Monday, May 30, 2011

Successful Challenge Weekend for Myers Park

Myers Park Trinity won three challenge tournaments this past weekend and finished 2nd in three others. It was an outstanding showing for our teams, especially the 10U Tigers, 9U Warriors and 8U Cougars (left), who all won their tournaments. Congratulations to those teams. Click on the tournament links in the post below for all the details. Coaches - feel free to comment if you'd like to add any additional info about your weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Challenge Tournaments This Weekend

The Myers Park Challenge teams will be competing in tournaments this weekend. Several of the games will be hosted by MPTLL at Randolph Park. Good luck to these teams.

12U - Ferguson  -  Myers Park at South Charlotte (Olde Providence)
11U - Hamil  -  MP Mustangs at Poston & Ferguson Parks (Gaston Co.)
10U - Heaton  -  MP Tigers at Matthews
9U - Hodges  -  MP Braves at Myers Park
9U - Wade  -  MP Warriors at Myers Park
8U - Bray  -  MP Cougers at Myers Park
8U - Brietz  -  MP Mavericks at Myers Park

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Post-Season Tournament Update

League tournaments will resume next week with semifinal action on Tuesday for the American and National Leagues, and on Wednesday for the Major League. Tournament finals will be played at 12:00 on Closing Day, just prior to 2:00 Closing Ceremonies. Click on the links below for updated brackets:

Major League
National League
American League

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MPTLL Postseason Tournaments Are Underway

The MPTLL Little League divisions have wrapped up the regular season and are playing their annual postseason tournaments.

The American League (Machine Pitch) Division began its tournament on Saturday with a six game slate and will continue with the quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The National League is also down to the quarterfinals and will play its games tonight at 5:30 and 7:30.

The Major League Division has named its league co-champs - Carolina Pad and Christ Church - and will begin its postseason tournament on Wednesday. Each ML team will play three games regardless of the outcomes.

Good luck to all the remaining teams.

Joey Bats is Where It's At

Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays is the man to watch in 2011. Albert Pujols may be the greatest hitter of the past decade, but Bautista is the best in the game right now. His numbers make that obvious. After two months, he is 1st in home runs (19), on-base percentage, runs and walks. He is 2nd in batting average at .353. Since the 2010 season began "Joey Bats" has hit 73 bombs. This year he is on pace for 65 - an unheard of number in the supposed post-steroid era.

How does he do it? Just watch his swing over and over. Notice the violent hip turn, the firm front leg, and he doesn't swing level to the ground, kids - he's level to the pitch with a high finish, and then some.

Let's hope Bautista doesn't go the way of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and now apparently Lance Armstrong. Because this is fun to watch:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Former Bonds Trainer Coaching Youth Team

Greg Anderson is a convicted felon and recently spent a year in prison in connection with the Barry Bonds steroid scandal. Now he is mentoring 11- and 12-year-old kids as a coach in the Burlingame (CA) Youth Baseball Association. Anderson was "vetted" by the league prior to the season, but still missed four weeks due to a return trip to jail. According to one team parent, “The kids like him, and he’s a really friendly guy, so my husband and I don’t question it. Really, it’s kind of fun to have a celebrity coaching the team.” Check out the NY Times article for a good laugh.      

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Summer Baseball Instruction at Randolph Park

Myers Park Trinity is excited to offer a variety of instructional baseball opportunities for the upcoming summer. This is a chance for your kids to work on improving their game in a familiar and convenient setting.

MPTLL's own Baseball Fever camp, under the direction of long time league coach Jason Wishnefsky, is returning for its 10th summer. Jason was an instructor with Baseball Fever from day 1, and more recently partnered with Zan Copeland to provide this camp to our players. Baseball Fever has scheduled three, 5-day All Skills camps, a 2-day pitching and catching camp, and a 2-day hitting camp.

John Spencer, Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Myers Park High School, has scheduled two, 4-day All Skills camps. Coach Spencer previously held sessions on Sundays last August and September at our fields.

HQ4 Baseball will also be holding camps this summer, and will have two, 4-day All Skills camps, and a 4-day pitching and catching camp. 

And for individual or group hitting or pitching instruction, I will continue to schedule lessons at our park throughout the year, using video analysis to pinpoint mechanical flaws and customized drills to fix them. This summer's schedule will include mornings and afternoons. For more information, please visit my Lessons page and contact me about setting up a time. I work with players of all ages and currently have students from various American League, National League, Major League and Junior League teams at MPTLL.

Congrats to Major League Co-Champs

Congratulations to 2011 Major League Co-Champions Carolina Pad and Christ Church. Both teams won their games on the final day of the regular season to finish tied for first place at 12-2. Congrats on an outstanding season by both teams.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Big Weekend of Games at Randolph Park

Three Major League teams will be playing for a league championship on Saturday. After beating Cameron Harris on Wednesday, Christ Church is tied for first place heading into the final day of the regular season at 11-2. They will play Al Browne at 10:00 am on Wade Field.

Carolina Pad, which defeated Regions Bank on Wednesday, also sits at 11-2. They will play Trinity immediately following the CC-AB game.

For Christ Church and Pad, a win earns them at least a share of the Major League title. Cameron Harris is now a game back at 10-3, and must win and rely on both CC and CP losses in order to gain a piece of a 3-way shared championship. Best of luck to these teams, who have all had great seasons.

In the National League and American League, their end-of-season tournaments will begin on Saturday in a single elimination format. Congratulations to NL regular season champ, T.R. Lawing Realty, and AL regular season champ, JE Dunn Construction. Best of luck to all the teams in tournament play.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Analysis of a Youth Sports Social Experiment

The Sports Letter blog recently interviewed Doug Merlino, author of the book, The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White. In the book, Merlino has followed up on a social experiment he was a part of while in the 8th grade in 1986, in which his basketball team was created specifically to mix players from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

I found this interesting because of some general similarities to our own league. We are not a social experiment, but we do have a healthy variety of families.

Merlino says that in order for kids to truly benefit long term from such an experience, it must extend from the playing field into other areas of life. He says, "We went to play basketball because we liked to do it.  In that sense, it was very useful in bringing these two different cultures together. On the other hand, if things are just about what's happening on the court, you can start to fool yourself.  If you say, it's integrated on the court, therefore everything's fine, you're missing something.  As I point out in the book, sports has its limitations."

Updated All-Star Dates

District 3 has confirmed the following dates for this summer:

All-Star Practices Begin - June 6, 2011

Tournament of Champions - June 18, 2011

District 3 Tournaments - July 9, 2011

9-Year-Old NC State Invitational Tournament - July 16, 2011 - Dilworth LL

9-10-Year-Old NC State Tournament - July 16, 2011 - Transylvania County LL

10-11-Year-Old NC State Tournament - July 16, 2011 - Wilson LL

11-12-Year-Old NC State Tournament - July 23, 2011 - Cherryville LL

Click here for more information regarding our All-Star program.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Three Teams Tied Atop Major League Standings

The MPTLL Major League pennant race is poised for another fantastic finish. After Christ Church's win over Carolina Pad on Saturday, there is a three-way tie for first place heading into the final week of the season. With two games to play, Christ Church, Carolina Pad and Cameron Harris are all knotted up at 10-2.

Pad is hoping to repeat as league champion after sharing the title with Al Browne in 2010. Cameron Harris last won the league in 2003 when it tied with Harry & Bryant.  And Christ Church is looking for its first title since winning back-to-back championships in 2001 and 2002.

It should be an exciting week of baseball. All three teams will play under the lights on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm:

Christ Church vs. Cameron Harris on Founders Field
Carolina Pad vs. Regions Bank on Wade Field.

Best of luck to these teams. Check out the Current Standings and Historical Standings pages above for more information.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MPTLL History Project: 1953

1953 Champion Hotpoint Team
 After chartering with Little League and starting play in 1952, the Myers Park Civitan League went through some changes in its second season. With the popularity of youth baseball spreading in Charlotte in 1953, the Dilworth League was created, and the existing leagues introduced farm teams. This was the birth of our Minor League division, and the predecessor of what we now call at Myers Park the National League.

There was also a change of Major League sponsors. Al Browne's Service, which had been one of the original teams the year before, became one of the first farm teams in 1953. The returning major league players from Al Browne's became the original Hotpoint team. Al would continue to sponsor a farm team until returning to the Major League Division in 1961 and taking over the returning Farmers Dairy team.

1953 was a hard fought season. As usual there were several newspaper clippings to report on all the action. You might see some familiar names. I did.

And best of all, as you can see in this first-hand account from former Al Browne and Hotpoint player, Barrow Mullis, Hotpoint won the league championship after some wild games and a little controversy over at Farmers Dairy. Hotpoint was the champ in its first year as a sponsor, and by temporarily changing its sponsorship to a farm team, Al Browne would wait 53 years before capturing its first league title.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing Catch With a Purpose

I read a good post at The Pitching Academy about the benefits of throwing often when done with a purpose. Baseball is fun, and it's fun to just go out a throw the ball around. But when teams are warming up for practice, players - especially pitchers - can gain a lot from working on their mechanics.

Far too often I see a kids that have been taught to pitch or throw correctly, some by me, go out and warm up for practice with poor mechanics - not closing up, glove flying out, no follow through. They get nothing out of those ten minutes other than getting their arm loose. But if they would focus on what they're doing during that time like they would the rest of practice, they could improve their arm strength, their mechanics, their control, their various fastballs and their changeup or other offspeed pitches.

Mechanics can be learned at an early age. Once players get in the habit of throwing correctly, they'll never lose that skill. It's like riding a bike. But until the good habits fully take over, players will continue to fight against the bad habits on the mound and in the field. If they don't close the shoulder, or tuck the glove, etc., during those 30 throws before practice, how can we expect them to do it in a game?

And that changeup grip takes months, if not years, to get comfortable with. Pitchers who practice it during long toss or while cooling down can speed up that time significantly. Play "catch" with a purpose and some focus and the progress will show.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Recommended Reading for Serious Pitchers

Here's a link to a NY Times article on Harvey Dorfman, former MLB "Mental Performance Coach" who helped the careers of countless pro baseball players. Dorfman lived in North Carolina at the time of his death in February. He authored one of my favorite baseball books, The Mental ABC's of Pitching, which is guide to controlling your thoughts and emotions as a pitcher. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All-Star Information

Availability forms for 9, 10, 11 and 12-year-old All-Star participation will be distributed soon. The All-Star, or Tournament Season, begins in early June, and team selection will take place just prior to our regular season closing day. Teams will be announced after closing ceremonies. There is some general information regarding the MPTLL All-Star Program on the league website. Here are more details:

All-Star teams are selected by a vote of the coaches. The 9-year-old team is selected by the National League (NL) coaches and players will come from the NL. The others are selected by the Major League coaches. 10 and 11-year-olds may come from the NL or Major League divisions. 12-year-olds must come from the Major League division. Each team may cast one ballot per age group.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Hands, No Arms, No Problem

This is impressive. Check out how Tom Willis throws out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium with no hands or arms. An inspiration indeed.