Monthly Archives: January 2018

TRADING ‘PROSPECTS’ FOR PROVEN TALENT – REMEMBER DAVID GREEN

Milwaukee Brewers General Manager – ‘Dealing’ Dave Stearns as I call him – fired up the MLB Hot Stove League by making a trade with the Miami Marlins for All-Star Outfielder Christian Yelich and then an hour later signed former Brewer Lorenzo Cain as a free agent.
A couple things came to mind with these moves.
In order to get a talent like Yelich – and if you don’t know how good this kid is you don’t follow baseball too closely – they had to trade Lewis Brinson, their top prospect in the deal.
The Brewers have control of Yelich, 26, through the 2021 season with a club option for 2022. He is a career .290 hitter with 59 HR, 293 RBI and 72 stolen bases in 643 games with the Marlins (2013-17).
He batted .282 with 18 HR, 81 RBI and 16 stolen bases in a career-high 156 games last season. He ranked among the National League leaders in runs (T7th, 100), at-bats (8th, 602), hits (9th, 170), doubles (9th, 36) and walks (10th, 80).
Yelich led Major League center fielders last season in fielding percentage (.997) and ranked second in starts (155) and fourth in total chances (372) as he committed just a single error all year. It marked his first full season as a center fielder after winning a Gold Glove Award in left field in 2014 and being named a Gold Glove finalist in both 2015 and 2016.
Nobody wanted to trade Brinson because of all the hype that came with him. But the key is he is still a ‘prospect.’
When I worked for the Brewers I can go back to what will always be considered – ‘The Trade.’
On Dec. 12, 1980, the Brewers acquired catcher Ted Simmons, pitcher Pete Vuckovich and closer Rollie Fingers from St. Louis in exchange for outfielders Sixto Lezcano and David Green and pitchers Lary Sorensen and Dave LaPoint.
Whereas Lezcano, Sorensen and LaPoint were major leaguers, but Cards GM Whitey Herzog told Brewers GM Harry Dalton he wouldn’t make the trade without the great David Green, one of the top ‘prospects’ (there’s that word again) in baseball.
The head of the scouting department and the baseball operations personnel almost came to blows at the winter meetings over including Green in the deal before Dalton stepped in.
Lezcano went on to play 72 games with the Cardinals, San Diego, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Sorensen played with the Cardinals one year, two years with Cleveland, Oakland, Chicago Cubs, Montreal and San Francisco, having one season over .500 (12-11) with the Indians.
LaPoint played with the Cards, Giants, Detroit, Padres, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburg and New York Yankees and won 14 games twice.
Green played six years in the majors, five with Cards and one with the Giants, finishing with a .268 batting average 31 homers and 180 RBIs and had off-the-field problems that cut his career short.
The Brewers got two MVPs (Fingers, Vuke) and an excellent hitting catcher (Simmons) in the deal.
I have nothing but respect for the four prospects Stearns traded and I hope they have good careers.
But I’ll always remember David Green.

EISENHOWER’S PLOCKELMAN NO LONGER UNSUNG

​EISENHOWER'S PLOCKELMAN
​NO LONGER UNSUNG

On Friday, Jan. 5, New Berlin Eisenhower senior forward Hannah Plockelman probably got rid of the 'unsung hero' tag forever.

That's because Plockelman was the hero in a 50-37 victory over Pewaukee which kept the Lions unbeaten (6-0) and in first place in the Woodland West.  The 6-foot Plockelman scored 18 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and added 2 assists and 1 steal. She even was the guest on Spectrum Sports post-game show.

The Lions are 10-2 overall and Plockelman leads the team in scoring (13.9 points) and rebounding (8.1) and is second in assists (2.2).

Hannah was a member of the Lions State Championship team as a sophomore, averaging 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Then last year as a junior starter, she led the team in rebounding (6.2) and was third in scoring (7.5) and steals (31).

As for the 'unsung hero' tag?

