Results tagged ‘ A's ’

Baseball and Education: A’s are Home

“The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don’t know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired.”
― Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

I always feel like I am coming home when I go to the Athletics’ Spring Training site. My second batting practice outing was with the A’s and I had a lot of fun. I was also at the A’s complex several times when I attended MLSB Scout School. So, I was happy to be back and thankful for the chance to talk to their minor leaguers about earning their college degree at Northeastern University.

A mutual friend introduced me to A’s General Manager, Billy Beane, at the 2010 Baseball Winter Meetings. Right then and there, I asked him if I could throw BP to his team. He looked at me, paused for about 5 seconds, and said yes. “Wow”, I thought. “My dream is going to actually happen. Billie Beane believes in me.”

When I present to teams, what I want the players to know most, is that I believe in them. I want them to know that I understand their baseball dreams. And that I am proof that dreams come true therefore I know their dreams can come true too.

But I also need them to know that they have more than just their baseball dream. Understanding that they are more than just baseball, is key to successful career transition and a confident and satisfying athlete identity.

I also believe in our program at Northeastern. We have really made it viable for pro athletes to compete AND get their degree. Everything is online; Including academic advising, tutoring, the library, and even the writing center. Our program is convenient, flexible, and affordable.

I think the A’s are built on a foundation of believing. I think Billy Beane understands that the intangible qualities in us is often what makes us great. Of course, you still need the physical tools to be a successful player. But the first step is always to believe.

As I looked out at the young, A’s minor leaguers, I told them I believed in them. That I believed in dreams. And that I also believed in an education. Whether they make it to the majors or are forced onto another path, they have a future. And with an education, that future provides a lot more options.

At the end of our presentation, over 40 players came up and asked for more information; It was our biggest response yet. I think it’s because the A’s believe too.

 *For more information on Northeastern University’s online degree program or Sport in Society, please send me a note and I’ll get right back to you.

Throwing to the Athletics

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
-Walt Disney

Like a kid before the big game, I wore my A’s uniform shirt to bed. I dreamt of
throwing strikes. Yesterday, I threw batting practice to the Oakland Athletics.
And it was an amazing feeling, another dream come true.

I picked up my A’s uniform on Tuesday at the Stadium, so I came to the practice
field fully dressed and ready to go. The media attention started just steps
away from the parking lot. My 13-year-old daughter became bashful and looked
down and away from the photographers. I whispered to her, “Look up; It’s the
one thing I have learned in life.”

As the A’s began their team stretch, I ran over to the coaching staff and
introduced myself. Bench Coach Joel Skinner and I went over the practice plan.
I would throw BP around 11:30, on field 4, to Coco Crisp, Daric Barton, David
Dejesus, and Landon Powell. I was assured, “They’re all good guys.”

A’s Manager Bob Geren offered to warm me up. So we played catch for a while. As I was throwing, my foot slipped on some wet grass, and I felt my right groin
twitch. I knew instantly that in that one misstep, I had reinjured a nagging
groin injury. But I had thrown BP to three colleges with that same injury just
a week-and-a half earlier, so I knew I could still throw to the A’s. Plus,
there isn’t anything that could have kept me off that mound; my dream was up
there.

As I stepped behind the L screen, preparing to throw, I stopped and admired the
basket of baseballs beside me. They were so white, so shiny, so beautiful. This
ball has brought so much joy to my life. I smiled, picked up four baseballs,
and readied myself to pitch.

I had a little trouble settling in to my BP session. After I threw four balls
in a row, I stepped away, turned my back to the batter, and thought to myself,
“This is what I feared most – not throwing strikes. And everything is still
okay.” I smiled and thought of Christina Taylor and my spiritual pact with her
to have fun. I whispered to myself, “I can do this.” I then turned to face
Crisp, reminded myself to get my glove side up, took a deep breath, and threw a
strike…and another one. I had found some rhythm.

As I noticed their pitch selection, it became evident that the players were on
a mission of their own. The A’s hitters wanted a ball on the inside, at waist
level, that they could turn on and try to jack out of the park. They were
playing home run derby. Just like kids. And they were having fun. And so was I.

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