An interview with Donald Brandt of the St. Paul Saints

07/28/2011 5:02 AM - Devo

Baseball Vintage.jpgIt is very tough in the Independent Leagues to make a name for yourself. However, if you go 15-0 and win the Pitcher of the Year award, it’s pretty difficult to stay under the radar. If 15-0 wasn’t good enough, Donald Brandt is the author of a win streak that went on for three seasons and culminated with 19 consecutive Indy wins. 

Mr. Brandt, currently a member of the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, was gracious enough to grant an interview to The GM’s Perspective to discuss “the streak”, his time with the Milwaukee Brewers and the journey of a true professional. 

Devon Teeple – I am unfamiliar with how your high school career went, were you highly recruited during your junior and senior seasons? 

Donald Brandt – I didn’t start pitching until my junior year because we had so many upperclassmen, so I pretty much played first base for the varsity team during my freshman and sophomore year. My junior year is when I started to get noticed. I went 11-2, I want to say, and that’s when I got letters from schools on the west coast and from the Notre Dame’s etc...I actually committed pretty early to Santa Clara University. It was local, wanted to stick close to home and be close to my family. My senior year I actually went 13-0 and got section player of the year. I had 11 home runs and hit .420. Coincidentally, I beat out Daniel Descalso (now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals) and all these other guys who are now in the big leagues. 

DT -  I have been following you since you came up with Maui of the Golden Baseball League when you finished with a 15-0 record (that still blows my mind), but between 2008 and 2010, the most wins you had in any season (college or pro) was six. When you were signed by the Milwaukee Brewers before your stint with Maui, what did they teach you that resulted in such a drastic change? 

DB – I had arm surgery my freshman year and was very inconsistent mechanically. My first year in pro ball with Yuma I worked with Mike Esposito who pitched with the Colorado Rockies for a bit. He broke down my mechanics, made it very simple, and that’s when it first started clicking for me. The next few years was trying to become consistent on the mound. When I signed with Chico that’s when my velocity increased and got signed by the Brewers. I signed near the All-Star Break and only had the second half of the year with them. But I didn’t learn too much more mechanically. I was just trying to do the best I could and prove that I did belong there. The club was always saying that “next spring we are going to work with you”, which made me think, great, they have long term plans for me. I went back with them in the spring and gave up something like one hit in two or three outings and they ended up giving me the speech about how “this is a numbers game and all that”. I left the Brewers and fortunately hooked up with Maui and worked with Brendan Sagara who is now with Winnipeg. He really knows what he’s doing with pitchers. He’s seen a lot of guys and he really broke it down for me. This was the first time since my time with Esposito where I worked each day with him and bullpens weren’t just getting up throwing, it was actually working on stuff. Obviously the results showed and I was really consistent. 

DT – I really hope I didn’t jinx anything when I wrote those articles about your 19 consecutive Independent victories

DB – No, no, I actually thought I was due for that. 

DT – A couple of days after that, I couldn’t believe an actual “L” showed up in one of your decisions. 

DB – Ya, I caught the last day of a two week road trip and it just wasn’t there. 

DT – Now that you’re in the American Association, do you see any huge differences between the level of talent between your opposition now and what you faced last year in the GBL?

DB – I’ve been asked that a lot this year because the Golden League didn’t get much credit. After everything that happened I was shocked I wasn’t signed last year, it was a little frustrating. A lot of people talked down on the league but to be honest, I think there were more dangerous hitters in that league than this league. I’ll say this, in the AA, one through nine is really competitive. In the GBL, two through five, was like, "these guys are gonna hit the ball 600 feet"; their seven, eight, nine weren’t close to the seven, eight, nine hitters here. The AA, up and down the line-up, can drop in a single at any time, while the GBL hitters are looking for the long ball. Currently it is a lot more competitive, and a more variety of teams. 

DT – I had my stint in the Independent leagues (2 months), obviously nothing compared to you, but what is the difference between this calibre of player and the Derek Jeter’s and A-Rod’s that we see. What is the difference between making it and struggling down in the minors? 

DB – With this game, it could be something so minuscule, just a tiny hole in some guys swing or not being consistent. Those guys do it every day. That’s just flat out impressive that they can perform at that high level on a consistent basis day in and day out. Although they do go through slumps, it’s really nothing they can’t fix.  These guys here in this league, they obviously have the talent, and when they get hot it’s scary. For example, this year Van Every (Jonathan) is on our team, (he played for the Boston Red Sox last year), at one point he was on fire and had about eight home runs in three or four games. It was just insane. These guys struggle a little bit more to get out of slumps or strike out a few more times. And then it’s also really political. You have to be one of their guys to get up there and stay there. 

DT – Any thoughts or words of advice for anyone that goes unsigned after college or has to take the Independent route? 

DB – I was ready to cash it in and starting to look for jobs, but when it really comes down to it, you have to love the game and if you do, you can’t give up because if you quit you don’t want to look back two or three years down the road and regret it. If you want it, definitely work at it. There are tonnes of these Independent Leagues that give great opportunities to a number of people. I would just say if you have contacts, like college coaches, they always know people. Baseball is a small community so, everybody kind of knows everybody. Opportunities are out there for kids that are unsigned that want to pursue this.

For those interested in following Donald Brandt and the St. Paul Saints, click here.

Devon is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network. Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, contributor to FullCountPitch Magazine and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.

He has continued to further his knowledge by completing
Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.

Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com

You can follow
The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook


Should MLB bring in Independent baseball under one umbrella?

07/25/2011 4:36 AM - Devo

Vintage Baseball Cards.jpgRecently I have been enquiring as to whether Major League Baseball is doing enough on the marketing side to compete with the likes of the NFL and NBA. 

All sign point to no. 

Anytime you turn on the television baseball seems to be the sport left out. America’s game, in the eyes of the media, is no longer baseball. 

This game is entrenched in history, tradition and statistics. So heavily reliant upon numbers that no other sport can ever compete with it. This is not something we can take lightly. With over 150 years of statistics, legends, and memories that has to count for something right? 

Well why not increase the folklore of the game with the little publicized tradition and history of Independent baseball. 

The history of Indy baseball dates back to the early 1900’s, yet there is not much talk about it in the mainstream media, or even in the daily sports discussions around the water cooler. If Major League Baseball is not in a position to compete with the Roger Goodell and David Stern conglomerates, stick to what you have built and dominate the market at what you do best. 

Baseball is all about tradition; grandfather-to-father-to-son and so on…family entertainment that has been enjoyed for generations. Isn’t that the Indy motto; family entertainment, small towns, a rich history and the game itself? 

More than 73 million people packed the seats during the 2010 MLB season. What does that mean? Revenue in excess of $7 billion! With billions in the answer you have to ask whether they can afford to buy up all the independent leagues and use that as a feeder system to the minor system that is already in place? 

With payroll’s in the thousands, MLB could purchase the best of the best from each league or quite possibly set up the leagues in a tier system of importance. With improvements to the stadiums, and more advertising, it will only increase fan support to where it is currently lacking. 

And why not pursue the interest in the game’s heritage with a play on what the independent game is; old style baseball played the way it used to be. The players might not be the most talented, but there are times when heart will outplay the most gifted athletes. Those succeeding expectations would obviously garner interest from the pro scouts which could only draw more attention from the local fans. 

For those interested or think an idea like this is even possible, contact me at devon@thegmsperspective.com , I would love to hear your thoughts on the idea.

Devon is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network. Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, contributor to FullCountPitch Magazine and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.

He has continued to further his knowledge by completing
Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.

Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com

You can follow
The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook


Has Major League Baseball lost the marketing battle?

07/22/2011 5:02 AM - Devo

Derek Jeter 3.jpgRumours are running rampant about baseball losing it appeal to masses, except through nearly 50 games, total attendance is nearly on par with 2010 (-36,594). 

If everything is good why does baseball seems like it is stuck in the doldrums when compared to the marketing of say the NFL, NBA and even the NHL. 

The last big baseball commercial featured Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and their obsession with the long ball. Perception is reality and it seems that MLB is severely out of touch with the current generation in regards to marketing. When I say that, I mean music, commercials, video games etc... 

If you pick up a Madden or an NBA game for PS3 or Xbox their soundtracks are littered with additions from artists that are relevant in today’s society. 

For example, MLB 11: The Show is highlighted with 311 and Big Pun. That would be great if it was 1999. 2K11 features the Jackson 5, ACDC, Queen and Bon Jovi. What? 

If my dad was buying the game, the soundtrack might work. 

NBA 2K11 is brought to you by Drake, and Snoop, while NHL 11 busts out some Bouncing Souls and Dropkick Murphy’s. 

If you asked any casual sports fans to name anyone in a NBA or NFL commercial, the answer is simple; Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and/or LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Jockey, Gatorade and Under Armour are filled with their sport’s poster boy’s; Tim Tebow, Michael Jordan, and Brady. I understand that the MLB is based on tradition and why fix something that’s not broken, but break the mould and promote someone other than Derek Jeter. Even his star is not shining like it used to. 

Success is not measured in attendance it’s measured by TV revenue and franchise valuation. Of the four major sports Major League Baseball does not have a team in the top 25 except the New York Yankees (3). The Boston Red Sox come in at #31, followed by the Dodgers at #38. 

Does the game have anyone who is bigger than the brand itself? Who can the casual fan relate to? 

Is MLB promoting any potential future stars on something other than mlb.com? Bryce Harper is the LeBron of baseball and there is rarely if any news on him. 

Why is the MLB All-Star weekend the last thing on anyone’s watch list? 

Is completely derailing the steroid era necessary? That era is now a part of the game’s history. Obviously there were good times and bad. The only positives reported are test results. 

Baseball continues to battle with itself to remain with tradition, while continuing to try and remain relevant. The NFL has embraced its image. Every fan can talk about old gridiron legends, but one thing we do now for sure is who the current and future stars are. 

As fans we will never forget what the greats accomplished but we still need to know what the current generation is up to.
 

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

Devon is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network. Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, contributor to FullCountPitch Magazine and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.

He has continued to further his knowledge by completing
Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.

Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com

You can follow
The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook

 

 

Brian Wilson and his Beard should be on the cover of at least one video game in 2012

07/17/2011 9:27 PM - Devo

Brian Wilson.jpgFor the past two seasons squeaky-clean cover boy Joe Mauer has been the face of the PlayStation franchise; MLB The Show. I am pretty certain that Mauer will not appear on the cover for an unprecedented third straight year. Derek Jeter was the face of the 2K Sports baseball franchise for three seasons, but with injuries, and some unruly criticism, Mauer’s ride appears to be done. 

There has been a multitude of stars all over the baseball game scene in recent years; David Ortiz, David Wright, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes, Tim Linecum, Evan Longoria and Roy Halladay. All of those players are gifted at their craft and at one point in time were considered the best at their position and/or the game.

Brian Wilson, closer for the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants, has to be the odds-on-favourite to take the spotlight next season for at least one of them for next years instalment. The MLB 2K Sports baseball franchise looks like the front-runner as Wilson has been featured on a few trailers featuring "digital me".

His lights out performance in the 2010 playoffs has taken a backseat to his facial hair. “Fear the Beard” is running wild as his alter ego has taken on a life of its own. Cameo’s in commercials for 2K Sports and ESPN as well as appearances on Jim Rome is Burning and the George Lopez show have done nothing but elevate his personality in popularity. 

Wilson, one of the best in game right now at what he does, clearly is enjoying the game and not taking his superstardom too seriously. At the same time he has opened the eyes of many to the game. When was the last time someone not named Jeter has created this much buzz in the baseball word. 

There are rumours abound claiming baseball is losing its fans. I beg to differ. Attendance is nearly identical to this time last year (thank you Baseball-Reference), and no one created more buzz at this year’s ESPY’s than Wilson did with his weird/creepy spandex outfit. 

For someone who appears to completely out of his mind may be smarter than we know. With all the hype and humour, gracing the cover of a baseball game is the least that could happen. 

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

Devon is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network. Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, contributor to FullCountPitch Magazine and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.

He has continued to further his knowledge by completing
Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.

Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com

You can follow
The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook

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