Take me out to the ballgame!

MLB news by week through the eyes of Ricky Rivera.

UCM Board of Governors Intro

During the next 15 weeks I will be posting about the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors. Making sure that throughout the blog you guys will know what this group does, what are their objectives and much more information that people would be interested in knowing about. Thursday morning August 27th I had the opportunity to meet with Jeff Murphy. Murphy who is the assistant director of University Relations for media relations had some very good insight to offer to me.

When asked about what was the UCM board of governors Mr. Murphy said “It’s the main governing body for the University”. It’s encharge of making decisions of how to spend money, like for example if the school is planning to build a new building this group of people is incharge of managing the budget and deciding how it will be used. Also this group of people oversees policies on campus and is the official policy making group for the school. They utilize state funding to control the budget that will be used, set fees and a “wide variety of things that involve setting school policies and managing the schools budget. This board of governers consist of a group of 7 voting members of the board and 1 student member of the board  that are appointed by the Missouri governor and are not on a salary. Some of the goals this board has is to make sure the University if operating physically sound and their “main purpose is to make sure that the University is focused on programs that support student success”. The Board of Governors initially started as the Board of Regions later the name changed to Board of Governors which “is consiting with other Universities, that we would call peer Universities around the United States”. Seeing the success of a new structure like The Crossing being utilized by students and fully made is one of the proudest moments this Board of Governors has seen. Them knowing that they were part of that process was a big highlight to remember for these 7 individuals that put a lot of work in for this student body. When asked about challenges that these individuals face Murphy said, that reduction and state funds could become an issue if not handled properly, also keeping and figuring out how to maintain programs and keep good quality that will earn student succes is always an “ongoing challenge” for board members. Reaching a conclusion Mr. Murphy was really satisfied with the work these individuals put in on a volunteer job to help the University reach its goals, provide good learning opportunities and the best possible facilities for students. Next week I will be talking about 5 new policies and rules that the Board of Governors implemented last month.

MuleSkinner assignment 1.. Interview with student athletes

The real student-athlete grind

Looking at things from the outside it’s easy to say “Athletes have it easy “and those are words we hear commonly used outside around campuses. The life of student athletes from the outside looks like one that is all fun and real simple. You go to practice and play games? Doesn’t that sound fun? But a lot of things go on behind the “scenes” that people don’t see. As a current athlete myself I could tell you that the life of an athlete is real tough. It is what we call a “grind”. But I went beyond just me and had a chance to sit down with a couple athletes to see how they deal with being student/athletes and what goes on behind the scenes or things that people don’t see in their sports. I had the opportunity to meet Emily Heissler a former multi-sport athlete (softball and track) at Hutchinson Community College and current Track and Field athlete here at UCM. Also met another track athlete (Madison Whisler) to sit down and talk about the challenges of being student athletes. Both track athletes started playing sports around the age of 5 and have continued through their whole high school and college career. Both finding ways to maintain pretty good GPA’s told me that it is really important to find time and make the best use of your time. When asked about their routines they talked about how hard it is to keep up with everything while being a student athlete. Both mentioned that they go through lifting workouts in the morning, then have to go to class, and after go to practice.
“That’s when the real grind and fatigue is” Whisler said. “We have to find a way to get energy to get through the day and do your homework, study and rest so you can go through the same routine everyday” Heissler said. When asked about what advice they would give to freshmen they both seemed to agree that it is not as easy as it looks like, Whisler said “I would recommend that is real important to manage your time wisely and find ways to get through days in rough times”. Heissler stated that freshmen year is a hard one because “it is like a whole new world”, she mentioned some of the difficulties and challenges you face a freshmen student/athlete such as the way you manage time between practices, games, meetings etc. But both agreed and were really happy to admit that teachers here on campus are extremely open to work with athlete schedules and “are really considerate”.
Being an athlete is not as easy as it looks we go through a lot of stuff that people don’t see, like the girls mentioned, getting up early, going through a whole day while being tired and finding ways to study and catch up in class is not the easiest thing to do. Luckily here in the University of Central Missouri student/athletes receive teachers and all faculty members’ support so the teachers are willing to deal with athletes’ schedules and offer tutors to help them.

