Is Johnny Damon a Hall of Famer? All signs point to yes

01/21/2017 8:09 AM - Devo

There's no time like the present to say that Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer.

The 2018 Hall of Fame ballot is stacked! Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero are almost guaranteed to see 75 percent come this time next year. While first time candidates like Chipper Jones and Jim Thome appear to be shoo-ins. There are others on the ballot like multiple World Series champion, Johnny Damon whose greatness will produce a heated debate amongst those holding the key to baseball immortality.

Damon isn’t a sexy vote. He’s never been and MVP, heck he’s never been in the top 10. Damon was only voted to two All-Star teams (2002, 2005), only had three 20 home run seasons (2004, 2006, 2009), never driven in 100, and never won a Gold Glove. Yet, at the end of his 18 year career, his overall body of work is very very impressive. Eyebrow-raising when you really start to dig a little deeper.

According to an article by NESN, his numbers are historically superior. He finished with over 500 doubles, more than 100 triples, more than 200 home runs, and more than 2,500 hits (2,769). The only other players to do so are George Brett, Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Robin Yount. All are in the Hall of Fame.

If you want more proof, only four players have eclipsed his career totals for hits, runs, home runs and stolen bases: Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Craig Biggio. All, except Bonds are in the Hall.

Statistically, Damon wasn’t flashy, but consistency shouldn’t be taken as a deficiency. Here’s some more information for arguments sake:

Runs scored - 1,668 - 32nd all-time

At bats - 9,736 - 36th all-time

Doubles - 522 - 48th all-time

Hits - 2,769 - 54th all-time

Stolen bases - 408 - 67th all-time

We also shouldn’t forget BBWAA Rule #5: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Damon has been nothing but professional during his MLB career. He’s never been associated with PED’s of any kind and made it known that he played the game clean during a 2014 interview with the Hardball Times.

I played it clean,” Damon told Orlando sports radio hosts David Baumann and Big Joe, hosts of the show Baumann and Big Joe. “I think I’m one of the only players to come out and say, ‘I guarantee you there is nothing I’ve done that enhanced my baseball career.’ You can’t fault someone who has a chance to make $20 million, $50 million, $100 million for going against the system to get to where they are. You can’t fault them, but I’m as clean as they came, and I got booted out of the game because I’m clean.”

He'll always have his critics. Is the biggest knock against him his play in the field? Was Damon a superior outfielder? No more, no less than any of his peers. Has he produced enough statistical proof of his worthiness? You’re damn right.

All in all, Damon was one of the most consistent players in the history of the game, a two-time World Series Champion who was productive year in and year out. You can’t fault him for that and it shouldn’t be held against 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

Tommy Bahama hits the links with PGA player Ricky Barnes

01/20/2017 1:50 AM - Devo

Tommy Bahama has come to an exclusive multi-year agreement with PGA Tour player Ricky Barnes.

As an amateur, Barnes was a four time All-American honors recipient at the University of Arizona and the US Amateur Champion in 2002. He was also the winner of the historic Ben Hogan Award given annually to the nation's top collegiate golfer. Since turning pro, Barnes continues to raise the bar. In 2003 he set a tour record making 23 straight cuts and finished second at the 2009 US Open at Bethpage Black.

Going forward, every time Barnes steps on the course, he will be wearing Tommy Bahama gear as well during other personal and professional appearances.

As the relationship between the Tommy brand and the athletics industry grows stronger, this new partnership will again bring the island flair to the forefront for all to see.

Barnes’ new golf attire will feature Tommy Bahama polos, woven shirts, knits, outerwear and performance golf pants will feature the brand’s new IslandZone collection, which is crafted from a revolutionary new technical fabric. It’s game changing, crafted to make your clothing more comfortable.

As Tommy’s newest ambassador, Barnes’ name is now included on the list of other fellow PGA players that embrace the lifestyle including Ken Duke and golf legend Tom Lehman, who has worn the brand since 2002.

“I appreciate the support of Tommy Bahama,” said Barnes, “and, no pun intended, it’s a great fit. I’m proud to represent a company whose attitude toward both life and golf mirror mine.”

You can see more of Tommy Bahama and their IslandZone collection here. And for more information on Barnes and his PGA Tour progress you can follow him on Twitter and facebook @RealRickyBarnes and @rickybarnesgolf

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

What happens outside the cage is priority for The Crippler

01/19/2017 9:46 AM - Devo

Chris “The Crippler” Leben, is a name so synonymous with the UFC and MMA, you’d think they were made for each other.

