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The Baseball Hall Of Fame

Posted in baseball, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by hendu

I wanted to write about this yesterday but I just ran out of time, so instead I’ll give you my insight on the voting, the process and how absolutely ridiculous it has become.

Yesterday was one of those days that help me get through the cold, long winter.  Between Hall Of Fame election day, Truck Day(Feb. 8th), pitchers and catchers(Feb. 15) and spring training games these are my little glimmers of light and hope.  Yesterday, the voters almost got it all right.  In fact, theycamethisclose to nailing it.  At least it’s good to know that Craig Biggio will get in next year more than likely, but to come up two votes short has got to be a killer.  Hey, on the plus side Armando Benitiez and Jacque Jones and Kenny Rogers each got one vote.

There is no argument that Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are all more than deserving of these HOF nominations.  Maddux was the best pitcher of his generation, Glavine the 2nd best lefty and Thomas the best right-handed hitter.  I think all baseball fans know what these three have done so there is no need to rehash their credentials.

This year the voters missed on Biggio.  He’s a HOF player and if you look at his numbers he was a model of consistency.  Some of the players he is most similar too are Robin Yount, Jeter, joe Morgan, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar; all HOF’ers.  He played his entire career for one organization and played 5 positions(C, 2B and all 3 OF positions) at a high, all-star caliber level.

I think what irritates me the most about the results and the process is the lack of respect for the new numbers in the game.  We all get that if you win 300 games or have 3,000 hits you are getting in to the hall.  What drives me nuts is those players who don’t have those #’s and may never see their name enshrined.  Players like Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, Jack Morris, Jeff Kent and Edgar Martinez.  Jack Morris may never get in now that his 15 yrs of eligibility is up.  The man was one of the best pitchers of the 80’s.  He was an old school kind of hurler who had 175 complete games in 18 yrs.  1,000 more punchouts then walks.  Over 3800 innings pitched and one of the best big game pitchers of any generation.  I get it that he had a higher ERA and only had a .577 win percentage but my eye test always told me something different.  It just always felt like I was watching a HOF pitcher.

I feel that Curt Schilling will not get the love that he fully deserves.  If you compare Glavine’s numbers to Schilling’s stats the raw numbers don’t necessarily compare.  Glavine was more wins, more innings pitched anda better win percentage.  Lets not forget that Schilling pitched on some awful Philly teams in the late 90’s that really hurt his cause.  Schilling has more complete games, he gave up less than a hit per inning, he had 2300 more k’s then walks.  2300!!!  That’s unheard of.  The man walked only 711 hitters in 3260 innings.  He had a 4:1 k to bb ratio.  Lets also not forget what he did to the Yankees in 2001 for Arizona and in 2004 for the Red Sox.  The man was a winner, a gamer and maybe the best control outside Greg Maddux.  He had a better WAR and a much better post season record.  In fact, Schilling can stake a claim to having some of the best post season stats ever.  What I’m saying is, if Glavine received 90% of the vote his 1st year eligible, then Schilling is just as worthy a candidate and the voters need to get him in next year.

Jeff Kent and Edgar Martinez I’m worried are going to get lost in the steroid era.  Both players have .290+ BA, 300+ HR’s.  Kent had 1500 RBI’s and an OPS of .855.  Martinez had more walks then K’s and an OPS of .933 (which is just crazy).  In an age when getting on base was higly regarded, Edgar was the poster child.  Kent may go down as the most undervalued player of his era nd he just happens to be one of the best 2nd basemen ever.  I hope that the addition of Thomas who spent a good chunk of his time as a DH can clear the path for Edgar who has a DH almost his entire career.

Finally, Tim Raines.  The poor man’s Rickey Henderson.  All the numbers, none of the flash. A great OPS, good average, more BB’s then K’s.  800+ stolen bases.  Triple digits in 2B’s, 3B’s and HR’s and if he stayed a full time player, probably would have gotten to 3000 hits.  Raines is a long shot but I think a worthy HOF candidate.  You want guys that are anti-steroid, Raines, Biggio, Schilling  are your guys.

