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Peltier leads Eagles on the diamond

Published: Friday, May 12, 2017 @ 11:15 PM

Ryan Peltier has never been one to shy away from the spotlight. He’s been the starting quarterback for the CJ Eagles since his sophomore year, but the junior saves his best for the baseball field.

“Football, you only get that one chance on Friday nights to prove yourself,” Peltier said. “With baseball you get multiple chances in a week to get wins and play good and have fun.”

Peltier is making the most of his chances this season, he’s the Eagles shortstop and hits third in the line-up. He’s also CJ’s best pitcher with a 7-0 record, and an ERA of 0.92 with 40 strikeouts in 38 innings.

He completely knows the game, he’s a very competitive person,” Eagles Head Coach Mike Barhorst said. “He always wants to get better and does not like losing, he’s going to do anything he can to win a ball game.”

Peltier is also solid at the plate, he’s hitting .375 with 19 RBI and 22 runs scored.

The Eagles will face off against Badin in the Division II sectional finals next Thursday at Miamisburg High School. The Rams are were state runners-up a year ago but CJ beat them twice in five days last month.

Ryan Peltier is the 7 Sports/Jeff Schmitt Auto Group Student Athlete of the Week.

Awesome: The lessons learned by Brandon Larson

Published: Sunday, January 07, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

Shortly after the National Anthem concluded before the University of Dayton-Massachusetts basketball game Saturday at UD Arena, a fan tapped me on the shoulder and said, “How many times have you stood for the National Anthem?”

That’s something I’d never thought about. Considering that I’ve covered more than 7,000 baseball games, hundreds of college and high school football and basketball games, a slew of auto racing events, a whole bunch of pro football and basketball games, I’d say the total easily surpasses 10,000 times.

I can recite the words backwards (but don’t test me on it).

And a couple of days later, former Cincinnati Reds pitcher and clubhouse comedian Kent Mercker, of one my all-time favorite players, shared something penned by former teammate Brandon Larson.

It shocked me.

Larson was a first-round draft pick by the Reds in 1997 out of Louisiana State University, where he hit something like 40 home runs.

But it didn’t transfer to the major leagues. In four years with the Reds (2001-2004), he played only 109 games and hit .179 with eight home runs.

He is probably best known for breaking his arm in the visitor’s dugout in St. Louis. He did it when he tried to dodge a foul ball and fell to the floor.

He was a pleasant fellow, an outgoing guy that teammates enjoyed having around and he was often the butt of pranks and jokes and took them all with a smile.

As a No. 1 draft pick, he was a failure on the field. But if you think he slinked away from the game bitter and disillusioned, you are most assuredly dead wrong.

This is what Larson penned, as shared by Mercker. What it means to be a pro.

“For anyone who wants to know, this is what it means to be a professional baseball player: My job was on the line every single day.

That taught me work ethic.

If we weren’t good enough, we didn’t play. And if we didn’t play, we didn’t get promoted. That taught me competitiveness.

People would get released or demoted literally every week, and we’d have to see the look on their faces as they cleaned out their locker in front of the whole team, as their dream came to an end. That taught me compassion.

When we failed or performed poorly, we did it with a spotlight on us in front of hundreds and thousands of people, with no excuses to hide behind and no one to blame but ourselves. And then the next day, we’re right back in front of that same disappointed crowd, but we couldn’t let that affect us at all. That taught me mental toughness.

I was on the road for about 7-8 months out of the year, missing out on family, friends, holidays and relationships. That taught me sacrifice.

There were times when we would outperform our competition, do noticeably better than them, go above and beyond what was expected of us… and still receive no recognition or promotion. Whether it be because of the person’s name, or who they know. That taught me that life isn’t always fair.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have seen people less talented than others train extremely hard and just plain outwork/outhustle their competition, and then get recognized and promoted above the more talented player because of it. That taught me that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.

If I was late, I was fined, fired, or left behind. That taught me to be punctual.

When you live, travel, work and hang out with the same people everyday, you become close to them and form a bond. You become family. And then in a few months, the season ends and they are gone and you may never see them again. That taught me the value of friendship.

When I saw, heard and felt the love, respect and admiration from the fans, old and young… that taught me humility.

I got to listen to the National Anthem (hundreds of times each year) before my job starts each night. That taught me pride and patriotism for my AWESOME country we live in

But to think others sacrificed their lives so I could chase a dream and play a game. That taught me perspective. I try to never take the little things for granted.

I have a masters degree in Real Life. It has to be lived. You can’t teach it. I have failed in a season, more than most fail in a lifetime and still wanted more. Because that’s how baseball players are wired.
You do what you’ve gotta do, no matter what.

The looks alone on all the little kids’ faces when they see you approaching them, like they think you are Derek Jeter and whatever you say to them is gospel. That you could change and influence a child’s day/week/month/year or even life by the way you treat them in the next few seconds or the next few words you say to them. And that’s when I realized that even though I was the one playing the game, and I was the one who all the kids looked up to and came to see, it really wasn’t about me, at all. And that taught me my favorite lesson…selflessness.”

What an unbelievable tribute to a game that looked as if it defeated Larson. But this shows it was just the opposite. And the next time I stand for the National Anthem, I will think about Brandon Larson.


Why Aaron Boone will succeed in New York

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 1:10 AM

By Hal McCoy

The first purchase Aaron Boone should make as new manager of the New York Yankees is a fire retardant suit.

He is going to need it in The Bronx, where putting out fires in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse is a pre-requisite to occupying the manager’s chair.

Just ask Joe Girardi, Boone’s predecessor. He had the Yankees won win from participating in the 2017 World Series. But he lost Game Seven of the American League Championship Series to the Houston Astros and lost his job in the process.

If anybody can handle it, Aaron Boone can shoulder it all, even though he hasn’t even held a major league coaching job, let alone a manager’s job.

Boone was born with a golden baseball spike in his mouth. His grandfather, Ray Boone, was a better-than-average major league infielder. His father, Bob Boone, was a long-time catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and California Angels. Aaron Boone and his brother, Bret Boone, were wearing Phillies uniforms and running around Veterans Stadium from the day they could walk.

Aaron Boone played for the Cincinnati Reds and survived one of the toughest atmospheres a player has to endure — playing for his father when Bob Boone managed the Reds.

Boone not only survived it all, he survived it with the utmost of professionalism. As a communicator, he is perfection. Nobody who ever came in contact with him ever uttered a disparaging word about him.

Every teammate loved him. Every member of the media loved him, especially during his time with the Reds. Players don’t like to talk after losses and many hide in area of the clubhouse that are off limits to the media.

Aaron Boone never hid. There were some games, after loss, when the media entered the clubhouse there was one player sitting at his cubicle. Aaron Boone. And even though he rarely had anything to do with the loss, he sat and fed meaningful and insightful quotes to the media.

He was what the media call, “The go-to guy.”

That will serve him well in New York, where a manager has to feed the mammoth mouths of a media menagerie that devours every tidbit and tries to turbn it into something bigger than it might be. Aaron Boone will be non-plussed.

There is, of course, some prejudice emanating from this corner. Aaron Boone holds a special place in my heart – a story that has been told and retold many, many times.

For those who haven’t heard it:

Back in 2003, due to strokes in both my optic nerves, I became legally blind and considered retiring for good. It happened just before spring training and I sent to my sports editor, Frank Corsoe, intending to quit.

Corsoe, though, convinced me to give spring training a try and I agreed. The first day I walked into the Reds clubhouse in Sarasota, I stood at the door and looked around.

Everything was dark and fuzzy. Faces were blurred. I didn’t recognize players who I had known for years. Boone noticed me standing at the door with a perplexed look on my face.

He approached me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I told him what had happened, that I was legally blind, and that he probably wouldn’t see me again, that I was going home, I was about to quit.

He grabbed me by my elbow and led me to his locker stool, pointed to it and said, “Sit down.” I sat. And Boone said, “I don’t ever want to hear you saw the word quit again. You love what you do and you are good at it. Everybody in this room will help you when you need it.”

Boone turned me around that day. There were tough times and there are still tough times, but Boone gave me the impetus and the confidence to plod on and because of him I am still doing this 14 years later.

Of course, he made me pay for it. He would tell people he caught me talking to a Coke machine. And he might have been right.

That’s the kind of communicator he is, the kind of passionate and compassionate person he is. Writers and players are water and oil. They don’t often mix. And I wrote my share of critical things about Boone. But he took the time to change a writer’s life, to save a career.

And that’s why when Aaron Boone became eligible for the Hall of Fame, he received one vote. Boone was a solid player, a very good player, but he didn’t have Hall of Fame numbers. But I was the one writer who voted for him because to me what he did for me was the stuff of a Hall of Famer.

So now he is getting his reward for a life-time of living, breathing and exhaling baseball.

It won’t be easy. Managing the New York Yankees is probably the most demanding and challenging job in sports. And there is a guy with zero experience stepping in.

He is expected to win. Right now. The Yankees are loaded, not only on the major league roster but throughout the minors. The tools are there and Boone is now the carpenter, plumber and blacksmith.

As Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay said, “Boone is being handed the keys to his first car. And it’s a Lamborghini.”

Rest assured. He won’t wreck it.

Baseball bans former Braves GM Coppolella for life 

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

Baseball barred former Braves GM John Coppolella from baseball for life for circumventing international player signing rules. He joins a list of sports figures banished by their sport. Donald Sterling The former L.A. Clippers owner was banned from the NBA after he was captured in an audio recording making racist remarks in 2014. Pete Rose While manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Pete Rose was accused of betting against his team. Baseball banished him amd the sport's Hall of Fame in 1991 made him ineligi

Former Braves general manager John Coppolella has been banned for life by Major League Baseball as part of discipline handed down by the league Tuesday for major infractions committed in the international free-agent market.

In addition, special assistant Gordon Blakeley has been suspended for one year. In handing down the punishment, the league announced that Braves will forfeit rights to 13 international prospects, will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period and are restricted from signing players in the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000.

MLB drops hammer on Braves following lengthy investigation

The highest-profile signee that the Braves will lose is infielder Kevin Maitan.

Here is the complete statement from MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred: 

“My office has completed a thorough investigation into violations of Major League Rules by the Atlanta Braves. The Braves cooperated throughout the investigation, which was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations. The senior Baseball Operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves. I am confident that Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Alex Anthopoulos and their staffs have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the Club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been. 

“The investigation established that the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017. During the 2015-16 international signing period, the Braves signed five players subject to the Club’s signing bonus pool to contracts containing signing bonuses lower than the bonuses the Club had agreed to provide the players. The Club provided the additional bonus money to those players by inflating the signing bonus to another player who was exempt from their signing pool because he qualified as a ‘foreign professional’ under MLB rules. Consistent with the rules, the Braves could have signed all of the 2015-16 players for the full, actual signing bonus amounts. Had the Club signed the five players to contracts containing their actual bonuses, however, the Braves would have exceeded their signing bonus pool by more than five percent and would have been, under MLB rules, restricted from signing any players during the next two signing periods for contracts with bonuses greater than $300,000. 

Kevin Maitan, infielder Abrahan Gutierrez, catcher Yunior Severino, infielder Juan Contreras, pitcher Juan Carlos Negret, outfielder Yefri del Rosario, pitcher RHP Guillermo Zuniga: 19-year-old right-handed pitcher from Columbia was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in 31.2 innings in the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League INF Livan Soto: 17-year-old shortstop from Venezuela hit .225 with 14 RBIs in 47 games in the Gulf Coast League 3B Yenci Pena: 17-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic hit .230 wi

“As a result of the 2015-16 circumvention, the Braves were able to sign nine high-value players during the 2016-17 signing period who would have been unavailable to them had the Club accurately accounted for its signings during the 2015-16 signing period. These players were Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Kevin Maitan, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Peña, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga. In addition, the Braves entered into additional ‘package’ agreements in 2016 and 2017 in which they signed Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre for reduced amounts, and provided additional money to those players’ agents by signing other players affiliated with their agents to contracts with inflated bonuses. In order to remedy these violations, I am releasing these players from their contracts with the Braves and declaring them free agents eligible to sign with any other Club. The procedures governing the players’ release and the signing process will be communicated to MLB Clubs under separate cover. 