"She was second team all-conference last year so people noticed it," Coach Gary Schmidt said of Plockelman's improved play. "It's just the way she goes about doing business. She's improved her game. I like the fact that people notice what kind of athlete she is. I don't see how she shouldn't be first-team all-conference and she should get some all-state recognition too.

"From a coaches perspective (being an unsung hero), that's awesome. She's kind of a hidden gem. I think that's a tribute to the way she has mastered her game. She just keeps getting better and better."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Senior forward Hannah Plockelman leads the Lions in scoring and rebounding this season and is starting to share some of the spotlight..

Plockelman gives the Lions a multi-pronged attack with sharp-shooting Julia Hintz (13.2 points), Katie Ludwig (7.3), 6-feet, 2 inch Erin Hedman (6.3) and Olivia Canady (5.8). Hintz, Ludwig and  Canady are excellent 3-point shooters, which opens up the lane for Plockelman and Hedman.

Plockelman understands her new role this year.

"I'm more involved in the scoring aspect," she said. "In the previous years I just played defense and passed the ball but this year I'm more involved."

When asked if she feels more pressure in her new role, she talked about the talent on the team.

"I feel a little pressure, but I feel if I don't have the best game, my teammates will make up for it," she said. "We're a really deep team and everyone has a lot of strength.

"If teams focus on Erin or me, then that leaves Julia open," Hannah said. "Julia is also good at going to the basket and then dishing the ball off to us also. Katie and Olivia are also good outside shooters."

Plockelman is also a key player when it comes to defense.

"I guard the taller people and I have to make sure to box out and get rebounds," Hannah said. "I'm always working hard, I'm being aggressive. I've gotten stronger in these past years underneath the basket to get rebounds. It's very important if you're playing bigger girls, to get around them or you don't get the rebounds."

She not only wants to be out there, not just for her, but for her team. That’s part of being a good leader. It’s all about somebody else. She always reaches out to everybody. She’s just a great kid to have around.”

Lions coach Gary Schmidt

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Eisenhower coach Gary Schmidt has been thrilled - but not surprised - by Hannah Plockelman's progress the last few years.

Schmidt knew he had something good when he first saw Plockelman in the Eisenhower youth program.

"In fifth grade, even though she was very tall, she also showed skills, and I was pretty excited knowing she was going to be in our program for the long hall. Right back when she joined our feeder program, I knew she would be something special for us."

Schmidt then talked about one of the key strengths her coaches mentioned to him.

"When all coaches feel that they have kids who are coachable - you could just tell when she went to camps - the coaches said how good she was on the court and how she listened," he said. "That right there spoke highly of her. Not only from her effort but how well she knew the game of basketball. She really worked hard. That's why I'm impressed with her. The way she was in fifth grade and the way she is now. That tells a story - that any kid could get good if they really wanted to without a doubt."

Schmidt didn't hesitate when asked about Hannah's strong points.

"Her athleticism No. 1 and her basketball instinct No. 2," he said. "One of the things I've been most impressed with her is her speed, how quick she can get to the ball and get to the basket. I think she's very hard to defend.

"And yet she is so good to get up and get the rebound. She has quite the strong presence out there when it comes to basketball and where to be on the court. This is something you can teach to some and some kids you can't. Because of her athleticism she gets to some of the spots so quick. Her speed possesses that.

"I also think she is one of best defensive players in the state. I mean that sincerely. I also think she's one of the best rebounders.

Plockelman also talked about her quickness and defense.

"I have a quick first step, so if I have a taller and slower person guarding me I can drive past them in the lane and get to the hoop," she said. "I feel I'm good at anticipating on defense, so I'm good at being able to get to the gap or be on help side if my teammates need me.

"Defense is probably the most important thing to me. Coach says you should never have a bad game on defense."

Both coach and player almost agree on what she needs to work on.

"I need to work on my shooting," Hannah said. "I usually drive to the basket instead of taking the jump shot. I feel that I've never really been a big shooter from the perimeter, which I regret.  Coach doesn't discourage me. He encourages everyone to shoot."

But Schmidt wants her to work on the end of the shot.

"Finishing. We have to get her to be better at that," he said. "She's a great finisher as we speak. If I can find one flaw it's finishing. I would like to see her finish better around the hoop."

Not surprising, leadership is a key part of Hannah's makeup.

"It's extremely important. I think everyone is encouraging and stepping up when we have to," she said. "I think I can encourage people and pick them up when they're having a bad game. I like helping out (when younger players ask her questions). I like to see them succeed too. Once they understand it, they are really happy. That makes me happy too because they are improving and helping me too."

Schmidt is pleased with her leadership skills also.

"She leads by example," he said. "I can't think of a better kid who leads by example. She's very coachable. She listens, she responds, she never takes any time off. She's just a gamer.

"She not only wants to be out there, not just for her, but for her team. That's part of being a good leader. It's all about somebody else. She always reaches out to everybody. She's just a great kid to have around."

Schmidt was asked about Hannah's personality off the basketball court and his answer wasn't surprising.

"She's extremely polite," he said. "You can tell mom and dad (Jennifer and Mike) did a great job in raising her. She's always respectful. She treats people fairly. I never hear a bad word come out of her. She's always positive. To sum it up, she's the real deal. She treats people the way people should be treated."

Schmidt then asked if ​he could add one more thing about Hannah.

"There are two reasons people coach high school basketball," he said. "The love of game and the love of coaching kids. To have good kids is a coach's dream.

"I enjoy Hannah as much off the court as I do on. She's disciplined the way she looks at life. I'm the one who is honored to coach her."​

HANGING WITH HANNAH PLOCKELMAN

  • FAVORITE FOOD:   ​Cheeseburger
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:   ​Popular Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:   ​​'Safe Haven';  Comedy, Horror.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:   'Grey's Anatomy'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:   ​AP Biology
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:   ​Phoenix, Arizona
  • WHAT YOU DO TO RELAX:    Watch TV
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   ​Pewaukee, New Berlin West
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:   ​Winning State Championship her sophomore year. 
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:   Attend UW-Parkside, play basketball and be a nurse practitioner

STEINBACH STEPS DOWN AS LANCERS BOYS TENNIS COACH

For a guy who wanted to be a high school basketball coach, Dave Steinbach put together quite the tennis coaching career.

Steinbach, who has coached boys and girls tennis at Central since 1982, recently informed Don Kurth, the Lancers athletic director, he is stepping down as boys coach.

“The impact Dave Steinbach has had on Brookfield Central is hard to quantify,” Kurth said. “As a  teacher, coach and mentor, Dave has taught and coached thousands of kids spanning five decades, and in 2018, he is as relevant as ever.

“His no cut tennis program has set the standard for all others. We are lucky to have had Dave lead our kids over the course of his career. He is a class act, and his presence in our boys tennis program will be missed.”

Taking a look at the depth of Steinbach’s boys teams’ accomplishments is amazing. He is the only tennis coach in Wisconsin to win 500 matches for boys and 500 matches for girls.

His boys teams compiled a 513-147 (.777) won-lost record, winning 10 Greater Metro Conference championships and four state championships. They were runner-ups six times. They also won 19 sectional titles while finishing second eight times.

On the individual front, he had 61 singles players qualify for state and 60 doubles teams.

Steinbach, who will turn 82 years old this month, explained his decision to step down from coaching the boys program at this time.

“I have to give credit to the parents and the athletes, my assistant coaches (44 over the years) and the administration over the years,” he said. “My coaching successes have been dependent on them.”

“I have many facets in my life. Coaching is the one I controlled the least. If you don’t have good players you don’t win. for example, in one of my other facets, I umpired. Nobody had more control than me. I’ve broken my life down to 10-12 tennis facets and two coaching ones – girls coaching and boys coaching.”

