We Get It…You’re Back in Cleveland

The “Coming Home” letter was enough. The Welcome Home Ceremony in your hometown of Akron should of been the icing on the cake. But I get it, people love a story of redemption, almost like Simba going back to reclaim the throne as King after being away for a while or Queen Elsa from Frozen (as you can see I’ve been hanging around my two year-old niece for too long).

But we get it, it’s disney — it’s picturesque, fit for the big screen. But honestly, I’m just ready to see Kyrie throw The King some lobs or even some drive-and-kicks to Kevin Love in the corner. Then again, I have all season to see that.

Peace is truly wonderful,

 

Strikes as Usual

The result has always been the same — Mo’ne Davis throwing strikes. Aside from Queen Latifah butchering Mo’ne’s entire introduction this was awesome. What a great way to finish the summer and take all of us on another joy ride. I’m sure it won’t be the last but for now school awaits. I hope I didn’t for you Mo!

 

You Can Only Hope

LLWS Las Vegas Chicago Baseball

Watching the team from Chicago win the United States Little League World Series title last week, becoming the first all black team to do so, was one of the best things that could happen in baseball. It not only proved that they were the best Little League team in the U.S. but it pointed to a much greater success, proving that with the right coaching/personnel, baseball in the inner-city can thrive.

The players had a huge homecoming in Chicago’s Millennium Park. They proved to be conquering heroes, kids who made a profound impact on our history books whose names will be etched in stone forever.

But lets make sure we keep some things in perspective; its Little League and after the celebration subsides, when a team from Nevada is no longer their rival and the world isn’t solely their stage, the kids from Jackie Robinson West will have larger issues to deal with that won’t involve baseball.

The “come down” from the Little League World Series might have been just as bad as the loss for my Harlem team back in 2002. Continue reading

They Aren’t Just Happy to Be Here

Jackie Robinson little league

Never have I seen a team hit like this since my 2002 Little League World Series team. Chicago might even do it a little better. They square the ball up consistently and one through nine they are hacking and making solid hard contact the whole time.

They are truly an exciting team to watch. Not to mention they all can run too. They put the pressure on the defense to make the plays and are just truly dominant.

It’s a special thing to see, and in the midst of every person who never played baseball relying on percentages to tell the story of the black not playing, this right here proves the process and ultimately the result of player development.

I caught up with their head coach who players refer to as “DB” and I talked about his players approach at the plate, and how their team reminded me a lot of mine. Continue reading

The Philly Kids Are Here

parade 1

The kids from South Philly showed off their new uniforms today in South Williamsport. The Little League parade, held down on Little League Boulevard was well worth the wait as the young sluggers arrived in style. Their first game is Friday at 3pm against the Southeast Regional champions, Nashville, Tennessee.

They Made Me Go Back

monarchs

I was never really “proud” of the way my college baseball career turned out. From having to transfer from my original school, Ohio University, to Temple University —- not “gelling” well with either coaches, to ultimately a career plagued by injury, baseball was something that I just wanted to be over.

And quite frankly, it was. I was a fifth-year senior, no longer playing and just focusing on finishing my degree. I had just come off huge rotator cuff surgery and never really recovered.  I didn’t even want to be around the game, not to coach, not to watch — I couldn’t even look at a bat. Bitterness consumed me and I didn’t care, nor would I deny that I felt angry toward the game.

It was obvious, and anyone close to me knew how I felt.

Until the winter of 2013. One of my friends recently did a piece for his magazine. The story was based on a group of kids playing for the Anderson Monarchs, a travel team in the heart of South Philadelphia. The majority of the players are African-Americans from urban areas.

The program was founded by Steve Bandura in 1993, whose goal was to give African-Americans a space to play baseball, and also prove that city kids could compete with suburban players. They just needed the resources.

I decided to meet Bandura. Accompanied by friend who introduce me to him, we met at the Marian Recreation Center, the facility where the Monarchs hold their practices and many of their games. The minute you walk in you immediately feel the inner-city vibe. A feeling that provided a sense of home for me, a man who grew up in an urban area as well. Continue reading