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Active Team Sports

35 Posts authored by: mikeyactive

Sporting goods manufacturers may be hazardous to your health.


That's the word coming out of Montana as a jury found aluminum bat manufacturer Hillerich & Bradsby(maker of Louisville Slugger) liable for the 2003 death of prep baseball pitcher Brandon Patch. (Local paper's coverage of the ruling)


The crux of the prosecution's argument in civil court was that Hillerich & Bradsby failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of their aluminum bats. Though I'm saddened to hear of the tragedy that has befallen the Patch family, I'm not entirely sure what "adequate warning" means.


A label on the bat? A signed waiver accompanying each Louisville Slugger? A safety coordinator at each youth baseball game in the country explaining what "can happen" when a ball pings off a bat?


I'd be curious to see what you folks think. I believe this ruling could have long-lasting consequences to youth sports in this country.

8,028 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: baseball

My friend Jenny was a highly-touted softball catcher in the Big-10. She had a quick bat, high fastpitch IQ (she started for the varsity team as a freshman) and one of the strongest throwing arms in southern California.

Today--her back riddled with herniated discs due to numerous home plate collisions--she spends her mornings lying in bed, waiting for the Vicodin and Percocet to take effect before she attempts the exceedingly difficult task of standing up.

She's 25 years old.

I was reminded of her story when I read this fascinating article (free registration may be required) in the New York Times. The article recounts the challenges facing some NCAA athletes after the games have stopped and mounting medical bills and permanent physical disabilities start to set in.

Though the the NCAA began mandating four years ago that college athletes need to have health insurance before competing, the article clearly demonstrates that the level of insurance coverage varies widely from school to school.

"While some colleges accept considerable responsibility for medical claims, many others assume almost none."

"Many students, whether athletes or not, have medical insurance through their parents. But these plans often exclude varsity sports injuries, limit out-of-state treatment or do not cover much of the bill."

"Some colleges buy secondary policies to fill the gaps, although even these plans have holes. And only players hurt badly enough to require extensive care can turn to the N.C.A.A. for coverage. Its catastrophic insurance carries a $75,000 deductible, which will increase to $90,000 next year."

Do you think NCAA schools should be responsible for the long-term medical care of all its players who are injured while playing sports at the collegiate level?

Or would such a staggering financial commitment destroy college sports altogether?

8,561 Views 9 Comments Permalink

The NCAA has approved "sand'' volleyball

for varsity  competition at the college ranks beginning in 2010-11. Read the whole story here.

It will take some time for hte NCAA to figure out things know...rules. And it will be called "sand volleyball" because apparently "beach volley" will alienate landlocked schools.

Do you think it will succeed as an NCAA sport? How do you think this will affect the tenous balance of title ix scholarships?


7,300 Views 3 Comments Permalink

Anybody got any advice on buying sports equipment that doesn't require a second mortgage? Right now I'm looking for a metal baseball batbut my girlfriend is running a race next month and wants to look into a home gymso any general tips on buying sports eqiupment (used or new) would be greatly appreciated.

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Last year I wrote about my resolution to be a more effective (or simply effective) pitcher in my rec league. While I was confident of my chance at success, I missed the mark for a variety of reasons (injury, time, laziness, a complete lack of physical talent, etc.)

As it turns out I'm not alone. A recent resolution study indicated that 52 percent of participants were optimistic they would reach their goals, yet only 12 percent actually achieved their goals.

According to the study, "An extra 22 percent of men achieved their resolution when they engaged in goal-setting, and women were almost 10 percent more likely to be successful when encouraged to persist in the face of setbacks."

So here's my (second) attempt at creating a lasting team sport resolution through goal-setting:

  • Start lifting weights 2x a week to strengthen arm
  • Read an article a week about pitching mechanics
  • Ice after every time I pitch
  • Do soft-toss 1x a week

Now that I've put myself out there for public humiliation, I'd love to know what everybody else is gonna work on. Whether you're a coach or a player we've all got things to improve on--especially when you're sporting a 65mph fastball.

Good luck everybody!


*For some more help on creating lasting goals check out this cool Active goal-setting article.** </p>
7,420 Views 3 Comments Permalink

From NBC Sports:

  “Little League Baseball will use instant replay at this  year’s World Series to review questionable home runs and other close plays at  the outfield fence, beating the major leagues in instituting a system to review  some disputed calls.”


So for someone who has been to two* World Series tournaments in Williamsport* I’m not sure  this is a great development. Doesn't instant replay detract from the youth sport  element of the games? Isn't one of the tenants of  Little League  dealing with bad calls/adversity in a healthy way--not make sure we get the call "right." Or has the *Little League World Series* already become a worldwide  media event that has more in common with the *Super Bowl *than the sandlot game down the street?