Interview With Mules Wide Reciever

The interview went very well. I interviewed Tristan McClleland a 6’4 Wide receiver for the mules football team was born and raised in Phoenix,Arizona. He started playing sports at the young age of 4. He involved himself in multiple sports such as Hockey, Baseball, basketball and football. While basketball showed good signs and progress, football promised a future for him. After HS Tristan took his talents to Mesa Community College (the biggest Junior College in the nation). While there he put up really good numbers that caught the eyes of recruiters all over the nation. When faced with the tough decision of picking a school to transfer. After the process was done he ended up picking UCM “Easy decision to pick UCM because the people were friendly, campus was really nice and had alot to offer” Tristan said. Tristan currently majors in Digital Media Productions. When asked where does he see himself five years from now Tristan thnks he will be working as a broadcasterand enjoying the “network life”. Currently starting his senior year McClleland expects to have a healthy year and win a national championship, while keeping a good GPA and graduating.

9th Inning (Going For The Save)

Well this is my last post people, I have met the final number of posts for this class. First of all I want to say that it was a great experience letting my voice be heard through the Internet and here. In a near future I will try to come back and make this blog a bigger part of my life, but right now baseball, traveling and school keep me very busy.

Well my final post I am going to be talking about what has been happening so far in the league and Bud Selig’s comment. Bud Selig today in a press conference said that the MLB “has never been more popular”. Bud Selig who is retiring after his contract which ends in January 2015 was on a farewell trip in Colorado when he got interviewed and said how happy he was of the league and on how things are going with the replay and stuff. Selig said “the past 10 years have been by far, the greatest attended years” referring to the recent success of the MLB. He had a very interesting interview in which he discussed various topics. One of them was the international presence in the game; Selig mentioned that the MLB would open the regular season out of the country again. Another topic was the brand new instant replay; he described it as a success. “For a new system, this has been remarkable” Selig said. He compared it with instant replay from other sports and said, “ Other sports have had replay systems that are far from perfect. So I feel very good about it, Very Good”.

Back to the game itself Moneyball keeps working for the A’s. They keep winning and doing good year after year, they find 26 solid players instead of a couple stars and role players to win. Their minor league system keeps producing great players, yeah the same minor league system that produced Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder etc. Billy Bean and his guys have done a great job with this franchise without using big time money. With the A’s doing good that makes three small market teams playing really good to start the year, Brewers, Orioles and A’s. Wow I can’t forget about Jose Abreu off to a crazy start. Abreu had 10 HR with 36 RBI’s the first month of his MLB career. He will definitely win rookie of the month considering he broke almost every hitting record for the first month of their careers. Albert Pujols is off to a great start he is back to the old Pujols. His legs are finally back under him and healthy. He hit his 500th HR in Washington the past week. The MLB is shaping up as expected and things are starting to fall into places. A couple last words from me, GO YANKEES!Image

Sliding into the DL


 Well here we go again! Last year the big debate was catchers getting ran over in close plays at the plate. It was all about having to slide out of the way of the catcher but still was kind off unfair for someone anyways. All this started after Buster Posey got seriously injured and lost most of the season because of a play at the plate. During previous years the catchers getting ran over had always been a topic brought up, but nothing major had been decided or no new changes to the rule had been made. Until this year where basically the runner is awarded a free path to the plate because the catcher can’t block the plate. The new rule states that the catcher can’t block home plate and the base runner is forced to slide or else he will be called out. In my opinion I don’t know how I feel about the rule. I mean obviously we need to protect our catchers but I kind off liked the blocking the plate deal because it made for some good plays at the plate and force the runner to make a good slide or the catcher to make a tough play. Also I ask myself like what would happen if there is a force out at the plate but the catcher is going for trail runner at first base? Can the runner take the catcher out with a slide or are they both going to get called out for that?


