Monday, October 31, 2011

10 Commandments of Trick or Treating

Here at Sporting Chance Press we publish The 10 Commandments of Baseball, which is all about a fine list of baseball and life principles. It's our interest in such principles that prompted us to compose and publish our list of Halloween Trick or Treat Maxims today on Halloween. This is not a complete list and it does not include the serious stuff like don't eat any candy that looks weird or is unwrapped or don't go to the strange houses. This list is strictly light-weight, but principle-laden none the less. It's a list for parents and teachers to share with their kids. Here then are our 10 Commandments of Trick or Treating.

1. Nobody becomes a Trick of Treat legend by walking from house to house. You've got to hustle--nothing dangerous or stupid mind you. Make sure your costume does not inhibit your vision or movements--and don't go jumping over any iron fences with pointy things.
2. You will never get a lot of candy unless you put some effort into it. Call out "trick or treat" loudly and proudly. Don't be one of those I'm too good to say "trick or treat" or "thank you" kind of kids. Make the master or mistress of the house want to give you the candy.
3. Don't soap windows and egg houses. If you come to a house where the people don't give candy or they left a bowl of candy on their front doorstep and the earlier kids emptied it out, don't waste any time soaping up the windows or knocking their pumpkins over, etc. What's over is over, move on.
4. Make sure you look good at all times--take pride in your Halloween appearance. Don't be one of those kids who wear their regular clothes and put on a monster mask and then tip it up to the top of their heads like sunglasses so no one even knows what you are supposed to be. Life requires creativity and effort.
5. Decide on the course you are going to follow and stick with it. Be decisive. Don't go down a few houses on one block and then skip over to the next--willy-nilly criss-crossing the street.
6. Don't make excuses about your costume or how little candy you end up with in your bag. Achieve good results by great effort. Resist eating mounds of candy while you are still raking it in.
8. Don't shout "Trick or Treat" once and then give up. Give each house you visit your best shot at finding someone home. Shout a couple times. Some kids sound the words out to make the words longer: tri-i-i-i-ick or tre-ee-ee-eet. Now that's hard to ignore.
9. Don't criticize the masters or mistresses of the house based on the candy you get. Don't be one of those kids who say stuff like, "Oh, I don't like bit-o-honey" or "Sugar Babies stick to my teeth." No matter what the brand, take it and express gratitude. Remember, you don't have to eat everything you get.
10. Maintain control at all times. Work fast, hang with good friends who behave themselves and get home when you are supposed to get home. It's a lot more fun that way and it just isn't cool to scare your parents on Halloween by being late.
Copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press.

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Sporing Chance Press publishes The 10 Commandments of Baseball, Maddie Takes the Ice, and other fine sports books.


Post copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press Inc. Photo copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press Inc.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Chris Harris Picked Up by Lions; Leaves Chicago with Class

Reports surfaced today that Chris Harris was picked up on waivers by the Detroit Lions. Harris was released by the Bears after a some rocky games this year that included injury and some sub-par performances. In an interview on ESPNs Waddle and Silvy Show, Harris displayed a combination of honesty, clarity and class that is rare for someone in his position. The interview took place before the Lions made their move.

According to Harris, he harbors no ill will for anyone in Chicago. He bid a fond farewell to Bears fans and also had complimentary remarks about the Bears team itself--saying that the defense still had the talent to dominate and it was getting better.

You had to be impressed by the insight and maturity of his answer when asked about his release versus the Bears holding on to other players that might not have performed to expectations as well. According to Harris, the Bears made changes where they could make them - where they felt they had depth. The Bears had drafted at the safety position and they believe that the young guys they have should be able to step in now.

Harris also suggested that the Bears decision was all about football not tied to any ill will that might be harbored because of tweets, etc. Harris went on to say that he felt 100% now and that he believed he had years of NFL play ahead of him.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey and other fine sports books.

Excessive Crowd Noise is Not Good for Football

There is something special about the deafening roar of the crowd when something big happens at a football game. The feel of the crowd and the sense that you are part of something so huge, so immense is electrifying. The game played in places like Michigan Stadium shown above have enriched the lives of countless fans.

When Crowd Noise Gets Out of Hand

Nevertheless, something needs to be done to mitigate the advantage to home teams because of crowd noise in domed stadiums. It's one thing for a crowd to roar outdoors, but it is something quite different in a dome where noise levels can register just below that of a jet engine. The NFL has wrested with ways to deal with crowd noise--at one time legislating against certain club behaviors that increase noise levels only to come back and relax those later.

After the Bears had 9 false starts against the Detroit Lions, the following week the Lion's opponent, San Francisco, racked up five in the same place--Ford Field--and that was after practicing all week with huge loudspeakers blaring at the players.

Even outdoor crowd noise can play a huge role. Penn State acoustical tests performed in Beaver Stadium (the largest college stadium in the U.S.) demonstrated important considerations. As one might expect, the tests measured that sound levels dropped considerably when the home team conducted offensive plays and then rose when the visitors had the ball. More importantly, the study demonstrated that the home team’s quarterback could communicate with other players up to 20 feet away while the visiting team’s quarterback is limited to communications ranges of less than 2 feet. In other words, the guard might hear the signal, but no way the tackles or ends would.

An English study showed that not only does crowd noise give the home team a playing advantage in sports, it is also likely to influence officiating in favor of the home team. Officials are swayed by loud crowd reactions to their calls.

Allowing the natural ebb and flow of enthusiasm in a game is one thing, but it's something else to build indoor stadiums that are acoustically engineered to increase sound levels. The game is meant to be enjoyed and it should be played on a something that at least resembles a "level playing field."

When teams routinely practice with jet engine noises are amplified over loud speakers, doesn't it suggest that things are just a "little" out of hand?

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith; Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books.

Photo of Michigan Stadium

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cubs May Win a World Series with Epstein, but It Ain't Going to Be Cheap

A common sentiment about Theo Epstein from a Red Sox fan:

The Sox are competitive every season, usually make the playoffs, and have won two World Series championships under Epstein. We should be pleased.


Theoretically, the Cubs might just win the World Series with Epstein running things, but one thing seems certain, it ain't going to be cheap.


Payroll Second to Yanks


According to AP figures, which may be estimates, the Boston Red Sox payroll spend for 2011 was $161,407,476 while the Cubs spent $125,480,664. Over the last five years, the Red Sox have spent about $54 Million more than the Cubs.

Consistently, the Red Sox rate just below the Yankees as the second highest payroll in baseball. The Ricketts family, owners of the team since fall 2009, have teamed up with someone who knows how to spend money and who has had a lot of support in that area from ownership.

