Rosario dominates the KBO

10/29/2017 7:43 PM - Devo

After his release from the Colorado Rockies in 2015, Wilin Rosario's options were limited. The once highly touted catcher with a great bat was considered a liability behind the plate. Instead of waiting around, Rosario went overseas where he's dominated the last two years.

In 2016 Rosario put up numbers very similar to Eric Thames when he played for the NC Dinos; 33 home runs, 120 RBI, and 31 doubles. His .321 batting average was a career best as well was his OBP (.367) and SLG (.593). 

When I wrote about Rosario earlier this year, his stats at 54 games were right on point; .325/14/46. At the conclusion of 2017, he actually surpassed his breakout season from the year before. He even obliteratedrecords with his ability to hit the long ball. In June, he went deep eight times in a three game series, shattering the previous record of five in three. 

In eight less games and shy nearly 50 at-bats from the previous year, Rosario scored 22 more runs (100), popped 37 home runs, and drove in 111. He increased his walk total by 17 and reduced his strikeouts by 29. His .339 average (a career high) was good for eighth in the Korean Baseball Organization, and placed second in slugging (.661), 10th in OBP (.414), and second in OPS (1.075). 

If Eric Thames, who was relatively given his walking papers from the game, can leverage his success to a new contract, there's nothing to say Rosario can't either.

With numbers like these there's almost no way a MLB club couldn't take another shot on him. MLB Insider, Jerry Crasnick has reiterated the same sentiments.  There's absolutely nothing to lose and at 28 years old, he's entering his prime.

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 Community 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 Facebook, and Instagram.

#sicknotweak Michael Landsberg delivers a hard-hitting message

10/29/2017 7:42 PM - Devo

Michael Landsberg is one of the most well-known personalities in Canadian broadcasting. He hosted Off The Record on TSN from 1997 to 2015 and over 5,000 episodes of TSN's SportsDesk. Landsberg is also a mental health advocate. He's spoken openly about his battle with depression since 2009 and his website, #sicknotweak is an open forum for those battling depression; a way to help both sufferers and the people who care about them.

I recently had the honour and the privilege to speak with him on about his amazing work in the field of mental health, a subject something that hits very close to home.

The GM’s Perspective: Mr. Landsberg, people know you from your immensely popular TSN Network show (Off The Record) and your years on Sportscentre, but some may not be familiar with your battle with anxiety and depression. What made you so open and honest about your struggles and the want to bring it to the forefront?

Michael Landsberg: I’m open and honest about it because I’m an open and honest person. I wear who I am on my sleeve. I’m exactly what you see; the same person on camera and off camera and same person with family and with friends. So it stands to reason that I wouldn’t walk around with a secret. My self-esteem was given to me by my parents. The feeling of self-worth, even though it’s compromised by the illness, gives me the confidence to say this is what I suffer from. I do not care what you think of me. I don’t care whether you think this is weakness. I know what it is and therefore, I am more than willing to share.

GMs: What’s it like now being able to talk about it in public?

ML: I never had a weight on my shoulder. When I first started the struggle, in say the year 2000, people knew. I told my friends, I told people I worked with, and I told my family. Even though I wasn’t public about it, it was never a secret. I never felt like I had to live a secret life.

The only reason I never talked about it on television or on radio or any of the platforms that I was given was because I thought who would care? I honestly believed that if I went on Off The Record and said I struggle with depression, and I’m on medication, and it’s been a really hard year for me, I thought people would say who cares…

It wasn’t until I spoke about it for the first time in 2009 that I found out that, not only do people care, but that there’s a huge value to it. I was shocked that it impacted people just by hearing me talk about it.

GMs: #sicknotweak What an amazing phrase for your website!  Personally, I've dealt with anxiety and depression for over 20 years and just now am being relatively open and honest about it. What is #sicknotweak and what can people learn from it?

ML: The most useful thing I say is always going to be the first thing I say. What I’m gonna say first, and this is usually how I start a speech, is my name is Michael Landsberg. I suffer from mental health challenges. I suffer from depression, I suffer from anxiety. I’m on medication and I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life. Depression has taken me down. Depression has taken years off my life. Depression has robbed me of my confidence, but I am not embarrassed, I am not ashamed, and I sure as hell am not weak.

So when I talk about what is “#sicknotweak”, it really is a statement. I am sick not weak. You are sick not weak. The person that you care about that is struggling with a mental health problem, they are sick not weak. The stigma would disappear if people understood that. It's because mental illness is perceived as being different than a physical illness. Somehow we believe that it's self-inflicted.

What is #sicknotweak? It’s a statement. It’s an initiative. I think to some extent, and I don’t want to overly dramatize it, but it’s a revolution because people have been silent for so long. People die because of the silence. People hide because of the silence. If you don’t go for help, you’ll never get better. The tragedy is people don’t go for help because they see themselves as being weak.

GMs: The stigma with mental health, and men, and sports, and trying to be tough and push through whatever because that’s what you're supposed to do is still prevalent. But earlier this year we saw Roberto Osuna, closer for the Toronto Blue Jays, go public about his off-field anxiety… Are we at a point now, where someone, an athlete in particular, can be open and honest to the people signing the cheques?

ML: I think we’re better than we were. I don’t think that could ever have happen 5 or even 10 years ago. And certainly 25 years ago would be unheard of. But just from talking to players in different environments, I still think there’s a long way to go. Speaking with Dirk Hayhurst, who pitched for the Blue Jays and now works for TSN and is on my radio show I host fairly regularly, has suffered from severe anxiety and depression as well. He said a million times that in the locker room people don’t talk about stuff like this. A lot of it relates to, not people on the outside not even to fans necessarily, but it's the perception in the dressing room. It’s the fear of what are the other 24 players going to think or what the other 14 players in a NBA locker room going to think? There’s a long way to go, but it’s better than it was.

GMs: As an advocate for mental health wellness, what’s your role in all of this?

ML: First, my role is to lead by example. If I'm to share I'll show no shame or embarrassment and have no hesitation to talk about my illness and what my illness does to me. The unspoken word in all of this is self-esteem. No one wants anyone else to believe they aren’t confident. When I say lead by example I mean candidly and openly share it. The first time I did that was in 2009 on Off The Record interviewing Stéphane Richer. I heard from 22 people the next day and 20 of them were men. All of them said that hearing two guys speaking on mental health challenges without shame or embarrassment, and without sounding weak, had empowered them to reach out to me. They told me, as the first person in their lives and first person they ever told this to, that they were willing to do that because they had heard me. My examples, which I didn’t even know was going to be impactful, changed those people’s lives.

Second, it’s to try to instil the idea that this is a game of tag. I share with you and you share with someone else. The best #sicknotweak has to offer is empowering people to stand up to their illness, perhaps even stand up to their family/workplace and say I’m tired of feeling like I have something to be ashamed of. I’m tired of having to act.

GMs: Does anything still surprise you?

ML: It shocks me everyday when people reach out to me and say they heard me speaking or saw this or read that and it really helped them. That’s unbelievable. What a gift that is to be able to take the worst thing in my life and make it one of the best.

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 Community 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 Facebook, and Instagram.

Ex-Nat Terrence Engles’ toughest opponent was himself

10/29/2017 7:41 PM - Devo

 

Drafted in the 20th round of the 2003 MLB amateur draft out of St. Peter’s High School, Terrence Engles had it all. He spent six years in the minor leagues as a member of the Washington Nationals organization and was fulfilling every kid's’ childhood dream.

Unfortunately, this is not your typical story of a minor league baseball player. Engles wasn’t only battling opponents on the field, but battling an invisible opponent off it.

The GM’s Perspective: You said you started doing drugs in high school and had everything under control. But once you got to college, things got out of hand. Looking back on it now, what was the catalyst? Wrong place wrong time? Bad Influences?

Terrence Engles: I got to college and was on my own and I didn’t have anyone looking over my shoulder. That made a huge difference. I was able to do whatever I wanted. I had a curfew, but that really wasn’t enforced. I took advantage of the freedom and went overboard.

GMs: You talk about the injuries you sustained during your playing career, and the pressures to perform and live up to expectations. Can you describe what you were feeling at that time knowing the pressure you were under? I don’t think the people really understand what an athlete deals with on a day-to-day basis?

TE: A lot of that pressure was put on by myself. I’m very hard on myself and I want to succeed. It did affect me negatively, but that drive and motivation affected me positively. At that young age I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’ve had that feeling of trying to be perfect since I was very young and that’s probably why I made it to the levels I did.

Baseball is a really mentally strong game and even the best have their struggles with it. Most of the guys I played with in rookie ball were just as talented as the guys that were already in the major leagues, but they are a little more consistent and their physically abilities are more heightened. Mentally they just know how to handle the failure that comes with it. I know that the failure really got to me and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. It’s impossible to be perfect every time, and once I stepped off the field I turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with that feeling of failure.

GMs: It has to be difficult living daily with this huge weight on your shoulders. On one hand, you are living the dream every kid wants. On the other hand, you’re carrying around this secret. I have been dealing with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and just now I have been open and honest about what I’ve been dealing with. It’s exhausting…

TE: As a man you're taught not to talk about that stuff. You’re taught to deal with it and work through it. I wasn’t educated on why I felt like that. And as the type of person who over thinks, it’s not a good combo. I suffer from addiction. I have a disease. Trying to deal with that on my own and trying to find a solution on my own just made it worse. I never talked to anyone about it cause I was a private person and didn’t want anyone else to know. It was really self-sabotage at it's finest.

Once I finally talked to someone I started to understand why I feel the way I do and why I act the way I do it resulted in me finding a way to get better. Unfortunately, it took me 25 years to figure that out.

GMs: What was the deciding factor that made you realize you’re on a dangerous path and you needed to make a change?

TE: I’m very close with my sister, and had a good relationship with my mother and father. By the end of my run I had pushed everyone away and was physically deteriorating. The want to be the best and the want to be good at something was gone. I was broke and didn’t have a job. It became too much. I had to surrender and humble myself.

GMs: You’re not the first person/athlete to struggle with addiction. What kind of advice do you have for others in a similar situation?

TE: Talk to someone. The guys at the Nationals (Washington), they were very open and willing to help me. I had a pitching coach who really tried to take me under his wing and really wanted me to do well. I still never opened up to them and let them know what was really going on. I was so afraid. At that point fear really ran my life.

Being able to talk to someone about the issues they’re having is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a strength. Opening up and being vulnerable can really make a difference. Instead of waiting on stuff to get so bad that it takes you out of the game, talking to someone in the early stages and really trying to work through it can make all the difference in someone's career.

GMs: You are now working at American Addiction Centres. What are you hoping to accomplish when working there?

TE: When I walked into treatment, there were people who really cared about me. Taking the easy way out was usually how it went with me, but they pointed me in the right direction and started this journey I’ve been on for the past five years.

In working here I have the ability to be there for somebody and hopefully start them on the same journey that I went on. The past five years have been the best five years of my life and that’s because of my sobriety.

To be able to give somebody the ability to go get help really doesn’t compare to anything else.

GMs: Hindsight is 20/20. Is there something you would’ve done differently or did this all happen for a reason?

TE: 100 percent. When I was 18 years old and into my early 20’s, I thought baseball was going to be my career. I didn’t think of anything else. I put everything into baseball. Now I feel very lucky that I have the ability to help other people. I’m just as passionate about that as I was about the game. I learned so much through this ordeal. I thank God that I got through it. Cause if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to experience the things I’ve experienced and I wouldn’t be able to pass along those lessons.

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

 

 

Out of sight, but not out of mind. Colabello can still hit

10/07/2017 6:43 PM - Devo

Chris Colabello was the feel good story everyone loves. An unsigned Independent league journeyman relegated to spending his days racking up huge numbers, never got the chance to prove he could hit big league pitching. When he finally did, we loved him for it, until we were hit with a bombshell.

Colabello had his coming out party with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. he hit .321 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI and always seemed to get the big hit when they needed it. Unfortunately, one of the Jays most popular folk heroes tested positive for a performing enhancing substance. He was suspended for 80 games and ultimately this led to his free agency.

He's always proclaimed his innocence, but all in all he'll be dubbed a cheater and there's nothing you or I can do about that. What we can do is revel in the fact that despite the bump in the road, and tarnished reputation, Colabello has not given up on his dream of playing Major League Baseball.

Once he left the Jays, he signed with the World Series favourite Cleveland Indians (Triple A). Unfortunately, the career .295 hitter and 2013 International League MVP, never lived up to expectations and released by the Indians in July of 2017 after hitting .225 in 72 games.. He was picked up one week later by the Milwaukee Brewers who assigned him to Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League.

 

After he arrived, it was as if it was 2015 all over again. The .225 average in his first stint was forgotten. Colabello batted .301 in his last 44 games including hitting at a .410 clip over his last 10.

Now, I'm torn on how I see all of this. I've followed Colabello's career for many years and it's disappointing that it got derailed the way it did. If you haven't seen the Sportsnet interview with him you should. He's very open and honest, and it sure appears he had no idea how the foreign substance got into his system, but we'll never know. The die has been cast and there's no turning back, regardless of what he did or didn't do.

At 33 going on 34, he's by no means a spring chicken, but he can hit there's no doubt about that. He's done the time. Now it's time to give him his due.

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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