Baseball’s “Old School” is Finally Refreshing

Although I usually discuss basketball topics, a few things happened in sports this week that deserve special notice.

First, the Major League Baseball players union, which is notorious for backing its players, did not protest the Ryan Braun steroid suspension. The lack of support for Braun reiterates that really for the first time the players who weren’t using steroids are being listened to more than the one who were using.

This is really a stunning paradigm shift for a union that was so anti-drug testing (just 10  years ago), for it to be doing what is best for the image of the game and not just the players.

Even more remarkable is the mutual admiration that seems to have built up between Yankee and Red Sox fans recently.

The “love fest” all started when the Yankees sang “Sweet Caroline” in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings in April.

This weekend marked the first time that the Yankees returned to Boston since belting out Neil Diamond’s classic.

Well, Sox fans returned the favor by singing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” this past Friday as a thank you to the city of New York for their support during the Marathon tragedy.

These were great gestures by both Yankees and Red Sox fans alike.

More improbable than either of these acts was the standing ovation that the Sox fans gave Mariano Rivera as he made his way to the bullpen on Saturday on his way to another save against the Sox. Even in a loss, Sox fans gave Rivera a well deserved applause for his career achievements and dominance against the Red Sox.

If anyone were to predict these kind gestures years ago, they would have been admitted to psych ward.

Amazingly, it happened and I am sure Derek Jeter will get the same respect when he returns to Fenway after he gets off the disabled list.

Even more amazing is that this happened in baseball. You know, baseball. Yes the sport that won’t fully use instant replay or that takes up to a minute between pitches. You know, baseball. Yeah them. Well kudos to MLB for getting this one right.

It just goes to show you that in sports, just like in life, anything is possible.

In an era of instant gratification and a “what have you done for me lately” attitude, it is nice that the MLB players union and Yankee/Red Sox fans honored the game this way.

Refreshing to see the “Greater Good” being carried out in MLB.

I think that’s an “old school” train of thought, a school of thought that baseball is usually criticized for.

However, in this case, “old school” was the right school of thought.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


“The Truth” is Real

In recent weeks, the sports world has been overwhelmed with stories about criminal activities, steroid clinics and general poor decision making by star athletes.

The media tends to focus in on these stories and rightly so. They are newsworthy and draw interest. However, I wanted to touch upon a simple gesture that may have gone unnoticed.

Yesterday, former Celtics legend, Paul Pierce, tweeted a series of #THANKYOUBOSTON tweets that have not been mentioned (to my knowledge) by anyone in the national media.

What Pierce did was unique. He sent almost 60 tweets, yes 60 tweets, basically as an ode to the Boston organization and Celtics fans. He shared some special moments from his career as a Celtic and reminded his supporters “I cannot say it enough. Boston, you’ll always be a part of who I am” and also reminded basketball fans in general that “hope you guys are enjoying my trip down memory lane cause it’s not over yet #thankyouboston”.

It was a subtle gesture of thanks and appreciation. To all accounts Pierce wanted to remain a Celtic throughout his entire career. However, the business of sports did not allow that to happen, as the Celtics decided to wipe the slate clean and push the reset button.

I am confident that when the Brooklyn Nets visit Boston, Celtic fans will show their gratitude for Pierce for what he has meant to the city and Boston sports history.

Pierce should be recognized by the national media for this simple act. In an era when negative press gets more publicity than positive stories, Pierce’s small gesture is appreciated and refreshing.

“The Truth” never fails.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Learning What ‘Not To Do’ Is Priceless

Having a great mentor in your professional or personal life is a luxury that some of us just do not have the opportunity to experience.

In this case, learning what “not to do” can be just as important as knowing what “to do”.

“Not learning” from co-workers, supervisors, the media, etc. just takes a keen eye, lots of patience and great instincts.

The recent Bank of America Twitter debacle (see link) is a perfect example of how attempting to give great customer service turned very wrong. Bank of America’s lack of caring and personal touch shows that even huge corporations can make giant mistakes.

Depending upon your line of work and/or your professional goals, the “Golden Rule” is usually a great place to start when it comes to learning what to do and how to treat people. Common sense is also vastly underrated too. Be sure to use them, as the two go hand-in-hand.

Moreover, if there is nobody to help guide you along to where you envision yourself, do not wallow in self pity, instead take control and self-educate as best you can. Professional books, clinics/course and online forums can help enlighten your horizons on your profession and get you to engage in professional organizations and career development opportunities.

In addition, networking with others in your profession may also shed some light on what you may be missing from the lack of mentorship/leadership that you have coped with.

Likewise, if you can’t see how your job is supposed to be carried out, consider observing and taking notes of what you will not do as you move along in your professional career.

