Posted 6 days ago

PERFECTION

I was able to catch some ESPN show (E:60 or 360 or some combo of letters and numbers) the other night that was talking about the perfect games (and near misses) that have been thrown throughout baseball history. Great show if you love baseball, and it takes an inning-by-inning look onto the field, and into the dugouts and minds of the key players.

I did some pitching in my time, and never came close to tossing a perfecto, or even a no-hitter. I was a notoriously slow starter that made for exciting first innings, but settled-down OK. However, I have experienced a no-hitter; not from the mound, but in the field.

Back to the Little League fields in my hometown. The last time I posted about that place and the Barry Petroleum Padres, it was to discuss the Coalinga earthquake. On this night, big David Woods (or Wood, I can’t remember), was on the mound and I was playing first base. The night was unmemorable for the most part, either it was a boring game or I’m just getting too old to remember. Things got interesting in the last inning. We knew David had a no-no going, but our manager (David’s father), made the curious decision to take my portly rear-end off of first base and placed me in centerfield. That move baffles me to this day because I’d never really played in the outfield, but I was a good soldier and took my place right in front of the scoreboard. I don’t recall the first out, but the second out was a tough grounder to the hole and a kid named Matt Wires mad a nice play at shortstop and threw the hitter out at first.  Two down. David was one out away from a no-hitter. Now it was getting good.

I don’t remember the name of the left fielder. I know that he was even less athletic than I was, and I remember that his shoe was untied. He yelled for me to tell me that his shoe was untied, and I just gave him the standard “palms-up” response of a confused 12 year-old kid. He knelt to tie his shoe and didn’t ask for time. His glove was off and laying on the grass in front of his left foot. I was trying to keep my eye on the hitter but I kept looking-over to see if he had his shoe tied. As he rose to his feet and adjusted his glove, the ball was hit to the left field-side of the alley. $#*^! I remember seeing him fall down on his face, and knew that the entire weight of this no-hitter now rested solely on my ability to get to the baseball. I’m not sure that I’ve ever run faster, but I took the right angle and was able to catch the baseball with an extended glove followed by what felt like a very smooth somersault of sorts! I rolled and stuck the landing, and popped-up with my glove elevated to show the world I made the catch. I never broke stride, passing the left fielder that was rolling around on the ground in pain, his foot lodged deep in the gopher hole that caused him to fall. Big David and Matt Wires met me at deep short and we hopped around, celebrating the unlikely no-hitter and the less-likely catch in the power alley. 

Funny how life works that way. I may never witness another no-hitter in person for the rest of my life, but I don’t need another one. 

Posted 1 week ago

CHICKEN

Pretty solid weekend performance by the McEnroe family.  Started with a great team effort on Saturday by the Little Leaguers, followed by a little powderpuff football for one daughter and a movie (42) on the couch for the rest of us.  Sunday included a nice breakfast and a good chunk of my day spent assembling an elliptical machine out in the garage. Not fun. Worked-in a BBQ last night, played some catch, and caught one of the two television shows I watch regularly, Naked and Afraid (American Pickers being the other).

My biggest point of contention had to do with the BBQ.  Several things:

  1. Don’t mess with my fire. The wife decided she was going to throw some branches into my fire and disrupted the mound of coals early in the process. Fortunately, at the expense of the nerves in my hands, I was able to re-stack the coals and the fire was good, until;
  2. Don’t throw a baseball into my fire. Young son fired a fastball wide of home plate and right into the kettle. Coals and sparks everywhere. Again, into the fire with my hands in an effort to save dinner;
  3. I hate cooking chicken. In fact, I don’t really like the taste of grilled chicken, I prefer it baked. I promised myself a few years back that I would never grill chicken again EXCEPT for one recipe that I have mastered and wowed guests with in the past. I was asked to, “cook the chicken with the tri-tip so that we can use it this week”, and I gave-in. Mistake. I was putting-out chicken fat-induced fires like an LA County firefighter in the foothills in October. Drives me nuts, I hate grilling chicken unless I am using my Santa Maria cooker and can move the grate up and out of harm’s way. Made for a stressful half hour or so, but the tri-tip was excellent but had too much smoke for my taste. Thanks fat chicken, stay off my grill.

My second point of contention is that Naked and Afraid has become too easy. Not that I could live for 21 days on one meal, but I miss the episodes where the contestants are so mad at each other that they nearly go insane. Last night, they had a nice, dry cave and plenty of water. All they did on the episode was lay around and talk about being hungry. They had fire in the first five minutes, how hard could it have been to catch a snake. If that show doesn’t step-up the misery meter, I’m finished with it.

24 starts in under a month. You never knew me during my hardcore 24 days, and you will experience a level of writing and fandom that you have not seen out of me. I love Jack Bauer and I love me some 24!

Posted 1 week ago

FRIDAY MISC.

This will be a poor-man’s version of my regular, in-season Friday posts.  Those posts include staff lunch info and a song of the day, so I reckon I can do that much today.

We didn’t have a staff lunch. In fact, we didn’t take lunch at all, as everyone was working diligently through the noon hour. At about 12:55 pm Coach Rich and I found a half-eaten box of doughnuts and a couple sodas left over from the TV production guys, so I had a maple bar and a Coke Zero for lunch. CLUTube dudes, we owe you two Coke Zeros…

This week’s Song of the Weekend is from Jimmy Buffett.  The title cracks me up; The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful, and it sounds like this one is a live version from Camden Yards in Baltimore. I picked this song because someone that doesn’t live here, where the weather is not nearly as nice, told me that he was awaiting my standard “practice and weather” blog post. 

I am now leaving the building to check-out the #3-ranked CLU baseball team. From there, I will be traveling to both Vons (rib eyes for $5.99 per pound and whole chickens for $.88 per pound) and Albertsons (untrimmed tri tip roast, $3.99 per pound.  Use the trimmings to oil your grill grates) to hit the weekend meat sales and purchase some charcoal for my old man’s beloved Weber Kettle. I’m going to coach some Little League baseball, I’m going to enjoy the company of my beautiful family and the sun shining on my face, we’ll have a couple friends over at some point in time I’m sure, I’ll listen to some more Buffett and some good country music, and hopefully I’ll catch a nap in there somewhere.  Life is good, God is great, be where your feet are!

Posted 1 week ago
DRUM BEATS
The wife and I had a discussion this morning about how awesome the drummers were in the 1980s.  You don’t hear dominant drum beats in the music of the last 20 years like you did back then. In fact, the only drummers that I can name post-1990s are Dale from Step Brothers and Justin Bieber, and he turned his back on his drum kit and look where that got him.
Seriously, look at this short, murderer’s row of five 1980s drummers and enjoy the video links. There were others, and there are more talented, but this is an impressive, talented cross-section:
Phil Collins: had to go here simply on the merit of his drum play on, In the Air Tonight.  Strong beat all the way through, but forward to about the 3:15 mark and blast the speakers on your computer. Collins is a magician on the drums.
Alex Van Halen: Next time you attend a CLU Football game, listen to the pre game mix. We take heat because not everyone likes the music, which is a tasteful fusion of rap, country, metal, and classic rock.  Hot for Teacher is generally in the line-up, simply because I love the drum beat in that song and Diamond Dave makes me laugh. I will refrain from linking this tune to it’s video… SIT DOWN, WALDO!
Stewart Copeland: Drummer for the Police.  Sting tends to dominate the conversation when you talk Police, but there isn’t a Police tune where Copeland doesn’t have a strong influence, including 1980’s Message in a Bottle. Don’t crank this one, poor recording quality.
Rick Allen: Drummer for Def Leppard.  Lost his left arm in an ‘84 car accident that almost killed him.  Came back with a vengeance, listen to anything they did after ‘84 and you will realize that life is about your mindset.
Tommy Lee: Drummer for Mötley Crüe. First great drummer I ever saw live, 1983 or so at the Bakersfield Civic Auditorium.  Shout at the Devil Tour with Night Ranger. Mom still doesn’t know I was there… And I know that Wild Side is not from the Shout at the Devil album.  It is from Girls, Girls, Girls. Duh, everyone knows that. But check-out the spinning drum cage at the 2:15 mark.
Rock on, world wide web!
Oh yeah:
Practice was a blast this morning;
 The weather was in the 30s in the AM but heating-up for a great weekend to grill;
Probably going to have my Little League coaching staff over on Saturday for a cookout. 

DRUM BEATS

The wife and I had a discussion this morning about how awesome the drummers were in the 1980s.  You don’t hear dominant drum beats in the music of the last 20 years like you did back then. In fact, the only drummers that I can name post-1990s are Dale from Step Brothers and Justin Bieber, and he turned his back on his drum kit and look where that got him.