The Dice-K Deal


Under Theo Epstein the Red Sox brought Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K) from Japan. Under the baseball system in Japan, the Red Sox had to buy the rights to the pitcher from his Japanese team and then negotiate a contract with the player himself. The Red Sox paid $51.11 million for the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka and another $52 Million
for six-year contract.

Dice-K had one very good year in 2007 when he went 15-12 with a 4.4 ERA; one great year in 2008 when he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. He has not been very productive thereafter due in large part to injuries. In 2011, Matsuzaka made eight appearances posting 3 wins and 3 losses with a 5.30 ERA. In June, he underwent "Tommy John" surgery and hopes to return to the club in 2012, the final year of his contract.


The Dice-K Payoff


Daisuke Matsuzaka was certainly instrumental in the Red Sox championship season in 2007. In addition to winning 15 games during the season, he won Game Three of the World Series pitching five innings of scoreless ball. He went 1-1 in the 2007 American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians.

Theo may be just what the doctor ordered for the Cubs, but a run at the World Series isn't going to be cheap.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) and Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle.

Lions Game Revisited: Chris Harris Released

If you watched the Lion's-Bears game on October 11, you knew that the Bears had a lot of work ahead of them following that debacle. However, at the same time you probably thought the "sky is not falling." The Bears have had horrible games before and then managed to come back strong. Remember 2010?

Still, it was certainly a frustrating game for spectators—all the bad vibes seem to land on the Bears in that one game. I can only imagine what is was like for the players and coaches on the field.

You'll recall TV coverage of the game featured images of Brian Urlacher talking fast and furious with Lance Briggs, seemingly questioning what was going on with his teammates. After the game, Urlacher avoided any finger pointing and diplomatically turned the attention to the entire team—suggesting that there was a lot of work to be done all the way around. You may recall this game also featured a groundless "spearing" penalty against Urlacher at a critical moment in the game.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris fell out of favor with Bears coaches after that Lions loss. One Harris lapse reminded me of Anthony Cromartie's play against the Jets in a 2009 playoff game that apparently ended his career with San Diego. Cromartie seemed to be in a different time zone for that game. Funny that it was the Jets who picked him up.

The Tribune's Dan Pompei described the Harris play that really stuck out in the Lions game this way:

"Harris ran right past Nate Burleson in the backfield on an end around, apparently unaware Burleson had the ball."

Harris also received bad marks for a couple other plays during the game that were more typical defensive failures—the kind that you might see in most every NFL game. Yet, it was surprising to see Harris react so negatively to his benching the following week because it seemed so well deserved. Coach Smith gave him another shot against Tampa Bay in London, but apparently his performance once again failed to impress—thus his release early this morning from the Chicago Bears.

Some writers suggest that Harris was still suffering from a hamstring injury when he suited up for the Lions game. If that's the case, he may be a good prospect for some of the other teams in the league that are having problems with the Safety position. There are many reports on the Internet today about several teams that may be interested in picking up Harris including the Minnesota Vikings.


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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Carimi Back

The Bears had a light workout Wednesday that included Gabe Carimi who is coming back from a dislocated kneecap that he suffered in the Chicago Bears-New Orleans Saints game. There will be a lot of discussion on whether Carimi will start now that the current offensive line has come together and played well under the new streamlined scheme that focuses more on running Matt Forte. Much has been said about the excellent run blocking of Chris Spencer who has been playing with a hand injury.

We may see more of a substitution, of players than a wholesale change in the existing line. The Bears will need a line that can be proficient at pass blocking when they face teams now who will be more focused on shutting down the run.

Regardless of how the Bears play Carimi, they will be in the best shape they have been in for several weeks after their bye week when they line up against the Eagles on November 7, 2011. The Eagles on the other hand, face a tough hungry Dallas Cowboys team. The Eagles were highly touted early on, but failed miserably to measure up to expectations. Nevertheless, they seem to be turning things around.

Image is of Panini Threads Football Card
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine books.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Forte, Payton, Anderson: Three Bears Running Backs; Nine Awesome Years

Matt Forte is in his fourth year in the NFL. Much is being said about Forte because the Bears have adjusted their game plan to feature him and he has not yet under contract for next year. If Forte continues the rushing/receiving pace he has set so far this season throughout 2011, it will be his best ever.

Are the contract issues affecting Forte one way or another? Who knows, but he is in a zone now—the kind of zone only a few Bears running backs have managed for three or more years. Here's a quick look at three years in the early career of Matt Forte, Walter Payton (naturally) and Neal Anderson.

Year One

Forte has three complete seasons with the Bears. In his first year 2008, he had 316 rushes for 1,238 yards and a 3.9 yard average. That same year, he had 63 receptions for 477 and a 7.6 yard average. Forte's total yards gained equaled 1,715. Forte also scored 12 TDs for the Bears.

You can not compare a current player's statistics in which teams play 16 games against someone who played during the 14 game season. Walter Payton's first three years were played during 14-game seasons. The NFL did not start the 16-game season until 1978. Rather than try to “normalize” the statistics on the three players here, we just provide the raw data on them from NFL.com. There are many factors that also make actual year-to-year comparisons questionable. By just looking at the performances generally, fans may have a better understanding of the value of these three great running backs without having to make any judgments that span teams, offensive/defensive schemes, talent or lack of talent surrounding the players etc.

In addition to the number of games, it should also be noted there is one more huge difference that reflect in Payton's numbers. Fullback play was much more prevalent then. Roland Harper, the Bears fullback was used liberally and got 100 carries for 453 yards in Payton's first year. Bears running back Mike Adamale also got 94 carries for 354 yards that same year. By the same token, today we see a more liberal use of the running back as receiver. It might also be said that Forte's at 6'2'' and 214 lbs. is a more likely target for passes than Payton who was 5'10" and roughly 200 lbs and Anderson who was Payton's size.

Payton had 196 carries for 679 yards and a 3.5 yard average in 1975. In receiving, Payton had 33 catches for 213 yards and a 6.5 yard average. Total yards gained by Walter Payton in his first year equaled was 892. He scored 7 TDs.

For Neal Anderson who began his Bear career in 1986, it was not until his third year that he had the same level of involvement as Payton and Forte in the Bears offense. He was working himself into the lineup as Payton’s career was closing. In 1988, Anderson had a 249 carries for 1106 yards and a 4.4 yard average. In receiving, Anderson had 39 catches for 371 yards and a 9.5 year average. Total yards gained by Neal Anderson in 1988 tallied 1477. Anderson scored 12 TDs.

Looking at these three performances, you can see that all three players certainly had "game" and were following in the footsteps of the Bears great running back traditions. Payton would go on to break the mold over 13 seasons.