“The investigation also determined that the Braves: (i) agreed to sign six players to inflated signing bonuses pursuant to an agreement with prospect Robert Puason’s agent in exchange for a commitment that Puason would sign with the Club in the 2019-20 signing period; and (ii) offered prospect Ji-Hwan Bae extra-contractual compensation. In order to remedy these violations, I am prohibiting the Club from signing Robert Puason when he becomes eligible to sign, and disapproving the contract between Bae and the Braves, which has not yet become effective.

Schultz: Coppolella submarined the Braves

“While the remedies discussed above will deprive the Braves of the benefits of their circumvention, I believe that additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the Club for the violations committed by its employees. Accordingly, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, which is the first signing period in which the Braves are not subject to any signing restrictions under our rules; and the Braves’ international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent. 

“The investigation also determined that the Braves offered impermissible benefits, which were never provided, to a player they selected in the First-Year Player Draft in an attempt to convince him to sign for a lower bonus. As a penalty for the Club’s attempted circumvention involving a draft selection, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

“With respect to individual discipline, former Braves General Manager John Coppolella will be placed on the permanently ineligible list, effective immediately. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley will be suspended for a period of one year, effective immediately, and may not perform services for any MLB Club during his suspension. I intend to discipline other Braves’ International Baseball Operations employees who participated in the misconduct after the completion of our internal procedures. My staff will speak to the Players Association and officials in the Dominican Republic regarding appropriate consequences for the representatives of the players who intentionally participated in schemes to circumvent our rules, none of whom are certified by the Players Association.”

Check for a full report on the Braves and the punishment.

Joe Morgan’s open letter against steroid users

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 2:46 PM

Joe Morgan and I haven’t often seen eye-to-eye. We went nearly 40 years without speaking. Not a word. Not a hello or not a get-out-of-my face

It began in 1979, late in the season, when Morgan was about to become a free agent.

I wrote a column in which I said it was time for Joe to go. I didn’t say he was no longer a great player, because he was still a great player. I merely saw that the Cincinnati Reds were evolving. Pete Rose was gone, Tony Perez was gone. Ken Griffey Sr. was gone. Don Gullett was gone.

The Big Red Machine was being dismantled, piece by piece, by new general manager Dick Wagner. It was deconstruction time and if that’s the way the Reds were going, a rebuild, than Morgan certainly wasn’t part of that rebuild. It was time to make room for Ron Oester.

So I merely wrote that it was time for Morgan to move on. The day after the column appeared, Morgan stuck a finger in my face and said, “Don’t ever talk to me again.” Apparetntly, some of the things I wrote in the column were not appreciated.

And he we didn’t speak for nearly 40 years, even though we were on the same tennis court playing doubles against each other when Morgan came back to Cincinnati as a broadcaster. We were on elevators together, by ourselves, and didn’t speak. We stood next to each other at bathroom urinals and didn’t speak.

Then, a couple of years ago, Morgan (now a Reds consultant) and I were by ourselves in the Reds clubhouse by ourselves before a game. He approached me and apologized for his childish behavior. And I apologized for my childish behavior. We made amends that was great.

That brings us to today and I received an open letter e-mail from Morgan. He passionately pleads for Hall of Fame voters, of which I am one, NOT to vote for steroid users for the Hall of Fame.

And I agree with everything he says. I won’t vote for steroid users and Morgan’s letter perfectly states why we shouldn’t and why I won’t.

But I wonder about how the letter will be taken by other voters, many of whom will be upset by somebody telling them how to vote. A couple already have called Morgan hypocritical because of his support for Pete Rose for the Hall of Fame despite Rose’s violation of the cardinal rule of baseball.

And there is dilemma of determining who used steroids and who didn’t. Those who admit it and those who flunked drug tests are easy. But how about those only suspected of using and deny it. If Morgan can tell us definitively who used and who didn’t, it would be easy. But it isn’t.

But here is Morgan’s passionate e-mail:

Dear HAL:

Over the years, I have been approached by many Hall of Fame members telling me we needed to do something to speak out about the possibility of steroid users entering the Hall of Fame.

This issue has been bubbling below the surface for quite a while. I hope you don’t mind if I bring to your attention what I’m hearing.

Please keep in mind I don’t speak for every single member of the Hall of Fame. I don’t know how everyone feels, but I do know how many of the Hall of Famers feel.

I, along with other Hall of Fame Baseball players, have the deepest respect for you and all the writers who vote to decide who enters Baseball’s most hallowed shrine, the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For some 80 years, the men and women of the BBWAA have cast ballots that have made the Hall into the wonderful place it is.

I think the Hall of Fame is special. There is a sanctity to being elected to the Hall. It is revered. It is the hardest Hall of Fame to enter, of any sport in America. But times change, and a day we all knew was coming has now arrived. Players who played during the steroid era have become eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame.

The more we Hall of Famers talk about this and we talk about it a lot we realize we can no longer sit silent. Many of us have come to think that silence will be considered complicity. Or that fans might think we are ok if the standards of election to the Hall of Fame are relaxed, at least relaxed enough for steroid users to enter and become members of the most sacred place in Baseball. We don’t want fans ever to think that.

We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here. Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in. Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.

Now, I recognize there are players identified as users on the Mitchell Report who deny they were users. That’s why this is a tricky issue. Not everything is black and white there are shades of gray here. It’s why your job as a voter is and has always been a difficult and important job. I have faith in your judgment and know that ultimately, this is your call.

But it still occurs to me that anyone who took body altering chemicals in a deliberate effort to cheat thegame we love, not to mention they cheated current and former players, and fans too, doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. By cheating, they put up huge numbers, and they made great players who didn’t cheat look smaller by comparison, taking away from their achievements and consideration for the Hall ofFame. That’s not right.

And that’s why I, and other Hall of Famers, feel so strongly about this. It’s gotten to the point where Hall of Famers are saying that if steroid users get in,they’ll no longer come to Cooperstown for Induction Ceremonies or other events. Some feel they can’t share a stage with players who did steroids. The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too.

The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear. Section 5 of the Rules for Election states, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

I care about how good a player was or what kind of numbers he put up; but if a player did steroids, his ntegrity is suspect; he lacks sportsmanship; his character is flawed; and, whatever contribution he made to his team is now dwarfed by his selfishness.

Steroid use put Baseball through a tainted era where records were shattered. “It was a steroidal farce,” wrote Michael Powell in theNew York Times.

It is no accident that those records held up for decades until the steroid era began, and they haven’t been broken since the steroid era ended. Sadly, steroids worked.

Dan Naulty was a journeyman pitcher in the late 1990 who admitted he took steroids, noting that his fastball went from 87 to 96. He told Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci in 2012, “I was a full blown cheater, and I knew it. You didn’t need a written rule. I was violating clear principles that were laid down within the rules. I understood I was violating implicit principles.”

The Hall of Fame has always had its share of colorful characters, some of whom broke or bent society’s rules in their era. By today’s standards, some might not have gotten in. Times change and society improves. What once was accepted no longer is.

But steroid users don’t belong here. What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.

Steroid users knew they were taking a drug that physically improved how they played. Taking steroids is a decision. It’s the deliberate act of using chemistry to change how hard you hit and throw by changing what your body is made of.

I and other Hall of Famers played hard all our lives to achieve what we did. I love this game and am proud of it. I hope the Hall of Fame’s standards won’t be lowered with the passage of time.

For over eighty years, the Hall of Fame has been a place to look upto, where the hallowed halls honor those who played the game hard and right. I hope it will always remain that way.


Joe Morgan

Hall of Fame Class of 1990

Vice Chairman

P.S. — Families come to Cooperstown because they know it’s special. To parents, it’s a place they can take their kids for an uplifting, feel good visit. It’s a place where kids can see what true greatness is all about. It’s a place where youngsters can dream that one day they too might get in. This place is special. I hope it stays that way.