ON BASEBALL STRATEGIES

March 1, 2018

March 1, 2018

Most of you already know that I consider myself an authority on basketball coaching. After all, I did publish a book titled Basketball Coaching 101(Amazon) – and that, by definition, makes me a basketball expert. Well, I have some news for you: I’m also an authority on baseball . . . and Modesty is not my middle name.

 

I became a baseball fan around 10 years of age. Not just a fan. A Yankee fan! I lived and died with them. Charlie (King Kong) Keller, Joe Page, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, etc., were my heroes. I remember paying 60¢ for bleacher seats and sitting on hard wooden benches for a doubleheader in torrid heat… and loving it. I then became a Yankee hater and a Mets fan, and have remained a Met fan since the team’s inception. And during this time, I have watched thousands of games on TV (rarely going to Shea or Citi Field). The net result? You guessed it. I am now a baseball authority and qualified to provide meaningful instructional analysis on the game.

 

But what does meaningful instructional analysis mean? Simply that I can provide those involved with baseball at any level – manager, coach, player, front office personnel, etc., – with suggestions on how to enhance and improve a team’s ability to win games on the field. That being said, here are tidbits drawn from my baseball file on 10 different categories: infielders, outfielders, catchers, pitchers, batters, base runners, coaches, managers, general managers, and (of course) owners.

 

Infielders

Each of the four infielders, but shortstops in particular, should be aware of the speed of the both the batter and runners on base. The infielders should play deeper, particularly the second baseman, if the batter is a slow runner; I would even advise playing on the outfield grass. The shortstop and second baseman should also be aware of a batters tendency to pull curveballs or fastballs and adjust their position on the pitch. The two should also communicate on who will cover second in steal situations.

 

Outfielders

Much of the above for infielders also applies to outfielders. Outfielders presently play too deep, particularly the left and right fielders. The outfielder should think and be aware of all the possible scenarios that may arise if the ball is hit to the outfield, particularly with men on base. The scenarios would vary depending on the number of outs, the score, and the inning.

 

Catchers

Catchers should know the strengths and weaknesses of the pitchers and all the opposing batters he will face. Knowing the disposition of the umpire calling balls and strikes would also help; e.g., does it help complaining on balls and strikes, etc.? Knowing the speed of runners on base is an absolute must. Many catchers today provide encouragement to the pitcher. I think there can be more of this. There should be more face-to-face discussions, e.g., put the ball over the plate and definitely don’t walk a batter. I believe the catcher should be the field general and run the defense. He should also be aware of all the points raised earlier for infielders and outfielders, as well as pitchers. Finally, a high I.Q. catcher is a definite plus. He should dish out instructions to outfielders, infielders, and the pitcher on what to do if . . . e.g., a double steal, a ground ball to the right side, etc.

 

Pitchers

It goes without saying that pitchers must have an idea of each hitter’s prowess. Some can’t hit curveballs. Some can’t hit fastballs. Some like it inside, and others don’t. Some of their preferences change with pitch count. Runners on base have to be carefully monitored. He should be aware of the likelihood of a steal. He should also know beforehand what to do on a bunt or a comebacker with a man (or men) on base. His own pitching limitations is a concern; it’s no secret that starting pitchers weaken in the latter innings. Although much of what will follow applies to starting pitchers, it also applies to relief pitchers. Since the mound is approximately one foot above ground level, a 100 pitch outing (plus bullpen, warmups, etc.) results in a pitcher effectively walking up a 20 story building; this may explain, in part, why pitchers do not perform as well later in a game. Older pitchers should seriously consider minimizing movements off the mound and, for goodness sake, try not to walk batters – put the ball over the plate and take your chances. I would replace any pitcher who walks a batter late in the game if ahead by more than one run. Finally, pitchers should try to avoid 3-2 counts with runners on base and 2 out.

 

Batters

Batters need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both the starting pitcher and relief pitchers. How often does he throw fastballs? Does he prefer pitching inside or outside? Does he hold runners on base? Does he tire in later innings? Does he throw strikes on the first pitch? Does he change his pitching approach when behind the count? These questions need to be considered. But the batter also needs to realize that a walk is just about as good as a single. Batters need to consider changing their batting philosophy when behind in the count. More importantly, a batter should NOT be swinging for the fences in the last inning when trailing by more than one run with nobody on base; the objective should be to get on base, and the easiest way to accomplish this is via a walk. Keep in mind that home run swings significantly reduce one’s ability to check a swing on a pitch that is outside the strike zone…thus reducing the probability of a walk. Finally, batters (as well as base runners) should HUSTLE at all times; hell, you are exerting yourself less than ten minutes per game.

 

Base Runners

The coaches usually remind the runners of the scenario at hand but the runner must also be alert. On a single to left field, he should run top speed and ALWAYS consider going to second base since he is in a direct line with the left fielder’s throw to second base. Any throw to the left or right of second base should serve as a green light to consider going to second base. While on base, he should ALWAYS be prepared and consider taking an extra base if the catcher doesn’t field the pitch cleanly. He also should practice sliding techniques whenever possible.

 

Coaches

Coaches play the least significant role of the major players. Nonetheless, they should provide encouragement and support while on offense. Most importantly, they should know the limitations of the players on base and the strengths/weaknesses of the outfielders (but to a lesser extent of infielders).