But obviously, Steinbach had something to do with this team’s success.

“Now the fact that we have a big program – that’s me,” he said. “I decided not to cut. So many of these kids have more talent than I had when they were 14 or 15. If someone had told me I couldn’t play tennis, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone else.”

When then athletic director Jack Charlesworth offered Steinbach the tennis coaching position in 1982, Steinbach said he had to have a non-cut program.

“I coached basketball for 17 years and I was forced to cut,” Steinbach recalled. “When Jack Charlesworth asked me to coach the boys tennis team I told me I would do it if I wasn’t forced to cut players.

“I told him it’s a lifetime sport and if I cut a player he would never play tennis again. So he agreed. The first year we had 32 kids on the team. Kids heard we weren’t going to cut and pretty soon we had 34, then 36. Then the next year I had 45. It just kept getting bigger and bigger. Once year we had 132 kids come out, but we ended with 120 – 12 didn’t finish that year.”

Steinbach points out he is the longest employed Elmbrook employee, having begun teaching at Dixon in 1960. He began coaching at Burleigh Junior High, Brookfield East’s feeder program, in 1965. Since the high schools were three-grades at the time, he coached freshman football, track and basketball.

“My real goal was to coach varsity basketball but (Laverne) Luebsdorf was at Brookfield East and he was going to be there forever and Bill Graf was at Central and he’d be there forever,” Steinbach said. “I was a good freshman (basketball) coach.

“Tennis would be my best option to be a varsity coach. I wanted to see if I could be a good varsity coach. Those two guys (Luebstorf, Graf) were entrenched and there was nothing I could do.”

Steinbach did plenty to keep busy as he also refereed football and basketball too. He also was a referee in a state championship football game.

“I was also game manager in 1982, which is like an assistant athletic director,” he said. “I did it for all the sports.”

Another reason he stepped down from coaching boys in the spring first was the weather.

“We’re leaving for Arizona and California this month,” Steinbach said. “I’ve been cutting certain facets out of my professional life. I stopped teaching tennis at UWM. I stopped officiating the Big Ten 10 years ago. I’m trying to eliminate some of the facets. Playing facets I eliminated a long time ago (he was a state-ranked player tennis in the 35 and 45 age category, but an injury stopped him from competing at 55).

“I’m eventually going to have to get out of coaching, but I didn’t want to do it all in one shot. I don’t want the program to lessen. In March I’m involved in the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament in Palm Springs. We’re always in California from end of February through March then coming back to Wisconsin in April. Well I eliminated that first.”

Other than the Grand Slams, Indian Wells is the biggest tournament in the world.

“I supervise the fitness area for the pros,” Steinbach said. “I get to see all the coaches and their pros to see what they do for their pre and post match fitness. I can bring it back to my team. They think being a good tennis player just happens in the court and not in the weight room.”

Steinbach has won 72 different awards on some level, topped off by winning the United States Professional Tennis Association Award twice (boys and girls). He also won the prestigious ‘Starfish’ Award (boys and girls) presented by the United States Tennis Association.

He was also named to the Brookfield Central Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

Steinbach smiled when asked the difference between coaching boys and girls.

“The first 15 minutes of the practice,” he said. “For the girls it’s social time. You let them talk about what happened in school. Then when it’s tennis time that’s all done with. Otherwise you are going to have them talking when they should be concentrating on tennis. Most schools don’t have girls as good as we have. Brookfield Central girls are very competitive. When boys come out you’ve got to work them right away, they’re so hyped.”

Steinbach also pointed out another difference.

“Girls don’t like challenge matches,” he said. “Boys can play challenge matches and the next day they’re buddies. Girls – if they get beat – hold it. Girls would rather me tell them who they’re playing or what position they’re playing. Boys would rather say ‘let me play him and see if I can beat him or not.'”