Sunday, July 31, 2016

Telling It Like It Is!

"This is Howard Cosell telling it like it is" was a statement I heard often in my youth and early adult years. It was the unique manner in which the legendary  Cosell would close a sports broadcast or an interview with a prominent sports celebrity. This was Cosell's method of providing the viewer or listener with perspective or feedback.  As humans we seek feedback for multiple reasons, including guidance, support, growth, and positive reinforcement. We also are empowered with the opportunities to provide it. 

Our physical and social emotional development from a very early age hinges on the feedback that we receive from others. Ultimately it shapes both our personality and behavior. We must consider this when we deliver it orally or in writing. Before delivering feedback it is essential that we build relationships first, in order to establish trust and respect with those who will eventually receive it. 

As an educator one of the most important parts of my job is to deliver feedback to my students and colleagues.  Experience has taught me that positive comments need to precede constructive criticism. Moreover it is most effective when it is immediate and specific. My students traditionally appreciate a narrative that accompanies the grade for their assignments as it allows them to implement suggestions and build on their performance.  They also appreciate positive affirmations that follow their oral presentations, as they usually light up after receiving them.

My students are also given a voice and provide oral and written feedback often on the structuring and implementation of assignments. Teaching them the appropriate manner to deliver feedback is a vital part of their growth as well. They learn the appropriate manner in which to deliver constructive criticism and feel validated as a result. This reflexive practice continues to be a vital resource for my own professional growth and strengthens my pedagogy.  The feedback that I receive from them, helps to shape the way I design future assignments.

Throughout our lives we will provide and receive feedback for many different reasons and in many different forms. We truly are better as global citizens, when we seek help from each other and in turn when we reach out to help others. This is true at any age. While it is important to "tell it like it is", we are always best served when delivering feedback to do so in a positive manner and then keep an open mind when we are on the receiving end. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Change is not Always Wise!

My son was recently watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary entitled Doc and Darryl which focused on the at times brilliant often times tumultuous careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  During the film they must have mentioned  the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League Eastern Division which prompted his question. "Dad did the Cardinals once play in the same division as our Phillies?"

You see, Peter was born in 1998 after the divisions had been realigned and the two central divisions were created. This occurring as a result of the addition of the expansion franchises in Florida and Colorado. He and the fans of his generation missed an era of great divisional rivalries which have since been altered by the advent of interleague play.

My childhood years featured classic battles with the Mets, Cardinals, Cubs, and cross state rival Pirates, at least 18 times during the year.  This weekend as the Phillies and Pirates squared off for three of their seven games of the season I couldn't help but recall the epic battles of yesteryear with Schmidt, Carlton, Stargell and Parker. It brought to mind the question; What have we have we really gained by historic schedule changes since the incorporation of " Interleague Play"?

 These two Pennsylvania rivals will only play each other seven times this season while the Phils and the American League's Chicago White Sox will play a four game home and home series later this season.  How does the fan benefit from this peculiar brand of scheduling? One must ask the question, are these changes actually better for the game and it's fans? Interleague play makes some sense if the geography links the combatants (ie. Phillies vs Yankees) but does anyone really want to see the Philadelphia Phillies play the Seattle Mariners or the Oakland Athletics? This particular fan can provide a resounding "No" as a response. I would much rather see more relevant games with National League rivals as the opposition than suffer through basically irrelevant games with American League teams such as the Detroit Tigers.  I can't imagine that passionate fans of the game feel much differently. 

Recently on the Mike and Mike, morning drive time radio show on ESPN they invited baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to appear as a guest. One must ask, what in the name of Mariano Rivera was he thinking, when he discussed the effects that relief pitching has on the game and some potential changes.  Manfred indicated that they (relief pitchers) are so good that their effectiveness is actually robbing the game of late inning action. ("Ugh") Moreover, he goes on to say that discussions are underway to limit the amount of relief pitchers that a team can use per game.

  Again one must question the benefit of this change for the passionate baseball fan that may be forced to endure more unecessary alterations to the game. Ultimately you penalize the team that has bolstered its bullpen through farm system development and the calculated free agent addition. Shortening the game with stellar bullpen pitching has become a vital part of the formula for championship success of late.

The game of baseball is unique and continues to flourish even though football has replaced it as our national sport.  Baseball's leadership hierarchy neerds to stop tinkering with it in an effort to attract more fans in order to increase already substantial revenues. The game is fine, leave it alone. Please! The pace is slow because there is no clock and strategy is such a huge part of the games culture. The beauty of baseball is that all associated with the game benefit from its cerebral nature.

Change is good when it effects the safety of the players and rules are implemented that ensure longer careers for the players. However, ownership needs to pause and pump the breaks, when frivolous rule or scheduling changes don't have the best interests of the fan at heart and are only motivated by increasing the revenue within an already billion dollar industry.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Voice ( A Tribute to Vin Scully)

For the passionate baseball fan there are many ways to enjoy the baseball experience. You can attend the game live, listen to it on the radio, watch it on television or stream it to your favorite electronic device. More often than not though we cannot attend the games and must rely on one of these electronic mediums to watch or listen to the game unfold. We then place our needs as fans to be entertained and informed in the hands of a third party. The third party of course being those men and women who are broadcasting the game live on television or radio.

These broadcasters essentially become our entrusted storytellers night after night over the course of the 162 game season. We look forward to their perspective of the action as it unfolds, and there are times that we hang on their every word.

Historically there have been many men and recently women who enrich the baseball experience for the listener and viewer by spinning their nightly yarn in their own unique manner. 

One man however stands alone in terms of service, longevity, knowledge and devotion to our national sport and its fans.  In this his 67th and final season as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully continues to entertain and inform his audiences about the on field action and the nuances of the game.

When Scully retires at the end of this season it will conclude a very long chapter in Dodger and baseball history. As a Dodger broadcaster he has been there for every World Championship, Pennant and Division Title. He was there in Brooklyn in 1955 when they beat the Yanks in seven games. He was there for Koufax's perfect game. He was there for Fernando Valenzuela and the mania that followed. He was there for Gibson's miracle blast against the A's in the World Series. He could easily write a history of the Los Angeles Dodgers because he has been there for it all. 

As for baseball, when he started there were only 16 teams. Today there are 30. There was a National League and an American League without divisions and the World Series began shortly after the regular season ended. Today there are six divisions and the post season lasts almost a month, sometimes finishing in November. There were no teams west of St. Louis. Today there are five teams in California and one in the state of Washington.  A great deal has changed structurally and organizationally throughout Scully's broadcasting tenure.

While the game has undergone transformative change for almost three quarters of a century, Scully's presence continues to bring needed consistency and stability for the avid fan. As a young fan I fondly recall his melodious voice calling the action as I watched National Game of the Week telecasts. His sunny disposition and knowedge always made the games more enjoyable.  I recall several friends commenting that it was as if he was singing the game as he was calling it. The more I listen today the more I realize that is true.

Recently thanks to the Extra Innings Baseball package I have had the opportunity to reconnect with the melodic sounds of a Vin Scully telecast. More importantly I have had the chance to share the experience with my son Peter who shares my passion for baseball. Along with the rich voice quality the thing that separates Scully from his peers today is that he provides both the play by play and the color commentary. 

Throughout the telecast he sprinkles in anecdotes relevant to both the Dodges and their opponents that day. At 88 this man still does his homework and is still at the top of his game. As a New Jersey native, I remember one late evening last season watching the Dodgers play the Reds. Todd Frazier was batting and Scully starts talking about Frazier's heroic performance as a pitcher helping Tom's River Little League win the Little League World Series in 1998. This further solidified for me the great respect and admiration that I have for the manner in which Scully approaches his craft each and every game. Clearly he continues to go to great lengths, conducting pregame research on player profiles, in order to establish a connection with his audience.

Three short months from now the sun will set on yet another baseball season and with it the end of Vin Sully's stellar broadcasting career. For the past 67 years Scully has steadfastly remained committed to his passion for both baseball and his craft. When the lights go out on the 2016 season, take a moment to tip your hat or raise your glass but be sure to pay tribute to this American treasure. This gem of a man who for the past 67 years has worked selflessly to bring joy to our hearts, by enhancing for us the thrill that only sport can bring.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why I Write

Recently I read a post authored by my friend and colleague Blake Kilgore. This post was featured as part of colleague Jason Armstrong's "Write on Fight On" website.  In this post Blake details the reasons as to why he feels compelled to write. He is a man who I deeply respect. His writing is rich in substance and reflects strong faith and passion. His depth is what I admire most about him as a person and a writer.  

After reading his post I began to consider the same question Why do I write?. The following post is my comprehensive attempt to provide an answer.

Authenticity- I want my students to develop a life long love of learning. When I write and share my product with my students, I am modeling my life long love of learning and allowing them a glimpse at the benefits.

Passion- Writing gives me an opportunity to share ideas with an audience about topics that excite me and are extremely important to me. These include my family, my students, my craft and other interests. Furthermore my blog has given me a platform in which to reignite my passion for writing.

Inspiration- Since becoming a connected educator I have read hundreds of blog posts, many have left me feeling inspired upon completion. When I write about  topics that I am passionate about, it creates the opportunity for me to return the favor and inspire my audience. Each time that I craft a new post it is my sincere hope that I can elevate the spirit of my readers.

Tribute- My blog " The Power of Inspiration" along with other writing platforms allows me to pay tribute to people who have inspired me or positively influenced my life in some manner.

Reflection- My goal is to consistently improve in the various roles that I fulfill in my life. When I write,  it allows me the time for deep contemplation of the way things are currently, or how they can improve in the future. Ultimately my personal and professional growth occurs as a result of the time that I invest in reflective practices. My writing contributes tremendously to the growth  that I continue to strive for and hopefully attain.

Why do I write? There is no easy answer. 

 I write to elevate a love of life life long learning. 

I write to celebrate others and their achievements.

 I write to inspire. 

I write  to show gratitude. 

 Hopefully my writing will continue to have a positive influence on my life and with a little luck the lives of my readers.