 

Managers

For the most part, managers are overrated. And, most overmanage. Some are liabilities. Some are major liabilities, e.g., Terry Collins (in particular) of the Mets and Joe Girardi of the Yanks. The manager’s main job is to instill the basics to the entire team. Practice makes perfect and relays, double plays, bunting, and hitting to the opposite field should be practiced regularly. I would require each batter to hit to the opposite field when confronted with a defensive shift to one side. Players also MUST understand that a walk is just about as good as a single…and sometimes a double. I would have every batter prior to every game draw a red or black marble out of a hat. Those who draw a black marble would be required to take the first pitch, or when the count is 2-0, 3-1, or 3-0. Red marble selectors can do as they wish. However everyone must take on a 3-1 count with the bases loaded and two outs. Some of the above can be altered during late innings. The manager also needs to realize that when a relief pitcher comes in and gets a batter out that he has not thrown two pitches but probably fifty pitches when bullpen and warmup throws are counted. Since these additional pitches can take their toll, managers need to give consideration to their sometime reckless indiscriminant use of relief pitchers. Finally, he should require (with NO exceptions) every batter RUN out every ground ball or fly ball. One added point: He should not select cronies for coaches and I would allow my bench coaches to occasionally serve as manager for certain games.

 

General Manager

Most general managers (GMs) are not too bright and not capable of making intelligent baseball decisions. Most of the GMs are just like many of the players and coaches. There are a handful (not many) who know what’s going on. Few of the players have college degrees, unlike some football players. Joe Girardi is a graduate of Northwestern (in my opinion, the most prestigious university in our country) and he has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to make sound, rational baseball decisions. In any event, the GM needs to know both the capabilities of his players and those that are on the market. It’s a given that the GM should work closely with the manager; his cronies must not come into play in any of his decisions and actions.

 

Owners

They are in the baseball business for either or both of the following reasons: ego and/or to make money. He should understand the meaning of risk. He should also understand the meaning of optimization. He should also understand how risk and optimization affect each other. Bottom line: he has to make intelligent decisions from a risk and/or optimization prospective when it comes time to hiring, firing and managing his business; as with both managers and GMs, he should not hire cronies.

 

Note: I have attached two recent photos of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets legendary third baseman Ed Charles celebrating his 83rd birthday. Unknowingly to us, the 1969 Mets batboy was also in attendance; his presence added to the festivities. Ed also reminisced about growing up in Florida and preseason games. He’d track down baseballs in the outfield, get someone like Joe DiMaggio to autograph the ball, and then sell if for $5.00 – a windfall profit in those days.

Ed Charles and Lou

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

APRIL 1:         On 2017-18 Men’s Hofstra Basketball Revisited

MAY 1:           On 2018 East Williston School Budget Vote

JUNE 1:          On Great Eats III: Greek – Edition

JULY 1:          On Purely Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XXV1

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ON PURELY CHASTE, PRISTINE AND RANDOM THOUGHTS XXVI

January 1, 2018

JANUARY 1, 2018

I planned on publishing an article titled Great Eats III: Greek Edition this month; but, it’s the New Year. And, after some thought, I decided it would be more appropriate to subject the reading audience to some predictions for the New Year. Before proceeding, I would be negligent without a few parting comments for the past 12 months.

Last year? There were two negatives and two positives.

Negatives: I suffered a fractured vertebra while vacationing at the fabulous Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach (40th straight year) in Florida over Easter. It was painful. It also prevented attending (the 51st straight year) the AWMA annual meeting where I was scheduled to present a paper. Even worse, my doctor told me that I had shrunk about an inch. I’m no longer 6’2” tall. I suddenly realized why the ground seemed closer and Mary seemed taller. Even worse than the above, Mary broke her femur which prevented a visit to Ireland in July to celebrate her family’s reunion (maternal side) and our 50th anniversary. She still has yet to fully recover.

Positives of the previous year: There was Ron Roel’s feature three page Newsday ACT 2 article on June 24 on yours truly. And finally, do you remember where you were and what you were doing? I was on the phone with Danny Doyle watching TV and experienced the thrill of a lifetime early one Wednesday morning on hearing the election results. Donald J. Trump ascended to the throne, and will hopefully save our great nation from a biased media, corrupt politicians, and the fanatical liberals. Long live the King and God bless America.

A family photo celebrating the Queen’s 50th anniversary is below.

anniversary family a

On to the prediction/random thoughts. Don’t despair. There’s only 35 (short?) ones with the first 6 of a personal nature. Well here goes.

