Seeing What Others Don’t

I’m back!  Not really.  I received this email today and thought it was great so I put it on this blog.  It was written by Patti Johnson.  You probably can tell by the spelling of “Patti” with an “i” that she’s got something to say!  So sit back relax and enjoy this article that I literally cut and pasted.


Do you know talent when you see it?

By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Malcolm Butler, the undrafted rookie free agent, who made the game saving interception for the New England Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
By all accounts, Butler shouldn’t have even been playing in the NFL, much less the star of the biggest game of the year. But, along the way, a few people saw something special.
Butler played for West Alabama after starting in junior college. He got an assist from Chan Gailey, who coached Butler in the Medal of Honor Bowl and is the current New York Jets offensive coordinator. Gailey recommended that Butler pursue the Patriots given coach Bill Belichick’s willingness to look past draft status and assess raw talent.
This ability to see talent without the typical indicators for future high potential status likely affected not only the Super Bowl, but both Butler’s and the Patriot’s legacy.
Today, most people think of Tom Brady as the elite NFL quarterback who has it all, but it wasn’t always that way. Brady was a fifth round draft pick, at #199, and started as the Patriot’s 4th string quarterback. Yet, a few people saw something special in him.
I once worked alongside a team with below average performance and a struggling leader. A new leader came in and she began to make what outwardly seemed like relatively small changes. One person was asked to leave for poor performance and one new role was created. The other team members stayed and after reorganizing they emerged with new roles and a different way of working.
This new leader was able to assess the talents of the team and then use them in the right way. The performance and success of her team underwent a dramatic change in a relatively short amount of time as strengths were recognized and utilized to fit the work.

Are you creatively using talent?

I’m fascinated by the college teams and coaches that never get the top recruits yet still find the way to win.
Alabama’s recruiting class almost always attracts the most nationally ranked high school college recruits and this year appears to be no exception. Logic says that if you consistently have the best talent you’ll increase your likelihood of winning and this has been true for Alabama and coach Nick Saban.
But what about coach Gary Patterson at Texas Christian University (TCU), a program that consistently finds a way to win? I’ve read that Patterson has the highest percentage of players who play a different position in college than they played in high school. He and his staff look at the talent of a high school athlete and rather than assess how they stack up at wide receiver, as an example, they assess overall talent and then determine his viability at TCU.
Julian Edelman, another Patriot’s success story, was drafted in the seventh round and had been a previous high school and college (Kent State) quarterback. Again, someone saw something and this spirited player became a key ingredient not as a quarterback – but as a wide receiver and punt returner. Edelman’s talents were translated and used in a different way than his history would suggest.
Julian Edelman and his teammate, Malcolm Butler, were the guests of honor at Disneyland this week – an outcome that probably neither of them could have possibly imagined not very long ago.

It’s because someone saw something special.


The Story Behind the “Altuve”

Like many overnight successes, the origin of the unit of measure known as the “Altuve” has been around since 1997.  It has only been recently that Jose Altuve, a giant of Lilliputian proportions, was in the right place at the right time.

I would like to take you back to the father of the “Altuve” so that we can not only understand this phenomena, but to also to see how height influences society and our understanding of basic human interaction.  That’s a lie.  I’m just going to tell you how the “Altuve” was invented.

What is an “Altuve”?

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (IBWM) defines the Altuve as follows:

The International Bureau of Weights and Measure has never heard of the “Altuve” and thinks that using a Venezuelan Second Baseman as a unit of measure is stupid.

Ok.  Lesson learned.  We now know that the International Bureau of Weights and Measures can’t be trusted.

Since we can’t trust the IBWM, just like we can’t trust the BCS because that stupid computer gave the USC Football team the number two ranking although  Alabama did look tough against Michigan and LSU has amazing athletes once again, not to mention that SC will have to get by a solid Stanford team and the circus that is Oregon who has so many combinations of uniforms that they have to use the Goncharov conjecture to decide what color they are, we will go to the only place that can be trusted, Wikipedia.

Inspired by broadcasters debating how many “Altuves” a particular home run traveled, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…

Geez!  Here is the definition:

The “Altuve” is an unit of measure that represents the height in feet of Houston Astros Second Baseman, Jose “THE Altuve” Altuve.

Exodus is to Genesis, as the “Altuve” is to …

The father of the “Altuve” is now a firefighter in Ventura County, Ca.  Known only to those players on  USC’s, the same USC whose alumni are not actually ok with Lane Kiffin running out on Tennessee even though we could all understand that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be Head Coach at SC  but still you have to make high character decisions because you are teaching young men how to be men and one guy who is doing a great job of leading is Heisman candidate Matt Barkley whose twitter is @MattBarkley, Trojan National Championship Baseball Team of 1998.

