Thursday, February 28, 2013

Not So Fast

The first leg of the 2013 spring trip just got a little bit shorter...but maybe not in games The 4-game series between Lake Erie and the University of Charleston scheduled for this weekend will get started a day later as Saturday's double header has been cancelled due to weather concerns. The forecast was calling for possible snow and a high of 33 degrees. Sunday doesn't look much better but at least it provides some hope. There is a chance the two games scheduled for Saturday may be rescheduled for Monday, but everything is up in the air at this point.

Lake Erie has made the trip to Charleston since 2009 and has gone 5-3 in 8 games against the Golden Eagles. The impact of the weather is nothing new to this series. In 2011, the Storm won a weather-shortened game in the nightcap of a twin bill, 13-9. The game ended after a delay of 53 minutes during the 6th inning, after it began to hail at Power Park. Check out some video from the dugout during the delay. For the full video archive, check out www.YouTube.com/thecoachscave.

The remainder of the spring trip is still on as scheduled but if games are lost due to weather, there is the possibility of adding a few more to the latter part of the trip. Stay current by following the Storm on Twitter @lecsports and by visiting www.LakeErieStorm.com.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

The First Pitch

The season officially began with today's first pitch. Not the first pitch that was lined by Josh Hudeck off the leg of Southern Indiana's starting pitcher, but the one that took place a few hundred miles away. The pitch had some carry, stretching from the Queen City of Cincinnati to the Osborne Center in Painesville. 

Today was an emotional day for those dawning the green and white, but there are a lot more people than just those in uniform that were effected by that first pitch. The significance of the first pitch goes beyond baseball and it connects everyone who was involved in the healing process. There were so many people who have reached out to the Storm baseball program and been there in our time of need, whom we are eternally grateful. So this video is for them as well. I would like to thank everyone who has been there for the Storm program and its players, coaches, and their families. Here's to a great 2013! Play Ball and PRESS ON!

Check out the entire video archive on The Coach's Cave YouTube channel.

For more information on the Reid Rizzo Foundation...
Visit the website at www.ReidRizzoFoundation.com.
Visit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReidRizzoClassic
Follow on Twitter @RRF_4

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Glove...Check. Bat...Check. Spikes...Check.

I woke up a little after 5:30 this morning and reluctantly looked out my window, wondering how long it would take me to shovel the drive. After a Spring Training full of early wake-up calls, 5:30 is now routine and 6:15 is sleeping in. Today would require minimal work outside as there may have been half an inch, which was mostly a result of the wind blowing snow from the piles formed yesterday onto the driveway. Relieved, I went downstairs to eat some breakfast only to remember I finished off the box of Frosted Flakes a day earlier. So I skipped breakfast for now, I'd probably grab a protein bar when I filled up for gas for the third time this week! No matter, we are leaving today as tomorrow is Opening Day!

I still had some packing to do but not before I finished a load of laundry. But the packing is minimal for a three-day trip. Now in my ninth year of coaching, I have learned exactly how much to pack for any length of time for any of our trips. The games are easy-uniforms, sleeves, fleeces and jackets-are all I need for the weekend and a few t-shirts and shorts for lounging at the hotel. We play in the middle of all three days so we won't be doing anything after the games except returning to the hotel to rest up for the next day. It is roughly an 8 hour trip to Evansville from campus, which doesn't include stops, so we'll probably roll into the Comfort Inn parking lot between 12-1 am local time. The bulk of my packing (and the rest of the coaching staff) will be done on campus this afternoon. Chart bags, ball buckets, laundry essentials and extra uniforms are just some of the items we need to get in order before we leave campus. 

Normally, it is boring to talk about laundry and office supplies, but if you're talking about it in late-February, it can only mean that Opening Day is hours away. We won't be back until late Sunday (technically early Monday morning) so stay tuned all weekend for updates on the team. Until the first pitch is thrown, here is a little more info on what happened the past few days in Lake Erie baseball.

Lab Notes:

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shake 'N Bake...and I Helped

As I'm sure many of you have seen by now, the latest internet craze is the Harlem Shake. I guess it's an actual song but I would venture a guess that all but 30 seconds are forgettable at this point. There are several different versions (by several I mean hundreds) ranging from different athletic teams on campus to different  businesses. So we decided to throw our hat in the ring and give it the old college try. Check out the latest version along with other videos on our YouTube channel.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Walk (Up) This Way

The walk-up song. It can set the tone for your entire at-bat without you even knowing it. So it can be imperative to your success to pick the right song. Ok, so maybe it won't make the difference between a player hitting .250 and .300 but it is still a big choice and can say a lot about the player. It's the baseball equivalent to investment bankers designing their business cards. Walk-up songs have taken a life of their own, many players have two or three. The World Champion San Francisco Giants have a page on their website dedicated to their players' walk-up music.

