Tag Archives: OLYMPICS

Bryan Price brings tremendous experience as new Phillies pitching coach

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Price has been a pitching coach and manager in MLB for two decades

 

Just days after officially hiring Joe Girardi as their new manager, the Phillies have filled one of the key open positions on his coaching staff.

Bryan Price, who most recently served as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds from 2014 into the 2018 season, has been hired as the Phillies new pitching coach.

Price brings tremendous experience to the job. He previously served as pitching coach with the Seattle Mariners (2000-06), Arizona Diamondbacks (2007-09), and the Reds (2010-13) in addition to his managerial term in Cincinnati.

Girardi and Price have a recent link. Back in the summer, the Phillies new skipper was named as the manager of Team USA for the upcoming international Premier 12 tournament. Price was scheduled to be his pitching coach.

However, on taking the Phillies job, Girardi was replaced as Team USA manager by Scott Brosius. It remains unclear whether Price will remain with Team USA through the Premier 12 tourney, which kicks off the qualifying process for the 2020 Summer Olympics and runs from November 2-17, 2019.

The Mariners pitching staff led the American League in ERA in the 2001 season, earning Price the USA Today Baseball Weekly Pitching Coach of the Year Award. In 2007, his Dbacks staff finished fourth in ERA in the National League and helped the club reach the NLCS. For that performance, Price was named as the Major League Baseball Coach of the Year by Baseball America.

With the Reds, Price guided a pitching staff that twice finished among the top five in National League ERA. However, his managerial stint did not prove as successful. Cincinnati went just 279-387 in parts of five seasons, and he was ultimately fired after a 3-15 start in 2018.

Price was involved in a highly publicized and controversial incident in April of 2015 when he went on an expletive-laden rant against the Cincinnati media after a reporter published what Price felt was information regarding an injury to catcher Devin Mesoraco which put the Reds at a competitive disadvantage.

The 57-year-old Price is a native of San Francisco. He was the eighth round choice of the California Angels in the 1984 MLB Draft as a pitcher out of the University of California-Berkeley, the 190th player selected overall.

Price reached the Double-A level in the Angels organization before being released following the 2016 season. After taking a year off in 2017, Price signed with the Seattle Mariners and eventually reached Triple-A. Over a five-year minor league career he accumulated a 31-19 record with a 3.74 ERA across 90 games, 75 of those as starting assignments.

Price has other prior Phillies connections besides his brief period with Girardi in preparation for their Team USA assignment. Phillies Wall of Famer Pat Gillick hired Price as the pitching coach in Seattle when Gillick was the general manager of the Mariners.

Phillies 2008 World Series hero Jamie Moyer was a pitcher on those Mariners’ staffs under Price.

If I was looking for a pitching coach, he’d be at the top of my list.~ Jamie Moyer

“He’s a student of the game and he cares about his pitchers,” Moyer said per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I think first and foremost that’s what jumps out about him — how much he cares about his pitchers. He was a first-time pitching coach when he came aboard and we had a lot of veterans on that team. He quickly earned their trust with great communication and with a lot of give and take. His style was basically, ‘What do you do well and what can we do with it to make you better?’

On Monday, prior to the announcement of Price’s hiring, Girardi had commented on the pitching coach position. “Just as important is a real ability to relate to the pitchers, sometimes the struggles they’re going through, and that there’s a deep relationship there,” Girardi said per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The pitching coach has a tough job because there’s so many pitchers that they deal with. But he has to know each one of them really well, and they have to trust him, and that’s really important.

Based on his long history of success as a pitching coach and Moyer’s comments, it appears that Price fits that need for a strong communicator well. He looks like a perfect fit for the new Phillies coaching staff, which now seeks a similar strong addition for the hitting coach position.

Per Matt Gelb at The Athletic, Price turned down at least two offers to coach elsewhere before taking the job with the Phillies. One concern that he had was the ability to infuse the game’s new shift towards analytics with his more natural old-school style approach.

What I don’t know, I can learn,” Price said per Gelb. “But one thing I won’t forget is the fundamentals of pitching — of competitiveness and preparation and the detailed work that is really the lifeblood of being a competitive major-league pitcher. There are just essentials to it that aren’t going to be defined by a spreadsheet or technology that tells you if you’re doing it right or wrong. A reasonable mind says they both have a place. To think that one thrives without the other, it doesn’t. I can tell you, in pitching, there’s no uniformity.