Join the discussion. Would love to hear what you other youth baseball folks think?


  The rest of the NBC story.




2,128 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: baseball, little-league-baseball, michael-clarke

One Last Chance

Posted by mikeyactive May 6, 2008

An 18-year-old kid dying of cancer in Pennsylvania has one last wish, a chance to swing a bat (maybe) one last time in a real baseball game. An absolutely amazing storyfrom the Pittsburgh post-Gazette about courage and dreams coming true.

1,226 Views 2 Comments Permalink

Pitch In For Baseball™, the youth baseball charity that has partnered with Little League International since 2005, is taking on its biggest project to date.

Even though Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans more than two years ago, many schools in that region have yet to see baseball return to their community.  As a result, Pitch In For Baseball is partnering with the Recovery School District to help restart youth baseball and softball at 25 middle school and high school programs in the city.

Allen Woods, Athletic Director for the Recovery School District in New Orleans, shared his perspective on the project.  “I am constantly looking for opportunities for our students to participate in wholesome athletic programs.  When Pitch In For Baseball contacted me about their plan to help the children of New Orleans I was elated.  The help being provided by Pitch In For Baseball will allow our students to train, learn and play one of Americas favorite past times again.  In New Orleans we will be saying ‘Batter's Up!’ this spring.”

“This is a very important project and a huge challenge for our organization,” said Pitch In For Baseball Executive Director, David Rhode.  “We have a strong desire to see the kids of New Orleans get all of the opportunities they so richly deserve.  Having a chance to play baseball is just one small piece of that equation.”

The effort to provide equipment and uniforms to the public schools is just part of a broader program to help the kids of New Orleans.  Pitch In For Baseball is helping to arrange coaching clinics and is also working closely with local politicians and Little League’s Urban Initiative to expand Little League’s impact on the storm-ravaged community.   

Pitch In For Baseball, a 501(c) 3 charity, will need the continued donations of equipment and financial support to make this project happen.  “We have a January 19th deadline to collect and ship this equipment.  We will need a lot of assistance from a lot of generous donors to help make this project a reality,” said Rhode.

To find out more about how to get involved in this  project, contact David Rhode at 215-371-2841 or

1,825 Views 5 Comments Permalink


Every Little Leaguer dreams of what it's like to play in the bigs. For the 20- some members of the Mudcats and Lugnuts of Hermosa Beach, California they actually got the chance.


The comedy troupe Improv Everywherefamous for its staged musical number in a food courtrecently transformed a typical Southern California Little League game into a dazzling spectacle of face-painted fans, costumed mascots, Jumbotron highlights and even a flyover from the Goodyear Blimp.

Best of all, none of the participants had any idea beforehand what was to occur. With a little help from the Hermosa Beach Little League commissioner, Improv Everywhere was able to create programs with detailed player information and provide in-depth play-by-play coverage from NBC Sports broadcaster Jim Gray, without a single player, parent or coach in on the joke.

Any doubt about the lasting effect this theatrical event may have had on the teams can be summed up in an e-mail sent to Improv Everywhere from one of the parents involved.


I believe you guys are behind the “Hermosa Beach Little League” taping that took place Saturday, March 10th, 2007. The parents will be talking about this for a long time… the kids even longer. My son was a pitcher on the Lugnuts. We had a long/tough season last year. Saturday made up for everything. I want to sincerely thank you for making Saturday so unbelievable. It was like a birthday, Christmas, and New Years Eve captured in a few amazing hours. Thanks a million for a once in a lifetime opportunity.


Video of this brilliantly- executed improvisation can be seen at the Improv Everywhere blog. </p>

3,044 Views 2 Comments Permalink


1996. Bill Clinton was president, the New York Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves in six games to win their 23rd World Series title and an oddly-named collection of University of South Carolina graduates called Hootie and the Blowfish were the most popular band the world.

It was also the last time the USA Softball Women’s National team had lost a game.


That was until last   night, when Virginia Tech hurler Angela Tincher no-hit the national team in a   1-0 surprising victory in Oklahoma   City. The national team's loss was their first since May   3, 1996a defeat to California Select in Los Angeles, Califand broke a 185-game pre-Olympic tour   win streak.

“My hat goes off to Angela Tincher tonight,” said head coach Mike Candrea. “She pitched a great ball game. I told our team what she was capable of and told them to be ready to go. But she came out firing and really kept us off our game.”

Perhaps even more surprising was the identity of the losing pitcher; staff ace Jennie Finch lasted only four innings, allowing one run and four hits over that span. Team USA had outscored its opponents 1,475-24 before last night's contest, including a 23-0 thrashing of the DePaul Blue Demons just hours before Tincher took the mound.