Walk-up songs may have originated in the 1970's, but this guy brought the concept to life, even though not everyone was a fan. Lou Brown's gut feeling aside, there are really only two walk-up songs that will hold up to the test of time and the two players who used them technically never walk-up, they run out. They are iconic mostly because the players are iconic. The duo has combined for over 1,200 saves and are one-two on the all-time saves list and really, need no introduction. Here are the two greatest walk-up songs ever.


Well that's it. The two greatest closers with the two best walk-up songs have slammed the door on this week-long look at music in baseball. Check back later this season when we debut the Storm baseball walk-up songs as we get closer to the home opener against Ohio Dominican (March 27 at 3pm). RAGE ON!
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

No Trouble with the Curve

The week-long look into music in baseball will wrap tomorrow with a look at just a few of the best walk-up songs in the game today but today is the walk-up to the walk-up. I didn't hit a lot of home runs in my college career. I hit four. So I remember all of them. One came on Easter weekend my senior year, the other three came a year earlier. Two came during the same inning of the same game, but my first one came on the "road" a few weeks earlier. Our field at Mount Union was under water so we drove 15 minutes down the road to Walsh University to play Brockport State (NY) who was ranked in the top 25 at the time.

It was a day much like yesterday's intersquad on the turf. Cold, but not freezing, but we had a periodic appearance from the sun and there was a possibility for flakes at any time. By definition, it was freezing. We knew this from the outfield from the marquee on Market Ave. shuffling through random announcements and occasionally a "32°" would light up along with the current time. Talking about the temperature was all the outfielders could do to keep occupied during the mound visits and pitching changes.

We were trailing 2-0 at the time and I led off the bottom of the 4th. We were technically on the road so we didn't have our walk-up songs. My walk-up at the time (I used a dew that season) was "Dirty Frank" by Pearl Jam. It wasn't necessarily the best song for a walk-up song but anyone who chose Pearl Jam for a walk-up song usually chose  "Even Flow" and I wanted to pick one no one else had used. All that really mattered was the first eight seconds anyway so the rest of the song didn't matter.

One of the starting pitchers who threw earlier in the week was designated as the DJ for the day. Joe McIntyre (not this one) worked at the campus radio station and ended working a few years in the business after graduation so he was the perfect man for the job. We were fans of the alternative and grundge rock scene so he played a lot of Alice in Chains, Live, and the Stone Temple Pilots. I'm not sure but I think he used his own CD's he brought with him on the drive from Alliance to Canton, which would explain why he had the song which played during the middle of the 4th inning.

One of the bands I was a big fan of, at that point in time I had seen them live only two or three times was Our Lady Peace, who I mentioned in yesterday's post. They had a few singles on the air at the time but were still relatively unknown, at least among the college students I knew. Joe Mac decided to go off the charts for his selection of "Big Dumb Rocket". I pretty much loved all the songs on the album but this was an underrated track. Appreciating the choice, I gave a tip of the cap towards the press box to Joe Mac before I walked to the plate to acknowledge the effort. It was the fourth track on the album Clumsy, and it was the 4th inning...spooky, right? Ok, so it was a coincidence. So after the 2-2 curve ball hung out over the plate and I connexted connected with the ill-fated pitch and drove it over the right-centerfield wall to cut the lead in half. I had to chuckle as I crossed home plate and glanced to the press box because as a pitcher, he naturally tried to take credit for the blast. An inning later, Mr. All-America, Chuck Moore tied the game at two with a solo shot and won it with a sac fly in the last of the 7th as we walked-off with a 3-2 win.

It was a great day all around, but it may not have been without the proper song choice between innings. So choose wisely when selecting your batting practice playlists, the songs between innings, and your walk-up songs, because its the little details that derail your dreams.

I am not a publicist, manager, or even a roadie for the band, but I just wanted an excuse to listen to this song. So here is one of the songs shuffling through my iPod, from their latest album Curve, here is "If This Is It" by Our Lady Peace.


Part 3: The Space Between
Up next: The Walk-Ups

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Space Between

Continuing my look into music in baseball, today we get into the music played during the game. From the time the home team takes the field, to the end of a 9-inning game, there are 17 opportunities (18 if if it goes to the bottom of the inning) to chose songs for the whole stadium to hear (excluding the walk-up music). There are only 90 seconds between innings so you don't have to worry about playing the whole songs, but it is important to have the best parts of each song queued up. These are the songs that when you hear them, you want to turn the volume up to 11

This is a good opportunity to play songs that may be a little too long for batting practice but it still allows for good songs to be played. "It Was A Crazy Game of Poker" by O.A.R. comes to mind, which is about nine minutes long. There are a lot marketing departments departments at major universities and with minor league, and sometimes even major league teams that like to use the time between innings to play songs that fit a certain theme (Bruce Springsteen, 80's music, Motown, etc.), which I am on board for as long as they totally commit to the idea.