Now, who exactly will be the pitchers under his tutelage during the 2020 season? The Phillies staff finished 17th in ERA, 20th in OPS against, and  22nd in batting average against among the 30 teams in Major League Baseball this past season.

Given health, the starting rotation in 2020 is almost certain to include Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Based on the majority of his performances combined with his age and upside potential, Zach Eflin would also seem a lock. Top pitching prospect Spencer Howard is likely to make a strong push for a rotation spot as well, possibly as early as spring training.

More questionable are the fates of Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta. Each is talented, but neither has been able to establish themselves as a reliable starting pitcher for the Phillies. They both could end up as trade candidates this off-season, or end up in the bullpen if better options are found.

I don’t speak for the Phillies in any way, shape or form. I’m new to the organization,” said Price per Gelb. “We had a good talk about philosophy. We will use our analytics and technology department in a very strong and positive way. But I think the pitching coach’s job is to help extract as much talent and build as much confidence in the group as possible through relationship building. It’s through building trust. It’s through sharing experience and knowledge. We give these guys a goal of becoming something special, instead of something that’s specialized.”

Most observers believe that the Phillies are going to need to add two new, veteran arms to that rotation in free agency in order to compete against talented Washington and Atlanta teams in the NL East. At least one of those new starting pitchers needs to be ace-caliber, someone such as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.

That will be the primary job of general manager Matt Klentak this off-season, providing pitching talent of a caliber that can help the Phillies to become winners and return to the postseason for the first time nine years.

 

More on the Philadelphia Phillies and Major League Baseball:

Sochi 2014

If you’re anything like me, when you heard that the 2014 Winter Olympics were being held in Sochi, you said to yourself, and may still be saying, “Where in the world is Sochi?”

The easy part of that answer is the one thing that you likely already know, that it’s in Russia. Okay, so the Olympics are being held in Russia, that’s easy enough.

But while we’ve all heard of Russian cities such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and, uh, er…yeah. Go ahead, name another Russian city. Any city or town at all. Exactly. It’s a massive country, the largest in the world, covering 1/8 of the planet’s land-mass, and has been a major American rival for a century, but you’re lucky if you know two cities there.

Sochi is actually ranked 52nd in size as a Russian city with approximately 340,000 citizens. To give you an American comparison, Bakersfield, California is our 52nd-largest city with a population very comparable to that of Sochi.

While you and I may have never heard of it before these Olympics, Sochi is actually very popular in Russia as a tourist resort area, with about 2 million people visiting each summer. It sprawls along 90-miles on the southwest coast at the very edge of the Black Sea, and is one of the few places in all of Russia with a sub-tropical climate as well, featuring sandy beaches and palm trees.

It is about as European as a Russian city can get as well.
Almost 1,000 miles away from Moscow, the Sochi area, divided administratively into Sochi ‘proper’ and a handful of other districts, lies right at what would be considered the border of Europe and Asia.

The tropical, seaside coastal atmosphere doesn’t tell the whole Sochi story, however. You also have the nearby scenic Caucasus Mountains. The wide variety of seasonal sporting opportunities has made it a popular area for sporting activities. The local tennis school, in fact, launched the careers of both Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Maria Sharipova, among others.

As with most of the world outside of the United States, football (soccer) is a major sporting activity. Sochi has been home to a Russian club team for the last couple decades, and is home to the year-round training facility for the Russian national men’s and women’s teams.

In July of 2007, the Sochi area was awarded the Winter Olympics and Paralympics as the first-ever Winter Games to be held in Russia. Despite it’s scenic beauty and the facilities already in place, the area was in no way considered “Olympics-ready”, and Russia had to commit an initial $12 billion investment package to get the infrastructure up to standards.

It is estimated that it has cost a total of nearly $50 billion in a private/government construction of facilities for the Olympic Games. Everything from the electrical/power infrastructure to the airport to the railway had to be upgraded to accommodate the Olympics, and then you have construction of many of the event venues themselves.

