Category: Sports (page 1 of 2)

17 Inches… One of My All-Time Favorite Life Lessons!

This was sent my direction by my friend John Santi, Wealth & Investment Advisor. John is always passing along some interesting items, but this one really caught my attention and I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have…

Over twenty one years ago, in Nashville , Tennessee , during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.
One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?
“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause. “Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?”

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.

We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today.

It is this: “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

Note: Coach Scolinos died in Nov 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it… “Don’t widen the plate!”

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

“Give My Regards To The Catcher”

When baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went on tour in baseball-crazy Japan in 1934, some fans wondered why a third-string catcher named Moe Berg was included. Although he played with five major-league teams from 1923 to 1939, at best he was a very mediocre ball. He was however often regarded as the brainiest ballplayer of all time. In fact, Casey Stengel once said: “That is the strangest man ever to play baseball”. In Barringer High School, Moe learned Latin, Greek and French. Moe read at least 10 newspapers everyday. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton where he played baseball and basketball – having added Spanish, Italian, German and Sanskrit to his linguistic quiver. During further studies at the Sorbonne, in Paris and Columbia Law School, he picked up Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian – 15 languages in all, plus some regional dialects. After college he went on to play baseball in the major league, first with the White Sox and then the Cleveland Indians, many people wondering how? Then in 1934 Herb Hunter arranged for a group of All-Stars, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earl Averill, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Gomez, to tour Japan playing exhibitions against a Japanese all-star team. Despite the fact that Berg was a mediocre, third-string catcher, he was invited at the last minute to make the trip. Among the items Berg took with him to Japan were a 16-mm Bell & Howell movie camera and a letter from MovietoneNews, a New York City newsreel production company with which Berg had contracted to film the sights of his trip. When the team arrived in Japan, he gave a welcome speech in Japanese and also addressed the legislature. On November 29, 1934, while the rest of the team was playing in Omiya, Berg went to Saint Luke’s Hospital in Tsukiji, supposedly to visit the daughter of American ambassador Joseph Grew. Instead, Berg sneaked onto the roof of the hospital, one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo, and filmed the city and harbor with his movie camera, particularly filming key features: the harbor, military installations, railway yards, etc. He never did see the ambassador’s daughter. Back at home, the Indians gave him his unconditional release and Beerg continued on to the Philippines, Korea and Moscow. Eight years later, General Jimmy Doolittle studied Berg’s films in planning his spectacular raid on Tokyo. I should also not that in the summer of 1943, Berg became a paramilitary operations officer in the part of the OSS that is now called the CIA Special Activities Division. He was assigned to the Secret Intelligence branch and parachuted into occupied Yugoslavia to evaluate the various resistance groups operating against the Nazis to determine which was the strongest. He talked to both Mihailović and Marshall Tito and reviewed their forces, deciding that Tito had the stronger and better supported group. In return Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered all-out support for the Yugoslav underground fighter, rather than Mihajlovic’s Serbians, which was huge turning point. In late 1943, Berg was assigned to Project Larson, an intelligence operation set up by Chief of Special Projects John Shaheen. The stated purpose of the project was to kidnap Italian rocket and missile specialists out of Italy and bring them to the U.S. However, there was another project hidden within Larson, called Project AZUSA, with the goal of interviewing Italian physicists to see what they knew about Werner Heisenberg and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. From May to mid-December 1944, Berg hopped around Europe interviewing physicists and trying to convince several to leave Europe and work in America. At the beginning of December, news about Heisenberg giving a lecture in Zürich reached the CIA. Berg was assigned to attend the lecture and determine “if anything Heisenberg said convinced him the Germans were close to a bomb.” If Berg came to the conclusion that the Germans were close, he had orders to shoot Heisenberg and then swallow the cyanide pill. The story is Moe managed to slip past the SS guards at the auditorium, posing as a Swiss graduate student. He then determined that the Germans were not as close as some thought to a nuclear bomb. During his time he was able to meet with members of the underground, and located a secret heavy-water plant which was part of the Nazis’ effort to build an atomic bomb. His information guided the Royal Air Force in a bombing raid to destroy that plant. Also during his time Berg became close friends with physicist Paul Scherrer and many other leading physicists who were also Jewish. Moe Berg’s reports were distributed to Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and key figures in the team developing the Atomic Bomb. Roosevelt once responded: “Give my regards to the catcher.” Berg returned to the United States on April 25, 1945. By October of that same year he was awarded the Medal of Freedom. Interestingly he rejected the award and continued to turn it down throughout his lifetime; it was re-awarded after his death, with his sister accepting on his behalf.

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

 

President Trump Is Quite The Stick!

In the golfing world, you often hear people saying, “he’s ​a ​good stick,” when referring to a very good player. That’s exactly what professional golfer Ernie Els had to say after a recent round with the President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In fact after the round with the President, Els told the Wall Street Journal, “President Trump is a golfer”. Not only does the President have an above average game, but for someone who will be turning 71 in a few months, his 2.8 GHIN Index handicap makes him an incredible golfer! Let’s start with the fact the President has always been a very good athlete. He played football, soccer and baseball at the New York Military Academy, winning multiple MVP awards while captaining the baseball team. Add to this his 6’2″ frame and sheer competitiveness, while knowing his limitations, and you have a player capable of great things. Another reason, unlike most recreational players who fight to reach certain positions, the President plays to his strengths, swinging the club using his most natural motion. Trump says, “I just try to keep it simple, if I didn’t, I would have stopped playing years ago.” This alone makes the President’s swing easily repeatable and machine-like, which allows the game to be much easier. I was personally surprised to hear President Trump was this good at the game of golf. I had heard he was a great athlete and could play the game, but I had no idea he was this good. Having myself played a lot of highly competitive golf, I truly admire but rarely see players adopt the attitude and approach of the President… having sound fundamentals, keeping it simple, knowing your limitations, playing within your skill-set and giving yourself opportunities to succeed. If you are trying to emulate another player and you lack their skills, abilities, physical attributes, etc., you will quickly find yourself on the merry-go-round of golf. An old pro once told me, “golf, like life, has a simple premise… know thyself.” With temperatures warming up and another golf season ahead of us, I wanted to pass along four “tips” President Trump uses to help maintain consistency within his game. (Source: Golf, Golfworld)

A Solid Grip – “I don’t win club championships with practice, but with a good grip.” Trump places his hands on the handle following proven fundamentals, with nothing either too strong or too weak. This allows him to re-create the arm hang established at address when he strikes the ball — a great way to hit consistent shots. His grip pressure is just firm enough to keep his hands from breaking down either at the top of his backswing or at impact. You won’t see a lot of hand flipping — Trump keeps his hands quiet and lets his body turn square the clubface.

A Strong Turn – “I’m a hip player. The strongest part of my swing is my body turn.” Once he completes his backswing, Trump brings the club back down by strongly pulling his left hip behind him. He read and adopted Hogan’s advice on starting the downswing with the hips. Because he emphasizes his lower body rather than his arms, he delivers the club into the slot consistently instead of throwing the club out with his hands — the over-the-top move that cause slices, pull-slices and other shotmaking misery. If you’re prone to slicing, copy Trump’s swing. It’s hard to come over the top when your turn is this good.

Killer Bunker Shots – “I’m better out of the sand than anywhere else around the green.” Many of the same elements that make Trump’s full swing work also make him an excellent bunker player. His strong left-side move eliminates deceleration, which is the number-one reason amateurs leave their first shot in the sand. If you slow down as you approach impact (for fear of hitting the ball too far), you have almost zero chance of getting the ball on the green. Trump may shorten his backswing to control length, but he’ll always accelerate and hit “through the shot,” not “to the ball.”

A Confident Putter – “If I don’t beat you with the short ones, I’ll beat you with a bomb.” Trump is a brilliant putter, a trait built on experience and an uncanny ability to “will” the ball into the hole. One of Donald’s recent opponents, NFL Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, commented after their match, “Yeah, he beat me. He made absolutely everything. He kept rolling in 20-footers.” If you’re looking for Trump’s putting secret, you’ll find it in the fact that he truly believes he can make every putt. That’s a powerful state of mind before any shot, especially on the greens.

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

Are You Ready for March Madness???

March Madness is here again!! Sit back and relax as we give you a quick run down on the key teams and players chasing the title. If you haven’t followed Men’s NCAA Basketball throughout the season this is your “quick look,” so you can fit in at any watch party. The very first game of the tournament tips off Tuesday, March 14. The Championship game will be played on April 3rd. Too bad we don’t work at Berkshire Hathaway. From what I understand Warren Buffett is continuing the tradition he started last year, by offering any Berkshire Hathaway employee that can pick the “Sweet 16″ correctly $1 million a year for the rest of their life. Getting the 16 teams right after two rounds of the NCAA Tournament is tough, but not impossible. Fourteen out of 11.57 million pulled it off on ESPN.com in 2014. Essentially you have to pick who will win their games during the first two rounds. Interestingly Buffett provides a consolation prize and awards $100,000 to the person who goes the furthest even if they can’t get all 16 correct. “Last year we had two fellows that tied. One of them knew a lot about basketball, the other didn’t know anything about basketball, but they each got $50,000 out of it,” said Buffett. Keep in mind Berkshire Hathaway is a massive conglomerate with 367,000 employees (only 25 at its headquarters in Omaha, Neb.), but it’s made of nearly 90 companies, including Benjamin Moore, Fruit of the Loom, Geico, NetJets, etc. You can get print your own bracket or see a larger version by Clicking HERE

Teams favored to Win: It would be hard not to believe that at least two or three of these teams will make it to the “Final Four”.

