheim against the Angels with a dramatic extra-inning win. Mike Moustakas, barely able to hit his weight all season long, hit a home run in the top of the 11th for the go-ahead run and newly-minted father, closer Greg Holland, slammed the door with another impressive save. Good defense, led by Nori Aoki’s “chasing butterflies” style of outfield defense in right field, timely hits, and strong pitching won out.

The game started late and ended late, the second stroke of midnight win in three days. Not surprisingly, the Mrs. Hays did not make the stunning conclusion of either game this week. According to her, though, she did put her two cents in toward the postseason victories this week. Here is the first morning conversation of the day:

Me: “The Royals WON again. Moose hit a homer in the 11th!”

Wife: “That’s nice. It’s only because I went to sleep.”

Me: “Well then, can you go to sleep a little earlier for tonight’s game? I’m tired.”

Wife: “You’re dumb.”

(Note: This last statement is absolutely true. I am dumb, but I’m ROYALS DUMB!!!!)

Good luck tonight, Royals. Take the first two games out west and come home to wrap up the series. I’ll do my part, perhaps a large, starch-laden pre-game meal, and make sure Mrs. Hays makes the trip to La La Land a wee bit earlier tonight so your plane can leave at a decent hour.

Royals_images

Leave a comment

Filed under Rants, Writes

The Return of the Magic Number

In my pre-teen and teen years, the Kansas City Royals went from being a cute, little expansion team into one of the most feared, most respected, and most successful organizations in Major League Baseball. It was around 1976, at the age of 12, where I became familiar with a new term associated with my beloved Royals. The Magic Number.

What is a Magic Number, you may ask? Well the masterminds of the world wide web define the term better than I could ever attempt:

(from Wikepedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_number_(sports))

In certain sports, a magic number is a number used to indicate how close a front-running team is to clinching a division title and/or a playoff spot. It represents the total of additional wins by the front-running team or additional losses (or any combination thereof) by the rival team after which it is mathematically impossible for the rival team to capture the title in the remaining games. This assumes that each game results in a win or a loss, but not a tie

The magic number is calculated as G + 1 − WA − LB, where

  • G is the total number of games in the season
  • WA is the number of wins that Team A has in the season
  • LB is the number of losses that Team B has in the season

See, easy peasy. Mathematics and sports.

The Magic Number played big in my life in the late 70’s and early 80’s. These were pre-24-hour news cycle days. There was no streaming games scores, no checking scores on the smartphone. The only phone was wired to the wall and provided little or no help to the sports enthusiast.  So every morning, I would bounce out of bed, get my bowl of Raisin Bran, open the Kansas City Times (the old morning version of the Kansas City Star) and check the Royals Magic Number Box for the latest update on the race for the playoffs. My day would often revolve around whether positive or negative information was gleaned from that particular sports news graphic.

It is with great joy that, as a newly-minted, 50-year old, I again enjoy the Royals Magic Number during this summer/fall of 2014.

Thank you, Kansas City Royals.

Keep counting down that Magic Number.

PLAYOFFS, BABY!!!!

Royals_images

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Rants