An investment of this size by a major world power like Russia means that Sochi will not be a one-off event location. After the Olympics, the investment in infra-structure to bring the area up to such a major standard will pay off in other events as well. Sochi will begin holding the Russian Formula One Grand Prix this year, and host the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi will be the largest ever held in terms of the number of events. There will be 98 separate events held in 15 disciplines across 7 separate sports from skiing to hockey to ice skating. The Opening and Closing ceremonies and some events will be held in the newly constructed Fisht Olympic Stadium, named after the nearby towering Mount Fisht.

There are a variety of star performers to watch at Sochi, perhaps led by the numerous NHL professional players who will participate for each nation in the hockey competition. The American hockey team will include such familiar names as Zach Parise, former Flyer James van Riemsdyk, and Phil Kessel, whose sister Amanda is a key player on the US women’s hockey team. The Canadians, always an Olympic hockey favorite, will include former Flyer Jeff Carter.

If you’re a fan of the our hometown Philadelphia Flyers, a number of the team’s players will be participating, though not our snubbed team captain Claude Giroux, notably left off Team Canada’s roster. Flyers participating include Kimmo Timonen with Finland, Jakub Voracek with the Czechs, Mark Streit with Switzerland, and Andrej Meszaros with Slovakia.

Aside from hockey, key Americans to watch include snowboarders Shaun White and Kelly Clark, figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold, skiing stars Bode Miller and Mikaela Shiffrin, speed skaters Heather Richardson, J.R. Celski and Shani Davis, the ice dance team of Meryl Davis & Charlie White, and bobsledders Steven Holcomb and Lolo Jones, the American summer Olympics track star controversially named to the USA women’s bobsled team here.

Hovering in the background, and hopefully remaining there, is the always present fact that the Olympic Games are set on a major worldwide stage. Most of the planet is following on television and the internet. There have been specific threats, particularly by the usual Islamic radicals, of attacks against the Games. Security is tight in Sochi, with Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming a “Ring of Steel” has been provided for the athletes and attendees.

The next two weeks should provide a wide variety of winter sporting entertainment and human interest stories from this summery Russian resort town. Hopefully now we all are a little more familiar with the area and the “home team” American athletes. They will be joined by worldwide stars who will capture our attention as the drama of the Olympic Games unfolds.

2012 American of the Year: Michael Phelps

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Politics, faith, education, service to either country or community have been the hallmarks of the previous eight honorees as the ‘American of the Year’: Pat Tillman (04), Bill O’Reilly (05), Billy Graham (06), Chuck Cassidy (07), George W. Bush (08), Glenn Beck (09), Ron Paul (10) and Seal Team 6 (11) have all distinguished themselves in these arenas.

 
Critics would say that many of these individuals, at least where politics and culture are involved, can be associated with a conservative slant, and that in at least a couple of those years a more liberal selection would show this website to be both more balanced and fair.
Fact is, this website reflects it’s creator, and so it will always reflect my own leanings, and thus those choices.
 
An examination of the year 2012 left America lacking in political leadership, as our main Republican and Democratic parties battled for control of the White House amid some of the most divided conditions in history.
With the nation clearly so divided, and with the current leadership so clearly lacking answers to our most pressing problems, there was opportunity to look at the full scope of American achievement.
 
The Olympics are a major world event, and in the summer of 2012 more than 10,000 of the world’s greatest athletes representing 204 nations gathered to compete across 302 events for national pride and individual glory.
The United States was represented by a large contingent, and one man stood out above all others. In fact, one man stood out above all Olympians of all-time. That man is our 2012 American of the Year, Michael Phelps.

 
This past year, Phelps won 4 Gold and 2 Silver medals at the London Games. This was following on the heels of his record-shattering performance at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where Phelps broke a 36-year old record held by another American male swimming legend, Mark Spitz, by winning 8 Gold medals.
But Phelps’ domination at the Olympics had not even begun there. Back in 2004 as an 18-year old phenom, Phelps won 6 Gold and 2 Bronze medals.
 
With his performance over these 3 Olympiads proudly wearing the “USA” across his chest and performing for the pride of his nation, Michael Phelps thrilled both serious and casual American fans of swimming in particular and sports in general. His 22 medals make him the most decorated Olympian of all-time. His 18 Gold medals are double the second-highest all-time totals.
 
In these days of doping controversies involving major athletes across sports as varied as professional football, baseball, cycling, running, and more it is fair to ask whether it is dangerous to award any athlete such an honor as is being bestowed here.

However, to his credit, Phelps has gone above and beyond in this area as well. During the ’08 Olympics he had signed up for Project Believe, a project of the US Anti-Doping Agency in which Olympians could voluntarily agree to be tested in excess of World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines. Phelps passed all 9 tests that were administered to him.
 
For his achievements in representing his nation in setting the all-time Olympic medals record with his performance in London during 2012, for his all-time performance representing his nation going back over the past decade, and for his principled anti-doping stance in these days of questionable athletic tactics, Michael Phelps is a very deserving honoree as the 2012 American of the Year.
 
 

TO VIEW all articles relating to the previous ‘American of the Year‘ award honorees, simply click on that below ‘Tag’

USA Owns the Winter Olympics Podium


Going into these current Winter Olympics games the host Canadians had built their national program up with the motto “Own the Podium!” for years. But as the games wind down it hasn’t been the hosts but their southern American neighbors who have actually dominated the medals podium.

The current medal counts with just a couple of days of competition remaining show the United States with 8 gold, 12 silvers and 12 bronze for a total of 32 overall medals, six more than the 2nd place Germans. Noway is in 3rd place with 19, the Canadians are at 17, and the traditional power from Russia sits with just 13 medals.

It hasn’t always been this dominant for the American team at the Winter Olympics. The cold weather games highlighted by competitions in alpine skiing, ice skating, hockey, bobsledding and other competitions across ice and snow have taken place since Chamonix in 1924.

The overall Winter Olympics medal leader of all-time with 603 is Norway. The rugged western Scandanavian nation with great mountainous regions is one of the farthest north in all of Europe. It’s hardy and talented athletes are the only in the world to have earned more than 100 gold medals, standing at 106 as of today.

The USA team has accumulated the 2nd most medals in Winter Olympics history with a current total of 491, and their 87 gold medals are also 2nd all-time. But recent years had not been kind to the U.S. winter contingent.

At Nagano, Japan in 1998 the U.S. finished 6th with just 13 overall medals, the same total and the same finish as they had four years earlier at Lillihammer, Noway. In 1992 at Albertville, France the total had been just 11 for a 6th place finish. The last time that the Winter Olympics were held in Canada, at Calgary in 1988, the U.S. team won just 6 medals, tied for 8th place overall. They had won 8 medals at Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1984, tied for 5th.

In the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York in 1980, the Americans won a total of 12 medals, finishing 3rd overall. This was the best the team had done in two decades until they came home once again at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. This was the true coming out party for the team. That year the team finished 2nd with 34 total medals, just one behind the Germans.

Four years ago, at Torino, Italy in 2006, the total slipped to 25, but that was still good enough for 2nd to the Germans 29 total. In these current Vancouver games the Americans have finally overcome the German squad, leading them by a 32-26 count with just a couple of days remaining.

The stars for the American men have included the new team all-time leading medalist, speedskater Apollo Anton Ono, as well as his gold medal-winning teammate Shani Davis, skiers Bode Miller, Johnny Spillane and Bill Demong, figure skating champ Evan Lysacek, Gen X ski-boarders Shaun White and Seth Wescott, and the hockey team led by goaltender Ryan Miller.

The talented women’s team includes downhill skiers Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso, Gen X skiers and snowboarders Shannon Bahrke, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter, bobsleigh bronzers Erin Pac and Elana Meyers, and the women’s hockey team which finished with the silver medal. Meryl Davis teamed with Charlie White to take the ice dancing silver.

There remain about a dozen and a half medals still up for grabs over the final three days of these games, and the American team has a chance to continue to add to it’s leading totals, particularly in short-track speedskating and downhill skiing. In addition, the USA men’s hockey team puts it’s unbeaten record on the line in the semi-finals vs. Finland this afternoon. A win could set up a sensational gold medal rematch with Canada on Sunday.

All in all it has been a spectacularly successful Winter Olympics in Vancouver for the United States Olympic Committee and Team USA. The host Canadians have been frustrated by not only the medal count, but the embarrassment and tragedy of some poor snow and fog conditions, torch malfunctions, equipment failures, and a death due to an unsafe luge track. Instead it has been the Americans who for the first time have truly owned the podium.

Predictions for 2010

I don’t own a crystal ball, nor do I have any special psychic powers or connections to the Almighty that would grant me privileged insight.