Most people walk by the father of the “Altuve” without knowing.  Not even the father himself knows that he is the “chosen one.”  It is now time to reveal to all who this man is.  His name is Jeff DePippo and he is the original “DePippo.”

The Unit of Measure: the “DePippo” 

Standing 5’7″ tall, Jeff DePippo is one of the biggest competitors I have ever met.  He is a master of both parlor and backyard games.  Play him in pool, darts, spades, ping-pong, heads up seven up, canasta, go fish, monopoly, or beer pong and he will kindly destroy you.  If you rather try your hand outside at games like croquet, frisbee, lawn darts, bocce ball, four square, tether ball, corn hole, butts up, or hide and go seek and you will be annihilated.  His talents are legendary.

The Baseball House

The Baseball House

In 1997 six of the baseball players lived in a house off campus.  Obviously this would turn out to be the place where everyone hung out.

One day I noticed Jeff DePippo walk by our teammate Carlos Casillas.  Now Carlos, brother of Oscar, of the “fighting Casillas Brothers,”  is a 6’5″ monster.

As he passed I looked next to teammate, Brian “Fog” Vieira and said,

Would you say that ‘Los’ is one in a half or two DePippo’s tall?

And with that one question, the unit of measure, the “DePippo” was born.

Flash Forward

For those of you who don’t know, I am a co-host on SiriusXM MLB Radio.  My partner, Mike Ferrin, who has done a “Kiffin” and left me for a better time slot on SiriusXM with Jim “I’ll take who I want to thank you very much” Duquette on Power Alley weekdays and you can follow Mike on twitter @MikeFerrinSXM, and I were doing a show last year and Jose Altuve came up.

Mike kept saying how good this Altuve kid was and that he was only 5’6″ tall.  So after Mike was finished swinging from Altuve’s “nuts”, I explained the story of Jeff DePippo and suggested we do the same with Jose Altuve.

Mike agreed and the “Altuve” unit of measurement was born.

Jeff DePippo

& Son,
Jose Altuve

Bruan, Ruh…Roh….and Keyser Söze

In the famous words of Scooby Doo, “Ruh Roh.”  This image of Scooby telling Shaggy that something is wrong echoed in my mind after reading Dino Laurenzi, Jr.’s statement on ESPN Milwaukee’s website.

Let me be real straight before we look deeper into this issue.

I could care less if a player takes or took steroids during their career.

This isn’t some “has-been” who is furious about not being in the game.  This is a “has-been” who wants the truth.  Ok, are we good now that everything is qualified?  Super!

Bring in Söze….

Please join hands and welcome  Keyser Söze aka Roger “Verbal” Kint from the movie, The Usual Suspects.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie…shame on you.  And, since I am not a movie spoiler, you will just have to rent it to see why he is here.

To the statements!

Statement 1:  “there were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.”

Scooby:  Ruh Roh… Did he just bring the collector into question?  Won’t the collector have to make a comment?

Söze:  That was a mistake.  Always blame the process.  That keeps the discussion subjective.  You can always find someone to agree with you no matter what if you keep it subjective.  Now the collector will make a statement and this could backfire.

Statement 2:  “I am a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and have received Master Degrees from the University of North Carolina and Loyola University of Chicago. My full-time job is the director of rehabilitation services at a health care facility. In the past, I have worked as a teacher and an athletic trainer, including performing volunteer work with Olympic athletes.

“I am a member of both the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers’ Association.

“I have been a drug collector for Comprehensive Drug Testing since 2005 and have been performing collections for Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program since that time. I have performed over 600 collections for MLB and also have performed collections for other professional sports leagues. I have performed post-season collections for MLB in four separate seasons involving five different clubs.

Scooby:  Ruh Roh…Two Masters degrees?  That sounds official.

Söze:  Problem…the guy is qualified out of the ying-yang.  People don’t just get two masters degrees.  Even if this guy is the biggest flake, the public thinks this is a guy who is a finisher.

Who is advising Braun?  Did they do any research on the qualifications of the collector?  Well, people are still human.  Maybe he made a major error in the collection process.

Statement 3:  “I sealed the bottles containing Mr. Braun’s A and B samples with specially-numbered, tamper-resistant seals, and Mr. Braun signed a form signifying, among other things, that the specimens were capped and sealed in his presence and that the specimen identification numbers on the top of the form matched those on the seals.

“I placed the two bottles containing Mr. Braun’s samples in a plastic bag and sealed the bag. I then placed the sealed bag in a standard cardboard Specimen Box which I also sealed with a tamper-resistant, correspondingly-numbered seal placed over the box opening. I then placed Mr. Braun’s Specimen Box, and the Specimen Boxes containing the samples of the two other players, in a Federal Express Clinic Pack.

“None of the sealed Specimen Boxes identified the players. I completed my collections at Miller Park at approximately 5:00 p.m. Given the lateness of the hour that I completed my collections, there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday.

“Therefore, the earliest that the specimens could be shipped was Monday, October 3. In that circumstance, CDT has instructed collectors since I began in 2005 that they should safeguard the samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for one day or more at a local FedEx office. The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with CDT and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident.”

Scooby:  Ruh Roh….what are tamper resistant seals?

Söze:  Bad…..bad…bad….they’re dead.  Sounds like the guy followed protocol.  He has Braun’s initials on both samples.  The samples were sealed in a box with another tamper resistant seal?  Bad…bad…bad.

The collector has painted a picture of someone who does things the right way.  He has those two masters degrees and proof of following protocol in 600 previous instances.  Again, he might be the biggest liar in the world, but the public is going to believe him.

Wait….Braun still has a chance.  The samples are in tamper-resistant containers inside a bag inside a tamper resistant box right?  Oh…never mind…he’s in trouble.

Final Thoughts

Scooby:  I would like a Scooby Snack.

Söze:  The problem with this whole thing is that the samples got to the lab intact.  If there was any visible evidence that the samples had been tampered with they would have immediately cried “foul.”  And no the lab wouldn’t need video replay to determine that the sample was “foul”  you “smart aleck.”  The lab also doesn’t know or care whose sample they are testing.

So after all of these statements, Braun believes that someone opened the seals and put something in the sample.  The only person who could have done that was the collector or a random lab tech who wanted to choose some sample of a person they don’t know and sprinkle in some testosterone that they brought in their pocket and placed in their lab coat.  That seems likely.

Message to Braun

Ryan, someone is either out to get you or you are not telling the truth.  I think you took something over the counter that “could” raise testosterone or maybe not.  You were probably feeling the pressure of leading the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in a long time.  People will understand.  We don’t think that you are a steroid user….we think you took something one time at the end of a season to get through playoffs.

Ryan, everyone I talk to says you are a great guy.  They say that you have a huge heart and I believe them.  I think you are completely natural except for this “hiccup.” If you hadn’t accidentally said, “there were a lot of things that we learned about the collector,”  then there probably wouldn’t be as big of an issue.  But, you did bring the collector into this and now his integrity is being questioned just like yours.  The problem is that he is a “little fish” and he has spent part of his career doing a job that requires integrity for his employment.

I beg you to find out who tampered with your sample.  This is no longer about you, it is about Dino Laurenzi Jr’s integrity.

You Have Questions

Hello everyone!  I know…it has been a long time.  Well, much has happened since I left you to fend for yourselves.  But who cares about me?  Let’s get to you.

There have been a lot of stories this off-season and you have questions.  Fire them at me and I will answer some on this blog.
So what’s on your mind?



For those of you who have been tuning in to college baseball recently, you may have noticed a stat we are tracking. It is called the MEI or Morgan Ensberg Index. This stat tracks the number of “Freebies” that teams give up each game. Coach Kevin Hazlett of Mesa Junior College in San Diego introduced me to the idea of “Freebies.” It has changed how I view college baseball games.

What is a Freebie?

The idea is simple. Don’t allow your opponent an extra base without getting an out. Freebies come in many forms, but the MEI tracks five of them.

1. Walks

2. Errors

3. Stolen Bases/Wild Pitches

4. Hit By Pitches

The MEI is Born

Just before the regionals, I presented this idea to the guys in the “Truck.” The truck is the large container that you will see in parking lots sometimes. It is a command center where the producer, director, and every other person involved with putting a show together is located. The response was positive and they said, “Let’s do it!”

How Does it Work?

To calculate the MEI, add together the five variables for each team. The team that has the lowest number will be the team that is expected to win.

Let’s look at three examples from the Super Regionals on June 10, 2011.

Notice the totals of each game. The teams in yellow are the teams that won their games. Each of those teams had a lower MEI than their opponents.

How to Use the MEI

This stat is not 100%. It is less likely to be this accurate at the Major League level. That is because Major Leaguers play a more consistent brand of ball. However, this is a very accurate stat for college baseball. Use this stat as a barometer to help you understand which team is giving themselves the best chance to win.

How do we make this better?

Play around this a little bit and see if it makes sense. If you would like to add a stat like “Wild Pitches” then go for it! This is a good base, but it doesn’t mean that it is a finished product. We have to constantly track its accuracy and see if it makes sense over time.


You have to see this!!!!!  This is why baseball players are the funniest human beings in the world!

BIg thanks to Tom Tango for alerting me to this one. Thanks Tango!