Bill Ballew 2015-11-16 04:00:21
MANFRED, MLB INCREASE INITIATIVES CENTERED ON YOUTH BASEBALL From the first day the Major League Baseball owners elected him as the game’s next commissioner in mid-August 2014, and continuing since he took office in late January earlier this year, Rob Manfred has made one point abundantly clear: He has an unbridled passion for youth baseball and its long-term development. Manfred has stated on countless occasions that the continued success of the game’s top level is dependent upon the active participation by young people in baseball and softball. The commissioner is adamant in his belief that those who grow up playing the games feel a life-long connection to the sports. To help build on that mindset, Manfred has spearheaded several initiatives under its Play Ball and One Baseball concepts that are designed to encourage and offer opportunities to kids to give the game a try in a variety of ways. “In the brief time that I have been commissioner, I have made youth participation a priority and I think the key to our participation efforts is creating opportunities for young people to play the game,” Manfred said. “We have recently embarked on a new initiative to ‘Play Ball.’ It’s a grassroots program to get kids to play the game in its simplest form, even if it’s Whiffle ball, catch or home run derby, the things that a lot of us did as kids.” In July, prior to the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati, Manfred joined MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark at a press conference in announcing a $30 million commitment to the development of youth baseball and softball in the United States. “This announcement for me combines an important part from my past and what I hope will be a huge part of my future,” Manfred said. Manfred said the commitment will focus on five areas: training coaches, offering grants to build additional youth academies in major league cities, providing opportunities for young people to play in underserved areas, utilizing former major league players to teach the game, and defraying the cost of elite play. On the final two aspects, Manfred said, “Former major league players are a great resource. There’s no one better to teach the game than former major league players. A topic that a number of our players have talked about is defraying the cost of elite play. Elite play is important but it’s also costly and we need to do a better job of making sure that all kids have an opportunity to participate in that type of play.” A week after the All-Star Game, in Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, MLB debuted its Elite Development Initiative, in conjunction with USA Baseball. The two-week program ran through the end of July while hosting nearly 200 players, ages 13-16, who were rated as top prospects from minority or underserved communities. Former major league manager Dusty Baker, former general manager Tony Reagins and former pitchers Lee Smith and Tom Gordon were among those on hand to help coach the young men while giving them the chance to compete under professional, high-quality conditions. “Even though this youth initiative is in its infancy, we are pushing this thing forward to affect positively as many young people as we can, both on and offthe field,” Clark said. “We’re excited about where it’s going.” This isn’t the first time MLB and the MLBPA have joined forces in an effort to grow the sport among young people. For the past several years MLB and the MLBPA have been partners in the Baseball Tomorrow fund, which has contributed more than $11 million toward youth fields and complexes in underserved areas across the country. The first one opened in Compton, California, a decade ago, with similar facilities following in Houston, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, New Orleans and Cincinnati. The latest urban center was revealed in September when the Kansas City Royals announced that the Missouri city will serve as host to the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy. Slated to open in the fall of 2016, the academy will be built behind the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and will be funded by local and state government, MLB, the MLBPA and the Royals. The Royals, in fact, will operate the academy at a cost of $500,000 per year to start. Unlike other academies, the American League team will use its baseball operations department instead of its community relations department in order to introduce and teach thousands of kids age 6-18 baseball, softball and life skills beyond sports free of charge. Royals general manager Dayton Moore says the academy will be “as important as anything we do,” even though there will be no monetary return for the team. “It’s personal because I know if I was coming up today, I wouldn’t have the same opportunity to play baseball,” Moore said. “My economic situation as a kid, where I came from, I probably wouldn’t be playing baseball. It breaks my heart to know there are kids who would fall in love with this game who never get the opportunity.” Plans call for the building of four fields, ranging in size from softball to youth league to major league, with field turf at a total cost of $6.5 million. The second phase, tentatively set for the spring of 2017, is projected to cost $7.5 million and will include an indoor facility containing a full-size infield, batting cages, classrooms, office space and a concession stand. The Kansas City Urban Youth Academy will serve as one of the many hosts to the Play Ball initiative, which has MLB working closely with USA Baseball to highlight various forms of baseball that can be played without the traditional nine players on a team. Many of these games were played in backyards and parks by kids of generations past, including stickball, rolly bat, one-eyed cat and simple games of catch. In fact, the Cincinnati Urban Youth Academy served as the site of a Play Ball event on July 9 that sought to establish a Guinness World Record for the largest game of catch. “We think it’s important to get back to our roots and the power of playing casually,” said Chris Marinak, MLB senior vice president/ league economics and strategy. “That’s sort of been lost lately.” Marinak added that the Play Ball campaign will continue to increase in visibility through many more special events, ongoing advertising in ballparks as well as the website PlayBall.org and a companion mobile app. Plans call for the website and app to build significantly upon the instructional content and resources in the coming months and provide a comprehensive listing of upcoming special events throughout the country. “This program will be a huge success for us if we can see a resurgence in these non-formalized baseball games,” Manfred said. “That is our primary goal. We think participation in those games is equally important to formalized baseball in terms of building fans.” USA Baseball and MLB also have extended a prior joint effort called Pitch Smart that offers medically reviewed guidelines that young pitchers and their parents can follow to help avoid shoulder and elbow injuries related to overuse. As Manfred insists, MLB and the MLBPA have the expertise and the responsibility to share their knowledge in order to grow the game at all levels. Now that the multi-faceted plan has been developed, the goal is to put all of those resources to use. “We have underinvested in what is an extraordinarily competitive market, and that is youth sports,” Manfred said. “Kids have far more choices today than we did. I think that it is very important to us that we attract young people with all types of athletic ability, including world-class athletes. In order to accomplish this, we have to make our product compelling and we have to play in all segments of our society.” OWNTHEPLATE with Prime 916™, Select 716™ and Omaha 516 Confidence is the key to owning the plate and letting your opponent on the bump know you’re going to be a tough out. You have to be ready to battle on every pitch, and that means having the right bat – one you trust to help you rake, regardless of your swing style. With battle confidence in mind, Louisville Slugger® announces its new 2016 performance bat lineup – Prime 916™, Select 716™ and Omaha 516™ – which features a bat for every type of hitter. “The key to success at the plate is finding a bat that feels comfortable because comfort translates to confidence,” said Louisville Slugger bat research and development director Jim Earley. “With the Prime 916, Select 716 and Omaha 516, we’ve created three uniquely different and innovative performance bats that help hitters with different swing styles have the confidence to be their best every time they step to the plate.” Prime 916, Select 716 and Omaha 516 are the bats of choice for such Top 25 college programs as Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina, as well as Prime Baseball Clubs like Evoshield Canes, Orlando Scorpions and Tri-State Arsenal, just to name a few. Prime 916 Features and Benefits Louisville Slugger’s Prime 916 is the bat of choice for baseball’s best amateur players. Eighty-seven percent of hitters surveyed by Perfect Game* chose last year’s Prime 915 over Easton Mako, and the Prime 916 is even better. The Prime 916 provides hitters with maximum bat speed, extreme power, and ultimate balance. It helps hitters get their bats to the zone fast for maximum pop. The bat features a premium patent-pending FCS (Fused Carbon Structure) composite handle and barrel, patented TRU3™ Explosive Power Transfer technology, and three-piece construction, which give it a lighter swing weight to ensure maximum control. The Prime 916 has a massive sweet spot with extreme barrel flex and dramatically reduced vibration. This bat gives hitters the best possible feel and unmatched performance and is available in BBCOR ($399.99 suggested retail), 2-3/4 inch and 2-5/8 inch bigbarrel Senior League models ($349.99) and a 2-1/4 inch Youth Baseball model ($229.99). All Prime 916 Louisville Slugger bats feature Lizard Skins™ Grips. The Prime 916 Senior League 2-3/4 inch barrel is now 27 percent longer, while the Prime 916 Youth barrel is 12 percent longer, creating much larger sweet spots. Select 716 Features and Benefits Louisville Slugger’s Select 716 is a bat built for driving the ball and going deep. It’s the bat of choice among Louisville Slugger’s Top 25 college teams. Crafted to be the next generation of hybrid power, the Select 716 combines its elite AC21 alloy barrel with the patented TRU3 Explosive Power Transfer technology and hybrid three-piece construction to deliver powerful performance. This impressive bat features a massive sweet spot, dramatically reduced vibration, a solid feel, maximum barrel flex, and an explosive trampoline-like swing. It’s available in BBCOR ($299.99 suggested retail), 2-3/4 inch and 2-5/8 inch big-barrel Senior League models ($249.99), as well as a 2-1/4 inch Youth Baseball model ($179.99). BBCOR and Senior League Select 716 Louisville Slugger models feature Lizard Skins Grips. Omaha 516 Features and Benefits Louisville Slugger’s Omaha 516 provides hitters with the ultimate in balance and the maximum in control. With trusted power and championship performance, the Omaha 516 is the most proven one-piece bat and most consistent high-performance bat in baseball. Made with Louisville Slugger’s new exclusive lightweight 7U1 alloy, the Omaha 516 delivers the right mix of undeniable power, a massive sweet spot, superior balance, maximum barrel flex, and a lighter swing weight. The Omaha 516 is available in BBCOR ($199.99 suggested retail), 2-3/4 inch and 2-5/8 inch big-barrel Senior League models ($149.99) and a 2-1/4 inch Youth Baseball model ($99.99). BBCOR and Senior League Omaha 516 Louisville Slugger models feature Lizard Skins Grips. The -10 Senior League models have barrels that are 40 percent longer, while the Omaha 516 Youth models have barrels that are 25 percent longer, creating much larger sweet spots. To learn more about the Prime 916, Select 716 and Omaha 516 from Louisville Slugger, visit slugger.com. BASEBALL DIETS REQUIRE PLANNING, DISCIPLINE Baseball players are different types of athletes compared to those in other sports. Playing the game is an anaerobic activity comprised of quick reactions, pinpoint coordination, muscular power, and endurance. In order to meet those challenges and perform to the best of their abilities, players need to eat the proper foods on a daily basis, which can be difficult for school-age kids with a penchant for sweets and other options lacking in nutrition. “Nutrition is just as important as batting practice, lifting weights, or doing sprints, but often is not taken as seriously,” said Jenna Waters, MS, RD, LDN, a Knoxville, Tennesseebased dietitian who works with numerous collegiate and professional athletes. “The key to good nutrition is discipline. Just because you don’t have someone breathing down your neck at the dinner table doesn’t mean you can forget about it. Self-accountability is the key!” Adding to the challenge of eating correctly is the unpredictability of baseball. Games often run long, which can make sticking to usual meal and snack times hard to do without proper planning. Doubleheaders and travel for away games can mean eating at odd times and with limited choices, which is where the discipline and accountability can really come into play. “It’s important for athletes to eat a substantial meal three or four hours before a game, and then a snack thirty minutes before game time,” Waters said. “A general rule is to eat something every three hours. Sometimes that might mean eating some healthy snacks in the dugout in order to adequately fuel.” Waters warns players to be aware of everything they eat, including their in-game snacking. Sunflower seeds are a sport staple but cannot be considered a substantial fuel source. Players need to be cautious of what Waters calls “dugout grazing,” which can lead to excess body fat, even when they are eating properly at other times. LOAD UP THE BACKPACK The school day makes it hard to rely solely on lunch to provide players with enough fuel for practice or a game later that afternoon. Players can overcome this challenge with some quality snacks they can eat between classes and during breaks to keep their body prepared to perform at its best. “Plan what your meals and snacks will look like on any given day and prepare for them,” Waters said. “Set stuffout the night before, write stuffdown, and set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself of meal and snack times.” Here are some items players can pack in their backpack that can help them meet their dietary needs on the diamond: Protein or power bars; Granola bars; Fruit bars; Jerky; Apples; Bananas; Trail mix; Nuts, particularly dry-roasted almonds; Raisins and other dried fruits; Small boxes of whole grain cereal; Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches THE SCHOOL CAFETERIA Lunchroom food has been the butt of jokes since Moses was in high school. With some guidance from Waters, here’s how players can make the best choices during their lunch period: The Good: Cafeterias have done a better job in recent years of giving students more options. Good entrée choices include roasted chicken (remove the skin), baked spaghetti, and an oven turkey melt. Stick with the vegetables, such as baby carrots and a garden salad, over French fries and tater tots. To satisfy the sweet tooth, apple sauce is a better choice than cookies or cake. The Bad: There are foods worse than pizza. Some state governments even consider pasta sauce to be a fruit, but there is less than a tablespoon on an average slice in school lunchrooms. Cheese pizza provides a decent source of carbs, and it gets better when you add some veggies, such as mushrooms or spinach. However, pepperoni, sausage and other high-fat meats cause the nutritional value to drop like an overhand curveball. The Ugly: Processed foods are generally unhealthy. Hot dogs, regular potato chips, white bread, and soft drinks have limited nutritional value and provide little more than high-fat, empty calories. At breakfast, avoid sugary cereals and doughnuts. These choices cause your blood sugar to yo-yo, which does not bode well for a productive game. GET HIGH ON HYDRATION Nothing is more important for baseball players than keeping hydrated with water. Since practices and games are often played in hot, humid weather, players need to drink plenty of water to maintain peak performance while also preventing cramps and heat-related illnesses that center on dehydration. “Hydration is extremely important for baseball players,” Waters said. “I often tell athletes that a good indicator of hydration is the color of their urine. If it’s not lighter than lemonade, then start drinking water. A practical way to maintain hydration is to carry a refillable plastic water bottle around with you all day and continue filling it at the water fountain as needed.” Waters adds that reputable sports drink brands also have a place in a player’s diet. “These are precisely researched formulas to fit the needs of athletes,” Waters said. “These are formulations made for athletes during or immediately after activity.” That does not include down time. Sports drinks should be avoided while walking around campus, sitting in front of the computer and television or eating a meal. Otherwise, players will be adding excessive sugar to their diet. “Water or milk should be consumed during these times, and a good amount at that,” said Waters. VITAMIN BOOSTS Waters echoes the words of numerous fitness experts: It is impossible to out-train a bad diet. What’s more, nothing nourishes the body better than quality whole foods. For a player whose body is still growing and maturing, it is important to get all of the vitamins and minerals he needs to reduce the risk of injury and illness, help with recovery, and optimize performance. “My general rule is ‘food first’ because we can’t absorb nutrients from synthetic stuffnearly as well as we can from real food,” Water said. “At the same time, a daily multi-vitamin is a good insurance policy to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.” According to Waters, a reputable brand is mandatory. She also suggests avoiding multi-vitamins that have more than one hundred percent of the daily value of a particular vitamin or mineral. Such excessiveness is unnecessary and potentially risky. Waters has similar advice regarding supplements. Countless players have tested positive for banned substances they didn’t know they were consuming because the contents were not listed on the label. Waters tells her players to make certain supplements are NSF certified by going to www.nsf.org/certified/dietary. “A supplement is not an easy fix for bad nutrition,” Waters said. “If you aren’t eating healthy, balanced meals, a supplement won’t make a bit of difference. Many athletes underestimate the power of healthy food. Conquer healthy eating practices, then consider a supplement if necessary.” WEIGHT MANAGEMENT Regardless of whether a player wants to add some weight or drop a few pounds, he should follow an eating schedule religiously. “The difference will be what they eat and how much,” Waters said, who offers the following tips for those looking to make a change on the scale. Gaining Weight Focus on overall calories. Eating frequently is the key to consuming adequate calories without feeling incredibly full. Choose high-calorie, dense foods, such as trail mix, yogurtcovered raisins, Fig Newtons and dried fruit. Eat bagels instead of bread, granola instead of cereal, Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt. Avoid drinking excessively before a meal; this will allow you to eat more. Save hydrating for when you finish eating. Add healthy calories wherever possible. Add peanut butter to oatmeal, raisins to tuna fish, instant breakfast mixes to milk. Losing Weight Drink water before and with meals to feel fuller, longer. Eat fiber throughout the day and at every meal to control your appetite. This includes whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas, fruits, vegetables and beans. Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight; studies have shown it may lead to weight gain. Instead, eat a substantial healthy breakfast. Make lunch your biggest meal of the day. Limit carbs at dinner by opting for lean protein sources, vegetables and fruit. Choose oil-based dressings and condiments, such as Italian dressing and vinaigrette instead of ranch, Caesar, or thousand island. Don’t mistake eating often with weight gain. Small, frequent meals keep your metabolism burning. Waters stresses that even for those teenagers whose metabolism is so efficient that it is easy for them to avoid adding excess weight, it is important for baseball players to eat the right foods in order to have the necessary energy in order to perform at a high level on the field. Eating properly requires some planning, but the rewards make the attention to detail worth the effort. CDC REPORTS SMOKELESS TOBACCO INCREASES AMONG HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT-ATHLETES The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that high school athletes are smoking less but chewing and dipping tobacco products more. The study was published online in the Sept. 4, 2015 edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which showed that smokeless tobacco use was higher among teen athletes than non-athletes. Using data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, the study revealed that the use of such tobacco products as cigarettes and cigars dropped from 31.5 percent in 2011 to 19.5 percent in 2013 among all high school students. Smokeless tobacco use, meanwhile, increased from 10 percent to 11.1 percent among high school athletes. The use of smokeless tobacco products among non-athletes held steady at 5.9 percent. Authors of the study theorize that the increased use of smokeless tobacco suggests that student-athletes may see these products as harmless, socially acceptable and/or a way to boost athletic performance. Such assumptions by student-athletes are dead wrong. “The fact is, smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, snuffor dip can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “And the nicotine in these products is harmful to the developing brain.” The study also showed that athletes who played on multiple sports teams smoked less but used smokeless tobacco more. According to the 2013 data, 12.5 percent of teens who played three or more sports used smokeless tobacco, while 11.5 percent of those who played two sports used the products. Usage fell to 10 percent among those who played one sport. Ironically, cigarette and cigar use resided at 16 percent for student- athletes engaged in three or more sports, 17 percent among those on two teams, and 20 percent for those on one team. Nonathletes used these tobacco products the most, with 21 percent smoking cigarettes or cigars. The authors noted the tobacco industry markets smokeless tobacco as an alternative to cigarettes where smoking is prohibited, which, they say, might further promote their use among athletes. Traditionally, no sport is more closely associated with chewing tobacco than baseball. Matthews L. Meyers, president of the Campaign for Smokeless Kids, said, “Professional athletes are role models for impressionable youth. When baseball stars use tobacco, the kids who look up to them are much more likely to do so as well.” Meyers agreed with the report’s suggestion that tobacco-free policies that prohibit all tobacco use by players, coaches, referees and fans on school campuses and at all public facilities might help make the use of smokeless tobacco less socially acceptable and thereby reduce its use among student-athletes. San Francisco and Boston have passed laws that will take affect in 2016 that prohibit the use of all tobacco at baseball parks and stadiums throughout those two cities. “These great baseball cities have set a powerful example that should be quickly followed by all of Major League Baseball,” Myers said in the Boston Globe. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murty, MD, MBA, agreed with Meyers and the study authors on the importance of smoke-free environments, stating, “Creating 100 percent tobacco-free environments is one of the best ways we can set our kids up for a healthy future. It helps them see that being tobacco-free is the way to better health and a longer life.” CALIFORNIA BANS SMOKELESS TOBACCO ON MAJOR LEAGUE FIELDS California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law new legislation on October 12 which bans the use and possession of smokeless tobacco, including chew, dip and snuff, at any time on the playing field of a baseball stadium. The law pertains to players and coaching staffs in five major league stadiums—Petco Park in San Diego, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, AT&T Park in San Francisco, O.co Coliseum in Oakland and Angels Stadium in Anaheim—as well as all minor league facilities. California Assemblyman Tony Thurmond called his bill “all about the kids,” adding that the use of smokeless tobacco by players and coaches while on the field provides “a terrible example for the millions of young people who watch the game.” The bill states, “The Legislature further finds that there is a high level of smokeless tobacco use by Major League Baseball players, as well as a well-established role-model effect between professional baseball players and youth. A ban on the use of smokeless tobacco in professional baseball takes aim at the use of smokeless tobacco by professional baseball players at stadiums throughout California with the goal that impressionable youth never begin to use smokeless tobacco products or associate smokeless tobacco with the sport of baseball.” MIKE KREMBLAS NAMED RIPKEN BASEBALL’S YOUTH COACH OF THE YEAR Ripken Baseball announced in September that Mike Kremblas, coach of the Knoxville Stars 9u baseball team, is the recipient of the 2015 Ripken Baseball Youth Coach of the Year Award. The Tennessee resident will be honored at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville in December. “It’s an honor to be selected as the winner amongst such deserving coaches,” Kremblas said. “I could not have done this without the support from my friends, family and the community. It’s my goal to continue making a positive impact on our team, both on and offthe field. A huge thank you to Ripken Baseball for putting this together and for its continued service to youth baseball and softball programs.” Kremblas is the first recipient from Ripken Baseball’s recent effort to celebrate youth coaches who represent “The Ripken Way.” The organization established several pillars for the program, including character, commitment, community, family, fun, integrity, passion, perseverance and teamwork. Nominated by numerous players and coaches as a representative of the teamwork pillar, Kremblas is recognized for his belief in having 10 players who work as a team as opposed to 10 all-stars. He has molded his players into one unit and taught them how to play with heart. “On behalf of Ripken Baseball, we are thrilled to name coach Mike Kremblas as the Ripken Baseball Youth Coach of the Year,” said Colin Clark, vice president of brand marketing at Ripken Baseball. “His impact on his team is evident in the immense support he has received. We also want to congratulate the eight other finalists, all of whom were worthy candidates, as they truly exemplify what it means to do things ‘The Ripken Way,’ both on and offthe field.” Kremblas was a catcher at Ohio State University from 1995-98 prior to being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the eighth round in 1998. He played in the minor leagues until 2003 before returning to Sevierville, Tennessee. FLYING SQUIRRELS HELPING WITH YOUTH LEAGUE RENOVATION PROJECT IN RICHMOND Richmond Flying Squirrels Charities, in conjunction with the City of Richmond, started phase one of the Renovating Richmond’s Recreation Program in September. Eight dugouts were constructed and completed at four youth baseball fields as part of a 16-field renovation project throughout the city. The initial dugouts were completed at the Hotchkiss and Westover park facilities. The Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants and a member of the Eastern League, are working closely with the City of Richmond, Hardesty Roofing and Liberty Roofing Center to facilitate the first phase of the project. Funds for the dugouts were raised throughout the year through Flying Squirrels Charities. “Thanks to all of our great fans who support Flying Squirrels Charities and particularly the ‘Smooch A Pig’ candidates who helped us raise funds for these eight dugouts,” said Flying Squirrels chief executive Chuck Domino. “Also a very special thanks to Hardesty Roofing and Liberty Roofing Center for providing labor and materials to enable us to maximize the number of dugouts in this first phase of Renovating Richmond’s Recreation to benefit the youth in the City of Richmond.” Todd Parnell, the team’s vice president and chief operating officer, added, “Since our inception, community impact has been at our very core. These beautiful and functional dugouts for the youth in Richmond are tangible proof of that commitment to the community.” NCAA D1 SAYS “NO” TO PITCH CLOCKS IN 2016 In mid-October the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee withdrew an experimental rules proposal that would have created a 20-second pitch clock with runners on base during the 2016 season. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel referred the prospect to the Rules Committee in late August to determine how many conferences intended to implement the experimental rule for the upcoming campaign. A survey of the 25 Division I conferences revealed little support to implement the rule, even though the Division I Baseball Committee had expressed a desire to use it in all rounds of the 2016 Division I Baseball Championship. That will not occur since the proposal has been withdrawn. Proponents of a 20-second pitch clock suggested it would increase the pace of play and reduce the length of games during the Division I postseason. The last four years, the average length of nine-inning games at the College World Series has increased from two hours, 53 minutes to three hours, 19 minutes. Average game times also rose in the regionals and super regionals. Notes • A group of University of Akron baseball alumni launched a website, SaveZips- Baseball.com, to serve as the primary source of news and organization for former players and the team’s supporters as they work to return the program to the school. Akron eliminated its baseball program on July 10, 2015 as part of a school-wide effort to reduce its multi-million dollar debut. Baseball has been played at the school for 142 seasons. • The Tennessean reported that the Mount Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club completed a $78,000 renovation and addition of a building at the city’s youth baseball park in September. The building has been used as the main concession stand with restrooms since the late 1970s. Improvements included enlarging the existing restrooms, upgrading the fixtures, and installing a new heating and cooling system. A second level also was added that includes a multi-purpose room for board meetings, registration and community use as well as an additional restroom, storage space, and offices for the park administrator and concessions manager. Several Rotary fundraisers contributed to the project as well as a $5,000 grant from Rotary International and a $10,000 grant from Middle Tennessee Electric. •Top Score Baseball is a new app that simplifies the scoring of baseball games and brings the power of Moneyball to recreation and youth baseball teams. According to co-founder Brian Zubert, the app uses science to improve the game. “The technical term for Moneyball is called sabermetrics, how to actually structure the batting order around the results of the players,” Zubert said. “It took care of all the bias. Everyone remembers the home run, but everyone forgets the guy who got on base four times in a row with little singles over the top of the infield.” In its first season, Top Score Baseball had more than 8,500 downloads, with more than 2,000 coaches signing up and registering their teams.
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