But I do understand a little bit about what is going on in the world, and it’s a challenge to look ahead and try to figure out what a new year may bring.

The following are 10 predictions that I am willing to make for the new year that we just began. Every year brings with it major news developments, exciting sporting accomplishments, political intrigue, public scandals, celebrity gaffes, natural disasters, and other headlines.

We can take a look back at the end of 2010 and see how I faired with these:

1) Israel-Iran War: There is just no way that Israel can allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. If the mullahs are not overthrown and Ahmadinejad kicked out on his apocalpyse-desirous butt within the first few months of the year, Israel cannot wait much longer. It’s a bit of an upset that the Israelis have waited this long. This will be huge.

2) American Congress: The Republican Party will make major inroads in both Houses of Congress in the 2010 mid-term elections. Probably not enough to take over either House, unless of course the Obama administration continues to bury the U.S. in debt and continues to take over private industry. My bet is the Dems up for election will paint themselves moderately enough to salvage a slight Dem majority.

3) Terrorism in the West: There will be a moderate-to-major successful Islamofascist terrorist attack somewhere in either Great Britain or the United States this year. The radical Islamists have sworn to keep coming at us, they continue to make actual attempts, and we keep getting lucky most times. Our luck will run out somewhere, some time.

4) American Financial Debacle: Unemployment will continue to rise, credit will continue to remain tight, the housing market will continue to stagnate. The policies that the Obama administration is utilizing simply do nothing to spur ongoing economic growth. There will be calls for more stimulus, just what we need (sic). At some point in the year the Fed will raise interest rates to stave off inflation, worsening many areas of the economy. The stock market will end the year lower than the final 2009 levels.

5) Natural Disaster: The world has been rocked in recent years by major tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, more so than at any time. Or does it just seem that way because we now have 24-hour news coverage? In any event, the U.S. got away without a major hurricane striking the mainland in 2009. We won’t be as lucky in 2010, and look for at least one other major event elsewhere in the developed world this year.

6) The Sports World: Predicting champions is the longest of long shots, but here goes. The Super Bowl will see the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New England Patriots. How’s that for a homer pick? Want another one? Okay, the Philadelphia Phillies will defeat the New York Yankees in a World Series rematch. The Chicago Black Hawks will win the Stanley Cup by downing the New Jersey Devils. The Cleveland Cavaliers will upend the LA Lakers for the NBA title. Kansas wins the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

7) Olympics Incident: The Winter Olympics are being held in Vancouver next month. The largest sporting event on earth remains the greatest attraction for television, athletes, fans – and terrorists. Watch for some attack or attempted attack at some venue. If Vancouver lucks out, or makes it’s own luck with tremendous security, the real challenge is next. London hosts the 2012 Summer Olympics, and that one should be a real security challenge.

8) Celebrity Deaths: We all know there will be some. The usual suspects this time around include Billy Graham, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Dick Clark, Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kirk Douglas, Betty Ford, Nelson Mandela, Jerry Lewis, Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden and Abe Vigoda, who I personally think may never die. But the real challenge is predicting the younger folks who really shouldn’t go, but who end up in accidents or overdoses or as homicides/suicides. Put me down for a couple on the longshots: Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

9) Science and Sci-Fi: There will continue to be no proof of intelligent life on other planets. No flying saucers or other beings will visit/invade the earth. The H1N1 virus will fade from the headlines amid warnings from the medical community that some major disease will eventually break out among humans that will indeed cause a worldwide crisis, and they will be right – eventually. By the way, your life can already be tracked via things like GPS on your cellphone and via your debit/credit card usage. This will become even more invasive in the coming year.

10) Weight Loss: Okay, here is the biggie. Yours truly will lose weight, a great deal of it, and get in the best shape that I have been in since my police academy days two decades ago. This is the one that I hope actually comes through for me. Well, this and the Republicans making strong Congressional gains. I am starting the effort this coming week. Wish me luck.

So there go ten areas where I am willing to go out on the limb with some general and specific predictions. It will be a great year for some, a terrible year for others, the last year on earth for some, the first year for others.

In short, in the end it will be pretty much like any other year. It’s all ahead of us right now. It will be interesting to take a look back in 11 months or so and reflect on this article with the knowledge of the reality of what actually occurred.