Second Year

In 2009, Forte's second year, he had 258 rushes for 929 yards and a 3.6 average. He had 57 receptions for 471 yards and an 8.3 average. His total yards for the season were 1,400. He scored 4 TDs.

Payton's numbers were building in his second year. In 1976, he had 311 carries for 1390 yards and a 4.5 average. His 15 receptions made 149 total yards, which gave him a 9.9 yard average. Total yards were 1539 for Payton that year. He scored 13 TDs.

Neal Anderson's second very productive year was amazing. In 1989 he rushed 274 times for 1275 yards and a 4.7 average. He also had 50 receptions for 434 yards and an 8.7 yard average. Anderson's total rushing and receiving yards were 1709 for the season. He scored 15 TDs.

Third Year

In 2010, Forte rushed 237 times for 1,069 yards netting a 4.5 yard average. His 51 receptions gave him 547 yards and a 10.7 average. His total yards for the year were a hefty 1,616. He scored 6 TDs.

Payton was nothing short of phenomenal in 1977. He rushed 339 times for 1852 yards and a 5.5 average. He had 27 receptions for 269 yards and a 10 average. His total yards tallied an incredible 2121. He scored 16 TDs.
In 1990, the third consecutive year we reviewed for Neal Anderson, he rushed 260 times for 1078 yards and a 4.1 average. He had 42 receptions for 484 yards and an 11.5 average yielding 1562 yards for the year. Anderson scored 13 TDs.

Conclusions

Payton, Anderson and Forte will always be appreciated by Bear fans who witnessed their performances. The numbers suggest that based on Forte's performance for the first three years of his career, he is right up top with the best of the Bears running backs. While Forte is catching more passes than Payton, no one will forget Payton’s leaps over the line for touchdowns. Fans appreciate all three of these great backs, each in their own right. The numbers tell us definitively that any way you measure it, they were great NFL backs in the best Bears tradition.


Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bears Need More than Forte

Matt Forte is getting high marks from Bears fans and the media all across the country. And for good reason. After just 7 games, Forte has almost 1100 combined rushing and receiving yards. The Bears have improved to a solid offensive team with Forte's impressive runs and receptions. The Bears offense has moved up to 17 in the NFL.com rankings. The Bears are also moving up the chain on power rankings--now 14 on Brian Billick's msn.foxsports.com.

The Bears run game not only adds balance, but also helps take the heat off the offensive line by eliminating a constant pass rush from opposing defenses. But, the Bears will need a balanced offense if they are going to beat the best teams in the NFL and isn't that what it's all about? The 2011 Bears need to continue to develop their passing game with Cutler and his receivers.

If the Bears are going to win their rematches against the Lions and the Packers, they will need a solid offense that includes Cutler and his wide receivers as well as Matt Forte running and receiving. Barber's role is also important especially for the short yardage situations.

Of course, continued success from the special teams will help give the Bears much needed extra help against the NFL's elite.



Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bears-Bucks-London-Wembley: Magic

Wembley Stadium is the site for NFL's London match between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears scheduled for Sunday, October 23. The game kickoffs at 6:00 p.m. UK time; Noon in Chicago. It was 25 years ago when the mighty Chicago Bears played in front of a sold-out Wembley Stadium in 1986. The Buccaneers played at Wembley in a 2009 game against the New England Patriots.

The game is promoted as part of a Pepsi Max International Series, which takes on a festive feel with a three-day series of events. "Unfortunately" for the Bears players, it has been described as a business trip by coach Lovie Smith who expects his team to knuckle down to business in preparation for a game that means a great deal to the 3-3 Bears and the 4-2 Buccaneers.

The Bears and the NFL have a good following in England and the European continent. Fans are coming from many different countries to see the game. Hopefully, Devin Hester will give them something special to see.

Wembley Stadium has a capacity for 90,000 fans with no obstructed views and offers much to amaze sports fans around the world. The seats are spread over three tiers: lower 34,303, middle 16,532 and upper 39,165. However, the feel for fans is one of a single bowl--"we are all in this together." Wembley was totally rebuilt and reopened in 2007. Stadium designers took special care in creating a sliding roof that helps insure an excellent pitch--computer models are used to map out air movement and sunlight. Much care is taken to provide the best field of play for the athletes.

The most recognizable feature of the stadium is 133 metre tall arch that sits above the north stand supporting much of the weight of the roof. The stadium also boasts close proximity to world-class transportation including train stations and lines that routinely transport 40,000 plus fans.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine books.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the Bears as They Head to London


The Bears are a good team. When they play within themselves--to their strengths and are true to themselves, they do well--and who knows how far they can go. When the Bears hired Mike Martz, they got someone whose system offered both opportunity and challenges to QB Jay Cutler who is both smart and gifted. Martz was particularly kind to Cutler, frequently trying to deflect heat from critics. Long-time Bears fans know that coaches can scar a QB at critical points in his career, which in some cases has seemingly ruined some talented players.

Martz's system is still a little ahead of the Bears personnel. Last year, he had to scale things back at the break and this year the system has just been too challenging for several key players and the offensive line. What we saw against the Vikings was a realistic approach with adjustments to the existing talent. It should be noted that the Bears have a great deal of talent on offense, but just not the right mix of experience and talent to manage Martz system fully loaded--yet.

Under the modified Martz system, Devon Hester looked like a first class receiver against the Vikings and it just seemed like most everyone was in the right place most of the time.

Some fans and writers still try to advance the position that the Bears should be a running team. But the Bears offense, like every other NFL offense, should have good balance. The Bears have Cutler, who is a very good passing quarterback, they need to use the talent they have.

Matt Forte is certainly a force. It's really wonderful to see someone who can make a "Payton-like" difference. But he cannot take the offense totally on his shoulders, at least not against many of the better NFL teams. Forte needs to build up steam before he can really allude tacklers. If the defense is keying on the run and gets to him early, he often gets stuffed. In games when Forte gets stuffed several times early, the Bears have a tendency to play pass more. If they lose, the media tends to blame it on the play calling as opposed to admitting that the Bears were simply trying to take what was there.

The Bears need Cutler at his best, Forte at his most allusive and their receiving corp playing heads up. They need their line to play within themselves and they need a game plan that takes all these things into consideration. I think Martz and Smith can provide that. Each year the Bears can build towards that more advanced Martz model if they choose, but for now, they need the modified variety.

And as most observers know, if the Bears offense can hold up their own, the defense becomes a real difference-maker--one that can dominate and intimidate the best of teams. That's Bear football and that should never change.

Photo of London Bridge by Jon Sullivan, Public Domain

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout.

Bears Offensive Line Heads to London with Heads Up

After picking up the pieces after the Lion's game, the Bears got back to work and managed to beat the Vikings in a game that provided several weeks worth of highlights for the TV stations. The game plan was quite different than previous weeks and the offensive line received a lot of help from the ends. Frankly, it looked like almost everyone was expected to throw a block when they weren't running or receiving, including Jay Cutler.

The Bears have come under heavy criticism for poor offensive line play this year. The Bears offensive line is very young, very inexperienced and prone to allowing sacks. Against the top defenses they are going to have problems. But like last year, it should get much better as the season wears on.

Much criticism has been directed to management for not responding to the personnel needs. But, it might be a good time to remind critics that the Bears used their first round draft choice to pick up Gabe Carimi. It's safe to say that the Bears were very thin on the offensive line, but the Carimi acquisition was pretty much what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, Carimi was injured in the second game (New Orleans) of the season and has been out ever since.

Bears management was also criticized for not signing Olin Kreutz, but the ex-Bear did reject a $4 Million dollar deal. The Bears acquired Chris Spencer, who can play center, but the team was compelled to use Roberto Garza at Center because of his knowledge of the offense. Moving players around from their "natural" position is often painful, but sometimes it has to be done.

No one seems happy with Frank Omiyale's performance filling in this year, but last year it was said that "he filled in admirably." J'Marcus Webb had plenty of problems the start of his rookie season in 2010, but Mike Martz said in the playoffs last year, "I don't know in 38 years of coaching that I've seen a player make this radical improvement in such a short time as he has." The early season match-ups against several of the best teams in football have made the O-line weaknesses much more visible. Additionally, almost every offensive lineman has suffered through some sort of injury this year.

The Bears line improved greatly against the Vikings. Lance Louis played right tackle with Spencer at right guard. On the left side was Chris Williams at guard and J'Marcus Webb at tackle. All seemed to hold their own against some Viking heavyweights.

Cutler Deal Still Impacts Player Personnel

Most people now believe that the deal for Jay Cutler was a huge upgrade for the Bears franchise, but management critics should also remember that Denver required two first round draft picks in 2009 and 2010 as part of the bargain. Those were two draft picks that could have helped the line, but you can't have it both ways. The Bears could not get Cutler without paying the price.

The line may continue to be a problem for the Bears, but it's not because it went unnoticed by team management. Carimi will help a great deal when he gets back on the field.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine books.

Friday, October 14, 2011

McCaskey Gets High Marks for ISU Newman Center Presentation

Chicago Bears Senior Director and Sporting Chance Press author Patrick McCaskey received high marks for his recent presentation at the John Paul II Newman Center at Illinois State University. His speech was featured in Catholic Post coverage of the event, "Bears' Senior Director Talks Sports, Faith at Newman Center" by Tom Dermody. The Catholic Post is the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria.

McCaskey's Witness to Faith

McCaskey offers his personal witness to faith as a Christian athlete, husband, father and businessman in his presentations. He reveals his personal faith journey and how faith is key in the lives of many athletes, coaches, religious leaders and others he has known. Based on his book, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, McCaskey's presentation looks at decades of spiritual enlightenment and life lessons, recalling with good humor and compassion those who made the cut on and off the field, plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways.

Patrick McCaskey is a 37-year veteran and Senior Director of the Chicago Bears and parishioner at the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest, IL. He is chairman of Sports Faith International, an initiative, which recognizes exceptional athletes who lead exemplary lives. A high school football all-American and record-breaking track star in his youth, McCaskey competes on the masters track circuit.

Newman Centers, like the John Paul II Center at Illinois State offer Catholic ministries at non-Catholic universities throughout the world. These centers provide pastoral services to their Catholic communities, in particular to the Roman Catholic student population within universities.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine books.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Little League

Book titles are important. Ones that sell books are worth their weight in gold, but it's important to make sure they accurately portray the content of your book.

Maybe we should have titled Sporting Chance Press's The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) something like All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Little League. But in deference to Robert Fulghum monster best seller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten we did not. I suppose we could have gone to an older blockbuster theme and come up with Everything You Wanted to Know about Baseball (and Life) Principles (But We're Afraid to Ask), but somehow that would not have seemed right playing off Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex (But We're Afraid to Ask). Although David Reuben's guide to sex was educational, we might have turned a lot of people off with that one.

Another approach might have been How to Keep Your Baseball Principles Alive, A Guide for the Compleat Idiot, but that's a little distant. The classic How to Keep Your Volkswagon Alive, A Guide for the Compleat Idiot was a groundbreaking book by John Muir, but there are just too many "Idiot" and "Dummies" books around today to keep them straight.

Well, we stuck with The 10 Commandments of Baseball, the ancient theme that McCarthy himself used when he penned his commandments in 1921. We were faithful to the original metaphor. But although our book is not a blockbuster yet, this timeless gem is destined to build into a bestseller none-the-less. It is what has been called a "perfect storm of baseball books" and a superb airplane book (perfectly absorbing and entertaining for frequent flyers).

The book examines the background of baseball's commandments and illustrates these simple principles with brief snippets of baseball stories and characters. It's as fun for the baseball aficionado with an extensive library as it is for the casual fan.

The author, J. D. Thorne, is simply one of millions of Americans who fell in love with baseball at an early age and couldn't get enough regardless of his more practical career choice. The author is a "keep your day job" kind of guy, but an "I can't stop playing and watching baseball every leisure minute I have" kind of guy. Thorne manages to both entertain and inform readers with a pinch of humor, a couple cups of major league lore and a generous sprinkling of nostalgia. The reader ends up with a fun read that will take a position of honor on any bookshelf--perhaps right next to All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Copies of The 10 Commandments of Baseball are available from Sporting Chance Press.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frustrated by Sports Figures? Maybe It's the Principle of the Thing

If you have watched professional sports at all lately, there is little doubt that you have been frustrated. If you are a baseball fan and your team has been good enough to make the playoffs, you see your team up against the cream of the crop and all the sudden, weaknesses that might have been overlooked during the season, are being exploited. The season can end in short fashion for a playoff team.

We admire our athletes, we can't help but admire them. But being a fan can be frustrating not just when our teams don't play well, but it can also bother us when our heroes don't live up to their billing: when $4 Million a year isn't enough and our hero leaves town for greener pastures; when a star drives home intoxicated and is arrested; or when someone we admire has his "dirty laundry" aired in public over a marital dispute.

Sports and Our Kids

One question that comes up often, given the human failings of athletes is: How do we use sports as a positive force for kids--not just so they grow up stronger and better athletes, but so they grow up as better people?

It probably does no good to tell kids to avoid hero worship. It's just natural and it's going to happen. It's hard to be enthusiastic about someone to kids and then say, oh by the way, your hero may turn out to screw up so don't put that player on a pedestal. Maybe another approach is to go ahead and let our heroes serve as role models, but tell kids that we are all, including our heroes, trying to live by principles or ideals and we need to keep our eye on those as much as our role models. Everyone falls short of ideals, but these principles are what we must strive to reach.

In some circumstances, we are failing to teach principles to kids. And that's really a mistake on parents, teachers, coaches and administrators. We need to make sure that our kids understand the principles behind play and then they can apply them in sports and life. This is really getting to the heart of our little company called Sporting Chance Press.

Baseball Principles

We like to point out to people that baseball, perhaps more than any other sport can be instructive and a valuable teacher of not just the game, but character and life lessons. Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball principles are part and parcel of most teaching/coaching programs (despite annoying parents at games). We like to point out that Joe McCarthy penned 10 Commandments of Baseball back in 1921 -- these timeless principles are taught in most baseball programs today, but few people know their origin. We published a book that illustrates the principles in an affectionate and interesting way called The 10 Commandments of Baseball by J. D. Thorne. This popular-easy-to read book examines the principles that have told ballplayers to run them out, never quit, don't make excuses, respect authority, swing the bat, etc. Good things to consider in baseball and life.

We have also watched with great interest that bullying is getting national attention now in our schools. This month, is officially Bullying Prevention month. Another book we published called Public Bonehead, Private Hero examines the career and life of Fred Merkle. Merkle serves as an example of a wonderful intelligent athlete who became the number one scapegoat in sports history for his play during one game and had to live with the nickname "Bonehead" for his entire life. Merkle's story is one that coaches, teachers and parents should know so they can talk to kids intelligently about how bullying has been around for a long time and how it can cause damage to its victims and their families. Merkle was bullied by the press that held all the media cards back in 1908 when the Merkle game happened. Merkle remains one of the most written about athletes even in modern times.

Young girls can be bullied, even when they are good athletes. In our middle grade novel called Maddie Takes the Ice, Maddie, a young figure skater, has a difficult time coping with the pressure of competition when she is maligned by a fellow skater and then a "friend" as she heads into regionals.

Keeping principles of behavior and play in mind will help our kids understand that ultimately sports can teach much about life--and that our heroes may have a lot to learn as well.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Packers Awe Some Even After Offensive Injuries

It was a game that just did not go well for the mighty Green Bay Packers at the start. In fact, in the early goings, it looked like Green Bay was going to chalk up its first loss of the season against a tough Atlanta Falcons team that wanted to avenge last year's NFC Division playoff loss to the Pack.

But in the end, the Green Bay Packers impressed in a come from behind 24-14 win. For most teams, when your starting left tackle (Chad Clifton) goes down after your starting right tackle (Bryan Bulaga) was already out, your offense is going to struggle. The Packers had previously moved Marshall Newhouse to left tackle and put in rookie Derek Sherrod on the right side--and everything held together. Although, it looked like the Packers would be forced to play a short pass game to avoid the sack, Rodgers was able to extend the play and occasionally throw outside the pocket for some pretty impressive gains.

The defense played tough as well and shutout the Falcons in the second half after the Falcons looked like the better team in the first half.

Rodgers loosened things up with some longer passes and that was really the offensive key. If he could not have connected successfully with some big gains, the Falcons were punishing up close and the Packers receivers were dropping balls and paying a price for the ones they did catch. But once Rodgers showed he could extend the play and convert longer third downs, the game took on a different feel. It was a game the Bears and any other team who has some issues on the offensive line should examine closely. Rodgers hit 12 different receivers during the game.

Despite the line problems, the Packers ended up with an 8.6 average yards per pass and for third down efficiency, Rodgers was 9-16 for 60%. Mason Crosby was 4 for 4 on field goals with an incredible 56-yarder that Rodgers said helped spark the Packers.

The Falcons game was a confidence builder for the Packers--as if the
Super Bowl Champs needed it!

Sporing Chance Press is the publisher of Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey, and other fine books.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Walter Payton's Legacy Lives On


Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey's book called Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and Devout discusses people he has known who were superb athletes who led exemplary lives of faith. In Sports and Faith McCaskey examines the life of athletes, coaches and everyday people who inspired him in his personal and professional life. People like the Reverend "Coach" Wayne Gordon founder of Lawndale Community Church/Community Center and Father Ignatius McDermott, the legendary skid row Priest, who also happened to be Chicago's number one Sox fan, fill the pages.

As a spokesmen for the Chicago Bears, McCaskey found himself often at podiums honoring the greatest of all Chicago Bears, Walter Payton. McCaskey himself was a "victim" of Payton's boyish sense of humor and an admirer as well. According to McCaskey, "Walter 'Sweetness' Payton was the Bears' first round draft choice in 1975. He was simply the best football player ever. He could run, block, catch, pass, punt, and kick. There was nothing in football he could not do. He missed one game in his entire career and trained with legendary discipline and intensity coming into each training camp in superb condition.

In 13 seasons, he scored 125 touchdowns and he accounted for a record 21,803 combined net yards. He gained 100 yards or more from scrimmage in 108 games. Eventually, as Payton's stature grew, numerous organization especially in the Chicago area set out to honor him. McCaskey saw first-hand in many different settings the love fans expressed for Sweetness and his affection for them as well.

Who can quantify what Payton meant and still means to the city of Chicago, the Bears and football fans--and others. Superhero on the field, certainly human at home, he continues to inspire. His children, wife and brother continue to advance great causes in his memory.

Chicago's Walter Payton College Preparatory High School honors his memory in a living way (school photo above) as perhaps no other institution can. The school colors are the Chicago Bears orange and navy blue, and the school team name is the "Grizzlies." Regardless of what reference you use, Payton Prep is one of the best schools in the country and certainly among the very top in Illinois. Payton Prep continues to do honor to one of Chicago's favorites.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

There's Plenty to Say about the 10 Commandments of Baseball


At Sporting Chance Press we've made the case that perhaps unlike any other sport, baseball has principles of behavior and courtesy that are part and parcel of its underlying standards of behavior. Despite all the bad behavior (especially from parents) that we see at baseball games, there is a wonderful code that has been passed down for 90 years in good programs. Most kids, and sadly, most adults, have never heard of the Code's creator, Joe McCarthy. McCarthy is legendary in the annals of baseball, having coached three of the most storied teams--the Chicago Cubs, the NY Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. He is also the most successful baseball manager in history, still holding the highest winning percentage of any Major League Manager.

McCarthy's 10 Commandments of Baseball:

1. Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
3. An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
4. Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
5. When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may hav to change a good leg for a bad one.
6. Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.
7. Always run them out, you can never tell.
8. Do not quit.
9. Do not find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
10. A pitcher who hasn’t control, hasn’t anything.

Club Presentations

J. D. Thorne, the author of The 10 Commandments of Baseball is a wonderful speaker who provides a humorous and interesting presentation that keys on the interesting case of characters from his book that illustrate the principles with humorous and touching stories--from ledge-walkers and practical jokers to Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak and Lou Gehrig's goodbye. Comments from a Arlington Heights Rotary Club, a Racine Library post and Carroll College Post. Here's a review from the Wisconsin Lawyer and one from a baseball blog.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) is a thoroughly fun read that is accessible to fans from 10 to 100. It is a paperback that costs $20--special quantity discounts available for schools. The book is published by www.sportingchancepress.com.


Photo: Virginia Smoot is running it out, but being tagged out by Mabel Harvey who is playing heads up ball. --Library of Congress Photo 1925.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Remembered as Chicago Bears Make Belated Visit to White House

Tomorrow, October 7, President Obama will welcome the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears to the White House to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Super Bowl victory. In 1986, the team’s White House reception was canceled due to the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy.

Super Bowl XX was played on January 26, 1986 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The Chicago Bears clobbered the New England Patriots 46–10. Bears defensive end Richard Dent, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

Two days after the Bears Super Bowl win, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of all seven crew members. The disaster was blamed on an O-ring seal that failed at liftoff. Christa McAuliffe, the first member of the Teacher in Space Project and the first regular U.S. civilian space traveler was killed in the disaster. Many school children across the country were watching Challenger's lift off.

President Reagan was scheduled to deliver a "State on the Union" speech on that night. Instead, he delivered a tribute to the lost astronauts.

Schedule a Visit by Nicolette House in Advance of Sochi Olympics


There are 855 days before the start of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games to be hosted in Sochi in the Russian Federation.

The host city Sochi has a population of 400,000 people and is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region in Russia. Hosting the Olympics is a huge undertaking. It will be the fist time the Winter Games have been hosted by Russia. The Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.

Volunteers and Coca Cola

An army of employees and volunteers will be needed. According to the official Sochi Olympics website, "the Volunteer Program is one of the most ambitious projects...an estimated 25 000 volunteers will be involved during the Games in Sochi in more than 20 areas of activity. Altogether, the volunteers make up about 30% of the total workforce of the Games."

In part to keep all those volunteers, employees and visitors drinking Coke Products, Coca-Cola has opened a huge beverage plant in Rostov-on-Don with 400 employees.

Tempus Fugit on the Rink

We all know how time flies and skating fans will be watching the various competitions for the next two years that lead up to the Olympic competition. Winter Olympic games often feature some of the best figure skating competitions and Sochi figures to be a great one. As we get closer to the Olympic Games, educators, schools and libraries will use the Olympics as a context for teaching programs and lessons. At Sporting Chance Press

Now is a good time to book ice dancer, figure skating instructor and Sporting Chance Press author, Nicolette House for a presentation. Nothing helps energize and inspire students more than a positive role model making a personal appearance. In Nicolette's Figure Skating and Writing Program, listeners get many strong positive messages. Students get a first hand glimpse of what it takes for a young athlete to compete. Nicolette talks about the importance of discipline in practice, the need to respect authority and communicate with Mom and Dad, and the necessity of a healthy diet to be at one's best. Nicolette also talks about how she came to write her book: Maddie Takes the Ice, a compelling figure skating story for ages 8-12 that is an America's Battle of the Books selection for 2011.

Nicolette's presentation is suited for elementary and middle/junior high school audiences and parents. It is a fun "show and tell" program that offers an up close and personal look at a positive role model for students. Nicolette is a figure skater and coach. Her mother, Ilona House is a former professional skater who coached Nicolette and has coached in Chicago and the northwest suburban area for many years.

Nicolette House is a four-time U.S. Figure Skating gold medalist. Skating since the age of three, she went on to compete in European, World, and international ice dance competitions with her skating partner Aidas Reklys. Along with Aidas, the author recently created After Dark (2010) and Military Time (2011) skating shows featuring several top international skaters. Ms. House is a recent graduate of DePaul University.

Like her Figure Skating and Writing Presentation, Maddie Takes the Ice keeps readers attention with plenty of drama and social interaction--life lessons included. The book has been purchased by young readers as far away as Norway. More on Maddie Takes the Ice.

If you are interested in having Nicolette speak at your school or library, please let us know at lmj.norris@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Power of Baseball to Develop Character


Athletic activities for children can contribute to their growth and maturity in substantial ways. These activities are affected by coaches and administrators who manage them as well as other key people involved such as parents, sponsors, and spectators. Baseball is an activity in which its long history and tradition solidify positive standards for behavior and play that are universally accepted(although not universally practiced). Good baseball training is often a successful and powerful means of helping kids develop maturity. It can be a character builder.

Many of the good things espoused in baseball training was summarized by Joe McCarthy who penned the 10 Commandments of Baseball in 1921. At the time, McCarthy was managing the Minor League Louisville Colonels, just before moving on to the Majors where he had a long storied career.

McCarthy's commandments are not just principles for success in baseball, when examined in an everyday light, they can also be principles for success in life. McCarthy's principles have become part and parcel of every good baseball program although few coaches and players are aware of their origin. In their most succinct form, the principles enforce things like hustle, fortitude, self control, and respect for authority. Baseball continues to offer so many life lesson opportunities for kids--both male and female. We need to make sure the right people are doing the coaching.

Consider the following three common gripes we often have about kids and then think of how kids are trained in a good baseball program.

1. Kids don't listen or obey. In a good baseball program, kids learn to respect authority on the field. They must listen to their coaches and the umpire. Those who do not listen, get benched or kicked out of the game. Good coaches insist that players do what they are told. Kids want more than anything else to stay in and play the game.

2. Kids can't concentrate today. Whether at bat, in the field or running bases--players must pay attention at all times in baseball despite the fact that there are lulls in activity. Teammates are trained to remind fellow players of what is going on during a game. Every play is being watched. There is instant gratification on the field to those who hit, steal a base or catch a ball; instant punishment to those who strike out or get caught on the base path. No one likes to hear, strike three--you're out!

3. Kids are selfish and do whatever they want today. Baseball's rules and the regimen of the game make it essential that kids play their role on the team. Players in the field learn to call balls and move away from one that a teammate has called. They learn to sacrifice another player to second and backup a throw home. There is unselfish action all over the field in every game.

In a good baseball program, kids have structure and develop discipline. It helps that baseball principles are so well developed with our coaches. In other activities, this is often not the case. We should be able to carry the success elements from baseball into other activities for kids.

Copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press. Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles of Success for Baseball (and Life) available online.
Image above from Library of Congress is Christie Matthewson, the Gentleman Ballplayer, consider by many to be one of the finest men to ever play the game.