What do you think? Was the loss simply a minor speed   bump for a team heavily favored to take the gold this summer or could this mean   future problems for Team USA   in Beijing? And   would a strugglingif slightly imperfectTeam USA really be   the worst thing for the sport of softball globally? (Many people think team   USA's otherworldly dominance is a   major factor in the sport being removed from Olympic rotation.)</p>

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After watching 12-year-olds throw filthy movement pitches at the Little League World Series last summer, my new year’s resolution will be to add another pitch to my repertoire by the time my league starts up in April--and hopefully lower my ERA below double digits. 


Currently I possess a not-so-fast fastball and a pitch that can only be described as a "curveball that doesn't curve." It's my hope that this third pitch-- an out pitch if you will-- might provide a little deception and prevent batters from calling their shot as they point toward the Shell gas station that serves as our left field boundary.


What's your resolution? (Let me know in the comments. I'm interested to find out what other people are working on this year.)

2,723 Views 3 Comments Permalink


That groan you heard emanating from the Atlanta offices of TBS, Major League Baseball's new postseason broadcast partner, was another round of disappointing ratings for the National League playoffs. Despite relatively high viewership for playoff series involving the Red Sox and the Yankees, ratings for the National League Championship Series involving the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks were lower than ESPN's Home Run Derby (4.3 percent) and ABC's Little League World Series final (3.3 percent). Evidence that on the eve of the World Series a decline in baseball's TV viewership that started in the mid-90s is still very much in effect.

Does this mean we need more 12-year-old sluggers clearing the fences in Williamsport? Not quite. Overall ratings for the first round of the playoffs are up 16 percent over last year--much of this attributed to the fact that TBS is carried in many more homes than FOX.

But it does point to the fact that baseball needs more than a semi-funny comedian like Dane Cook doing playoff baseball promos. It needs to connect, at least when the Red Sox and Yankees aren't involved, with viewers on a human level.

Stories about pitch counts and parents losing their jobs while supporting their kid's run in Williamsport helped the Little League World Series resonate with a large audience--or at least a larger audience than the NLCS.

Perhaps it's time for networks to get creative and rethink their broadcast approach. Have sideline reporters do more than just talk about stats: interview the families of players to get their perspective, find out what it's like to sit next to a group of fans booing your husband, give the players a video camera during batting practice and see what they're like when interviewing each other. It's time for Major League Baseball to stop waiting for that metaphorical three-run home run and create interest when there isn't any for the casual fan.

Tell us what you think in the comments below. Is interest in the national pastime eroding? Or is this just a blip on the screen in an otherwise healthy sport?


1,959 Views 8 Comments Permalink

Midnight Madness Memories

Posted by mikeyactive Oct 11, 2007

!|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=!I'll never forget the first midnight madness I ever attended. It was 1996. I was a junior at UC Berkeley, and all the buzz was about a skinny freshman from Georgia by the name of Shareef Abdur-Rahim.


The question on everybody's mind wasn't whether he would be a good player--that was obvious from the way he easily dunked over 7'0 senior center, Michael Stewart. But how many national championships he would help us capture.


He's better than Jason Kidd," said a nearby Oakland Tribune reporter. These would have been fighting words under any other circumstances. But midnight madness isn't just the official beginning of the NCAA basketball season; it's a night for lofty dreams and unrestrained optimism.


I worked for the athletic ticket office at the time and could see students setting up their sleeping bags outside Harmon Gymnasium days before the event. Flashlights and laptops became commonplace as students crammed for midterms in the frigid Northern California night. A literature professor of mine walked by and asked what band these kids were lining up for. "No band," I said. "Just a basketball game."


And not even a game at that. Midnight madness is more scrimmage and layup drills than anything else. Conceived some 37 years ago by University of Maryland head basketball coach Lefty Driesell to promote interest in his team, the event is little more than an open practice set to coincide with the NCAA-designated start of the college basketball season.


But the moment the arena goes dark and 8000 college students make the floor shake with their stomping feet at the thought of seeing their team for the first time, you realize nothing gets quite as loud, energetic, and hysterical as college basketball.


And it all starts on a Friday night in mid-October.



(Share your midnight madness memories in the comments below.)

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[]So how does someone get mentally prepared for competition? When should they concentrate? How does an athlete strike a balance between relaxing and thinking about the results they want to achieve?


It���s different for everyone. Some athletes need to focus in an intense manner before they compete, while others don't want to think about anything related to their competition. However, everyone should have a consistent plan that they use on a regular basis.



1,382 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: dr.-andrew-jacobs


[]One of the most challenging parts of working with young athletes is when older athletes, who often act as role models, lose control and act out in immature and unsportsmanlike ways. Part of the problem is I have to explain this behavior to young athletes and attempt to get them to understand the negatives associated with this acting out. (Photo Courtesy of Marc Serota/Getty Images)



832 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: dr.-andrew-jacobs
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