            On another topic what I am trying to talk about in my blog today was the famous and old school headfirst dive. As the years pass on we see less and less of this but we still see it. We mostly see it at second or third base while stealing and by fast or good base runners, and maybe sometimes at first. The past week two of the games best players Bryce Harper and Josh Hamilton went down with broken thumbs after sliding head first into a bag. Josh Hamilton’s was broken while he dove head first at first base and Bryce Harpers was while hitting a double. So this raises the question, should players stop diving headfirst into bases? In my opinion I love when players dive headfirst I think you are soft if you don’t slide headfirst. Injuries happen someway or the other so it doesn’t matter how you slide. Like looking at Jose Reyes who last year lost most of the season with an ankle injury by sliding feet first into second base. Sliding headfirst might be more dangerous but it’s a part of the game we all love. If you don’t like sliding headfirst because of these injuries I think they should all just get those protective hand mitts that people that have been hurt before like Emilio Bonifacio and Brett Gardner use. Don’t wait until the injury happens to take care or action about it. I personally loved how Mike Trout said that he would still do it because he plays the game one way and he wont change his style. What do you guys think?

Homecoming New York Style

Robinson Cano a 6 ft. 212 pound native from the Dominican Republic enters his tenth season in the Major Leagues. He returns this week to the Yankee Stadium to see familiar faces. This year with a little change in his salary and his jersey. After playing nine years for the New York Yankees Cano left as a free agent rejected their offer of about 185 million dollars and signed with the Seattle Mariners for 200million dollar contract making him one of the highest paid players in all of baseball. Cano the leagues premier second baseman had spent 9 years in pinstripe in which he averaged .309 in that span with 1,677 hits. Out of his nine years there Cano averaged only twice under 300 for a whole season. He never played under 115 games in a season and was an All Star 5 times and started four of those. He tied a franchise record with Willie Randolph for all-star game appearances for a Yankee second baseman. Cano arguably is the best 2B in the game and best Yankee for the last three to four years. After a weird offseason when the Yankees decided to let Cano go, he signed with the Mariners. Yes the Mariners, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001 where the Yankees in the American League Championship series defeated them. For me it was a real weird decision by Cano and like most of us could say, after all it might be all about the money. Like why wouldn’t he stay in New York making 185 millions with the best franchise in the history of baseball where he had won a ring, where people loved him and there were so many Latin’s around. To go to Seattle, a losing team where the field is bigger or doesn’t play as small as the Yankees field. I don’t know as a Yankees fan I didn’t think the Yankees were or had any intentions of signing him because he was asking for too much money but still the Yankees over pay a lot of their players anyways and old players so why not give him what he wanted? On the other side maybe he just wanted too much like an unreal contract. Now days we see these crazy contracts that I don’t understand like a 10 year contract? I think they should be reduced and a max of seven years and there should be a limit in money or salary cap to give other teams with a smaller market a chance to compete and pickup these big name free agents that could change their franchise direction. So this brings up my question to you is it all about the money now? I understand its their job and its their lifes so they “need” the money, but common man 200 million dollars? Like what is there to do with that much money anyways lol. In my opinion it is turning to be more about the money so I think they should be more strict with their salary cap and reduce the maximum contracts to six or seven years.

Got Heeem!