The 10 Commandments of Trick or Treating

Halloween seems to get bigger each year and as Holidays go, it is second only to Christmas in terms of its commercial side. We'd like to sing out about Halloween this year by composing something useful on this page.

Here at Sporting Chance Press we know kids (well sort of) and we know Trick or Treaters. Because we publish The 10 Commandments of Baseball, which is all about a fine list of baseball and life principles, we have composed our list of Halloween Trick or Treat Maxims following the same model. This is not a complete list and it does not include the serious stuff like don't eat any candy that looks weird or is unwrapped or don't go to the strange houses. This list is strictly light-weight, but principle-laden none the less. It's a list for parents and teachers to share with their kids. Here then are our 10 Commandments of Trick or Treating.

1. Nobody becomes a Trick of Treat legend by walking from house to house. You've got to hustle--nothing dangerous or stupid mind you. Make sure your costume does not inhibit your vision or movements--and don't go jumping over any iron fences with pointy things.
2. You will never get a lot of candy unless you put some effort into it. Call out "trick or treat" loudly and proudly. Don't be one of those I'm too good to say "trick or treat" or "thank you" kind of kids. Make the master or mistress of the house want to give you the candy.
3. Don't soap windows and houses. If you come to a house where the people don't give candy or they left a bowl of candy on their front doorstep and the earlier kids emptied it out, don't waste any time soaping up the windows or knocking their pumpkins over, etc. What's over is over, move on.
4. Make sure you look good at all times--take pride in your Halloween appearance. Don't be one of those kids who wear their regular clothes and put on a monster mask and then tip it up to the top of their heads like sunglasses so no one even knows what you are supposed to be. Life requires creativity and effort.
5. Decide on the course you are going to follow and stick with it. Be decisive. Don't go down a few houses on one block and then skip over to the next--willy-nilly criss-crossing the street.
6. Don't make excuses about your costume or how little candy you end up with in your bag. Achieve good results by great effort. Resist eating mounds of candy while you are still raking it in.
8. Don't shout "Trick or Treat" once and then give up. Give each house you visit your best shot at finding someone home. Shout a couple times. Some kids sound the words out to make the words longer: tri-i-i-i-ick or tre-ee-ee-eet. Now that's hard to ignore.
9. Don't criticize the masters or mistresses of the house based on the candy you get. Don't be one of those kids who say stuff like, "Oh, I don't like bit-o-honey" or "Sugar Babies stick to my teeth." No matter what the brand, take it and express gratitude. Remember, you don't have to eat everything you get.
10. Maintain control at all times. Work fast, hang with good friends who behave themselves and get home when you are supposed to get home. It's a lot more fun that way and it just isn't cool to scare your parents on Halloween by being late.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball

The 10 Commandments of Halloween are loosely based on Joe McCarthy's 10 Commandments of Baseball, a book we have published by J. D. Thorne. The Commandments are a simple list of principles that may seem self-evident to those who were coached well as kids playing Little League:

1. Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
3. An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
4. Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
5. When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.
6. Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.
7. Always run them out, you can never tell.
8. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
9. Do not find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
10. A pitcher who hasn’t control, hasn’t anything.


The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) provides a concise review of these principles illustrated with brief stories of golden age greats baseball greats along with the author's personal experiences. You can get it at www.sportingchancepress.com. Top image is of the Halloween Song book..

Post copyright 2011 Sporting Chance Press.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bullies, the Bully Pulpit and Public Bonehead

You probably didn't know that October is Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying-Prevention Month is also a initiative sponsored by the PACER Center - a parent center for families of children and young adults with disabilities—and cosponsored by NEA, the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, and National PTA. These organizations are encouraging communities to work together to increase awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on children. You can find more information at the NEA site.

Our stake in bullying prevention is a book that we published called Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle, which we feel can be instructive in the effort to prevent bullying. We believe that if teachers and coaches can convey the story of Merkle, kids will come to understand that:

1. Anyone can be bullied, even strong, smart and athletic people like Fred Merkle.
2. Bullying can have a lasting impact on those being bullied and their families.
3. Bullying is unsportsmanlike and coward-like.
4. Bullying has been going on for a long time.

We encourage teachers, coaches, parents, administrators and young adults to read about how the number one scapegoat of sports, Fred Merkle, was bullied and maligned.

Merkle's Story

You need to go way back in time to America's Progressive Era before radio, TV and seemingly light years before the Internet, the newspapers ruled the day. This was the time of Teddy Roosevelt's Bully Pulpit, the Model T, the Wright Brothers and the Great Race. The sport of baseball was in many places the number one amusement and held a great place of importance for many Americans. Americans took baseball very seriously!

On September 23, 1908, 19-year old Fred Merkle was the youngest player on the New York Giants. He was slotted into the lineup at first base to replace a wounded veteran against the mighty Chicago Cubs of Tinker, Evers and Chance fame. The pressure was on when Merkle came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 1—1. With two outs and Moose McCormick on first, the youngster rifled a single to right field easily advancing the slow-footed Moose McCormick to third. Shortstop slugger Al Bridwell, up next, whacked a low liner that knocked the second base umpire down on its way to shallow center field. As McCormick crossed the plate with the “winning run,” Merkle turned from the base path and raced towards the clubhouse.

Modern fans know that even if a team scores on such a play, the runner should advance to the next base and tag it to avoid a force-out. The score is nullified on the force out.

Unfortunately for Fred Merkle, in 1908 this rule had not been enforced, especially when the winning hit traveled to the outfield. On September 23rd, it was different. Merkle was called out, the game was ruled a tie, a protest ensued and at the end of the season a rubber match was played for the Pennant because the mighty Cubs and feisty Giants had identical records for the season. The Cubs won the rubber match, the Pennant and the World Series.

Merkle was unfairly Christened "Bonehead" from coast-to-coast. Newspapers ridiculed him unceasingly. His image was liberally used in cartoons that depicted him as a dunce and a fool. His name became part of the day's vernacular; to "merkle" was to make a stupid mistake. He would go on to play baseball for 16 years, but the fans and the media never forgot or forgave him for doing something that most every other player was doing at the time. In his obituary, the play was relived. And what's really remarkable, is that even today, his story is told over and over again as a example of stupid play. There have been more than a few Merkle champions, but the shameful lesson is that once someone is so maligned and bullied, a reputation may be lost forever.

Merkle Today

Each year, the Merkle game is discussed in TV and radio booths, in newspapers and in other printed and electronic venues. Media contacts looking for a Merkle expert can write us here at Sporting Chance Press (lmj.norris@gmail.com) to set up interview time with Cameron who is happy to help explain the context of the game and what happened to Merkle during and after his playing career.

