Second half 'extra' exciting

From the dugout

July 19

Right now we are 14-11 to start the second half of the season and 58-37 overall. I tell you what, this second half has been all exciting games. We have lost a bunch in the last few innings, and have won a bunch in the last few -- five extra inning games already.

I should have way more gray hair, but I think my goal is to keep it real low. We have a different team right now, after sending seven guys up to the Miracle, but that is our job. Our young guys now play major roles, and we continue to get awesome starting pitching.

I did have a first last week. My first ejection of the year. Tossed in the 10th inning of a game. I was protecting my player, but also got my two cents in -- over balls and strikes. Managing is always funny because you cannot forget you are dealing with young kids, and mistakes are going to happen.

However, any of you who have managed before can relate to this: An old manager of mine told me when you do this job you find a part of you that you never knew existed. He is right. There are games that get over and you ask yourself "Who was that out there?'' It tests your make-up and personality daily. Whenever I get tested I always remeber the best environment to succeed in is a positive one with as little pressure as possible. Do I expect results? Absolutely, but the best way to get them is to let these kids play, have fun, and know mistakes will happen. They do always give me a great effort.

My family is still having a blast, with Cooper taking every minute in. He still wants to know what I said to the umpires, but I will keep that to myself.

It is getting close until I am home again, and I cannot wait to start working with all my kids in Naples again. Let me know if you are interested again. I would love to hear updates on everyone's summer. Keep in touch and good luck until we talk again.


May 25

I know it has been a while since you have heard from me, but the season is in full effect, and we were on a 23 game in a row stand. The boys have been playing very well lately, our record is now 30-15. We have been getting good pitching, and timely hitting. Best of all the chemistry on this team has really come together.

These group of players pull for each other every day, and that is sometimes tough the way the minor leagues are set up when your buddy might be your comopetition to the next level. We are currently in first place by 2 games.

I think the thing I am most proud of is the hard work these boys put in each and every day. Remember, winning is fun, but development and getting better are priorities. These guys come early every day for early work, take BP every day, and take a full infield every day. Trust me, not many teams do that anymore.

I know summer ball is about to start for many players. I am really going to miss this year's group of seniors; I have had a lot of my kids since 8th grade. Good luck to Mike Johnson, Phil Ebert, Frankie Mambuca, Nathan Wyss, Jeff Schaus, Ricky Neet, Kenny Carlson, Anthony Polumbo, Cannon Crews, Chas Frontz, and many more I am sure I am forgetting. I have become really attached to this bunch and I know they will have great success in the future.

Little League all-stars are right around the corner, and I wish those players good luck, and want to thank all of the dads and coaches that have donated their time to teaching the future of this game, and keeping those kids having fun.

Please shoot me an e-mail back, and let me know your summer plans. I miss everyone, and remember one thing about baseball: it is a game, but keep on smiling every day you get to the park and every day you leave the park.

Have fun, Jeff Smith

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