Wow! Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about Pineda’s pine tar incident last night. Well for those of you that don’t know, last night the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox faced off on a cold night at Fenway Park for the third game of their series. Michael Pineda was on the bump for the Yankees last night, Pineda who had sat out the past season after a couple of arm injuries has been off to a pretty good start this year with a 2-1 record previous to last night and a 1.83 ERA. Michael Pineda had a rough inning giving up two runs early. Pineda looked like he wasn’t comfortable or sharp that inning. His pitches were catching too much off the plate and his go to pitch his slider wasn’t as sharp as we are used to seeing it. It looked like the cold was affecting him a little bit at least. He comes out for the second inning and has something really noticeable in his neck. He starts going and touching his neck after pitches so Red Sox manager Farrell comes out has a conversation with the home plate umpire and the umpire comes out to the mound where the Yankees infield is there with Pineda. He checks his neck touches it and immediately throws him out of the game. Pineda was ejected and today, the president of Major League Baseball suspended him for the next ten games, which would make him, miss his next two starts. This is not the first time this season has had a problem related to pine tar. As we can remember during his first start he had pine tar in his throwing hand but nothing happened during the game because people noticed it after the game in some pictures. I think this is one of the stupidest things and most embarrassing things I have ever witnessed in Major League Baseball. Like why would you put pine tar in your neck? Such a visible spot and obvious. I don’t know what could have been going through his head when he decided to do this really. He will now pay the consequences but also will the rest of us Latin’s. I think us Latin’s have been embarrassed not only by him in the past couple of weeks but also by Carlos Gomez when he decided to go off and start a brawl in a game versus the Pirates. As a Latin baseball player I am embarrassed by their actions and think that this is why some people don’t like us Latin’s. There have been a lot of incidents with the whole pine tar deal with pitchers. I don’t know if maybe the MLB might need to be stricter and give out fines and longer suspensions for it to stop or what should be done. What do y’all think?Image

Blown Save?

As the new baseball season gets in full swing a couple of things have caught my eye. The MLB is trying for the first time ever instant replay during games. During spring training it looked pretty good, there were alot of questions of wether it would slow the game down too much and maybe make the game of baseball which is already a long one a even long one. But while using it in spring training it wasnt a bad idea at all and it ran smoothly. In some people’s eyes it looked like it could save the umpires and the game of baseball. We all thought that now there was no shot you can get a call wrong with replay. Like I mean you get to look at the play in slow motion and different angles so no way you get it wrong right? Well we all thought wrong because the MLB umpires have already gotten over four plays wrong. Like how does that happen? I dont understand, like might as well take the instant replay off. And how about this transfer rule now? If you dont pass the ball from the glove to the hand cleanly they wont even give you a catch on it. In my opinion this is ruining the game of baseball and needs to be reviewed and talked about soon because you cant just change the game of baseball now. Well back to the regul;ar season, the Milwaukee Brewers are off to a red hot start, lead by two players that needed to prove themselves and had a big year ahead of them. Ryan Braun and Francisco K-Rod Rodriguez, Ryan Braun is off to a good start after beuing suspended for 50 games last year after reportedly the use of steroids he is hitting 306 with 6 Home Runs and 16 rbi’s also 16 runs. Francisco Rodriguez is off to a great start with 8 saves and 16 strikeouts already in the early stages of the season. He had bounced around a couple teams and struggled after his record setting season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008 with 62 saves in that season.  The Dodgers are off to a good start also as predicted and should be the front runner on the National League this year but it hasnt all been pretty for the dodgers this year. As always Yasiel Puig has been doing “Puig” stuff on and off the field so he will always be a distraction on and off the field. But coach Don Mattingly has a tough task at hand having four All Stars in their outfield with only three of them in the lineup daily. Carl Crawford, Andre Eithier, Yasiel Puig and “franchise player” Matt Kemp. Right now they are all healthy and wanting to play. So my question is who should they get rid off and why? In my opinion they shoould get rid off (trade) Carl Crawford because i figue there is more out there in the masrket for him than Andre Eithier which would be the other top candidate to be traded because of the contract extensions that Puig and Kemp got in the past couple of years. It will be interesting seeing what the Dodgers ownerships ends up doing but its obvious one of them has to go and they still have a solid backup outfield option in Van Slyke. Interesting stuff breaking out early in the year so I will keep track on these things and see what changes come to the MLB soon.Image

Back to the OLD days?

The New York Yankees started their season with some bad news.The face of the franchise and team captain for the past decade Derek Jeter is retiring after this season. Derek Jeter has been arguibly the best player on and off the field to play for the New York Yankees. With a career batting average of .312 and over 3,ooo hits at the end of it all might be one of the best to ever do it period. A year after hitting his 3,000th hit Derek Jeter had an injury full season. Playing on a career low 16 games in 2013 Derek Jeter suffered an ankle injury that kept him out over 80%of the year and because of that the Yankees struggled and failed to reach the playoffs. Jeter suffered the ankle injury during the Yankees playoff run in 2012. Including Jeters injury, the Yankees had to deal with more stuff. A lineup that is usually filled with stars and top players in their positions was never healthy. Last year the Yankees lost Jeter for a huge part of the season, after signing Kevin Youkilis he was out for most part of the season, Mark Teixeira suffered a wrist injury that kept him out as well, Cervilli was hurt most of the season and off course Alex Rodriguez was hurt and suspended from baseball. The start of the 2014 season looked bright and optimistic for the Yankees. This offseason they went out and signed Jaoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, all three were former All Stars. We are around 14 games into the season and a Yankee lineup which looked to be a solid lineup is back to being hurt. Also the big signing of Japan pitching superstar Masuhiro Tanaka. Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the whole season, Derek Jeter is having hamstring problems, so is Texeira, David Robertson has had groin problem, Brian Roberts has back problems and Cervelli went out again with another injury.  Out opf those players just menitoned the average age is around 34 years of age. For the past couple of years the Yankees have been hurt by injuries alot. This raises my question for you guys. Are the Yankees too old? Should they start signing younger players? In my opinion yes they are but it has been something that has worked for them in the past. As they have won 27 world series rings which is most in the history of baseball. Injuries are one part of the game that you cant control but you can also analyze players injury and health record to see if they are more injury prone than other players. I think tha Yankees are old yes and that they should start signing younger players. But also understand its hard to sign young players now a days when good young players sign big deals in the early stages of their career and get locked up to the team that brought them up.Image

Play Ball!!

The Major League Baseball 2014 season started this past weekend with a series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. What is curious is how early this season has started and where it started. The season began in a foreign stadium and country, in Australia the two teams flew there this past week for a two game series between these National League West division rivals. The Dodgers ended up taking both games away from the Arizona Diamondbacks behind strong pitching performances from Ryu and Clayton Kershaw. They showed that they should be again one of the best one two combos of starting rotations in the league during the 2014 season and the Diamondbacks just looked overmatched both of the games they played. Image

Coaches for each the Dodgers and Diamondbacks said it was a great experience and that the fifteen hour flight was worth it. They also said that the people in Sydney, Australia treated them great and the atmosphere was great. A couple of players mentioned how exhausting the plane ride was, getting used to the weather and time zone was some of the challenges they faces but at the end it was good experience and unforgettable. But thats not what I am trying to let people know or talk about. I am here to talk about how early the season started for those two teams and the location. Heres the deal usually Major League Baseball teams get around 3 weeks to practice and a month to get back in full swing play everyday so their bodies get ready for the upcoming season. The season usually starts around April the first of every year. So I think that this whole starting the season 2 weeks earlier than usually is not good. This because I think injured guys might have to accelerate their rehab process, pitchers have less hitters to pitch too so they can get used to it for the season and work on their pitches and hitters dont see as much live pitching as they should before their first game. The Major League Baseball has made this kind of a tradition of starting seasons early in other countries. This because they have started the season in places like Puerto Rico, Japan and now Australia. In my opinion it is a great idea to raise money and get other countries the chance to watch the best baseball in the world live. But I think that the dates should be pushed back because now that they are done playing those two games there they fly back home and what will they do now besides practice? While other teams are still seeing live pitching from different teams and pitchers that they will face during the season. The positive in my opinion is that they can rest from thet long trip before they start playing again here in the states. But besides that I dont see any positives for the respective ball clubs what do you guys think?


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