90% of the Game is Half Mental

It’s an old Yogi-ism, and one that was on my mind after perusing the Sports stacks at Barnes & Noble yesterday morning.

IMG_1694-2The mental side of the sports, particularly in baseball which is played at a slow enough pace to ponder the mental side during the game itself, has been widely popularized since  Jamie Moyer and Roy Halladay attributed much of their success to sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman.  A new book in the genre caught my eye, authored by Russell Carleton, entitled The Shift: The Next Evolution in Baseball Thinking.  It is positioned as a new crossroads between sabermetrics and cognitive science, purportedly altering the trajectory of both traditional and analytics-based baseball thinking.



Michael Jack Schmidt, in town this week as a guest instructor during spring training,  was interviewed yesterday on the mental aspect of hitting which he’s imparting to both the minor and major league position players.  He spoke frankly about his ambivalence at the increasing emphasis on analytics, but is apparently open-minded to change.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 11.16.37 AM

Coincidentally, as I was reading The Shift at the Marketplace in the Sandpearl over a cup of Starbucks, Mike rolled through for his morning cup of decaf, fanny pack and all.  I was going to ask him what he thought about Gabe Kapler’s notion of abandoning the bunt, but he the timing didn’t feel right.  It was 7 AM and he was heading over to the stadium.  Neither of us was fully awake yet, and this is not the type of discussion to have on the run.


The argument for abandoning the bunt, as related in The Shift, dates back to use of the expected runs table popularized by researchers Thorn & Palmer in their 1985 book The Hidden Game of Baseball.  Take a look:


Look at the situation with a runner on 1st and no outs.  Swinging away would result in an average expectancy of 0.895 runs.  Bunting and trading an out to move the runner to 2nd actually results in a poor tradeoff:  A runner on second with one out results in an average expectancy of 0.690 runs.  The “successful” sacrifice bunt therefore reduces the projected run total by 0.205 runs.

So don’t look for the Phillies to be bunting much if at all this season.  New manager Gabe Kapler is evidently very analytics and chart driven.  And I have a feeling you may hear Mike Schmidt comment on this during has periodic broadcast gigs during the season.  Time will tell …

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mother Nature’s Diversity

From Pearly’s Gates, to Frenchy’s Saltwater Pretzel Fish, to Pelican’s Brief to the Galapagos Icon and to Tampa and back.






Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lenny’s: A Clearwater Institution













Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Under A Blood Red Sky




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The funny story first.  As this woman in the row ahead of us turned around, I noticed she was sporting an unusual Phillies T-Shirt.  During a break in game action, plentiful in baseball, I sat down next to her and husband and asked where she got the T-shirt.


She told me that a friend brought it back from Israel, but they had no idea what the writing was.  They’ve been trying to find someone who can translate it for them.  They though the writing was Hebrew, but weren’t sure.  I told them they were in luck because I happen to be able to read Hebrew, and it says “Philadelphia Phillies”.  “Well there you go”, her husband said with a straight face.  “Mystery solved.”


And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sighting of Twins fans who were identical twins, but whose mother long ago insisted they not dress identically.


To the game itself.  It’s no secret the Phils have been struggling this spring.  Their offense was expected to take a step up from Matt Stairs tutelage, though John Mallee’s data driven approach doesn’t seem to be translating into action yet.  Maikel Franco has been just as hack-happy, repeatedly swinging at the first pitch and chasing balls out of the zone.  Odubel Herrera may have a nagging injury, and in a sense I hope that’s what it is because he hasn’t looked comfortable at the plate in his limited performances yet.

Frankly Tommy Joseph has been the only hitter looking sharp at the plate to date – owing in part to maintenance of his vision therapy program.  On another positive note, starter Vince Velasquez’s stuff was scintillating today.  He K’d three in two innings and work his way out of a jam beautifully in the second of his two innings.  Heading to the bullpen after exiting the game he continued to squarely pop the mitt, bringing smiles to the faces of admiring fans and backup catchers .






It proved to be a good omen for the Fightins who went on to edge the Twins 4 – 3, nudging their record to 4 – 8 and sending happy fans home to the tune of Sweet Caroline.

Let’s hope that new manager Gabe Kapler and his Phil’s stat-heads do better with team-wide buy-in to applied analytics and nutritional science than Chip Kelly did with the Eagles.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a long, slow season.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Silver Anniversary Spring

Although shot seven years ago, this video still captures the beautiful scene that still takes our breath away on the silver anniversary of coming to Clearwater Beach.

Truth be told, it isn’t quite 25 years for Clearwater Beach.  The first year we came to Clearwater was 1993, taking a few days to come to spring training at Jack Russell Stadium and staying in Clearwater proper.  It was Heather who clued us in to the fact there was a nice beach not far from town, and here we’ve stayed for our version of Spring Break ever since.

It began with staying at the Hilton, and then the Adams Mark (may it rest in peace) and eventually the Sandpearl Residences to the Mandalay and back to the Sandpearl, always around Pier 60 to enjoy the baking soda white sand and vendors at sunset.









Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Update on Uncle Cody

Miriam put on her old Cody Asche Phillies jersey today in preparation for Alumni Day  on a gorgeous Grapefruit League Sunday at Spectrum Field.


Cody didn’t pan out with the Phils, displaced from third base by Maikel Franco who hasn’t panned out yet either.  Seems like the Phils have their own “Curse of the Bambino” going at third base, unable to have anyone of considerable skill there since HOFer Mike Schmidt played the hot corner.  Every subsequent spring since he retired brings the same question: Who’s on third for the Phillies?

So where is Cody Asche these days, you’re wondering?  Well he won’t be doing personal appearances at alumni day yet, because he’s still an active player.  After not sticking with the White Sox, he signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals in December, with a spring training invitation this year to Arizona.  Had I done some research, I might have influenced Coop to take a ride over and surprise Cody – who is holding his own in limited action thus far.  Playing left field, Asche has been in four games, with 10 plate appearances, two hits, two walks, and two RBIs giving him a respectable slash line of .286/.400/.429.


Good luck, Uncle Cody!

Asche 2

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment