Indy Ball Weekly Perspective: Pace of Play Initiative releases results

09/18/2014 4:36 AM - Devo

pace-of-play.jpgThe Pace of Play initiative has released the results of the first 30 days, this according to an Atlantic League press release.

The POP panel consists of some of the greatest baseball minds the game has ever seen: Tal Smith, Roland Hemond, Pat Gillick, Joe Klein, Cecil Cooper, Bud Harrelson, and Sparky Lyle. I even had a chance to speak with Smith earlier this year, inquiring as to what the group was looking for. Was it strictly shortening the length of games, keeping the fans happy, or both? It seems like a pretty simple scenario, but one that has to be implemented very carefully as not to disrupt the integrity of the game.

"Over the course of time, our baseball interests, like so many people in the game, have noticed and have become concerned with the games running exceedingly long. It’s fine if it’s a long game and it’s interesting, but there’s an awful lot of dead time that’s crept into our game. It’s something that we thought we could examine and initiate some ideas that would speed up the pace of the game and make it even more interesting and more attractive to the fans."

It's an interesting concept. And after reviewing the results, the changes have made a significant difference. Three measures were reviewed over the course of the last 30 days.

1.  Time of Game:

•             August 1-September 1:  2 hours, 53 minutes

•             2013 season:  3 hours, 2 minutes

2.  8.5 and 9 inning games played in 2 hours, 30 minutes or less:

•             August 1-September 1:  22%

•             2013 season:  8%

3.  8.5 and 9 inning games lasting 3 hours or more:

•             August 1-September 1: 26%

•             2013 season:  42%

A reduction of nine minutes per game doesn't seem like much, but over the course of a game, it most surely does. The Atlantic League might just have a legitimate system for speeding up the game. If these numbers continue to show a downward trend, there's no doubt the other independent leagues as well as affiliated leagues should consider adopting these rules. If it works here it might just work elsewhere.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

UFC's Eddie "Truck" Gordon is an inspiration to those that dare to dream

09/16/2014 4:55 AM - Devo

Eddie Truck Gordon.jpegSo you wanna be a UFC fighter?

That's what Eddie "Truck" Gordon wanted. He had a dream, but a dream that required sacrifice. Gordon has a family, a full-time job and all the responsibilities that comes with being an adult. But what motivates someone to leave the stability behind and pursue something with no guarantees?

Gordon had the unwavering belief in himself and his abilities that he could become on one of the UFC's best. The journey culminated with a victory on The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale. The win not only showcases his talent, but also shows that when you have a dream, stay motivated, and have the support of friends and family, anything is possible.

The GM's Perspective: For those readers who aren't familiar with your story, you are a graduate of Forhdam University with a double major, have a family (three kids), and was working a full-time job when you decided to start Mixed Martial Arts.

What was the reaction of you family and friends when you decided this was what you wanted to do?

Eddie Truck Gordon: Everybody thought I was crazy. At first when I told some of my friends that I wanted to pursue this career, they were asking why in the world would I ever do that? Who wants to get locked in a cage and get hit for a living? I was comfortable, had a good job, good education, why pursue that? It was hard to tell people that when you have a dream and a passion that you want to fulfill it. If it doesn’t work out I could always get a 9-5 and go to work everyday, but I’m not always going to be young enough to pursue this. I didn’t want to live with any regrets. That’s why I said lets do this and I went all out.

Now, my family and some of those friends who were skeptical are some of my biggest supporters.

GMs: Mixed Martial Arts, is not for everyone. Who got you involved in the sport?

ETG: It’s a two-part story. Literally, I was watching a UFC Pay Per View at a friend’s house and I was thinking that I could really do this. They were obviously skeptical and thought I was just another guy talking trash in front of the TV. We ended up going to UFC 101 and watched it live. I absolutely fell I love with it. Oddly enough, it was Anderson Silva v. Forrest Griffin, and literally, I was watching with a different eye. I knew I could do this. It was awesome.

Sure enough, that same week I ran into my high school friend, Chris Weidman, who happens to be the current UFC Middleweight Champion. We were high school buddies growing up and we wrestled together. We were shooting the breeze and I was asking him what he’s up to? He told me to come down to the gym and give it a shot. He thought I would be good at it and thought I would like it. I went down there, and he sort of took me under his wing. The rest is history.