These notes will serve as a reference point for you to look back on if a situation arises in the future. Lastly, you may also be able to share this valuable information with others when the day comes along, so you can help others who are in a similar situation to you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

‘Glue Guys’ Hold Teams Together

In the midst of the NBA free agency chaos, a subtle move was made by the Los Angeles Clippers this evening that may propel them to the NBA Finals next year.

The Clippers picked up JJ Redick and Jared Dudley in a three team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.

Redick averaged 14.1 ppg and shot 43.4% FG, 36.6% 3ptFG and 90% FT. Meanwhile, Dudley averaged 10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg and shot 46.8% and 39.1% 3ptFG.

On a day when Dwight Howard was the talk of the NBA, the Clippers under the radar move was brilliant because neither Redick or Dudley need the ball in their hands to be effective.

Redick is one of the league’s better catch and shoot players, although he can also put the ball on the floor.

Dudley, on the other hand, will defend and rebound on both ends of the floor, keeping possessions alive and having a relentless attitude.

Doc Rivers is savvy enough as a coach to get Redick shots (as he did for Ray Allen during his Boston days) while maximizing the spacing the floor for Paul. Dudley can then do his thing by defending and being a sort of garbage man on the offensive end.

Coaches should remember that having the best talent does not always make for the best teams. Role players a.k.a. ‘Glue guys’ are needed on every squad to do the dirty work and fit within the team parameters–The Heat’s Shane Battier is a  perfect example of this.

Glue guys provide key energy and momentum, while not disrupting the natural flow of the game.

The Clippers definitely addressed their chemistry issues today because ‘glue guys’ are high character and low maintenance individuals.

The most interesting aspect of ‘glue guys’ are that they are a dichotomy. For instance, Redick and Dudley will make Paul’s job as a team leader much easier because they will follow him without reservation and do the right thing. However they will also lead by example due to their general approach to the game and overall work ethic.

The best of both worlds for sure.

The message is clear then. Coaches grab a ‘glue guy’ — and don’t let go.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

College Coaches Get Recruiting Tip From Kobe

Today started the NBA Free Agency period where players can now talk to prospective teams and find the best deal for them.

With the hiring of Doc Rivers, the Clippers signed Chris Paul with ease and now Dwight Howard stands alone as the most prized free agent.

The Howard saga has been going for quite a few years now, with his on-again off-again two year episode in Orlando and his turbulent year last season as a Los Angeles Laker.

The Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors and Lakers are all courting Howard…recruiting Howard that is.

Howard was one of the last players to go to the NBA straight out of high school. This meant that he had no real college recruiting process and now he gets to see what 5-star high school athletes like Andrew Wiggins get to experience.

And teams have not disappointed.

The Rockets brought in Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler to personally meet with Howard, while Dikembe Mutombo sent a video recording and Yao Ming talked with Howard via Skype.

The Lakers, in a desperate attempt to retain Howard, even put up billboards around the city with the #StayD12 plastered on it. Despite their efforts, the Lakers are said to be an “unlikely” destination for Howard.

With all of this swooning and stroking of Howard’s ego going on, Kobe Bryant took a different approach. Bryant, who had his conflicts with Howard this past season, will be one of the representatives to meet with Howard tomorrow.

However, Bryant will not be begging Howard to stay.

In fact, according to recent comments that the the future Hall of Famer made, Bryant insisted that “It has to be his (Howard’s) decision. The last thing you want to do is convince a person that they want to be here. If you have to convince them, when challenges or adversity comes up next season, it’s very easy to say, ‘Well, they had to convince me to be here anyway. I don’t really want to be here. I’d rather be [somewhere else], but they sold me on it.’ “You want it to be his decision. When it’s something that’s rooted inside of him, it’s something he champions. I just want to be there to assist his decision.”

This is refreshing to hear.

Amongst all of his crew telling him how great he is and all of the teams vying for his services, it is nice to hear Kobe using good common sense.

College coaches should heed this warning from Kobe.

Of course you want to sell the benefits of your school and show each recruit how they would fit in your program. However, when it is at the risk of forcing the players decision that is a recipe for disaster, for them and your program.

The final choice has to be the players, be it in the NBA or college.

Make your best pitch for your school, but don’t plead. Let them know how important they could be if they choose to join your program, but don’t beg.

You have to communicate, but you shouldn’t have to convince.

The recruiting process should be about developing a relationship that enhances how great a fit is for the recruit both academically and athletically.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case which is why so many student-athletes end up transferring.

College coaches must be sure that recruits are told what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. Instead, the recruiting process should be  about transparency, honesty and vision.

I am sure Coach Kobe will communicate these to Howard, but it has to be Howard’s decision….Lakers, good luck!

(you will need it)…

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo