RIBBE Training Days – 21 Days to Run to Home Base Event

For the past several weeks, I have been training for the Red Sox: Run to Home Base Event in late July. I have been raising money via friends and fellow coaches in RI baseball in support of this important race and the awareness the event brings to Veterans. I am running in honor of my Dad, who was a Vietnam Veteran and a longtime sufferer of PTSD. When I mentioned the race and the cause to my Dad, he was literally speechless. That’s the impact this event has on Veterans.

You can learn more about the Red Sox: Run to Home Base event by logging onto their official website at www.runtohomebase.org.

In my training log for June and July, I have added cross training into my regimen to help build up my endurance and overall body strength. I still run about 2.5 miles every few days to stay on track for my ultimate goal of running the 5K, which is about 3.1 miles. I love to swim and bike, so these two physical fitness disciplines have really helped my conditioning. Biking especially, because it is helping to increase my leg strength, cardiovascular fitness, and mental toughness.

I find a lot of parallels between cycling and baseball, especially pitching. In cycling, you have flat ground roads, uphill climbs, and downhill cruising, so it is important to pace yourself throughout your ride so you have the energy to accomplish all three types of terrain. With pitching, you have easy innings, you have bases loaded jams to get out of, and you have the end of your pitch count/game. Just like in cycling on the easy roads, you need to maintain your composure, do your job, and stay focused even though the overall stress is moderate to low. When you have an uphill climb in cycling, you can downshift to make the trip uphill more efficient and most often, easier to accomplish. Same with pitching in a stressful situation – take a few extra moments on the mound to de-stress and breathe, focus on your immediate task (the batter at the plate), maybe take a little bit off your fastball to get outs. Your bicycle is a machine with gears and mechanisms to help you get from one place to another. Your team has fielders who will help you get outs and out of a stressful inning. You don’t have to strike everyone out and you don’t have to climb that hill in the hardest gear on your bike.

On the downhills, you can see the bottom of the hill and maybe the finish line of your ride or event or race. Maintain a good cadence on your pedaling and keep your eye on the prize. It gives me an extra boost mentally seeing the finish line and that my workout is just about over. Same thing on the mound. If you are going out to finish a game or your coach tells you that your pitch count limit is nearing, go out with the intensity and focus to finish strong. Mentally, get your body and arm ready to take on that challenge of finishing the game or getting to your pitch count limit with a positive inning.

With 3 weeks to go for the Red Sox: Run To Home Base Event, my legs and lungs feel great. I know I am 100% mentally ready to do this 5K and my body is working its way up to 100% as well. Cycling and swimming have added a great mix of strength and cardio to my running workouts. And I love the similarities between cycling and pitching. If you are on a long ride, you get to think a lot about a lot of stuff, so these are just some of my cycling/baseball thoughts for the day.

If you would like to donate to my page for the 2019 Red Sox: Run To Home Base event, thank you in advance. Here is the link if you would like to contribute to this fantastic cause – The RIBBE Runs To Home Base

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The RIBBE – The Rhode Island Baseball Experience

The Rhode Island Baseball Experience is the crack of the wooden bat, the first foul ball you chased down, watching future professional baseball players on a grassy hill in Wakefield, the joy of scoring the winning run in a title game. Here are some of the Rhode Island Baseball Experiences I would like to share with you.

The RIBBE Travels to Martha’s Vineyard And The Shark Tank

Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful island in Massachusetts that attracts visitors year round, especially in the summer months. The beaches, the quaint villages and towns, the night life, lighthouses, historical landmarks, and the shopping are just some of the many reasons why MV is so popular. And you can add summer college baseball to that list of why folks travel in the thousands to visit Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, Edgartown, Katama Beach, Chappaquiddick Island, and the rest of the 87 square miles of Martha’s Vineyard.

The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, which has 13 New England teams from all over the New England area. This is the Sharks’ inaugural season in the NECBL, as they previously played in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. The Sharks play their home games at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs. As I regularly check the NECBL schedule, I noticed that Rhode Island’s Ocean State Waves were slated to play at the Shark Tank on Monday July 1st. I decided to make a day of it with my wife and travel to MV for the beaches, lunch, and to check out the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks and their Shark Tank.

You can get to Martha’s Vineyard by plane, by ferry, by personal craft. If you elect to take the ferry (as most do), you can go to the Steamship Authority website and choose your port, make a vehicle reservation if you plan on bringing your vehicle, book your trip, find schedules, and much more. Their website is www.steamshipauthority.com. As for myself, I drove from RI to Woods Holes, MA (about 85 miles) and took the ferry. Parking was easy and convenient at a parking lot about 4 miles from the ferry. There was a free shuttle to the ferry and it drops you off right at the ticket office. You can buy your tickets in advance for vehicle reservations but you also purchase them the day of the ferry if you plan on just “walking on.” My wife and I elected to take the ferry to Oak Bluffs (you can also choose Vineyard Haven) mainly because we weren’t bringing our car and there is a lot of attractions near the Oak Bluffs port that are within walking distance. After we landed in Oak Bluffs, we casually walked down to South Beach and I took a swim in the ocean. It was so peaceful and relaxing and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

Having traveled to MV for years on business, I have gotten to sample a ton of restaurants, ice cream shoppes, and watering holes over the years. One of my favorite spots to eat at is Sharky’s Cantina. They have two locations on Martha’s Vineyard – Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Their menu is all of your favorite pub foods, drinks all always cold, and the atmosphere is always festive. Rachel and I stopped in at the Oak Bluffs location for lunch and a few beverages and had a blast. If you are on the island, check out Sharky’s – you won’t be disappointed. Plus, they are a big time sponsor of the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, our next destination after lunch.

A spirited, local cabbie drove us the 15 minute cab ride from the harbor to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and we landed in the Shark Tank. The Sharks field fits in perfectly with the laid back, summer vacation, rustic feel of Martha’s Vineyard. Split rail fencing dresses the dirt walkway as you enter the field area. Grab a game program, sit at a picnic table to eat a snack from the Shark Bites stand, and take in the full view of the stadium. The field is tucked back from the busy Edgartown/Vineyard Haven road which sees hundreds of cars, thousands of tourists, and tons of activity every day (especially in the summer time.) Great first impression as Rachel and I walked into the Shark Tank.

The game we attended was the second game of a doubleheader. The Ocean State Waves had won the first game and the grounds crew was preparing the field for the second game as we entered. The field had plenty of seating on the first and third base sides as well as a grandstand area behind home plate. There were purple chairs set up in the outfield for families to sit and watch the game from “the bleachers” section. It was great to be able to sit anywhere we wanted to get different angles and views of the game action. The sun was hot and bright and in your face on the first base side, but ducked behind the trees nicely on the third base side. I caught up with Waves President and GM Eric Hirschbein-Bodnar, who is also a Waves Coach, in between innings. We chatted for a bit about Game 1, which the Waves won on a walk off.

The action of the field between the Sharks and the Waves was awesome. There were a couple of home runs hit, a few deep drives to the outfield off the fence, some exciting base running, great pitching, and solid defense by both teams. The games move along at a pretty good pace because the talent level is top notch. The NECBL is one of the best summer collegiate baseball leagues in the entire country. They recruit top players from all over college baseball, including several from RI. I was able to see Johnston’s Nick Raposo, who plays for the Sharks, smack a single just before Rachel and I headed out for the ferry. I chatted with a few host families that lived on Martha’s Vineyard who were also from Rhode Island. And a couple from Pawtucket, who were staying on MV for the July 4th week, were sitting in the outfield bleachers section. It was great making that Rhode Island connection while at the game.

Another 15 minute ride back to Oak Bluffs to catch the ferry back to Woods Hole and we were on our way back home to RI. Rachel and I got a lot of sun and had a blast visiting different spots on our trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Oak Bluffs is so amazing and the downtown area by the port has a ton of shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants, and night life activity. You can elect to take a cab, take the MV Transit bus, walk, ride a bike, rent a scooter, or just sit in the park. There is so much to see in one day, so plan ahead if you are a planner. Otherwise, do what we did and just take it moment to moment. I loved visiting the Shark Tank to check out the Sharks vs Waves game. The field, the rustic location, the great family fun, the affordability, the memories – these are just some of what you can expect at a New England Collegiate Baseball League game. For more information on the Sharks, The Waves, and the rest of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, check out www.necbl.com. And, if you have a chance to, definitely visit the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard this year.

Rhode Island Little League 11U State Tournament Host – Smithfield Little League

The Rhode Island Little League State 11U tournament will be played in Smithfield Little League parks this summer. This 11U State tournament is an important stepping stone to the New England Regionals, held in Beverly, MA. Last year’s 11U winner, King Philip Little League, made it through the RI states and onto the New England Regionals, had a fantastic run in the Regionals and represented RI baseball in a big way. Great memories for those KPLL players, coaches, and families.

In speaking with Smithfield Little League, there are two field possibilities for the 11U tournament. Whipple Field and Deerfield Park are both used during the spring season for regular season Little League play. Both fields offer plenty of parking, seating, offer batting cages, and concession stands. The fields are always in great condition field wise and the league has done a really nice job making the fields at Whipple and Deerfield safe and presentable for league play. Stay tuned for an annoucement in the coming weeks on whether Whipple or Deerfield Park will be the host field for the 11U tournament.

Ron Lopes, District Administrator of Rhode Island Little League District 4, will be the tournament director. The State tournament is scheduled to start July 19th and run through the 25th, if needed. Good luck to all the players, coaches, and families as they compete in their district tournaments, then onto the Rhode Island State 11U Championships at TBD, Smithfield Little League.

Summer Baseball Registration Open At Boys and Girls Club – Pawtucket

The summer season of the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club baseball program is open for registration. The Boys and Girls Club offers several baseball programs to develop skills, engage families and players, and provide a safe environment for kids to play sports. The programs are based on age. The league is open to boys and girls. You can register online at www.bgcpawt.org or by visiting the facility at 1 Moeller Place, Pawtucket.

The Tee Ball program is for youth baseball players just getting started in the game. Ages can range from 4 to 5 years of age and skills like catching, hitting, and throwing are taught. Sportsmanship and being a good teammate are also introduced to this age group. Practices are one day a week for the seven week program.

The Jr. RBI program has a wide range of age groups – 6 to 12 years of age. Players in this league will be developing their physical skills on the field – hitting, running the bases, playing defense – as well as their leadership, sportsmanship skills. A pitching machine is used for most players to help develop their swings, and there is the opportunity to hit off live pitching as players develop. 6 to 12 year old baseball players enjoy a fantastic experience with this Jr RBI program.

The RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program has players from ages 13 to 18. This level plays on the “big” field and the coaches continue to develop the baseball skills needed to play for local middle and high school teams. This, along with other Boys and Girls Club Baseball programs, has been supporting the development of baseball players in Rhode Island since 1940.

According to Director of Sports, Fitness & Recreation Lauren Lastrina, the games and practices for Tee Ball and the Jr RBI program take place at the fields located at the Boys and Girls Club, Pawtucket. The RBI program can be found on other fields in the Pawtucket area, including McConnon and Daggett Fields. Information about the summer baseball programs can be found on the Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket’s website at www.bgcpawt.org or by stopping by the facility in Pawtucket.

Heavy Press Graphics – Local Sponsor Specializing in Custom Apparel and Gear

Woonsocket Little League, the Upper Deck Stone Crabs, and many other youth organizations are working with Heavy Press Graphics. Heavy Press is based in Bellingham, MA and is a full service screen printing shop. From hats to backpacks, league uniforms to district all star apparel, Heavy Press Graphics can do it all. Here are some samples of their work:

Custom embroidery, monograms, screen printing – Heavy Press Graphics has you covered. Do you want to build an online store for your baseball organization? Set up a school fundraiser with custom T-Shirts? Give the team at Heavy Press a call to discuss. 1-508-928-1838.

Check out more of their work on their Facebook page by clicking here: Heavy Press Graphics.

Hangin’ Out At Rhode Island Baseball’s Dugouts

According to several online media sources, the baseball dugout originated as a concession to the fans. The dugout section of the field, in some baseball parks, is actually lower than field level. Fans located along the first and third base line who want to see the action of the batter (home plate) can have a better view of the game because of the dugout. Other dugouts are field level and are enclosed by a brick structure or metal fencing. Then, there are dugouts which aren’t really dugouts – they are simply just a bench so the players can rest between innings.

Some dugouts are adorned with sponsorship banners. Others carry the league’s logo. I viewed some dugouts which have been painted over with incredible murals depicting kids and sports. Some dugouts have metal benches, others wooden benches, and others have stadium type seating. Every single dugout has a story to tell.

The dugout is place to make new friends. It is a place where teammates pick each other up when there is a tough inning. And a place where teammates can high five a teammate that hits a home run. The dugout is where players huddle around their coaches and receive those last minute instructions on how to handle a bunt, throw a curveball, and hit a really hard pitcher.

The dugout is a place for chewing gum wrappers, sunflower seeds, and Gatorade bottles. A dugout has a scorebook, a pencil, and a pitch counter. It has helmets and catcher’s shin guards and batting gloves with rips in the thumb. A baseball dugout has tons of stuff in it that enhance the baseball experience for each player and coach.

I love seeing all the different styles of dugouts at Rhode Island baseball fields. Each field adds it own personal touch to their dugouts by adding sponsorship signage, league logos, organizational information, and much more. Dugouts are designed to protect the players and coaches during games, allowing the players to interact with each other and increase their enjoyment of the game. Sunflower seeds on the dugout floor, helmets on the shelves, and scorebooks filled out are just some of the many sights inside the dugout area. Players discuss strategy with each other. Coaches discuss strategy with each other and their players.

I love visiting these amazing baseball fields throughout the Ocean State. There are some many cool styles and personalized dugouts that house our youth baseball players every year. I look forward to seeing some great Rhode Island Baseball experiences this year.