GMs: Really a great story. You started training when you were around 300 pounds, now you’re down to 185?

ETG: I joke around, but martial changed my life. Not only physically, but mentally.

After playing collegiate football, I pursued it professionally. When you’re playing football you have girth, you have size. Not everyone can walk around the world at 300 pounds. By doing Mixed Martial Arts, the weight drastically started to come off.

It’s a lifestyle change; eating better working out and taking care of my mind as well as my body. It added years to my life.

GMs: Most think MMA is just “fighting”, but it’s a discipline and a way of life. Look at you for example. Roughly a 120 pound weight loss, your lifestyle changed, and you’re healthier. People don’t see that, they see the violence.

ETG: Without a doubt! At first, that’s what I told my mom. She would see the highlights with the blood and everything, but of course that’s what they’re going to show. It’s exciting. It’s Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, and all the martial arts together that make it so beautiful.

Realistically, I played football, but watching it now, I can’t imagine how those guys handle that physical toll on their body.

GMs: Knowing this was a career changer, what has been the most difficult thing for you since this all started?

ETG: Probably just the security. When you got a 9-5 and you get up and you work, you have that steady paycheck coming in. If this doesn’t work out, it’s back to the drawing board. I have mouths to feed, but I was very very passionate and dedicated. If I’m going to do this, I’m will make sure I will give it my all.

Anything I put my mind to I feel like I can achieve. That’s the mindset I went in with. I never once thought about failing. I knew it was just a matter of time before I was in the UFC and at the highest level.

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GMs: A lot of the athletes I have spoken with recently and in the past such as Chris Herren, R.A. Dickey, Brett Favre, and Myles Jury, all the same mindset. You’re winners and you’re going to succeed.

ETG: So many times, we as people, cut ourselves short. If you can’t visually see it before you visually have it, you’re short-changing yourself. That’s what makes kids so great. Being around my kids is the best. There goals and their dreams are so big and so lofty, they don’t know any better. They think that whatever they put their mind to they’re going to get. As you get older you sort of lose that innocence, which is scary. We can definitely learn from kids.

GMs: The training that you endure to last 15 or 25 minutes in the cage is mind-blowing. Did you have to completely revamp your lifestyle to be able to endure such difficult training?

ETG: You are pushing at a high level for 15-25 minutes straight. Football on the other hand, you get five to seven seconds of real work followed by a 30 second break in between. It’s completely different cardio. I thought I was in great shape for football, but not for MMA.

For me it was a culmination, not just the physical aspect, but also the whole mental side. In college we would eat food late a night not really paying attention to what we were putting in our bodies. It was whatever was convenient and calories, calories, and more calories. Now, there’s a big difference when there’s a weight class and a weight limit. You have to measure out your food and make sure you’re eating the right proportions. Like you said, it not only changed my mental approach, but also my way of living.

GMs: You've come along way since your early fighting days. What is the main difference between the smaller shows you were working on your way up and the UFC?

ETG: It’s more technique; the guys are more technically sound. There aren’t easy fights and you can’t pick and choose. Everybody at this level is a high-level athlete.

The UFC is so unbelievably organized. The have everything down to the second like a well-oiled machine. They have been doing this for a while and are extremely successful at what they do. It’s the fastest growing sport in the world and one of the biggest companies. They have it down to a science, which is great for a fighter because you don’t have to stress about the little things. From top to bottom, the UFC is a world-class organization. More importantly, I’m happy to be here and ready to stay.

GMs: You won The Ultimate Fighter 19. What was the feeling like when, after all that training, you were finally on top of the mountain?

ETG: It was one of the best feelings, aside from the days when my kids were born. It almost seemed like it was meant to be. From my teammate Chris Weidman, who got me into the sport, defended his belt the night before. It was like everything came full circle. My mother wasn’t able to go to Vegas when I first fought to get in the house, but she was able to be there this time along with my girlfriend and my kids. Many of my supporters (approximately 50) flew in for that trip.

When that bell rang, and I was finally victorious, I told my kids that I had a goal/mission and if you’re willing to sacrifice, you can achieve your goals no matter what. To be able to teach them that at a young age is priceless. It’s not just me saying it, but showing it to them.

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GMs: I have attached the Newsday video that chronicles your life two months up to the TUF finale. Is there anything you want to say to your supporters, who have without a doubt, been with you through the thick and thin?

ETG: I want to let them know that I truly appreciate it. When things are going great you get a lot of new “friends” and new people jumping on the bandwagon. The good thing for me is the same people who were cheering for me when I was a junior high school kid are the same people that I’m still surrounded by.

I live in the same town where I went to middle school and high school; my kids go to the same school I went to. It’s tight-knit community, and I feel like it’s not that I am successful, but my teammates are successful, and the people who supported me through this have shared in all the success. The most gratifying feeling is that we did it together. It wasn’t all me.

It’s not just the fighter in the cage that gets all the accolades, and it’s not just the fighter who willed himself to that point. It’s one person locked in the cage, but it’s possible because of many people. From my mom watching the kids when I had to train, to some of my friends, who also have kids, split time babysitting and having play dates so I could get my work in. Literally, it was a team effort.

GMs: What's next for Truck Gordon? Where do you see yourself when fighting is finished: Ambassador for the sport, coach, mentor, or leaving it in the rearview?

ETG: I’m a business major and have a marketing background. I’m a people person and I love to help. I would love to stay involved in the sport for years to come, but when I’m done in the cage I would love to get involved in broadcasting. Being able to explain the sport to those who that aren’t educated on it would be fulfilling.

More importantly, I would also love to be able to do something in my hometown. It wouldn’t be a Boys & Girls Club, but something very similar. It would have an after school program set up for kids where they can improve in the area of athletics, but have a homework center where they can come and do their homework. It can help set them on the right path at a young age. Once they’re alone they can make the right decisions, ultimately showing them that if you put your mind to it, and if you have structure in your life, anything is possible. I think sports are very important for kids. It teaches them how to work with people, make goals, and follow through with it.

To learn more about Eddie "Truck' Gordon please check out his website. You can also following him on Twitter and facebook.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

Indy Ball Weekly Perspective: Pecos League standout signs with Orioles

09/11/2014 3:17 AM - Devo

Yermin Mercedes.jpgYermin Mercedes, arguably the Pecos Leagues best hitter, has signed with the Baltimore Orioles, this according to a Pecos League press release.

Mercedes, at 21, has four years of baseball under his belt. The first three were spent with the Washington Nationals' Dominican Summer League team. In 123 games, he batted .296 with two home runs and 65 RBI.

After being released by the Washington Nationals in 2013, Mercedes signed with the Douglas Diablos. He played only 18 games while batting .333 before being released and picked up by the White Sands Pulpfish. In 36 games, Mercedes sure has stepped up his game. The versatile infielder batted .411 with an astonishing 15 home runs and drove in 55. In 146 at-bats, he struck out 16 times.

The Pecos League isn't known for its calibre of baseball, yet alone the players that get national exposure. They have been subject of a recent reality show that doesn't hide the fact that players make very little money, and the players who are there are there for the love of the game.

The sheer fact that a player that has relatively little experience, dominated so thoroughly, gives a great boost of confidence to the league and a team that has seen three players sold to major league teams in the past four years.

Ryan Powell, Baltimore Orioles Independent League Scouting Director, deserves a tonne of credit for getting Mercedes the attention he deserves. Powell, a former Pecos League player, reinforced the importance of signing a player from the league.

"It is great to sign a player from the Pecos League. The Pecos League continues improve every year and has quality players. We look forward to having Yermin."

No report yet on where or when Mercedes will report to in the Orioles system, regardless, at 21 years of age, he has plenty of time to work through the kinks of professional baseball and show the world why the Orioles put their faith in him.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

UFC’s Myles Jury wants to be the best in the world

09/07/2014 2:55 PM - Devo

Myles Jury 5.jpgMyles Jury is doing it his way.

Jury, founder of Jury Jiu Jitsu is one of the most exciting up-and-coming fighters in the UFC today.

Jury is a mixed martial artist with a higher purpose. It’s not about the fame that comes with being one of the most recognized facing in his discipline; it’s about giving back to a sport that has taught him so much. He wants to be the best in the world and after over a decade of strenuous training, he’s knocking on that door.

It’s impossible to be at the top of your game forever. Every athlete facing that end one day, Jury understands that. He’s building a brand dedicated to helping others achieve their goals and dreams.

Jury is climbing his way to the top, battling to be champion. For those who have been with him from the beginning, and those who are learning from him now, are fully aware he is the best in the world. It’s time for the whole world to know it.

The GM’s Perspective: If I am correct, you started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the age of 13. What motivated you to learn that discipline?

Myles Jury: I was looking for an outlet. Being so young and full of energy, I was just looking for an outlet, to give me something to do and have some fun. I was always a fan of Steven Segal and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. My uncle Nick, who passed away when I was younger, was someone I always remembered taking part in martial arts.

The environment I grew up in was very tough. Everybody was tough and you really needed to know how to defend yourself. I always thought it would be cool to learn hand-to-hand combat, and to be able to handle myself. That was really what got me into the sport. I started doing jiu-jitsu at a small club in Holly, Michigan. That was back in and around 2000, and that was when the UFC was still in its infancy. A couple of the guys training at the club had some fights, and I began to train. Don Richards was one of my very first coaches, and I learned from the other guys training.

Jiu-Jitsu is more of a ground game, but being a young kid, I was strong with a big heart and learning from smaller guys (lightweight). They needed some bodies and asked if I wanted to stay after and help train. They beat me up pretty good, but I enjoyed it. I liked the realness of it and gave me a big boost of confidence. The feeling of working out gives me a natural high. I knew I could do it everyday. Regardless if I got paid or not, or where I was, I knew I would love and always have passion to workout with martial arts.

GMs: You are currently the #9 ranked lightweight fighter (155lbs) according to the UFC. The names ahead of you are Benson Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller, Gilbert Melendez and champion Anthony Pettis. Yourself and the company surrounding you are considered the some of best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. What does that mean to you?

MJ: Honestly, what that means to me, is that I am closing in on a goal that I’ve wanted since I was a kid. A dream you might say of being number one in the world. I always had a feeling and a belief that whatever I’m doing I want to be the best at it. My passion with martial arts and now fast-forward ten or so years and I’m 9th in the world. It’s pretty cool and satisfying that I know I’m taking the right steps and heading in the right direction. I’m closing in on that dream of becoming the best fighter in the world.

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GMs: That shows that you’re surrounding yourself with the right people, winners who are looking out for your best interest.

MJ: Surrounding myself with people with intrinsic values. People who are satisfied with not just what I can bring them, such as fame, money…but people that want to be a part of something great and have the same intentions of me. They want their student to be the best.

GMs: You’ve had quite the journey to the UFC. Originally, you were on The Ultimate Fighter 13, but had to withdraw after tearing your ACL, leaving you unable to train for a year. How did you stay motivated during that time?

MJ: Staying motivated was keeping that end goal in mind. I was in a tough situation, but I knew nothing changed; I wanted to be the best in the world. I’m still alive and I can still do it. Combine that with having solid people around me who didn’t think less of me when I was down.

Each day was tough, but I kept pushing through. I knew I had hit rock bottom and it couldn’t get any worse, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to get to experience the highs of the sport that I’ve been working so hard to achieve. This is a situation where you put up or shut up.

JURY JIU JITSO.jpg

GMs: Did the creation of Jury Jiu Jitsu play a part in your comeback or is it an extension of your training and discipline with the hope of providing a positive mental attitude and physical fitness to others?

MJ: The whole idea of Jury Jiu Jitsu was founded on the idea that I know I can’t fight forever. It’s a young man’s sport. It left a question in my mind of what am I going to do when I’m done? I don’t want my identity tied to only being a UFC fighter. I started to think of ways of how and what can I do to give back to the sport that has given me so much. How can I give back and be a blessing for other people? That’s when I started thinking about all the tools; mental and physical that fighting has me taught over the years.

