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Daron Sutton 

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July 25, 2014 11:09 am

The View from the Loge Level: Ode to Joe

4

Daron Sutton

Joe Garagiola will be honored in Cooperstown this weekend. Daron recounts some of Garagiola's best stories.

For five and a half seasons, it was a true blessing and gift to be able to call major-league baseball games several times a month with one of the legendary voices of several generations, Joe Garagiola. Spending those unforgettable years with Joe, it was amazing how one of the game's greatest personalities of all-time still maintained a humility that allowed him to serve as a mentor and friend to everyone he encountered. This weekend in Cooperstown, Joe will be honored the third recipient of the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, a fitting accolade at the very minimum.

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July 18, 2014 6:00 am

The View from the Loge Level: From the Home of the Braves

4

Daron Sutton

A Hall of Famer's remembrances of the Ted Turner years in Atlanta.

The view from the loge level this week has us seated in Atlanta. We’re not in Turner Field, though the Braves will grow roots there over the next month, with 21 of their next 29 on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Hank Aaron Drive. Instead our view is from Fulton County Stadium, aka the Launching Pad or the ‘Original’ Chop Shop. Your usher is one of my mentors and a man who taught the South and a nation about baseball, Braves Hall of Famer Pete Van Wieren. I was fortunate enough to be on the ‘listening-end’ of many great tales the legendary broadcaster shared with his much younger colleague, and a few times these stories managed to be documented. Most of you know at least a few of the details of these occurrences, but here are a handful of Braves’ memories through Pete’s eyes.

In our advanced media consumption world of ESPN, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1, MLB Network, mlb.tv, etc., imagine the thoughts of a broadcaster in the mid-1970s when he realized that he would be calling games not in Atlanta, nor Georgia, but nationwide as his boss Ted Turner turned a local UHF channel into Superstation TBS and beamed it coast-to-coast into everyone’s home. The network’s most dependable daily program: the Atlanta Braves.

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Tips and tricks for playing the infield, courtesy of the Nats skipper and former five-time All-Star.

This past holiday weekend, one would assume, was filled with barbeque, beer, baseball and fireworks. As family and friends gathered, the talk was about life, love, loot, and the Jeff Samardzija deal. Some families with baseball kids spoke of summer as a time of rest, while others shared tales of travel ball, tournaments, and Perfect Game. Meanwhile, Matt Williams concerned himself with his current foe, the Braves, and juggling his now deeper roster. So instead of cornering the Nats’ skipper on subjects of the day-to-day, let’s place the four-time Gold Glove winner in the middle of the Independence Day weekend family gathering and allow him to do some youth coaching, specifically infield instruction. The man who played nearly 16,000 innings on the infield in the big leagues shared with me some of the basics for those youngsters who dream of doing the very same thing.

First up is glove talk. How does one know what to select? What if my player might play both outfield and infield?

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June 27, 2014 6:00 am

The View from the Loge Level: The Evolution of Mike Scioscia

0

Daron Sutton

The Angels skipper reflects on what he's learned in close to 15 full seasons at the helm.

Do you happen to remember the catchy tune "Maria Maria" by Santana and the Product G? Not a bad blast from the past, at least not in my mind. The song was the top dog on Billboard’s Hot 100 the very week Mike Scioscia started his managerial career in April of 2000. Doesn’t quite give you perspective on Scioscia’s tenure? Fair enough…a gallon of gas would have run you about $1.50 based on the national average when the new skipper took the helm (about $0.50 more in California). This past Thursday morning, in the back hallways of the Angels clubhouse, just hours before he won his 1,277th game as a skipper, Mike remembered that 41-year-old rookie manager and compared him to the 55-year-old seated behind his desk today.

“You can’t help but change, I think,” Scioscia said. “It’s easy to say that everything’s the same and that your thought process is the same. I do think the process stays the same, but certainly I think the way information’s gathered has changed. I think the nuts and bolts of this game, as far as I’m concerned, haven’t changed, and haven’t changed in a century as far as the fundamentals and what you need to do. The way players are evaluated keeps evolving daily, and I think to be in tune with that helps you to make some cleaner decisions. So yeah, I would say that there’s been some growth in myself as a manager over that time and I think you’d expect that.”

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Kershaw, Koufax, Sutton and Scully.

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Figures from Randy Johnson to Vin Scully remember what their fathers meant to them.

Here in Fort Myers, Florida, one can easily catch a glimpse of droves of nervous baseball players as they gather to show their skills at the Perfect Game National Showcase. And if you think some of the elite players in the nation are anxious as they run the 60, throw from the outfield or face a 95-mph fastball, you should eye the parents as their sons chase their dreams. It somehow feels very fitting that these gifted teenage ballplayers make their run at greatness on Father’s Day weekend. Many dads wear their soles, and souls, out as they pace the walkways and aisles with their boys on the green grass of jetBlue Park.

Watching these grown men as their stomachs churn and their pride beams makes one hope that all of these talented players remember who supported them in so many ways should they reach the “big time.” A small sample of conversations I’ve been able to have over the years says that the future stars will not forget their most loyal sponsor. Time and time again, when athletes open up, it seems to come back to dad.

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Golf Tournament benefits Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center

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