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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Martinez’

“[Dave Martinez is] a fine role model for many. Just not, it seems, a very good big league manager.”
Thomas Boswell
The Washington Post, May 22, 2019
(A few months before Martinez led the Nationals to their first ever World Series appearance.)

“If the Nationals don’t turn it around soon, don’t be surprised if [Martinez is] the first manager fired in 2019.”
David Schoenfield,
ESPN article, May 8, 2019 

Last night, during game six of the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals, I continued a baseball tradition from my youth. As a Little League player in the era before the internet and even cable TV, I was so in love with baseball that I would listen to baseball games on the radio. I was a fan of the Cincinnati Reds when they were nicknamed The Big Red Machine.

When they played the Atlanta Braves I was able to follow the play by play commentary from a radio station out of Georgia. And for reasons I’m not totally sure of today, I had better reception from the radio in my mom’s car. So if you can imagine a 11-14 year old in Orlando, Florida sitting in a station wagon at night listening to a baseball game, that was me.

I’ve been listening to the 2019 World Series that way as well, but on my phone and in bed. If the game is uneventful I drift to sleep like listening to a podcast. But last night I stayed up for the whole game because of the drama.

With the Washington Nationals down 2-1 there was a controversial call against the Nationals that could have potentially changed the outcome of the game and the series. Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez was so upset with the call he ended up getting ejected from the game for yelling at the umpire. But managers often do that kind of thing to fire up the troops. If that was the case, it worked. After his ejection the next batter, Anthony Rendon,  hit a two run home run putting the Nationals ahead for good.

It’s all part of what I’m calling “The Dave Martinez Redemption.” Just a few months ago, The Washington Post ran an article Dave Martinez is a good man. But he probably shouldn’t be managing the Nationals. At that point, in May 2019, the Nationals were in a slump and the season was considered a wash and columnist Thomas Boswell pointed to  “The Martinez Problem.” There was a problem somewhere, because the Nationals started the year with a win/loss record of 19-31.

Since that May article, Martinez led a team that didn’t seem destined for the playoffs, all the way to their first ever World Series appearance. And facing a rock solid Houston Astro team that was highly favored to win the series, they are now locked three games a piece going into the final game tonight in Houston.  High drama indeed.

And to add an exclamation to last night’s victory, Juan Soto did a bat drop after hitting a monster home run that gave the Nationals some insurance runs.

Time will tell if the Nationals can complete the total Dave Martinez Redemption tonight by winning their first ever World Series, but Martinez has proven his worth as a manager. And if they do win the Series, that ejection will be become legendary.

And I’m pulling for Martinez, because as I’ve written before, we both played baseball at the same high school—Lake Howell. I graduated two years before him so we never played on the same team, but we both were part of conference championship teams under coach Birto Benjamin.

The year after I graduated from high school I attended what is now Seminole State College and did a paid internship as a sports reporter and photographer for the Sanford Herald. I happened to cover the first Lake Howell baseball game of the 1981 season and watched a skinny junior I’d never heard of hit a home run in his first at bat. I remembered the name Dave Martinez after that. And I’ve followed his career since then— from playing fall ball at Valencia College to being drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

Over the decades he’s continued to make a name for himself, first as a player, then as a coach where he earned a World Series ring while coaching with the Cubs in their 2016 winning season. I imagine Martinez made a name for himself last night to a new crop of people who follow baseball only loosely. Working out at the gym this morning he was mentioned several times on ESPN (complete with footage of his arguing with the umpire), and on my drive to work he was also mentioned several times as they discussed the controversial call leading to his ejection.

Update at 11:52pm—The Washington Nationals completed their incredible year by beating the Astros and finishing World Series champs

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Related post:
Dave Martinez Keeps on Winning
LA vs. Washington
Silver Hawks Flying High
Screenwriting, Baseball, and Underdogs

Scott W. Smith

 

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On Friday Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez added another milestone to his baseball career. The Nationals beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 in his debut as manager. Before Martinez earned a World Series ring as a bench coach with the Chicago Cubs, and before he played 16 seasons as a MLB player, before he played baseball at Valencia College, he played high school ball at Lake Howell in the Orlando area.

I also went to Lake Howell and played baseball, but graduated two year before Martinez  so we didn’t play on the same team. (And if I recall correctly, I think he transferred to the school his junior year.) But the year after I graduated from high school I worked as a 19-year-old sports reporter and photographer for the Sanford Herald and covered several games when Martinez played varsity baseball. (The above clippings are from two of those games.)

Now 1981 was a few years ago, but they way I recall it is in Dave Martinez’s first at bat at Lake Howell he hit a home run over the right field fence. Like Tim Raines (also from Central Florida) you knew Martinez was special.

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Dave Martinez baseball card back in 1987

Way back in 1998 Martinez got the first hit in a regular season game for Tampa Bay Rays in their inaugural season.

Best wishes on his career as a manager in what’s already been a heck of a ride in professional baseball.

Scott W. Smith 

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“I was a big math and computer geek.”
Brian Acton
(Lake Howell High School grad and now billionaire)

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I know there’s a big football game today in Minneapolis, but just to mix it up a little here are some photos and memories surrounding an alumni baseball game I played in yesterday at my old high school. And the story of two graduates from my high school who made it big.

The mascot of Lake Howell High School is the Silver Hawks. The hawk statue in the above photo was part of a $4 million dollar donation that also included renovating the school’s air conditioning, updating the football field, building a swimming pool, and new computers.

It was an anonymous donation, but most figure it came from Brian Acton who was one of the founders of the WhatsApp and also a graduate of Lake Howell High School. Brian and Jan Koum sold their WhatsApp to Google in 2014 for $22 billion dollars. It’s estimated that Brian’s net worth today is around $6.7 billion.

Last September, Brian announced he was leaving WhatsApp.

 I’ve decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, and now it’s time to just focus and execute.
Brian Acton

When Brian was on the Lake Howell math team his coach was Mike Bouch.

 “You wonder in your career whether you’ll ever touch the life of someone who goes on to make it really big. But this, uh, this is just beyond belief.”
Mike Bouch
Orlando Sentinel article 

Though I was more than a decade ahead of Brian, Coach Bouch was also a coach of mine when I played football there. And just a two years behind me at Lake Howell was Dave Martinez. He went on to play pro baseball for 16 years, and won a World Series ring two years ago as a bench coach for the Chicago Cubs.

This year as MLB spring training gets on its way, Dave is the new manager (what they call head coaches in baseball) of the Washington Nationals. In November, The Washington Post announced his contact was worth a million dollars a year.

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That puts a Silver Hawk in Washington, D.C. and one in Silicon Valley. And in previous posts I’ve mentioned screenwriter Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall) and actor Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) are also Sliver Hawks flying high in Hollywood.

If you’ve follow this blog for long, you may have noticed that in many phots of me I have a hat on. It’s not because of the older I get, the less hair I have (which is true) it’s just that I grew up loving and playing baseball and wearing baseball hats as far back as I remember. Here’s a photo from yesterday’s game.

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Scott W. Smith

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