I founded Jury Jiu Jitsu, one thing led to another, and now I have something that can help other people when I’m done: Teaching and helping other people achieve their dreams one day.

It’s big picture thinking. There are going to be many years after I’m done fighting, and what will I do? You have to think ahead in the future. What’s my purpose? I know it’s definitely worthwhile to serve a higher purpose. I feel like God has blessed me with a lot, and at the end of the day it would be very selfish on my part to only think of myself and didn’t care about anyone else. That’s not the person I want to be.

When I’m done and I’m cornering or coaching people, I’ll get a high of off that. My coaches say the same thing to me. They tell me that I’m their drug and if they weren’t helping me they would probably be out there doing stupid stuff. It’s a give and take relationship.

GMs: After all that, your determination and hard work paid off. You were selected as one of the 32 entrants on the first live season of the Ultimate Fighter. You went on to win your first fight in the Octagon, defeating Chris Saunders on The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale via first-round submission. What does that feel like knowing where you were one year prior?

MJ: Not only because of the one year prior, but since I was 13 I’ve been training and having that dream. Then defeating Chris Saunders in the TUF Finale, it was the best feeling. Literally I felt I could die a happy man. I knew I had/have lofty goals, but that first step was to get my first UFC win and that was very important to me. Not a lot of people can say that they’ve done that and I felt this would be a huge stepping-stone. It would build my confidence and push me to that ultimate goal. Literally it was a natural high. I was on cloud 9. It was fulfilling, exciting, and so emotional.

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GMs: Through our previous discussions, I mentioned how my site focuses on baseball specific news, however, I’m really trying to target athletes who have overcome adversity and are really making a difference on and off the playing field.

You have a platform to help people, and it shows the type of person that you are. You have this fame and people know your name, you are living your dream, but you still take the time to help out others. Not many would do that.

MJ: It’s a choice. Vitor Belfort said something on The Ultimate Fighter that hit home with me. He said that with us being on TV, kids look at you, his kids even look up to us. Whether we choose to accept it or not, we are very influential to people who are watching. When he said that I really thought about it. Am I going to be an influential type of brand? Will I be positive or negative? I’m not perfect by any means, but if I have a choice to put stuff out there that will help people compared to stuff that will tear them down, I’m going to make the choice to help people. That’s why Team Jury revolves around dedication, determination, and reaching for your goals.

Going back to keeping the end in mind, when I’m retired and I look back on my career, I don’t want to think it was just about the money. What did I do? How did I serve society? Am I proud of what I did? At the end of the day, if I become champion or not, I want people to know that they should believe in yourself and take your shot.

GM’s: Your story is one of determination. To come back from an injury and to become one of the best in the world is something very special.

On your website teamfury.com, you wrote a blog post called What is TRUE SUCCESS to you? Was their any special motivation behind the post?

MJ: I’m big into self-help and improvement and am always reading different books by people who I look up to. Do you ever have a thought in your mind where it lingers on and on and on? I wanted to put my perspective out there of what true success is.

GMs: For those who don’t understand what goes into to becoming an MMA fighter, can you give the viewers an idea of the sacrifice that goes into your profession?

MJ: I would say it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint at all. It takes time. It’s an organic process and can’t be forced. You just don’t wake up one day and say I’m going to fight in the UFC. It doesn’t work that way. My training consists of two-a-days and a combination of wrestling, striking, Jiu Jitsu, and condition. With wrestling and striking there’s live-go and sparring.

Once a fight gets announced, the training time frame varies. I am comfortable with eight-week training camps. The first two weeks begins with lower intensity, and the last six weeks are high-intensity, high-volume and really getting after it.

GMs: Myles, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to speak with The GM’s Perspective. It’s truly an honour to be a supporter of Team Fury, and I wish you all the best in your upcoming fight on September 20, 2014, broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass from Tokyo, Japan.

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To learn more about Myles “The Fury” Jury, please check out his website. You can also following him on Twitter, facebook, Instagram and Sqor.

For more inquiries, please contact his manager, Ryan Hass, Founder of Evolution agents

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook. His full bio can be seen here.