Next year could be a very interesting vote.  Pedro, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz are all eligible for votes.  All three are worthy and all three represent the cream of the crop of steroid era pitchers.  Those three and plus the five I mentioned along with a players like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza who seem to be moving closer to the Hall and could make this vote these next few years very interesting.

I think that the voting is as antiquated as the members of the BBWA are.  Open the whole thing up.  Let voters vote for whoever.  Don’t limit the number of votes to just ten.  If a writer thinks 15 should get votes, let them vote that way.  It’s also sad that some voters have written less about baseball in the past years then I have.  They simply renew their membership just to keep the vote.  A lot of these voters skew the direction of the vote.  Many are anti-steroid era guys.  With guys like these voting, players like Clemens and Bonds may never get in, and frankly they should.  MLB has done a great job cleaning up the game, now its time for the Hall to clean up it’s process.

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A Silver Lining

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 28, 2013 by hendu

When you are forced to cover a story like the Sandy Hook shooting, your only goal is to get the correct information out to the viewing public as quickly as possible.  You try to be accurate, dependable, credible and reliable.  I believe we did our absolute best that day and the weeks that followed as a TV station.  You never, ever have the chance to think, hey you know what, this is award-winning material we got going on here.

As it turns out, that’s just what it was.  Our station, NBC Connecticut has been awarded the very prestigious Peabody Award for Breaking News.

The Peabody is an award that is given out annually to honor the best of the best in television both traditional broadcasting and on cable.  The winners are picked by a panel of TV professionals, critics and certain academia.  It is an award given out by fellow broadcasting professionals to others in the same field.  It is very similar to the Pulitzer Prize for writing.

While I am immensely proud of everyone here at NBC Connecticut, I thinks it’s safe to say we would give this award back in a heartbeat if it meant we could get back just one, if not all of those 26 lives lost that horrible day.

That was the worst day of my professional career.  I hope I never have to go through something like that again.  I feel even worse for the reporters and the videographers who were on the scene seeing this tragedy unfold in front of them.  Of course none of this compares to the hurt and anger those families had to live through and continue to, to this day.

In light of all that, this is a major achievement and I am honored and humbled to be a part of it.  This is a testament to the kind of hard work and dedication that my co-workers show on a daily basis.  After that day I hated my job for a while.  Today, I am proud as a *ahem* peacock.  This helps validate what we all went through those early hours and days of this horrific and it is something I can look back on and feel proud of the work that we all did.

Finally, I just want to thank all my co-workers for all the hard work and literally the blood, sweat and tears in covering this tragedy. Two of the three in particular, morning reporter Liz Dahlam and her photog John Senecal, were absolutely awesome.  To put it simply they were the best of the best that day and it was such a comfort that I had two people out in the field that I could trust fully and thought along the same lines that I did.  Having John on the other end made our broadcast do much better.  The third was producer Chris Ayotte.  the two of us joke that we are each other’s “work spouse.”  We fight sometimes like a married couple but no matter what, we know what the other is thinking in the booth.  I don’t think there is anyone besides her that I would want in the booth during a story like this.

With all that said, today some more details will be released about the shootings.  I just hope that the people of Sandy Hook continue to be strong and the employees of NBC Connecticut share in your pain,  anger and continued recovery.

Sandy Hook Elementary

Posted in Newtown shooting, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 19, 2012 by hendu

I’ve seen a lot during my thirteen years in the news business.  I’ve never had to remove myself from the booth for anything.  That all changed Friday afternoon.  I’ve never cried on the job.  Not once.  Not even during 9/11.  Not during the Cheshire home invasion.  That all changed Saturday.  I’ve never hated my job.  I’ve never dreaded coming into work.  that changed this past weekend.  I think it’s safe to say, all our lives changed this past weekend.  What we once thought as safe havens are no more.  Our definition of heroes has forever been defined.  No longer can we describe a sports play or player as heroic or a hero.  It’s safe to say they would never take a bullet for your kids.

I look at this tragedy through a different set of eyes.  Not only was I directing during all the chaos on Friday, helping deliver the unimaginable news to the state and sometimes the country, my mind kept wandering back to my wife, my daughter, my friends and my school.  My mind was just a bundle of “what if’s?”  What if this happened at a school my wife was working in that day.  What if this happened at my daughters preschool?  What if this happened at my high school where I coach or a number of the other schools I have close friends in.  For hours it became a fight in my head between what was happening and what could happen and eventually I just succumbed to the emotions.

I cried a lot on Friday.  I cried more that day then in any day since my father died twenty years ago.  I pride myself on being the rock both at work and at home.  I failed in both those aspects but I am fine with that.  At work I try to rise above the fray.  I try to stay stoic and focused on the job at hand.  That was an almost impossible task this past weekend.

It has taken a few days, but I feel like life is starting to get back to normal but in no means will it ever be the same.  If this isn’t a wake up call to the country, then I don’t know what is.  We need to improve our mental healthcare.  We need to refine and improve our gun laws and our obsession with guns in this country.  We need to change the way we look at our educators.  I will stand toe-to-toe with anyone that says teachers are over paid.  We need to treat the people who need it most and we need to pay the great men and women who cultivate learning and growing in our children more.  More guns will not make us a better country but I am confident that those first two points will.

Finally, I hope that all those families affected by this unforgivable tragedy find the strength to move on together.  Find the strength to live your lives that would make your son or daughter, brother or sister, wife or mom so proud of you.  I hope to never go through what these folks in Newtown are but I now realize how easily it could have been my town and it could be me.  I hug my daughter and wife a little tighter and a little longer now.

I hope that this finds all my readers well this holiday season and you all take the time to truly appreciate what this time of year is all about: Family.

For our fellow Nutmeggers in Newtown, your kids and teachers will always be in my heart.

Stay strong and Merry Christmas.

20 Years

Posted in death, family, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 15, 2012 by hendu

Yesterday is always one of my least favorite days of the year, and this year it was especially difficult.  You see, September 14th 1992 my father died in a plane crash and yesterday marked 20 yrs since that dreadful day.

I would like to think that after so many years, the day just flows by like any other day.  While it has gotten easier in some respects, it is still very difficult in others.  The adage “time heals all wounds” may be true in certain aspects of life, but try telling that to a person who tragically lost a loved one unexpectedly.  I know that thousands lose love ones every day and in no way am I writing this to invoke any sympathy.  I write this as a form of therapy.  This is my release and if you’ve lost a loved one like I and my family has then you understand whole-heartedly where I am coming from.

Yesterday, I just had an odd sense of self.  The weather was eerily similar to that fateful day 20 yrs ago.  It was strange though, I woke up at 2am not realizing what day it was.  With the hours I work, many days just blend together and at that time of day I’m more robotic than human.  The wave of emotion finally hit me when I finally saw the date 9-14 in bold red numbers.  The rest of the day was spent trying to stay busy and pushing back my thoughts but they just kept pushing through.  I felt a good way to honor my father was to post pictures of some of his favorite things my Facebook timeline.  A shot of a ’69 maroon Jag XKE (his fave car), a Lear 35 (the plane he flew as his “job”), a Citabria (his private plane, his passion and ultimately what killed him) and a margarita (his favorite drink).  This was who he was: he loved his family, he loved his job, he was passionate about flying and the man knew who to relax.

I spent the rest of the day thinking where the past 20 yrs have led me. I go from being pissed off at him for not being here to see the man I’ve become. Pissed that he never met Nikki or his granddaughter. Never saw me graduate or seen me find success in a job i love. Then I start to think would I be a different person if he never died? what would I be? Where would I be?  Did his death ultimately lead me to become who I am now?  Then I remember the struggles that my mom, brother and I went through in order to survive and I feel the anger come back.  That’s hat yesterday was like.  That’s what I go through every year on that day and I suspect my mom and brother felt the same way along with the countless people who have lost loved ones.

You see, you never forget and it does get easier but it’s never easy.  I don’t think I ever want it to be easy.  I believe once the day becomes easy to get through, the memory is gone and I don’t want to forget him.  I want my daughter to understand who he was and what he was.  I think she needs to understand what her lineage is and he’s an important part of it.

On my way home from work, I stopped by the airport where he had his accident and just sat there, reflecting.  I’m not a spiritual person, but I felt him there.  I sat there and remembered all the good times we had.  I looked back on these past 20 yrs and I know he’d be proud of me and what I’ve done.  He’d love my wife and he’d adore Avery.  He’d be proud of Cam and he’d be happy my Mom found happiness.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of my father.  I hope that continues for as long as I live because as long as someone still exists in your thoughts, they never leave you.  I’m sure in a year from know these same thoughts will come flooding back but that’s a good thing I’ve realized.  It makes me appreciate where I have been and excited about where I may go.  It reminds me to look at my daughter and see the pure joy of life that she has and that my father still lives on in our mind.

I miss you everyday Pop.  I am who I am in part because of what happened and in part because of the woman you married.  She is a strong woman and continues to raise to outstanding sons.  You did good Pop and I promise that we’ll continue to make you proud.

Least Favorite Day of the Year

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by hendu

I always dread this day and it never gets any easier.  I’m not sure if it’s because I know the coaching is done or the seniors are done but either way, this day sucks.

Yesterday, we lost to the #1 team in our class 3-0.  It proved many things.  One:  we can compete with anyone in our class.  Two: not much separates us from the best-of-the-best and three: these were a great group of seniors.

We battled up until the last out yesterday and just got beat on a good pitch.  I am in no way disappointed with my guys.  We were only really bad in one game this year.  All the rest of them seemed to hinge on one or two plays.  We lost a bunch of one run games.  The big hit just seemed to always elude us.  But hey, that’s baseball.

I feel comfortable in the fact that we gave these kids all the opportunities that our school can offer.  We gave them all tools necessary to win  and I think we did a great job preparing them for whatever awaits them.

Doubt always creeps into your head wondering if you’ve done all you can as a coach.  You always wonder if you prepared them well enough.  I feel that we did after watching what Northwest Catholic does with their players.  The #1 team ran many of the same drills, talked to them the same way and worked them just like us.  It just goes to show, that even at little ol’ Hale-Ray, our kids are preparing the same way as one of the premier high schools in the state.  But hey, we just give them the chance to learn the skills, the kids gotta execute and for the most part we did.

We out hit them 6-3 and I believe that 90 out of 100 times, we beat them with how we played.  Yesterday just wasn’t in the cards for us.

These past two years have been particularly tough.  Both senior classes were filled with great kids and great players and gave me as a coach so many good memories.  They should be proud knowing that the program is left in great hands.  Their successes will always be a standard for us and I hope we can be better because of their failings.  Whatever way it happens, these kids will have impacted our program for a long time coming and honestly, what more could you ask of them.

Once again, thanks guys!  I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did!  Good Luck and Go Noises!

 

Senior Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by hendu

This is always a bittersweet day for us as we honor our Seniors on the Hale-Ray baseball team.  Today, at 3:45 is our senior day against Somers and this year we have six kids who will be playing their last regular season game on our field.  Luckily for us and them we get at least one more next week in the state playoffs but no matter what, they’re high school athletic careers are quickly coming to a close.

Senior nights are always special nights for the kids but the spring sports offers something a little more special.  It is normally the last time that they will all be together playing.  From the time when they were young kids in tee-ball to this day, they’ve gone through everything as a group.  I don’t know, to me, it marks another huge step in their lives.

The six we honor all have taken wildly different paths to get to this point.

Captain Matt Wells came in as a freshman and started almost right away.  We has played all over the infield for us the past four years and has hit all over the lineup as well.  I don’t think I have ever coached a kid that loves the game as much as he does.  No matter what happens this next week or so, Matt should be able to look back on his career here and be proud of his accomplishments.  I hope he enjoyed his time as much as I enjoyed coaching him.

Captain Jeremy Francese had to endure his first two years being on the sidelined injured.  He finally was able to work his way into the starting lineup half way through his junior year and never looked back.  While his back has been in pain this whole time, through soccer and basketball, he hasn’t let it hurt his game nor has he ever used it as an excuse.  I know that he leaves here thinking “what if he hadn’t been hurt?” but I think it has helped him grow as a person and will only benefit him down the line.

Captain Shawn Carlson has been a quiet force for us the past three seasons.  He has hit over .300 and has been one of our starting pitchers.  We haven’t had anyone who goes after the game like he does.  He swings hard, he throws hard and he runs hard.  It’s hard to think of another kid who works as hard as he does on the field.  He’s not a rah-rah type of leader but I wish I could put his heart and desire into every other kid that comes through our program.

Harry Martin has been a consistent starter for us the past two seasons.  He’s had some pretty memorable moments for us and has just been a real solid player.  At practice, you can always find him and Shawn together working out, pushing each other to be better.  He’s a real laid back kid but when it’s time to turn it on, he’s right there ready to go.

Tyler Rand is one of those players that every good baseball team has.  You know exactly what Ty will give you day in and day out.  Never gets to high or low.  He makes the plays he needs to make and it seems like he always has a knack for coming up with a key hit in a key spot.  A generally quiet kid but with a wicked sense of humor.  If you see a bunch of guys laughing to tears, more than likely, Tyler’s the cause of it.  I’d call him sneaky-funny and it’s perfect for keeping the team loose.

Kyle Hermann is our last senior.  Kyle came in as a freshman who literally could not catch a fly ball.  Could not throw a baseball and could not hit.  Through hard work, grit and stubborn determination, he made himself into our starting right fielder, and a pretty damn good one at that.  I probably did more one-on-one coaching with Kyle than any other senior.  He was one of my JV captains last year and that really helped him develop into the kind of kid he is.  He doesn’t take himself seriously his play in right field he does.  He knows his role and works very hard at it.  We’ve gone from closing our eyes and hoping he gets a glove on the ball his freshman year to being shocked that a ball actually isn’t caught now.  That’s quite an improvement.

I think this is the closest I’ve been with any senior class and it will be sad to see them off into the next stage of life, but on the flip side, we still have a lot to accomplish.  We have a chance today to lock up a home state game and of course winning states is the ultimate prize.  I’m still not sure what lies for us but I feel comfortably knowing that these six will leave everything on the field through the last out.

Thanks guys for the memories now let’s go out there and make some more!!!

 

Goal #1: DONE!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 8, 2012 by hendu

Every year we head into the season with four goals in mind: make the state tournament, make the conference tournament, win the conference tourney and finally win states.  Yesterday, we accomplished the first one: we made the states by collecting our 8th win.

We’ve made it now 5 out of the past six years and the one year we missed it by a game.  While I know it doesn’t sound that impressive, for a small school with a poor feeder system we have gotten the most out of our talent.  We have the benefit of having kids who really love the game and want to end the year on a great note.  This has been a rough year for boys sports at Hale-Ray.  The soccer team was riddled with injuries and didn’t qualify for the states.  Our basketball team missed the states by just one game (a game that we led with less than three minutes to play).  This baseball team made it their mission to make up for those two disappointments.

We have taken the first step to doing just that but we got a long way to go to reach all our goals and I truly believe that we can!

BTW, if you got nothing going on and you are in the area, we play Old Lyme on Wednesday (weather permitting) and then a huge game on Friday at Westbrook with first place in our division on the line.

Hale-Ray Beats Portland