Villanova Wildcats: The defending National Champions have put together a sensational season going 28-3 overall, 15-3 in the Big East conference. Head coach Jay Wright has kept his foot on the gas pedal, and the Wildcats have continued to produce fantastic results. The Wildcats have a pair of seniors that Wright can count on in nearly any situation. Guard Josh Hart leads the team with an average of 18.7 points per game and is shooting 50.7% from the field. Forward Kris Jenkins is averaging 13.4 points per game and is connecting on 88.2% of his free throws.

Kansas Jayhawks: This team is one of the sport’s giants, and head coach Bill Self once again has a powerful team capable of making it to the Final Four. The Jayhawks yet again bullied their way through the Big 12 regular season, bringing the 13th consecutive regular season Big 12 title. The streak ties the mark that John Wooden’s UCLA teams set form 1967-1979. The cornerstone of the team is Senior Frank Mason who is scoring 20.5 points per game and is positioned to win the Wooden Award and Player of the Year. Josh Jackson, a freshman averaging 16.4 points per game and connecting on 37.7% of his 3-point attempts, has also played fantastic basketball the second half of the season. Together, there’s a chance they can take Kansas to another Championship. This would give coach Bill Self his second National title.

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Yes, this small, private Jesuit school in Spokane, Washington, could reach the Final Four. Head coach Mark Few has led the team to a 29-1 mark in the regular season and manufacturing a strong case for a No. 1 seed. Nigel Williams-Goss (16.4 PPG, 5.6 rebound per game, 4.7 assist per game) leads a team with the depth and talent to secure the program’s first trip to the national semifinals.

North Carolina Tar Heels: Head coach Roy Williams and his team have been playing with the motivation that comes from losing the NCAA title game, especially in the heartbreaking manner that took place a year ago. The Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson is the player that Williams knows he can depend on and is averaging a team-best 18.3 points per game. He gets plenty of support form junior guard Joel Berry II, who is scoring 15.1 points per game and connecting on 83.2% form the free-throw line. Roy’s boys ended its regular season in satisfying fashion taking out chief rival Duke 90 – 83. Despite having six losses this year, they are playing well at the right time and look to be one of the favorites to win it all.

Kentucky Wildcats: This is not the uncanny crew of super-athletes form years past who will just rumble through the entire field. Just a week ago, these Wildcats had to overcome a 19 point deficit to steal one from Vanderbilt at home. Yet John Calipari’s squad, which has now won eight games in a row still has incredible athleticism, defensive strength and star power — i.e. Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox — to win another national title. Calipari has coached Kentucky since 2009 and led the Wildcats to its eighth NCAA Championship in 2012, the only title of his career.

UCLA Bruins: Steve Alford’s squad is led by lead guard Lonzo Ball, potentially this year’s No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, who commands a team averaging 14.5 points per game and connecting on 41.5% of 3 pointers, second in the nation. With the Bruins’ defense now serviceable, this team could make a deep run on the shoulders of the standout Lonzo Ball.

Duke Blue Devils: In a season marred by injuries, Duke encountered more obstacles in its 2016-17 campaign than any contender in the country. It’s not a surprise that Duke has yet again the ‘most hated player in college basketball’ in Grayson Allen. Despite Grayson’s numerous tripping incidences and subsequent suspension, the team has demonstrated its renewed promise in a recent seven game winning streak near the end of the regular season. The team has very talented players and one of the best coaches to ever step onto the court. Duke is always dangerous and will always be a team to watch. Just watch out for the hot-headed Grayson Allen that he doesn’t derail their chances.

Louisville Cardinals: Rick Pitino didn’t become the only college basketball coach in NCAA history to win national championships at two different schools (Louisville and Kentucky) without knowing how to motivate his players after both victory and defeat. Typically, the Cards are ahead of everyone they play defensively, famously playing Pitino’s “mother-in-law” defense, which he once said was labeled that because it brought constant harassment. Regardless of which Cardinal does the most to move his teammates through March, the strength of this team is its length — U of L can count on a 7-footer Anas Mahmoud, two 6-foot-10 players, Mangok Mathiang and Ray Spalding and 6-9 Jaylen Johnson among its first eight. With strong defense and a big frontline this team could be tough to beat.

Arizona Wildcats: Arizona’s coach Sean Miller hasn’t been to the Final Four, and Arizona itself hasn’t been since 2001, but this team might have a chance. Arizona only recently started playing its best basketball and enters the tournament riding Allonzo Trier at the top of his game and one of the most best-shooting big men in the country in Lauri Markkanen. Miller thinks they can ride this momentum and see something special in March. Lets also not forget the University of Phoenix Stadium is hosting the semifinals on April 1st and the finals on April 3rd, they are expecting a crowd of over 72,000.

Picking The Long-Shot: March Madness is famous for just that – madness – so it’s tempting to make bold upset picks in your bracket. For most, the goal of filling out a bracket is to have fun. And choosing a No. 10 seed to make it to the Final Four (and watching it come to fruition) is a blast. But the data shows that it’s not the best course of action. Below you’ll see A) the percentage of people who pick certain seeds to advance to the Final Four, and B) how often those seeds have reached the Final Four since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams. There are exceptions. You can gain some real ground by, say, picking a No. 3 seed. Those teams have advanced to the Final Four more often than the public predicts it will happen. Best of Luck…

Sleeper Teams to Watch: Vermont is carrying the nation’s longest winning streak and should absolutely make Purdue fans nervous. Florida Gulf Coast put on a Dunk City-worthy show in the Atlantic Sun Tournament and should be considered a threat to in-state foe Florida State in the West Region. Middle Tennessee State not only knocked off Michigan State as a 15 a year ago but took care of business in conference play to return as a 12. The Blue Raiders are capable of getting to the Sweet 16, which would be right down the road in Memphis, and could bring local flavor to a blue-blood soaked region.

Evel Knievel and Olga Korbut Headline Fantastic Sports Auction

Heritage Auctions of Dallas Texas will host an impressive Online Sports Memorabilia Auction Feb 25-26. Heritage Auctions is a leading purveyor of direct-from-the-source sports collectibles and will put its reputation on the line again during their Platinum Night Auction featuring personal keepsakes from Evel Knievel and Olga Korbut. Items being auctioned off from their estates are expected to realize six-figure returns while the event itself should see over $10 million in sales. For those in the sports collectibles community this event has become the most anticipated semi-annual sale. “Hobbyists have been waiting 40 years for the chance to own Knievel and Korbut treasures,” Heritage Sports Collectibles Director Chris Ivy said. “We are thrilled to be the venue to present them to the collecting world.” I’m certain everyone above the age of 50 has a memory of Evel and Olga performing in the 70’s. Evel’s attempt to clear the Snake River in Colorado in a custom made rocket and Olga’s performance at the 1972 Olympic games where she won three gold medals will be lasting memories for that generation. Highlights from Evel’s collection include th e ” Motorcycle Leathers ” Knievel wore in 1972-73 and his Famous Diamond-Studded Walking Stick with a hidden liquor compartment. The current bid for those items are $32,000 and $26,000 respectively. Korbut’s 5 Olympic Medals – 3 gold and 2 silver – were personally consigned by the gymnast and are expected to gross over $100,000. The balance of the sale will feature an array of top-end trading cards and memorabilia. Let’s take a look at some other key pieces and their current bids:

Cards

  • Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps – $500,000

  • Jim Brown PSA Mint 9 rookie card – $190,000

  • Bart Starr PSA Mint 9 rookie card – $140,000

  • Bart Starr PSA Mint 9 rookie card – $30,000

  • Ty Cobb/Cobb Back T206 -$180,000

Memorabilia

  • Mickey Mantle Jersey worn hitting homer #535 – $280,000

  • Ted Williams bat – definitely used in historic 1947 Triple Crown season -$80,000

  • Piedmont Tobacco Tri-fold baseball advertising sign – $20,000

Other Top Lots

  • Christy Mathewson Portrait T206 Piedmont PSA NM-MT+ 8.5: est. $80,000

  • USA Olympic Team Blazer Worn in 1960 in Rome by Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali): est. $100,000 A 1916 Standard Biscuit D350 Babe Ruth #151 Rookie PSA VG-EX 4: est. $250,000

  • Jackie Robinson 1948 Leaf #79 PSA NM-MT 8: $100,000

  • Babe Ruth-Signed New York Yankees Player’s Contract which inspired a reporter to ask Ruth about the idea of making more money than then-president Herbert Hoover, prompting one of the most famous quotes of his career: “Why not? I had a better year than he did.” Est. $500,000

  • Lou Gehrig MVP Sheets and a Handwritten Letter Signed in 1939 from The Thomas Jacob Archive: est. $40,000

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

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