Coaches: Let Athletes Figure It Out
This story tries to do too much, but there’s a specific section of it that’s stuck with me all week.
As most of you know, Scottie Scheffler won the Masters Sunday. I can’t remember watching the no. 1 golfer in the world ever play, so Sunday afternoon was the first time I noticed there’s something odd about this guy’s swing.
And after meandering about a bit with a writing style that’s about as heavy-handed as SNL’s take on high school theater performance, Brendan Quinn gets to a key insight: there’s never one way to play a game. Scheffler found a coach that taught him the game, not how to swing.
He makes it sound easier than it is, but Scheffler was built for this. As a child, his family moved from New Jersey to Dallas, landing Young Scottie under the tutelage of Royal Oaks Country Club legendary pro Randy Smith. An old-school Texan with old-school wit, Smith crafted his teaching style from the likes of Harvey Penick and Lee Trevino. He taught the game to a young boy named Justin Leonard and crafted multiple other kids into tour pros. When it came to Scheffler, Smith found boundless talent and filled it with oxygen.
“He didn’t teach Scottie Scheffler a golf swing,” says University of Texas golf coach John Fields, who recruited Scheffler as a 12-year-old and coached him for four years in Austin. “He taught Scottie the game of golf.”
That footwork? That move? Randy Smith says Scheffler has always had it. It’s intrinsic. He never gave a single thought to coaching Scheffler out of it.
“He’s an athlete,” Smith says. “And athletes play golf differently than robots.”
I wish more coaches took this approach in youth sports. Let athletes be athletic and teach them the game instead of assuming there’s only one “proper” technique. How it looks doesn’t matter as much as the results. If the results stay great – especially when someone is a great athlete – let the kid figure it out. Great work, Randy Smith! – PAL
Source: “On his own two feet, Scottie Scheffler wins the Masters,” Brendan Quinn, The Athletic (04/10/22)
Play Better, I Guess
The Giants and Padres played a wild baseball game on Sunday. The Giants first base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected and later accused the Padres’ third base coach of using racially-charged language; the Giants’ Alyssa Nakken took over first base coach duties, becoming the first female on-field coach in MLB history; the Giants hit two dingers off Padres’ outfielder Wil Myers; and the Giants broke two unwritten rules, enraging the Padres. And despite all the other stuff worthy of discussion, I want to talk about the unwritten rule kerfuffle.
The game was never close. The Giants batted around in the first, and were up 10-1 in the second. They ended up winning 13-2. In the second inning, up 10-1, Giants’ outfielder Steven Duggar stole second. This made the Padres mad. In fact, it’s the event that led to Richardson’s ejection.
The game was uneventful after that for a while, until the 6th inning. The Padres were down 9, with the score 11-2. The Padres had one of their better pitchers, Dinelson Lamet, in the game. The Giants’ Mauricio Dubon, a player on the roster bubble, came to the plate. And on an 0-1 count, he laid down a bunt. He reached first safely. The Padres dugout went ballistic.
Even Kruk and Kuip were lightly chastising Dubon, suggesting Kapler did the same as Dubon came off the field. But, there’s a twist! After the game, Kapler was asked about Dubon’s bunt. Here’s what he had to say, from Andrew Baggarly:
“I said, ‘Great job. Way to try to get a base hit,’” Kapler said. “It was full, 100 percent support. The pitchers are trying to get Mauricio out. Mauricio is trying to get on base. The goal in baseball is to not make an out.”
This does not represent a sudden shift in Kapler’s thinking. Going back to his time managing in Philadelphia, he would express his disdain for the general understanding that teams should coast with a sizable lead. He was adamant during a morning session with reporters in Scottsdale this spring: the Giants would not stop playing the game hard until the final out regardless of score or inning.
“Our goal is not to exclusively win one game in the series,” Kapler said Wednesday night. “It’s to try to win the entire series. So sometimes that means trying to get a little deeper into the opposition’s ‘pen. I understand that many teams don’t love that strategy and I get why. It’s something we talked about as a club before the season and that we were comfortable going forward with that strategy. It’s not to be disrespectful in any way. … It’s the best way to win a series.
“We’re not emotional about it. We’re not trying to hurt anybody. We just want to score as many runs as possible, force the other pitcher to throw as many pitches as possible, and if other clubs decide that they want to do the same thing to us, we’re not gonna have any issue with it.”
Kapler expanded on his thoughts the next day:
Not only do I love thumbing your nose at the unwritten rules, but I really love the logic behind it. I never thought of that – keep hitting, keep attacking because you’ll get deeper into the other team’s bullpen. Also, this made me laugh:
And, as Joc Pederson said after the game: “You don’t like it, play better, I guess.”
Man, yes. Print the t-shirts already! -TOB
Source: “Giants’ Alyssa Nakken makes history; Antoan Richardson says ejection followed comments with ‘undertones of racism’,” Andrew Baggarly, the Athletic (04/13/2022)
PAL: It’s professional baseball; all is fair. Who doesn’t like a little added animosity?
If Your Team is Tanking, Don’t Give Them Money
Despite the labor deal, MLB still has a tanking problem. After the lockout ended, the A’s traded away every good player they have. The Reds did the same, including underpaid all-stars, like Jesse Winker. They are trying to rebuild, they’ll tell you. Trust the process. But you shouldn’t.
The Reds team president offered that reminder this week, when asked during an interview why fans should trust the team after all these trades? His response?
“Well, where you gonna go?”
Yeah, man, where you gonna go? This reminds me of a scene from Can’t Hardly Wait:
That’s right, Amanda Beckett. Somebody. When your owner asks: where you gonna go? Be like Amanda Beckett – tell him somewhere. These teams think they can hold you hostage. They think they can treat you like crap – collect your money, pocket it, and put out a terrible product that isn’t even trying to win. So, don’t let them. Go somewhere else. Spend your money elsewhere. -TOB
Source: “Reds President And CFO Asks Fans To Consider Whether Maybe This Is Actually All Their Fault,” David Roth, Defector (04/12/2022)
White Men Can’t Jump, at 30
I saw this movie in the theatres, apparently just as I was turning 10, with my dad. And I gotta say – it was wildly inappropriate for a child of that age. But, it’s also a great movie. As the movie turns 30 (and I 40!), I enjoyed this short* oral history of the making of the movie.
But here’s the best part, regarding that final scene when Billy Hoyle finally dunks:
In one of the final scenes of the movie, Billy and Sidney bet on whether Billy can actually dunk. Harrelson claimed he could actually dunk and would do so for the shot.
Johnson: And so the basket was at ten feet. Woody had been walkin’ around with these strength shoes — these strength shoes have, like, a — like, a big, gigantic pad on the ball of your feet, and then nothin’ on the heels. So you’re walkin’ on your calves the whole time. So Woody’s got these strength shoes on. He’s preppin’ to get this dunk down on the ten-foot basket. So we get to that part of the scene he’s got to dunk. And he’s nowhere close.
Snipes: And we had a side bet going on.
Harrelson: Yeah, we had a side bet, which kept growing.
Johnson: Ron Shelton’s like, “We gotta lower this thing, Woody. We don’t have all night.” So Woody’s, like, “No — no, whatever you do, don’t lower the basket. I know I can do it. I’ve done it before. I’ve been workin’ on this for the past couple of months.”
Johnson: Woody leaves and goes to his trailer. So my favorite line is Ron Shelton. It’s, like, “Take that thing down to nine and a half feet, please.” And so — they did, and Woody came out and dunked.
Shelton: I recall, as the bet was being upped, the rim was being lowered.
Harrelson: Then we upped the bet a little bit, and uh, oh my God. I’ll never forget [Snipes’] face when I slammed that.
Snipes: Ron, you were the co-conspirator, man. … You set me up.
Shelton: Yeah, gradually. I was.
Harrelson: I didn’t realize. I thank you for that, by the way.
That’s hilarious. Watch that scene again – look at Harrelson’s face. He really thought he dunked. LOL.
*So many oral histories drag on way too long. I enjoyed how this one got in, told its story, and got out. -TOB
Source: ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ at 30: Sneakers, bets and stories from an all-time sports movie,” Jeremy Willis, ESPN (04/12/2022)
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