Last weekend I was covering some Little League All-Star action and had a funny exchange with the home plate umpire of one of the games I was at.
I was stationed behind home plate, getting photos of the pitchers. In between innings, the umpire would walk over to take a few sips of his Gatorade and we would chat each other up.
Between one of the innings, he mentioned that he had multiple games to umpire after the one we were at. It was a hot, muggy Saturday. When he told me that, I said to him, “try to have fun and stay cool.”
“How could I not? I love this time of year, it’s crazy. The kids are having fun, the parents are out of their minds, there is nothing like it.”
That response really resonated with me. I too love this time of year and have fun covering the All-Star tournaments, but this umpire was truly passionate about it. Even beyond our conversations, he was chatting with kids heading up to bat, talking with the coaches, fans, I think he may have been having more fun than anyone there.
In the sports world, the summer is usually considered the down part of the year. True, in terms of the schedule, it is primarily baseball and softball. In terms of the community gatherings and just overall passion for the product? It may be the busiest time of year.
We just wrapped up the district tournaments and many of our teams got the job done and will be competing in states. Congrats to all of our teams that advanced and congrats to the teams that came up short. Being named an All-Star and competing is an accomplishment.
Also, I have had many coaches and parents reaching out in the past couple of weeks giving me tips and information. I truly appreciate the help keeping me in the loop. Please always feel free to contact us moving forward.
Next item that I wanted to touch on was Cranston East hiring, or I guess promoting, Isaiah McDaniel as its new football head coach.
Longtime coach Tom Centore stepped away last month in order to have some time to himself and take a breather. He left behind a fantastic resume that would be hard for anyone to follow.
McDaniel will certainly be up for the challenge.
In my opinion, the best coaches at the high school level are the ones that are totally invested in not only the team, but the school and the community. McDaniel is an East grad, coaches the basketball team, is involved in other projects within Cranston such as the Parks and Recreation Department. He is a Cranstonian through and through.
Another aspect that I think is key here is his age.
McDaniel is in his 30’s which I think is a huge asset to this hiring. As most of you know, the Thunderbolts have had a tough stretch the past few seasons and have failed to reach the playoffs after a lengthy run as one of the premier teams in the state.
Youth is the biggest reason. Two seasons ago this team was the youngest in Division I. This past spring, it was still one of the younger units. The inexperience showed as the Bolts stumbled. Although they improved and showed signs of life at times down the stretch, it is clear that this team is still a year or two away from being a contender again.
Do I think that Centore struggled to relate to the younger crowd? Absolutely not, I have said that on the record. His players respected him and bought into the program, they were just too young.
That said, could a younger set of eyes create a different atmosphere, new bonds? I think there is a chance of that being the case.
It may be the perfect situation. McDaniel has been a part of this team for years now and knows each and every one of the players that he is going to be leading. He has coached them hands on and knows their strengths and weaknesses. On top of that, he is a little bit younger and could provide some fresh perspective while continuing to execute the established principles that have been working.
I also think that his reach throughout the school will help. The numbers have been on the decline in the program the past two seasons as well, but with his exposure to so many things Cranston, maybe he will be able to provide a shot in the arm to the team’s recruitment.
Overall, I think East is going with the right guy. I was not at all surprised by the promotion, it seemed like a matter of when rather than if. McDaniel has coached some pretty top-notch teams on the basketball court, so let’s see how he makes out on the gridiron.
One last thing that I have always respected about him is that he is a straight shooter. Win or lose, he is never emotional, always direct, and sticks to the facts of what happened throughout the game. Behind closed doors, I’m sure he’s a little more animated, but on the outside surface, he is a cool customer and a tone setter. I think that will work well with this team.
Last thing I wanted to touch on regards the incident at the Washington Nationals game last week.
Midway through the game, there was a shooting just outside of the stadium. Four people were injured, and the sounds of gunfire were heard throughout the stadium which sent everyone into a panic.
Players were hiding in the dugouts, as well as some fans that jumped onto the field to find shelter. Others were hiding under their seats, some fled the arena through the concourse. The PA announcer had to tell everyone to remain calm and stay in the building. The game was then postponed until the next day.
What a scary scene.
In today’s world, it’s easy to disregard potential public threats and go about your business. I do it all the time, never do I step into a crowded setting fearing for my safety in that way, it just doesn't occur to me.
Unfortunately, incidents happen all the time throughout the world and this was a horrifying occurrence.
Never take anything for granted, because things can change instantly. I feel sorry for the injured victims, as well as the thousands of people that had to experience that.
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