What a Musician Wants
It seems as though all athletes want to be rock stars or rappers and all rock stars and rappers want to be athletes (and I want to be both) so it's only fitting to combine the two in this edition of "What a Musician Wants." In this segment, Jeremy Taggart, drummer for the Canadian rock band, Our Lady Peace, and avid baseball fan, offered his favorite songs to hear at the ballpark via Twitter (@Taggart7).

1. "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" - Tin Pan Alley by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer (1908)
2. When the Levee Breaks" - Led Zeppelin (1971)
3. "We Will Rock You" - Queen (1977)
4. "Here Comes Your Man" - Pixies (1989)
5. "Panama" - Van Halen (1984)

Up next: More music

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just Push Play...or Don't

The ball fields are a great place to hear some of the best songs of today and even those from yesterday (I know that sounds like the slogan for a classic rock station) but there are some songs that should just not be played at the ballpark and should be left to the Star 104 and Hot 101's of the world. Continuing with my look into music and baseball, here are the five songs I wish I never hear at the ballpark ever again...and a few I just never want to hear again anywhere.

1. "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jespen (2012): I can't express how much I can't stand this song. The Harvard baseball team gave it some extra love last season, which was kind of cool but didn't do any of us any favors. This song is destined to linger around ballparks for years to come.

2. Anything from Nickleback (1995-present): Songs from this group could fall into the category of songs to hear if you just want to ignore the music but I have the same reaction to their music as Cosmo Kramer did when hearing Mary Hart's voice.

3. "We Are Young" - Fun. (2012): Yeah sure, it won the Grammy for song of the year, but who really cares about the Grammys. The Grammy's name Shelby Lynne Best New Artist award despite 13 years in the industry and six albums released. This song is annoying but will no doubt be played at ballparks a plenty this season.

4. "Moves Like Jagger" - Maroon 5 (2011)/"Drive By" - Train (2012): These are both very catchy songs that ruled each of the past two summers but because radio stations were contractually obligated to  play them every 12.7 seconds and their appearances in several television commercials, they got old quick. The songs successes also led to this recent feud between the two bands (plus a few more artists).

5. "Crash" - Dave Matthews Band (1996): Surprisingly, I hear this at a lot of games but it doesn't quite fit at the ballpark. Somehow it was on our playlist last season as an after batting practice song, which needs to be rectified for 2013. This is more of an after game song if anything or even driving to the park song, just not during the game.

Hall of Fame List...songs that should be retired
This is a unique list of songs that at one time were enjoyable but have been around for 30-plus years and have run their course. Most of these songs found their way on this list because they are good songs and warrant a lot of play but as we head into the 2013 season, need to drift off into retirement.

1. "Don't Stop Believing" - Journey (1981): I like this song, I really do. There's a reason it's overplayed, but after hearing this song at every game I have played or coached in, and even at games I have scouted, I am over it. It has really lost its impact as an inspirational song when teams are playing it down 1-0 in the 3rd, it doesn't really work. At this point, I would rather listen to parodies of the song than the actual song.

2. "Sweet Home Alabama" - Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974): Kid Rock's 2008 "All Summer Long" was overplayed, which was influenced by this song, which has been overplayed for almost 40 years (at least the past 20).

3. "Sweet Caroline" - Neil Diamond (1969): Maybe it's because the Red Sox fans in their pink hats 
sing this song in the third inning at visiting ballparks, but i despise this song now. The only acceptable way for me to listen to this song is by either the Diamonds in the Rough or by Neil Diamond himself.

4. "You Shook Me All Night Long" - AC/DC (1980): I don't really like this song to begin with but a lot of other people do and it gets a lot of play at the ballpark, so it has earned a place in the Hall but it should also be retired.

5. "I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite" - Kiss (1971): I like the movie Detroit Rock City. That's about as close I get to liking Kiss and this song is a big reason why. It has been played less and less I feel and that trend needs to continue. But the best way to quit is by going cold turkey.

The Quick List
Here is my short list of songs that need to get some play this season.
1. "Gold on the Ceiling" - The Black Keys (2012)
2. "Money Grabber" - Fitz and the Tantrums (2011)
3. "These Days" - Foo Fighters (2012)
4. "Hold On" - Alabama Shakes (2012)
5. "Itchin' On a Photograph" - Grouplove (2011)

Up next: Between Inning Music

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Monday, February 11, 2013

My Music At Work

The crack (or in our case, ping) of the bat, the roar of the . These are both unforgettable sounds that accompany a baseball game. As important as they are to the game, music is just as important to today's National Pastime. From batting practice playlists, to walk-up songs, to rally songs, music is as much a part of baseball as the double play. As Opening Day draws near (February 22 at Southern Indiana), we take a look at the sounds of the game in this week-long tribute to music in baseball.