Seriously, look at this short, murderer’s row of five 1980s drummers and enjoy the video links. There were others, and there are more talented, but this is an impressive, talented cross-section:

Phil Collins: had to go here simply on the merit of his drum play on, In the Air Tonight.  Strong beat all the way through, but forward to about the 3:15 mark and blast the speakers on your computer. Collins is a magician on the drums.

Alex Van Halen: Next time you attend a CLU Football game, listen to the pre game mix. We take heat because not everyone likes the music, which is a tasteful fusion of rap, country, metal, and classic rock.  Hot for Teacher is generally in the line-up, simply because I love the drum beat in that song and Diamond Dave makes me laugh. I will refrain from linking this tune to it’s video… SIT DOWN, WALDO!

Stewart Copeland: Drummer for the Police.  Sting tends to dominate the conversation when you talk Police, but there isn’t a Police tune where Copeland doesn’t have a strong influence, including 1980’s Message in a Bottle. Don’t crank this one, poor recording quality.

Rick Allen: Drummer for Def Leppard.  Lost his left arm in an ‘84 car accident that almost killed him.  Came back with a vengeance, listen to anything they did after ‘84 and you will realize that life is about your mindset.

Tommy Lee: Drummer for Mötley Crüe. First great drummer I ever saw live, 1983 or so at the Bakersfield Civic Auditorium.  Shout at the Devil Tour with Night Ranger. Mom still doesn’t know I was there… And I know that Wild Side is not from the Shout at the Devil album.  It is from Girls, Girls, Girls. Duh, everyone knows that. But check-out the spinning drum cage at the 2:15 mark.

Rock on, world wide web!

Oh yeah:

  • Practice was a blast this morning;
  • The weather was in the 30s in the AM but heating-up for a great weekend to grill;
  • Probably going to have my Little League coaching staff over on Saturday for a cookout. 
Posted 1 week ago

SCHEDULING UPDATE

We have verbally agreed to continue our series with Pacific Lutheran University of the Northwest Conference through 2017.  Honestly, I can’t see a scenario where we don’t face each other beyond ‘17.  The series has been even in my seven years (we’re up 4-3), and aside from the 2007 game, the games have been entertaining. If you are in to seeing Quarterbacks get crushed, no running game, and an offense having it’s way with my defense, then you would’ve enjoyed that game in 2007! It is a great fit for our program and our institution, and I am proud to continue the working relationship with Coach Westering, his staff, and the PLU family.

There is a change to our schedule in 2014-2015 as we play Willamette University from Salem, Oregon in a home-and-home series.  This series fills the spot previously occupied by Linfield and keeps our second non-SCIAC game in the Northwest Conference.

No movement on the 10-game option for SCIAC teams. I’m not going to comment on that one, if you see me in person I might give you my two cents. Let’s just put it this way; not everyone is as committed to football in this conference as they pretend to be, and I’ll leave it at that.

Posted 2 weeks ago

THE WEEK THAT WAS

I know, it’s only Thursday, but our practice week is pretty much complete, so I’ll review things now rather than Friday.  Friday blog entries are more for 80’s metal and food critiques anyway;

  • I love this team. I’m going to leave it at that, and we’re undefeated at this point of the season and it’s all sunshine and giggles, but this is a great group of guys. They work hard, they play hard, and they enjoy being together;
  • My Little League team went berserk last night, we hit the ball like champs! Made some nice plays in the field, and it was really cool to see the guys (and gal) acting like little slaps in the dugout;
  • There are some changes in the coaching staff, I feel very confident about the guys here right now and where we’re heading in that regard.  More to follow;
  • We received a big-time early deposit/commit, financial aid packages are in the mail tomorrow, will have more to report on the recruiting front soon;
  • I realized about half way to the office this morning that I did not dress appropriately for practice. No extra sweatshirts to be found so I “toughed” it out through a chillier-than-usual practice this morning. What a warrior. Finally warmed-up around noon;
  • My wife made an unbelievable broccoli cheddar soup, served in sourdough bread bowls, that was to die for. Highlight of my dining week;
  • Save the date: October 27, 2014.  This is the date of the inaugural Victory Club Golf Tournament. Let’s get a strong showing from the football family. Details will be coming shortly, and if you have interest in sponsoring the event or any portion of the event, let me know via email. I’m on the committee and this is going to be a party!

That’s all I’m willing to give-up for the past week. Maybe tomorrow, if there’s time, we’ll find something mind-numbing to discuss before I leave for my game supervision of our #6-ranked Kingsmen baseball team as they take-on the Beavers from the California Institute of Technology, aka. Cal Tech. Beach volleyball and more Little League on the weekend, perhaps some barbecue as well. Life is good, I am blessed!

Posted 2 weeks ago

HUMBLE AND HUNGRY

After making mention of our young squad being "Humble and Hungry" yesterday, I came across this recent newsletter article from Jon Gordon, author of several books, including The Energy Bus and Training Camp (I actually heard Urban Meyer reference this phrase before the 2013 season as well).  Here’s a link to Jon’s blog, hopefully you enjoy the article as much as I did:

Humble and Hungry

I have found that two words are the key to a life and career of continuous improvement and growth. Whether you are just starting out and trying to make a name for yourself or you have achieved the pinnacle of success it’s important to remember to be humble and hungry.

BE HUMBLE

  • Don’t think you know it all. See yourself as a life-long learner who is always seeking ways to learn, grow and improve.

  • See everyone as a teacher and learn from everyone you meet.

  • Be open to new ideas and strategies to take your life, school and work to the next level.

  • When people tell you that you are great don’t let it go to your head. And when they tell you that you stink, don’t let it go to your head.

  • Be kind to everyone and let people know that they matter.

  • Live with humility because the minute you think you have arrived at the door of greatness it will get shut in your face.

  • Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself. It just means you think of yourself less.

BE HUNGRY

  • Follow your passion, continuously improve, and continue to dream.

  • Seek out new ideas, new strategies and new ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

  • Invest the time, energy, sweat and dedication to be your best and let God do the rest.

  • Be willing to pay the price that greatness requires. Don’t be average. Strive to be great.

  • Become the hardest worker you know.

  • Love the process and you’ll love what the process produces.

  • Decide to leave a legacy. Even at a young age it’s important to think about what legacy you want to leave because knowing how you want to be remembered helps you decide how to live today.

  • Don’t focus on where you’ve been. Focus on where you are and where you are going.

  • Make your life and work a quest for excellence. Every day ask how I can be better today than I was yesterday?

  • Make your next work your best work.

As I share this advice my hope is that these words will move you to action. Regardless of your age, education or career status, if you stay Humble and Hungry everything else will take care of itself.

Humble and Hungry,

-Jon

Posted 3 weeks ago

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

The 2014 version of CLU Football hit the turf running at William Rolland Stadium this morning, with close to 70 players in attendance and a handful staying away due to illness or academic obligations.  Thoughts from the first 90 minutes of the ‘14 season:

  • We are so young. Most of the reps went to individuals who were either in high school last year at this time, or who are still 3+ years away from their fifth high school reunion. With that lack of experience comes mistakes, but there were fewer than our staff expected. Great energy and enthusiasm though, this group appears to really like being together;
  • Speaking of attitude, it was nice to be with a hungry, humble group of young people this morning. A season like last season will do that for you. We officially buried everything but the film from 2013 at 0600 this morning, and we made CLU Football better today;
  • The Quarterback situation is solid with David Rico, and it will be an interesting competition around him. Rico has the best grasp of the system and knows exactly what to do, he just needs to settle-in and not act like the outcome depends on his every move (circa Chapman ‘13). My advice to ALL our QBs: LET IT RIP! Do what you do;
  • Lack of spring depth at Tailback is going to be frustrating, but we have a good plan to deal with it. Help is on the way;
  • We looked more athletic in the Secondary this morning than we did most games last year;
  • Linebacker play has the potential to be very good. And speaking of young, if we went to training camp tomorrow, we’d start two Sophomores and a Freshman;
  • RECRUITING: I’m very excited about the player that deposited last night! He had Pac 12 and Big XII preferred walk-on opportunities and will be in the mix from Day 1.

Also, it was nice to see LuBall Legend Jesse Matlock for about two minutes last night.  Jess was in town for a Victory Club meeting and I almost backed over him coming out of the parking lot on my way to Little League practice. Speaking of the Victory Club, here’s the link to the site, your support is appreciated and put to good use. Save the date of October 27th for the inaugural Victory Club Golf Tournament, details to follow.