Leben’s rise in the professional ranks started on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter where he trained with a who's who of elite fighters that helped shaped the industry into what it is today; Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Mike Swick, Josh Koscheck, Diego Sanchez, and Kenny Florian. Prior to TUF, The Crippler was the inaugural WEC Middleweight Champion. He defeated fellow TUF fighter, Swick.

His career flourished in the UFC winning 12 fights by TKO or KO and five by submission, and has stepped in the ring with a laundry list of superstars like Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Mark Munoz. At UFC 116 he defeated Akiyama (his second fight in two weeks) in spectacular fashion earning Fight of the Night honours.

However, outside of the ring Leben was battling drug and alcohol addiction while trying to maintain a lifestyle that requires 100 percent focus. His book recounts a struggle that many deal with on a personal level, but not as publicly as Leben.

At The GM’s Perspective we were able to speak with him about his new book, his life in one of the most exciting sports in the world, and how he is using his past indiscretions as a platform to help others.

The GM's’ Perspective: What motivated you to write your book The Crippler: Cage Fighting and My Life on the Edge?

Chris “The Crippler” Leben: There were a couple different factors that played into the creation of the book; First, people tend to love my story and I don’t know why? There’s the fun and interesting part of my fighting career, but the other important piece was getting the whole story out there. It’s not all fun and games all the time. There’s some pretty high extremes and some gruesome lows.

GMs: People that aren’t familiar with your background may not know your struggles with drugs and alcohol. How have you been able to overcome/deal with all of this while building the Leben fighting brand over the past 15 years?

CCL: In my early 20’s, coming from where I came from and the situation I grew up in, I wanted so badly to make something of myself. Everybody probably figured I’d amount to nothing. And having a learning disability in school, I was scared to get out of my comfort zone. I was afraid to go to college and didn’t have a lot of opportunities. When fighting came around, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the camaraderie of working with the guys in the gym. Once I found out I wasn’t too bad at this I put all my eggs into one basket and committed 100% to it.

GMs: You are now running your own real estate business. That’s a huge accomplishment and something to be very proud of. What got you into lending?

CCL: My girlfriend’s parents are both in real estate and they encouraged me to get involved. I’m a people person and I love to talk. The only thing faster than my hands is my mouth! I have a black belt in talking!

The only other job I had in my life was restoring old Victorian homes. I love building, architecture, and this fit. Everything fell into place to finally make that career change.

GMs: Your name goes hand in hand with UFC and MMA. The Ultimate Fighter and your fights were always spectacular, heck six of your fights resulted in Fight of the Night or Knockout of the Night.  People see the glamour and all that goes with it, but what does a fighter like you go through each and every camp to get ready?

CCL: I don’t think people truly grasp what a fighter’s life is like. You said it in your question Devon and that’s another reason for writing this book. People don’t see the battles in and out of the cage.

Whether it was relationships or my battle with drugs and alcohol, I had other fights going on in life. You bleed, sweat, and cry in the gym, in addition to dealing with everything else. That fight and the 15 minutes of fame getting your hand raised is glorious. But it’s only for a split second.

GMs: Do other athletes, fighters or people struggling with their own demons ever call you for advice?

CCL: All the time. In particular, with my group of friends or the people that I work with, I seem to be the guy that everyone wants to come to when they have a problem. I’m great at solving other people’s problems. Mine, I’m still working on that.

I get emails and facebook messages everyday from people who are battling all kinds of drug and alcohol related issues. They write me because they can relate to my story. I try to answer them sincerely and give them the best advice I can.

Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

GMs: You’re a pioneer in this sport and have paved the way for many with your success. What would you say to young and up and coming fighters trying to make a name for themselves?

CCL: Iron sharpens iron. You’re only as strong as the people who surround you. Find the best coaches and training partners that you can.

You have to sacrifice. You’ve gotta be in the gym everyday, sometimes twice a day. You can do whatever you want, but you can’t do everything you want. I see these guys all the time. They come to the gym, they train and get a fight and once the fight’s over they’re gone. After the fight is when the hard work begins. You still need to be in there hitting pads, doing jiu jitsu, and getting after it.

Whether I was sick or hungover it didn’t matter. Even if I was injured I would still come in to team practice and sit and watch.

GMs: What do you want people to take away from your book after reading it?

CCL: I just hope that people can see life through my eyes. If they can relate to it and it helps them I love that. Also, I need people to know that everything in excess and not in moderation is a recipe for disaster. Taking care of your health and your body and finding happiness is first and foremost a priority.

GMs:  What would you say if I said that you inspire people?

CCL: I hope I inspire them in what not to do! I definitely have too many what not to do’s. That’s how we learn. We look at other people and their mistakes and look at the mistakes we made and adjust accordingly. I hope that whoever reads this takes these life lessons and it affects their future decisions.

For more information on Leben’s book, you can check it out here. And if you’re looking to connect with The Crippler on social media, you can follow him on Instagram & Twitter @chrislebenmma @chrislebenmma and Facebook @chrislebencrippler

Leben is also a coach at Arena MMA. If anyone is in the San Diego area and wants a private lesson or wants to come in and train, hit him up on social media.

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

On and off the court, The Professor is in a league of his own

01/10/2017 9:49 PM - Devo

You many not know the name Grayson Boucher, but when you hear “The Professor” you know exactly what and who I’m talking about.

When it comes to Streetball, there is really nothing these guys can’t do with a basketball. They have the talent and ability of an NBA player and the charisma and ball handling skills of a magician. It’s not just about scoring points, but scoring in way that makes the everyone in attendance hold their collective breath..

After his freshman year at Chemeketa CC, he went for a dream. And that dream was realized when he earned a contract with And1.

Boucher’s professional career started with other Streetball legends like Skip to My Lou, Main Event, Hot Sauce, Spyda, 50, and AO on the AND1 Mixed Tape Tour. At 5’10 and 150 pounds, he’s not the polarizing figure as others were on the court, but what he can do with a basketball is frightening and can literally make people who guard him fall down.

Since his meteoric rise, and after nearly 15 years as a professional, he’s still promoting the game he loves all over the world.

The GM’s Perspective: It’s quite obvious that you’ve taken a different path than most basketball players. You've proven that someone small in stature doesn’t mean you can’t play. How did you elevate yourself to one of the best basketball players and streetballers in the world?

The Professor: That’s a humbling intro, I appreciate that. The root of all that is the passion I have for the game of basketball. A lot of people ask what the formula is to play professionally or to play at the college level? It comes down to three main points in my opinion;

One, it revolves around having a passion for the game as opposed to just liking it a lot. At three years old my dad introduced me to the game and his passion wore off on me.

Two, spend a ridiculous amount of time honing your craft. It’s hard work, but it was always fun because I loved it so much. Growing up, depending on the day, I probably spent two to eight hours working in my driveway or at the gym.

Three, I was blessed to have some great coaching. It started with my dad who was incredible. And it also started with a great guy who started working with me in the fifth grade. That laid the foundation for my ball handling skills. In addition to a great college coach, all these factor in to where I’m at today.

 

 

GMs: The entertainment value is massive with what you do on the court. Do people really understand the work that goes into being that superior at your craft?

TP: I don’t think they do unless they’re really really into the sport or have played at a high level. If you’ve seen the videos you can tell I’ve spent a lot of time working. Day in and day out, it’s the only way you get better. Unless they’ve lived the life or played professionally or are familiar with the genre on a deeper level, they don’t know.

GMs: You have a name that people recognize and it’s probably very easy to get complacent. How do you stay motivated?

TP: To entertain people with the game and to glorify God with the platform he has given me. I try to give my best effort in every aspect of it; from a business standpoint and from a basketball standpoint. I try to put my best foot forward and go as hard as I can to honour God and propel what I believe is my purpose.

GMs: You travel all over the world showcasing your God given ability, but we do know there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than what we see on TV. What kind of preparation goes into one of your tours to make it successful?

TP: If someone reaches out and wants to set up a tour, it usually takes about a week or two to come to an agreement. And these days, if I get a bunch of bookings internationally, I’ll try to set them up back-to-back-to-back in a mini tour format.

If we’re talking a Ball Up tour, I’m not necessarily linked to the business, it’s more of getting ready to hoop. But when it comes to my personal bookings, you have to be involved in the live event prep, content, media, marketing, editing, and following up with those relationships you just built.

GMs: How do you want to be remembered personally and professionally and what’s next for The Professor?

TP: What’s next...I do all things basketball so if someone is booking me for an appearance, a camp, clinic or training, I do it. I also do some motivational speaking. I leave the door open with all those as far as what the future will bring. I imagine as I move away from playing, I’ll go further into other aspects of the game. I’ve also done some acting on the side ie. digital programs that teach.

Going back to your first question about being remembered, I really don’t give it a tonne of thought. From a legacy and character standpoint, I just hope I’d be remembered for more than what I did on the court.

If you’re looking for more information about Grayson “The Professor” Boucher, please visit The Professor Live and on tour with Ball Up. If you’re looking to connect on social media, you can follow him on Instagram & Twitter @globalhooper @professor12 and Facebook @professorlive.

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

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