Part 1: Batting Practice
Players and coaches will be subjected to hours of stadium-rockin' tunes over the course of the season before a pitch is even thrown, so it is important to pick the right songs for your pre-game playlist. So rather than waiting until the night before Opening Day to put your playlist together, let's get ahead of the game by working on your playlist now. To put the best playlist together and to keep the energy at the field at its highest, follow these simple rules. There are a lot of rules.

1. Have a few different playlists. If you're a visiting team, this usually doesn't matter since you will only hear the songs at most three days. But it is your playlist and if you have to listen to it every game of every homestand, it could drive you crazy. Just as a team can go through ups and downs, so too will your moods and changing up the music before a game may help you get back on track.

2. Have a variety of genres. Country music seems to have taken over the ballparks around the country, which is fine (not quite in my wheelhouse, but its about the kids), but when they are the only types of songs being played before games, it can wear pretty thin, pretty fast. Be sure to have a mix of rock (grunge, alternative, classic), pop, country, and hip-hop (clean versions only of course). Hitting a variety of genres can keep everyone on the field feeling pretty good.

3. One song per artist. We played a four-game series early last year and the home team's pre-game playlist might as well have been a Toby Keith album. I have nothing really against his music, but needless to say it was country-dominated and every third song had to have been from Honkeytonk University. You may have an infatuation with certain artists, but keep it to one song per artist, per mix and keep everyone happy.

4. Keep it light. The ball field is not the weight room so let's leave the Rammstein and Slayer on the cutting room floor. Your playlist doesn't have to be a weekly top 40 list by any means, but there still needs to be a level of focus before a game and hearing tunes that make you want to put your fist through a wall can be a bit distracting. Sometimes, you just want something you can ignore.

5. Stock up on songs. Unless you have to use a cd as your music source, this one is pretty easy to follow (and even then, just make a few extras if you can). But if you're able to plug an iPod into the stadium speakers, this is obviously much easier to accomplish. Just plan for 2-3 hours of music on your playlist, turn on the shuffle, and go to work.

In addition to the list of helpful hints, the songs you choose just have to be good. They have to appeal to a wide-range of people with different tastes. Typically, this is best suited for the seniors with a little input from other upperclassman. Sorry freshman, you'll have to wait your turn.

Up next: Songs that should be retired from the ballpark.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Remember This Guy

Sometimes it can be fun to turn back the clock...and this is one of those times. Looking through some old infield footage I came across a few bullpen sessions in 2011. Storm fans may remember this guy. He is currently starring as one of the key offensive contributors for the Spokane Indians. He is none other than the "Lake Erie Lasher," Ryan Rua. Good luck this year during Spring Training!

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Two Weeks Notice

It's Friday. It's 10:30. It's time to party. I am your excellent host, Eric Bunnell. We are sitting here on February 8th exactly two weeks away from the start of the 2013 season. Despite having the program's best season ever, we still have a lot to prove. Unless you're the last team standing, you'll never be satisfied with the ending. But 2012 was particularly agonizing considering the way in which it ended. Now we are two weeks away from a fresh start and our chance to rinse the bitterness from our collective mouths. So this is our two weeks notice as a baseball team. We have two weeks to lock down our routines. Two weeks to get reenergized for the new season. Two weeks to snap out of any "halfway thru Spring Training" funk we may be in. Two weeks to get right before the first pitch. 

This is not, in any way, an attempt to push the panic button but spending a month practicing summer's game indoors can inhibit a player or team's development if not in the right frame of mind. So this is more of an attempt to bring the subject to the forefront and to be aware of the position we are in, and could be in three months.


On another note, I would like to wish former pitching coach Mark Sankovich the best of luck in his endeavor in the business world. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending the past two and a half years  talking baseball and coaching along side him through a great deal of success and wish him the very best.

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Growing the Game

The Lake Erie baseball team had some special visitors at today's Spring Training workout when nearly 30 local baseball players took over the Lake Erie practice facility. After watching the final hour of practice, the 3rd-6th graders stuck around for some fun and games, along with instruction from Storm players and coaches during a free youth clinic at the Osborne Center. Three campers went home with souvenirs after being named the best in hitting, pitching and fielding for the day. Check out some of the action from the day's events.

Check out the entire video archive on The Coach's Cave YouTube channel.

To get your organization involved with Lake Erie Baseball, contact the Baseball Office at (440) 375-7484. #GrowingTheGame

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