One of Merkle's greatest fans is David Stalker of Watertown, Wisconsin. Watertown is the birth place of Fred Merkle. David is a sports historian who has been instrumental in honoring many of baseball's greatest players from the Deadball Era. Here is the Facebook page that shows the monuments that David has put up. Here's a wonderful short piece on Fred Merkle written by David.

Sporting Chance Press author Mike Cameron wrote the book on Fred Merkle. Literally. We call it Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle.

You can get the inside scoop any time. Simply order Public
Bonehead, Private Hero at Sporting Chance Press. The book is also available at many public libraries throughout the country.

SCP Gives History a Boost like Ken Burns



Ken Burns is doing a great thing for Americans. He is helping to make our history come alive in yet another superb documentary; this one is called Prohibition. Prohibition is a three-part documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the American law that set out to protect us from the tragic effects of alcohol abuse.

According to Prohibition's PBS web page, Burns newest documentary has a particular currency for us today: "...a compelling saga that goes far beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, rum runners, flappers, and speakeasies...raises vital questions that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago – about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government and finally, who is — and who is not — a real American."

According to TV by the Numbers the first part of Prohibition attracted 3.9 million viewers coming in well ahead of Burns "The Tenth Inning," a sequel to his masterpiece "Baseball" documentary.

Like Ken Burns and PBS, we at Sporting Chance Press are doing our bit (on a much more modest scale) to make history come alive. We published two very fine baseball books: The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy Principles for Baseball (and Life) and Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle. Like Burns' documentaries, our books bring history alive by setting the historical context of important events and adding historic photos and mixing in great stories.

In The 10 Commandments of Baseball, author J.D. Thorne provides a personal look at baseball that keys in on Joe McCarthy's simple 10 Commandments. McCarthy's legend was great in the middle of the 20th Century as the legendary Cubs-Yankee-Red Sox manager who continues to hold the highest winning percentage in baseball. Thorne dusts the legend off and make it come alive with stories that illustrate McCarthy's maxims from the golden age of baseball. The historical characters who illustrate McCarthy's principles, are more colorful than comic strips and accessible to baseball lovers from 10 to 100. Short and sweet, The 10 Commandments include a selection of vintage baseball photographs from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It has been lovingly called a perfect "airplane" book that you won't want to leave on the plane."

Public Bonehead, Private Hero is another historic baseball book. In Public Bonehead, the author, Mike Cameron, a life-long baseball fan sets out to show baseball readers that not only was Fred Merkle a likeable, flesh and blood character, he was a scapegoat who was caught in the crossfire of an newly enforced rule and the muckraking press. Cameron sets the stage for the dramatic 1908 season and Merkle Game and it's aftermath. He takes readers back to the unique Progressive Age of Teddy Roosevelt, the Model T, the Wright brothers and newspapers at their most powerful peak.

Baseball fans are often appreciative history-book readers. The 10 Commandments of Baseball and Public Bonehead, Private Hero are written by fans, for fans. Both books are available at Sporting Chance Press.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wheaton Connectons in Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout

Patrick McCaskey's new book, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout includes numerous connections to Wheaton. Sports and Faith is McCaskey's personal chronicle of extraordinary people he has known who balanced sports and faith in their lives. Several of McCaskey's friends and influences were from Wheaton.

Reverend Wayne "Coach" Gordon is one of the "devoted and devout" whose ministry and connection to the author is depicted in the book. Gordon is a Wheaton College graduate and founder of the Lawndale Community Church and Community Center. He is considered to be one of the early pioneers of the community development movement and is a personal friend and mentor of the author.

The legendary Pro Football Hall of Famer Red Grange, the "Wheaton Ice Man" who brought star-power to the NFL and saved the league in its first early financial crisis is depicted. It was the author's grandfather and Bears' founder, George Halas, who signed an innovative contract with the first superstar of professional football.

Former four-time Olympic Speed Skater and Wheaton College graduate Nancy Swider Peltz is also portrayed as a close friend of McCaskey. Several of Peltz family members who also touched McCaskey's life are briefly portrayed including Nancy Swider Peltz Jr., who like her mother is an Olmpic speed skater.

Wheaton, known as the town with the largest per capital number of churches, is also home base to a couple dozen notable sports figures. Wheaton's impact on sports is much greater than its size would suggest. It's not wonder that McCaskey portrays several outstanding Wheaton residents in Sports and Faith.

Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is available directly from the publisher at www.sportingchancepress.com and these fine stores:

In Wheaton:

Wheaton Religious Gifts
113 W Front St.
Wheaton, IL 60187

In other locations:

Bishop Lane Retreat Center
7708 E. McGregor Road
Rockford, IL 61102

C & A Inspirations
313 N. Mattis Avenue, Suite 112
Champaign, IL 61802

Christian Shop Ltd.
325 East Dundee Road
Palatine, IL 60074

Church of Saint Mary’s
175 E. Illinois
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Holy Apostles Parish Bookstore
5211 Bull Valley Road
McHenry, IL 60050-7429

Holy Family Books and Gift Shop
1515 Palatine Road
Inverness, IL 60067

Lagron Miller
4517 N. Sterling
Peoria, IL 61615
[Country Cottage Kiosk LaSalle Mall –also supplied by Lagron-Miller]

Lake Forest Book Store
624 N. Western Ave.
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Little Way
50 Brink Street,
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Love Christian Center
249 South Schuyler Avenue
Kankakee, IL 60901

Olivet Nazarene University Book Store
One University Avenue
Bourbonnais, IL 60914-2345

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
16708 S. Oak Park Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60477

Pax Vobiscum Book and Gift
227 S. Third Street
Geneva, IL 60134

Saint Anne’s Gift Shop
15160 S. LaGrange Rd
Orland Park, IL 60462

St. Mary of the Angels Angelorum Bookstore
1850 North Hermitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

St. Peter's Books & Gifts
110 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602-4102

The Book Stall At Chestnut Court
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093



Patrick McCaskey to Speak to Chicago Ancient Order of Hibernians this Wednesday, October 6, 2011

Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey will be speaking on Sports and Faith to the Ancient Order of the Hibernians Chicago Division #32 on October 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Edgebrook Golf Course, 6200 North Central, Chicago. McCaskey is the author of a new book, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout published by Sporting Chance Press.

Ancient Order of Hibernians is America’s oldest Irish Catholic Fraternal Organization founded concurrently in the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania and New York City in May,1836. Its roots trace back to similar societies that existed in Ireland for more than 300 years. The Order provides a continuing bridge with Ireland for those who are generations removed from their ancestral homeland.

Image of Edgebrook Golf Course sign from Strata Signs.