• Both Mary and I will recover fully, and will visit either Ireland or Greece to celebrate a belated 50th anniversary.
• Daughter Georgeen will be promoted to Full Professor at NJIT and Interboro Partners (her company) will have another banner year.
• Daughter Molleen will purchase a house near Yale University.
• Son Patrick will be promoted to second grade detective in the NYC Narcotics Division.
• My three new technical books will be published, and as with all my other books, simply will not sell.
• I will also complete the second edition of Basketball Coaching 101 which will unveil my umbrella offense that is sure to revolutionize offensive strategies.
• Interest in soccer and lacrosse will continue to rise. Interest in football will continue to decline primarily due to the violent nature of the sport.
• International problems with Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China will not be resolved.
• There is a reasonable chance that I will get involved in a medical project with one of my former students, Dr. Ivan Harangozo.
• Thanks to the efforts of first cousins Helen and Sandra, I will complete the Theodorakos-Kourtakis Chronicles that will feature our family tree.
• The national debt will soar this year but will recover in subsequent years.
• The main boom in the economy will come because of energy and the elimination of insane environmental regulations.
• People are coming to realize that the “climate change/global warming” scenario is nothing but a massive scam. Furthermore, NYRA’s claim that they are a non-profit organization is laughable.
• The Tea Party is alive and will be doing even better this year. The Republicans better watch their step since the swamp (this includes them) will be cleansed.
• More and more people will come to realize that FOX NEWS has buried the liberals and their distorted agenda. It will take generations for them to recover.
• Danny Doyle–former partner with Killeen’s Tavern (he robbed me blind), star of the legendary Killeen’s Tavern basketball team, former NBA Detroit Piston, and perhaps my closest friend (*#*!)–will once again somehow successfully evade being incarcerated and/or institutionalized.
• Our gang’s annual visit to Steve “The Greek” Panos will go on schedule, but with a smaller group. The toughest Greek since Alexander the Great and the people’s choice for bouncer at a Bouncer’s convention, I’ve never forgotten how he saved my life when a fight followed by a full-scale riot broke out at one of our basketball games.
• Despite my nomination, John J. “Jack” Powers will again be denied admission to Springfield’s Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. I also recently nominated Eddie Corbett, legendary collegiate official, but he absolutely has no chance.
• At least one of our guys will leave us this year. Is it OK to hope that it isn’t me?
• The Donald and BHO will soon divorce; Pence will not.
• Schumer’s 2-faced conduct will continue. I still remember when he cried because some immigrants were detained at an airport while not shedding a tear when Americans were killed. Fake news? This guy is the premier fake.
• What is the infatuation with illegal immigrants? It will unfortunately continue. I can understand the liberal democrat’s position because of their quest for power at any cost to our nation. But, many average Americans? Why is their logic so flawed? Do they not know the meaning of illegal?
• Mueller will continue to make a fool of himself; he just doesn’t understand that FOX NEWS has exposed him and his crew as biased frauds.
• The country will experience a resurgence in religion.
• I will probably find more people boring and annoying on the phone this year.
• My days in investing in the stock market are over. But, if I were an investor, the money would be directed toward Wendy’s (conservative) and Regeneron (speculative).
• Baseball will have another good year. The Yankees will be good, but not great; it’s the pitching stupid. The Mets should be something better than good; once again, it’s the pitching stupid.
• Trump will partially succeed in cleansing the swamp.
• None of the liberals, e.g., Hillary, Comey, Lerner, etc., who have broken the law, will be prosecuted.
• Twenty five years ago, I described The Hill and Bubba as “two thoroughly rotten human begins.” Took some heat then, but guess what…
• Seven years ago, I described BHO as un-American, lazy, narcissistic, and not too bright. Took some heat then, but guess what…Ditto for Michelle on the first point.
• Lying will remain a way of life for most Americans; it’s not just the liberals.
• BHO will continue his racist ramblings. He has set back race relations as if he was intent on starting a Civil War, helped place a bullseye on the back of every cop, and (interestingly) never asked Black Lives Matter to demonstrate in Chicago.
• Thanks to BHO, we now know that “the supposed untouchables” at the FBI are no longer untouchable and the Department of Justice (for whom I once served as a consultant and expert witness) would more appropriately be called the Department of Injustice.
• The concept of the NCAA’s student-athlete is perhaps the neatest scam ever perpetrated on the public. Not so fast Lou. I recently met two Manhattan College student-athletes graduates – 6’4” Russ Williams and 6’4” Chris “Smooth” Williams – who could prove me wrong. Both are authors and successful in business. Russ (Business Management) has authored “Transition Game Plan” and Chris (Liberal Arts) authored “Twenty Beautiful Men”. These were two very interesting and fascinating guys.

IMG_0107

That’s what I’m predicting and I’m sticking with it.

Visit the author at:
www.theodorenewsletter.com
or
on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

NEXT POSTINGS:
FEBRUARY 1: On Great Eats III: Greek-Edition
MARCH 1: On Baseball Managing 101
APRIL 1: On 2017-18 Hofstra Men’s Basketball Revisited
MAY 1: On the 2018 East Williston School District Budget Vote
JUNE 1: ???
JULY 1: On Purely, Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXVII


ON HOFSTRA MEN’S BASKETBALL 2017-18 SEASON HOPE(?) SPRINGS ETERNAL

December 1, 2017

 

DECEMBER 1, 2017

A week has elapsed and Thanksgiving is now a near distant memory. It is now December. Christmas and the New Year are quickly approaching. What’s the significance? It primarily means one thing for basketball buffs in the Nassau County area: the 2017-18 Hofstra men’s basketball season has arrived.

 

Every year, at about this time (December 1), I introduce the reader to Hofstra’s Men’s Basketball Team and start the review and prediction process for the coming season. This year is no different – so here goes.

 

I begin with some comments about last year’s team. One could best describe Hofstra’s (2016-17) last season with one word: under-performance. Here is a part (bullet pointers) of what I had written earlier about last year’s team.

  • Once again (as with last year) defense was woefully weak.
  • Once again, bench help was essentially non-existent.
  • Sabathy (the reserve center) was underutilized.
  • Rokas had a disappointing season; his defense play was often missing and also had a poor shooting season.
  • Wright-Foreman emerged as a force to be reckoned with the next two years.
  • The loss of Buie could have made a difference.
  • Buie’s contribution the next three season is currently a wild card.

 

Here were my bullet pointers at that time for this season.

  • Hire an assistance coach to help reduce/eliminate defensive problems.
  • STOP playing zone; Wisconsin had several players who couldn’t guard one-on-one and yet played a solid man-to-man defense.
  • Recruit players who play stellar defense.
  • Players should understand that the magic word in defense is INTENSITY! And this is where bench help comes into play.
  • Although the team’s goal should be to win games, the ultimate goal is to win the CAA tournament – and that should be reflected in the team’s philosophy and overall preparation during the season.

 

Here is the way I see it regarding personnel this year. The three key ingredients for success remains (as with last year) Wright-Foreman, Pemberton, and Rokas. Wright-Foreman is the real thing, could be CAA player of the year this and next season, and has an outside shot to move onto the next level. Pemberton has potential, seems like a nice kid, but I question his attitude and defense. Senior Rokas is the wildcard at this point. He has significant potential but has not improved since his sophomore year; his defense and inability to make layups and foul shots appear to be problems that have not been addressed. I still like Buie and Sabathy and hope they see significant action. I believe Buie may turn out to be the heir to a long list of great guards who have performed at Mack Arena. Newcomers of merit? Forwards Augus, Radovic and Trueheart plus guards Wormsley and Ray.

 

Here’s my analysis for the team this year. They legitimately have a chance to be the premier team in the Coloniel Athletic Association (CAA). But I believe that many of my earlier concerns have carried over to this year, particularly a porous defense. I hope not. On the positive side is Coach Joe Mikalich. He has the capability of turning things around, particularly if he opts for a man-to-man defense and commits to something more than a 6-man rotation. At the time of the submission of this article, it appears Joe has committed to an 8-man rotation (possibly 10 with Ray and Trueheart) and with the team playing more man-to-man defense. And, the team’s records is 4-3, including a win against Dayton. As for predictions, it will probably be another mediocre year for three reasons:

 

  1. Their defense remains unexplainably weak, at times allowing the opposing team to take layup practice during the course of the game.
  2. The team is devoid of a shot blocker, adding to their defensive woes.
  3. Player attitude problems have surfaced.

 

Bottom Line: I’m not too optimistic; hopefully, I’m wrong. The talent is there, but….

 

And finally, it is business as usual with the NCAA and, in particular, college basketball. NCAA president Mark Emmert recently commented that “we cannot go to the next basketball season without seeing fundamental changes to the way college basketball is operated.” Really? Anybody believe him ever since the feds accused coaches, financial managers and an Adidas executive of using bribes to influence athletes’ choices of schools, shoe sponsors and agents. Nothing has been done and no one really expects anything to be done. College basketball remains corrupt and the NCAA remains corrupt. Yes, the right word is corrupt. What a shame. I still maintain that the NCAA’s concept of the student-athlete is one of the all-time great scams perpetrated on the public.

 

As noted on numerous times in the past, attending Hofstra games still remains the best sports buy in the New York Metropolitan area. There is ample free parking, the concession stands are not a rip-off, there isn’t a bad seat in the house, and its $6 for seniors and children.

 

In the meantime, the second edition of my Basketball Coaching 101 book is in the works. It will unveil my umbrella offence – the basketball offense of the future. Consider buying the book – I really do need the royalty money to help subsidize my gambling habits.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

or

on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

JANUARY 1:              On Professorless On-Line Education (PolE)

FEBRUARY 1:           On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXVI

MARCH 1:                 On Baseball Managing 101

APRIL 1:                     On 2017-18 Hofstra Men’s Basketball Revisited

MAY 1:                       On the 2018 East Williston School District Budget Vote


ON HE’S GOT GAME IN MANY FIELDS

October 1, 2017

OCTOBER 1, 2017

Please forgive me but I’ve decided to write an article about myself. In case you missed it, Ron Roel, former senior editor at Newsday, penned a feature 3-page article in Act 2 with the above title in Sunday’s June 25, 2017 Newsday. The main theme behind Mr. Roel’s article on longevity among adults was that ‘being vitally engaged is important to a long life… when you’re engaged in activities that gives life purpose, you build up the resiliency to go forward.’ He then proceeded to review some of my activities since retiring at age 76 seven years ago. I had spent 55 years at Manhattan College as a Full Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Graduate Program.”

 

Here are 10 additional quotes from Roel’s piece:

  1. “Mary, 75, who became Mrs. Theodore 50 years ago, said she continues to see different sides of her husband’s multifaceted life — from book writing to keeping an active social life, to fanning his passion for basketball, to playing chess with his grandsons.”
  2. “At age 83, he is still consulting, presenting papers at conferences, and writing texts and reference books. Currently, he’s collaborating on five books in various stages of completion — adding to the 108 he’s written or co-authored so far. His take on juggling multiple new books? ‘I’m slowing down,’ he said.”
  3. “Maintaining close ties with colleagues, former students and basketball players he’s coached over the years is a source of pride. ‘I value them,’ Theodore said. ‘They’re memories’ I don’t want to forget. They’re still an integral part of my life.”
  4. “Theodore’s social facility is not lost on his family. ‘He finds a way for professional and personal things to go together,’ said daughter Molleen Theodore, 45, associate curator of programs at the Yale University Art Gallery. ‘His friendships are long-standing, and he’s always making new ones.’”
  5. “For Theodore, staying engaged also means keeping a hand in his lifelong love of basketball by supporting youth sports leagues and attending Hofstra University men’s basketball home games. Two years ago, he published his first nontechnical book, Basketball Coaching 101, an eclectic compendium of personal stories and a spray of tips and commentary from coaches, players, officials, journalists and fans.”
  6. “While in graduate school in the late 1950s, he persuaded the owner of Killeen’s Tavern in Astoria to sponsor a team, and Theodore began recruiting local kids, many of whom played for their college teams, to play for Killeen’s during the summer. He was in charge of the team. ‘Lou was a good coach,’ said Danny Doyle, 77, a member of the Killeen’s team who played briefly for the Detroit Pistons, and later in the Eastern League. ‘He did a good job. Anybody who was good wanted to play with us.’”
  7. “Theodore was also a mentor to students at the university. One of them became a collaborator on Theodore’s books. Frank Ricci, of upstate Mount Kisco, got a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Manhattan College in 2010 and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 2016. He is currently a senior scientist in the Danbury, Connecticut, office of pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim, and an adjunct professor at Manhattan College. He met Theodore in his freshman year. Lou popped in to check out the summer lab, Ricci recalled. I knew who he was and said, ‘How are you doing, Dr. Theodore?’ He said, ‘None of your business’— his trademark sarcasm, Ricci said. ‘I knew right then we were going to get along well.’ Over the next couple of years, Theodore asked Ricci to co-author two technical books with him, an extraordinary opportunity for an undergraduate student. ‘He took a shot on me. He altered the trajectory of my life.’ Ricci said he often calls his old professor for advice.”
  8. “He worked really hard, but he also instilled in his family the importance of taking vacations, said daughter Molleen. Every year the family would go to Saratoga during racing season and to the beach. ‘He likes to sit right at the water’s edge and read and work,’ Molleen said. ‘That’s where he feels happiest. . . . Not at some quiet and pristine beach, but Field 6 at Jones Beach. He has this real ability to work around noise and chaos.’”
  9. “Theodore continues to challenge himself with the usual newspaper puzzles and word games.”
  10. “He is currently planning a second edition of his basketball book and a short story on his family tree: “The Theodorakos-Kourtakis Chronicles.”

 

Lost in Roel’s shuffle was mentioning two other activities:

  1. I write a monthly opinion column on sports, politics, economics, education, etc.. that appears in www.theodorenewsletter.com. Some of those articles also appear in a host of Long Island newspapers from Litmor Publishers and The Queens Gazette.
  2. There is a Facebook site titled “Basketball Coaching 101.” It is primarily dedicated to updates on the book.

 

Visit the author on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

NOVEMBER 1:          On Barack Hussein Obama (Revisited) VI

DECEMBER 1:           On 2017-2018 Hofstra Men’s Basketball

JANUARY 1:              Professorless On-Line Education (POLE)

FEBRUARY 1:           On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXVI

MARCH 1:                  On Baseball Managing 101

APRIL 1:                     On 2017-18 Hofstra Men’s Basketball Revisited

 


ON PURELY CHASTE, PRISTINE AND RANDOM THOUGHTS XXV

September 1, 2017

Sorry, but it’s time for another “random ramblings.” Here are two dozen one-liners to celebrate the silver anniversary of the “random ramblings.”

  • Just finished reading Chernow’s  Alexander Hamilton.   I recommend it.
  • Prior to “Hamilton,” I read The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty by Hal Bock. This 2017 book is a must if you are a baseball fan. Incidentally, Hal is an East Williston resident.
  • I really miss Bill O’Reilly. His show was fair, impartial, interesting, informative and entertaining.
  • Defense plays second fiddle to offense in nearly every sport, particularly basketball.
  • I’ve become a fan of TCM (Turner Classic Movies). Can I attribute this to old age?
  • Traveling is no longer fun. Florida is the only place I look forward to going to.
  • Terry Collins (Mets) is unquestionably the worst manager in baseball. Maybe the Mets can lose the rest of their games and management will get wise and fire Collins.
  • The USEPA has thankfully come to its senses about global warming…or is it climate change?
  • A second edition of Basketball Coaching 101 is in the works and it will unveil my umbrella offense.
  • Just returned from our annual Easter visit to Sarasota, Florida. It was our 40th straight year of vacationing at the fabulous Sandcastle Resort. Unfortunately, I fractured a vertebrae slipping in the bathroom.
  • Planned on attending the Annual International Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA) Conference in Pittsburgh in June. It would have been my 50th consecutive year in a row of either presenting a technical paper or giving a seminar, or both. Unfortunately, the fractured vertebrae eliminated my travel plans.
  • Just celebrated Mary’s 50th wedding anniversary. Planned on visiting Ireland again to also celebrate Mary’s family reunion. Unfortunately, Mary fractured her femur which eliminated all travel plans. Not the best of summers for the Theodore clan.
  • Noted sports historian Arthur Lovely celebrated his 89th birthday this past April 23rd at the 4½ star restaurant L’Econtra in Astoria. The party of 8 included handsome (that’s yours truly), the irrepressible Danny Doyle, Ed “The Glider” Charles of the fabulous 1972 Mets, and TV fight analyst/former boxer Tommy Gallagher.
  • The indifference and incompetence of government officials continues to amaze me – particularly here in Nassau County.
  • The indifference and incompetence of government employees also never cease to amaze me; I could write an article on my experience with the USEPA and the Albertson Post Office.
  • I keep preaching that defense is as important as offense in basketball, and all my “expert” friends keep agreeing with me. But do they really? Other than Bill Russell (and possibly Dennis Rodman), name one Hall of Famer in Springfield who was selected for his defensive play.
  • Capitalism (along with democracy) is what has made our nation great. But there are times when capitalism has to be harnessed for the common good.
  • Liberty and freedom? Somehow, there is need to balance these against anarchy and disorder.
  • Manufacturing runs has become a lost art in baseball. Everyone is trying to hit a home run.
  • Every batter who regularly faces the infield “shift” should be required to learn how to hit to the opposite field.
  • Lost another of our gang – Zack Mehale. He was one of the good guys who made us laugh and who everybody loved. We’ve become depleted; there’s only a handful of us left.
  • Visited Saratoga in late August (my 61st straight summer visit) – NYRA’s THE place to be if you want to get ripped off. And what does that say about me?
  • A couple of people complained about my June 1 article titled “On Great Eats.”
  • I hope most of you read Ron Roel’s ACT 2 Page three page feature article about me in Newsday on June 25th. It modestly describes my successes during my illustrious career, more in next month’s posting.