Posted 3 weeks ago

LESSON FOR PROFESSIONALS, REGARDLESS OF YOUR PROFESSION

"…there was no role for him with the Lakers” - Jeanie Buss, speaking about Phil Jackson’s desire to join the Lakers’ front office.

This is not about the Lakers. This is about getting better. Getting smarter. Giving yourself a chance to win. Whatever you do for a living, listen-up. When you have the opportunity to add someone to your organization that will improve what you are doing, you find a way to do it. You create space, you develop a position. You fight for it. You get rid of dead weight and incompetency if need be. You don’t let the opportunity to improve pass, and you especially don’t roll over your competition poses a threat.

None of us have all the answers. Don’t let your ego, or your fear of being exposed or your fear of giving away the keys to your kingdom, get in the way of making your operation better. Business is not a popularity contest, it is a results contest. Same with education, and coaching. Sometimes, the best answers are right in front of you. Find solutions, don’t make excuses. Always embrace opportunities to improve, don’t be scared of them, and don’t find reasons not to.

 

Posted 4 weeks ago
EARTHQUAKE REPORT
There was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake this morning centered five miles from Westwood, which is about 25 miles from CLU and home to the UCLA campus. No reports of damage locally, but we definitely felt it at the house. For those of us that have ridden-out a few of these in our time, this one was a true shaker; not a roller or a rumbler.  
The incident got me thinking about the major earthquakes of my lifetime that I’ve experienced. While ‘94 Northridge and ‘89 San Francisco are the most notable due to loss of lives and property damage, and their have been numerous small quakes I’ve experienced since, the '83 Coalinga earthquake was most memorable for me.  
I had recently moved to Taft, California from the Pacific Northwest, and while there are earthquakes up there, I hadn’t experienced one yet.  On May 2, 1983, I was taking the mound as a young, left-handed pitcher for the Berry Petroleum Co. Padres, and had thrown my final warm-up pitch and was on the third base side of the mound.  The third baseman had tossed me the ball after the “throw around”, and my glove was under my left armpit as I was working the newer ball in my bare hands.  I circled to the back of the mound, put my glove on my right hand and reached in as I stepped onto the rubber.  Suddenly, it felt like I was trying to stand on a waterbed. The ground literally felt like jello beneath me, and I fell off the pitcher’s mound to the first base side.  I remember lying there on my side, and there were some power lines back towards the third base side that were swaying wildly on their poles. I took a quick inventory, and while I was the only one that had fallen down that I remember, there was a sort of dust cloud that hung over the area.
Oddly enough, 30+ years later, I can’t remember a single detail from that game, or whether we even played it or not. All I can remember is the sudden change in the earth beneath me and falling off the mound, and those power lines. Welcome to California!

EARTHQUAKE REPORT

There was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake this morning centered five miles from Westwood, which is about 25 miles from CLU and home to the UCLA campus. No reports of damage locally, but we definitely felt it at the house. For those of us that have ridden-out a few of these in our time, this one was a true shaker; not a roller or a rumbler.  

The incident got me thinking about the major earthquakes of my lifetime that I’ve experienced. While ‘94 Northridge and ‘89 San Francisco are the most notable due to loss of lives and property damage, and their have been numerous small quakes I’ve experienced since, the '83 Coalinga earthquake was most memorable for me.  

I had recently moved to Taft, California from the Pacific Northwest, and while there are earthquakes up there, I hadn’t experienced one yet.  On May 2, 1983, I was taking the mound as a young, left-handed pitcher for the Berry Petroleum Co. Padres, and had thrown my final warm-up pitch and was on the third base side of the mound.  The third baseman had tossed me the ball after the “throw around”, and my glove was under my left armpit as I was working the newer ball in my bare hands.  I circled to the back of the mound, put my glove on my right hand and reached in as I stepped onto the rubber.  Suddenly, it felt like I was trying to stand on a waterbed. The ground literally felt like jello beneath me, and I fell off the pitcher’s mound to the first base side.  I remember lying there on my side, and there were some power lines back towards the third base side that were swaying wildly on their poles. I took a quick inventory, and while I was the only one that had fallen down that I remember, there was a sort of dust cloud that hung over the area.

Oddly enough, 30+ years later, I can’t remember a single detail from that game, or whether we even played it or not. All I can remember is the sudden change in the earth beneath me and falling off the mound, and those power lines. Welcome to California!