 

Once again, this is the silver anniversary edition of the “random ramblings.” Thanks are due to friends, relatives, colleagues, etc., for their interest and support for this unique category of article; my indebtedness is also extended to those individuals in this group who are currently incarcerated or institutionalized.

 

Visit the author on his Facebook page Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

OCTOBER:                 On Newsday’s June 25 Act 2 Article

NOVEMBER:             On Barack Hussein Obama (Revisited) VI

DECEMBER:             On 2017-2018 Hofstra Men’s Basketball


ON WHEN NEW YORK CITY WAS NEW YORK CITY I

August 1, 2017

AUGUST 1, 2017

I was born in New York City in 1934 and called it home until 1970. My first 7 years was spent in the north end of Hell’s Kitchen. The next 12 years were spent in an area that is known as Lincoln Center. The final 17 years was spent in Astoria, Queens. In effect, NYC was my home for the first 36 years of my life. This tale is the first of a 2-part series concerned with New York City during that 36 year time period.

 

This first article is concerned with the 1934-1953 time period. The 1953-1970 period will be addressed in a follow-up article early next year. On to this first article.

 

I have often written that following World War II, “anything was possible” in New York City. Nothing would compare to NYC around the middle of the 20th Century. The economy was booming. Its population was primarily comprised of first, not second generation Americans of European extraction, but mostly Irish and Italians and to a lesser degree, Germans, Poles and Greeks. The City was primarily white and Catholic.  The Hamptons were some rich family living on Park Avenue.  The migration from the Caribbean had just begun. The legal drinking age was 18. We had 3 baseball teams.  The Garment District was just that.  A $0.25 toll had been instituted on the Triboro Bridge . . . for maintenance purposes!  McDonalds had arrived on the scene. TV? There was Uncle Miltie, Ed Sullivan, Danny Thomas, and my all-time favorite, Jackie Gleason. My all-time great entertainer, Louie Prima, would soon arrive on the scene. Movies? Pick one. There was also Otto Graham, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Joe D., Willie Mays, George Mikan, etc. The GI Bill – $110 a month to attend college or $50 a week for 52 weeks. 42nd Street was, well…you know. Rockaway Beach had already been officially renamed the Irish Rivera.   The Catskill’s had been reassigned the title “The Jewish Alps” while Astoria, Queens was now a colony of Greeks.  Finally, there was The Beatles, Alan Freed, “Sha Boom,” “Earth Angel,” “Eddie, My Love,” “Mr. Sandman,” and, of course, Billy Joel’s frantic attempt to determine who indeed had started the fire.

 

But, what was life really like in NYC at that time? It would be impossible to squeeze it all into this type of article. But, I do have an earlier unedited 1995 Litmor Publication article titled “On the Stoop” which follows. Hopefully, this is a satisfactory alternative.

 

“ON THE STOOP”

(Down Memory Lane)

My friend, the writer Costas Anifantakis of Searingtown, had this to say about “the stoop” in his Volume II Issue 26, titled – the View from The Stoop:

 

“Using the word ‘stoop’ as a noun is probably unique to Old Gotham. The etymological derivative of the word is lost somewhere in the hustle and bustle of the city’s pubertal period. The brownstone exterior of eight to ten steps, known as the Stoop, might have been adopted from the fact that a pedestrian had to do just that (stoop) to negotiate an upward and forward motion simultaneously, the essence of stair ascension. The stoop served and still serves a few functions. Primarily, it is a simple architectural expedient providing access to an upper entrance to a building. It not only constitutes a convenient place to ‘hang-out,’ but also is an excellent collecting point for the latest gossip. The stoop is a cosmos where one can observe the coiling and uncoiling of the street activity, and lastly, it constitutes an athletic playing field and stickball where kids, with the aid of a pink rubber ball (a Spaldeen) can play stoopball. Stoops come in a few shades of sandstone, varying in steepness-and depth and although each has its own distinct character, they all have one thing in common: an unmatched view of the world flowing by endlessly:”

 

The stoop at 168 West 65th Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway) served as both an observatory tower and conference boardroom for me and the guys – on the south side of 65th Street during the late 1940’s. This area and the area due southwest was once described by Mayor LaGuardia as New York’s worst slum area. That area, just due north of Hell’s Kitchen, was leveled by the nefarious Robert Moses around 1950, to be replaced by what we now call Lincoln Center.

 

Here is what I remember most of the view from our stoop at 168 West 65th Street.

 

  • We lived at 170 West 65th, Street, on the third floor, next door to the stoop. I had only a 10-12 foot walk from our tenement building to the stoop.
  • Directly across the street on the north side of 65th Street was Commerce High School, essentially a non-technical School. It’s still there today.
  • Further east diagonally and adjacent to Commerce High School was the Loew’s theater, later.to be converted to a CBS TV studio. It was here that a number of Jackie Gleason’s 8 pm Saturday night shows were staged. Afternoon programs featured a beautiful and slim singer named Rosemary Clooney.
  • Due east near Broadway on our side of the block was Joe McGrath ‘s father’s bar. It was here that I would stand by the door and watch Buddy Young, Vic Raschi and Mickey Mantle. At age 17, I moved inside and was introduced to a “7 and 7”, AKA Seagram’s Seven Crown and 7-up.
  • Diagonally west across the street (on the northwest corner intersection of 65th and Amsterdam) was one of Con Edison’s generating plants.
  • Around the corner – between 64th and 65th on the east side of Amsterdam was the Open Kitchen restaurant, one of New York’s premier eateries. It featured eleven stools along the counter and three small tables squeezed into a tight space at the end of the counter. My father somehow managed to get us through the depression with this small establishment.
  • Directly across the Street from the Open Kitchen restaurant on the west side of Amsterdam was the Ederle Bros. meat and pork store. Sister Gertrude achieved fame when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel.
  • Further south and west was the “black” neighborhood. This area housed a chicken market (I think it was Kosher) and Ripley’s clothing factory. The bulk of my father’s customers were Ripley employees.
  • There was a gym teacher at Commerce High School that lunched daily at the Open Kitchen. A retired colonel, we all addressed him as Colonel Reutershan. One day, he announced in his deep resonating voice: “George, the future is in chemical engineering. Send Louis to school to get a chemical engineering education.” That’s how and why I became a chemical engineer: I really had no say in the matter. My have times changed.
  • There was a sign on the front door entrance of the Con Edison generating plant that read: Show Your Pass: Every now and then, I would mischievously meander over there at night and cover the letter “P”. Would this be classified as graffiti?
  • The terrors of the neighborhood were the gang from 63rd -Street. They beat me up twice. The first time was real bad. They had asked for my money. I only had 5 cents, but had mistakenly told them I had 15 cents.
  • The stoop’s tenement had been converted to single furnished room apartments. It housed Korean War veterans of Japanese-Hawaiian descent who were attending a dental technician school on the G.I. Bill. I remember it as a scam for both the veterans and the school. Despite this, I have nothing but positive memories of those guys. Almost to a person, they were kind, helpful and sincere people.
  • It was through the same veterans that I was introduced to prostitution, dope and gambling. I believe nearly all of them smoked the weed. Prostitutes came and went at all hours. Blackjack and dice games occurred on occasions; horse betting was a daily ritual. Fortunately, I only got involved with gambling.
  • We often pitched nickels or pennies to a wall or a crack in the sidewalk. One day I won $80, an unheard of sum in those days, pitching quarters to line on the tarred street. This started what I then called the “gambling fund,” and it has somehow managed to survive today.
  • Stickball was played without gloves (some used gloves) with one sewer as home plate and the next sewer as second base. Broomsticks served as bats and a pink spaldeen was the ball. Our team matured in my eighteenth year and I believe we won all but one of our games that summer. There was at least $100 bet on each game and our team rarely could raise more than $25. I usually was the big contributor with $5. The rest of the money was put up by the owner of the stoop’s tenement; he turned a nifty profit that summer.
  • Late one Saturday afternoon, the back door of the CBS TV studio opened and out came a group led by the great one, none other than Jackie Gleason, and Phil Foster, Jackie’s guest that night. They were all stewed to the gills and wanted to play stickball for a couple of bucks. We couldn’t believe our good fortune. It was 6-0 after 2 innings when they retired to the studio.
  • I fell in love with a girl named Patricia Pike; but as the old joke goes, she didn’t know I existed. I still have that effect on people.
  • The block was predominately Puerto Rican, but my best friend was a Cuban named Gustavo Carrion. Gus was the janitor/superintendent of our building. One of his responsibilities was feeding coal to the furnace in the basement. He picked up the nickname “Aqua Caliente” because everyone used to yell for more hot water during the winter months.
  • During the Depression and World War II years, I would go to the restaurant and ask my father for a nickel to go to the movies. I could never quite figure out why some of the other kids couldn’t go because they didn’t have, or couldn’t get, a nickel. Saturday morning was a must for me because of the weekly serial. The one I remember most was “The Adventures of Naomi.” I fell in love with her too.
  • When it came time to level our block, my father’s lawyer couldn’t appear in court to arrange for the settlement from the city for the Open Kitchen restaurant. At my father’s request, I went in his place. The judge awarded my father $750. I started yelling and the judge threatened to throw me in jail. I remember shutting my mouth immediately since I was overcome with fear. Needless to say, the lawyer received a $250 fee, leaving my father with a measly $500 and without his near lifelong business.

 

It was an eerie feeling when I returned to my earlier home and found nothing but empty space and a newly paved sidewalk. The stoop had departed, never to return – yet not to be forgotten. But times have changed and I now live in East Williston, seven miles due east of New York City,  in a house without a stoop.

 

God Bless America!

 

Note: Lincoln Center inhabits the area that housed my stoop. Our address–170 W. 65th Street–is the present address of the Lincoln Center Theatre.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

SEPTEMBER 1:         On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXV

OCTOBER:                 On Newsday’s June Article

NOVEMBER:             On Barack Hussein Obama (Revisited) VI

DECEMBER:             On 2017-2018 Hofstra Men’s Basketball

 


THE HOFSTRA 2016-17 SEASON: FINAL ANALYSIS — AND DEFENSE

April 1, 2017

 

 April 1, 2017

 

This month’s article was originally going to be concerned with a summary analysis of Hofstra’s 2016-17 men’s basketball season.  However, I decided, because of the team’s defensive shortcomings, to include some defensive suggestions that will ultimately appear in a later newsletter and the next edition of my BASKETBALL COACHING 101 Book.  In effect, there are two components to this newsletter.  We’ll start with a presentation on the Hofstra analysis.

 

 

HOFSTRA

One could best describe Hofstra’s 2016-17 season with one word: underperformance.  Mary and I sat next to a radio announcer from Northeastern University at the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament in Charlestown during March 4-7.  (Note: A great city to visit).  I believe his evaluation of Hofstra hit the nail on the head.  He excused some of the team’s performance to the loss of three key starters, including the CAA Player of the Year; but then again, they had two excellent guards, two excellent big men (one of whom hardly played), the potential Freshman of the Year is Pennington, and the league’s premier 3-point shooter.  On the other hand, I felt the team would improve with time and hopefully peak during the tournament.  It turns out that they got knocked off in the first round in what I would consider an embarrassing loss; a victory would have resulted in their playing UNCW, the #1 seed.  Almost everybody there in Charleston from the other schools were rooting for Hofstra because they felt that Hofstra had the personnel to beat UNCW.  As we now know, that game did not take place.

 

On to the analysis for the season.  Here are my bullet pointers.

 

  • Once again (as with last year) defense was woefully weak.
  • Once again, bench help was essentially non-existent.
  • Sabathy (the reserve center) was underutilized.
  • Rokas had a disappointing season. His defense play was often missing and also had a poor shooting season.
  • Foreman emerged as a force to be reckoned with the next two years.
  • The loss of Buie could have made a difference.
  • Buie’s contribution the next three seasons is currently a wild card.
  • The club lacked a floor leader.
  • I don’t see a leader emerging next year; this should be potentially worrisome.

 

Here are my bullet pointers for next season.

  • Hire an assistant coach to help reduce/eliminate defensive problems.
  • STOP playing zone; Wisconsin had several players who couldn’t guard one-on-one and yet played a solid man-to-man defense.
  • Recruit players who play stellar defense.
  • Although the team’s goal should be to win games, the ultimate goal is to win the CAA tournament – and that should be reflected in the team’s philosophy and overall preparation during the season.
  • Players should understand that the magic word in defense is INTENSITY! And this is where bench help comes into play.

 

DEFENSIVE STRATEGIES

Here are some earlier comments on defense that appeared in my BASKETBALL COACHING 101 book.”  The author repeatedly told basketball aficionados that defense is 50% of the game.  And every individual has responded with something to the effect: “of course, I (or we) know that’. But really?  Who believes them?  After all, from the first day a player is introduced to basketball, offense has been stressed.   The novice is taught and/or learns how to shoot, dribble, pass, etc.  Defense was almost always an afterthought.  In fact, the author has repeatedly claimed that it is great guards that get a team to a championship game, but it is great defensive guards that win championships.  It is their ability to create havoc on the opponent’s offense that makes the difference.”

 

“How important is defense?  Here is a case in point.  Stevie Mejia served as the point (or 1) guard for the 2012-2013 Hofstra team.  Some in press row commented on several occasions that Stevie wasn’t playing to his full potential.  What they were referring to was his scoring.  Yet during the season, he stopped the star guards Scott Machado and Michael Alvarado of Iona and Manhattan College, respectively, COLD!  These two players were projected first-round and second-round picks, respectively.  Interestingly, Hofstra lost three games during the 2013-2014 season because of an inability to stop the star guard of the opposing team.”

 

Since I’m ranting and raving about defense, here are a baker’s dozen on some defensive suggestions that did not appear earlier in my book BASKETBALL COACHING 101.  I hope to expand this material and add new offensive suggestions in a later newsletter.

 

  • Need an assistant coach who can teach defense.
  • Need to recruit (great) defensive plays.
  • Need to play defensive players.
  • Can’t allow the opposing offense an offensive rebound on a foul shot.
  • Box out when a shot goes up, even if one has to resort to grabbing.
  • Keep defensive scoring statistics for each player.
  • Continuously stress the importance of defense.
  • Continuously stress the importance of intensity on defense.
  • Practice double teaming.
  • Never allow the opposing offense to setup for the last play.
  • Know who to foul at the end of a game.
  • Anyone slacking off on defense gets substituted for immediately.
  • Place one’s best defender on the opponent’s best scorer at the end of the game.

 

I hope this helps some young (perhaps not-so-young) aspiring coaches.

 

And, what about offense?  This is a topic that will also be unveiled and addressed in both a later article and the next edition.  Forget about the “triangle offense” that is more confusing than it is nearly impossible to implement; I can’t figure it out.  My interest will primarily be on “my umbrella offense” that is certain to revolutionize the offenses of those teams with forward-thinking coaches.

 

Visit the author at:

www.theodorenewsletter.com or on his Facebook page at Basketball Coaching 101

 

NEXT POSTINGS:

 

MAY 1:                       On the EWSD Budget Vote

JUNE 1:                      On Great Eats II

JULY 1:                      On Six Months Later

AUGUST 1:                On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXV