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  • 16 Jul
    导出博客文章MS Dhoni, Indias limited-overs captain, believes his break from international
    cricket has given him ample time to work on his fitness. Dhoni, who retired from
    Test cricket in December 2014, was last involved with the national team during a
    short limited-overs series in Zimbabwe in June.When you have a break, its easy
    to maintain fitness because theres enough preparation time, Dhoni said in
    Lauderhill ahead of the first Twenty20 against West Indies on Saturday. There
    has been a lot of rain in India, which is a good thing since we needed that. So
    I trained indoors with the bowling machine when it came to the skill
    aspect.Dhoni, who will be involved in just a handful of games in India colours
    this season owing to a prolonged Test run at home from September to March,
    believes the breaks have helped him remain fresh in his quest to prolong his
    international career.During a packed season, maintaining fitness becomes tough
    because you cant put too much effort into it. Youre constantly monitoring
    workloads. When you have a break, you can plan your schedules. Thats what Ive
    done so that it helps prolong my career. Overall, its important to relish the
    in-between time.Back from the break during which he had briefly mentored his
    state side Jharkhand at a first-division tournament in Chennai, apart from
    promoting his yet-to-be-released biopic, Dhoni is now faced with the prospect of
    facing the current World T20 champions, which he felt would be quite a
    challenge.West Indies is an extraordinary team in the limited-overs format, he
    said. Sometimes having one allrounder can give you balance. They have two or
    three. Power-hitters become crucial in the smaller formats, and they have so
    many of them. They also play an entertaining brand of cricket, so it will be a
    challenge for us.Among the things he is most looking forward to on his return,
    Dhoni said, was the opportunity of working with new head coach Anil Kumble, from
    whom he had taken over the Test captaincy in 2008.He is a straightforward guy
    who will tell you what he has to to your face, Dhoni said. I learnt a lot from
    him while playing with him. One of the things that struck me was how he planned
    dismissals and went about his game. I was amazed at his consistency and the
    thinking aspect he brought to the game. It will also help him as a coach because
    you cant have the same plan across different formats.I feel, the more time I
    spend with him, the more Ill get to know him. Ive known him as a player. Now, I
    will know him as a coach. Weve seen previously how people are slightly different
    in both cases. Hes calm, composed and confident, and that will only help the
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    . Isner, ranked No. 14, won his eighth career
    singles title and took the title in New Zealand for the second time after his
    victory in 2010. The match was similar to Isners quarterfinal victory over
    fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber which went to three sets, all tiebreaks and
    contained no breaks of serve. WALDORF, Maryland -- The first thing Courtney
    Knichel typically does when she arrives in her office on a Saturday afternoon is
    change into a pair of Converse sneakers. Saturdays with the Southern Maryland
    Blue Crabs involve manual labor, even for the general manager.But today, thats
    not the first thing Knichel does when she arrives for work at Regency Furniture
    Stadium in Waldorf, Maryland. Before she can lace up her chucks, marketing
    manager Austin Gore is waddling up to her. His head is poking out of a bulbous,
    furry, blue mascot suit; his huge, red clown shoes are awkwardly scuffing along
    the hallway; and in his giant, blue hands, hes carrying papers for her to look
    over.Hes dressed as Pinch, the Blue Crabs mascot, for the team photo later in
    the afternoon -- but he also needs to make sure all the names are spelled
    correctly in the in-game videos. In between lacing up her shoes, Knichel
    corrects the spelling of McCullough to McCawley.Welcome to the Southern Maryland
    Blue Crabs, an independent league baseball team in Waldorf, Maryland. While
    theyre based about 30 miles from Nationals Park and 60 miles from the Baltimore
    Orioles Camden Yards, theyre a world away from both. In baseballs backwater,
    Knichel is breaking ground as the only woman general manager in the Atlantic
    League.***Knichel, 29, started at the bottom of the Blue Crabs organization. A
    native of Charles County, Maryland, Knichel became a marketing intern for the
    Blue Crabs in 2008, when the organization formed; she was fresh out of college
    when her mom signed her up for a summer internship. During a year-end sorority
    party, Knichel received a call from the then-nascent Blue Crabs, offering her an
    internship. She wrote the details down on a nearby napkin.Unsure of what her job
    really entailed, Knichel showed up on her first day in heels to look
    professional. She spent the evening picking up trash in the stadium, because in
    2008, for a fledgling independent baseball team, marketing intern really meant
    grunt laborer.Knichel was quickly introduced to a job with long hours, but it
    turned out to be much more than that. When the original marketing manager was
    fired in May of the first season, Knichel took over. She had been with the team
    for just a few months. It was mayhem.I had no idea what I was doing, Knichel
    said. That whole first summer I taught myself everything.For the next eight
    years, she steadily worked her way up the ladder for the Blue Crabs -- marketing
    assistant, then marketing manager for four years, then assistant GM for three
    after that. When Patrick Day, the previous GM, left to take over the New Britain
    (Connecticut) Bees in December 2015, Knichel was the natural successor.Its not
    like it was, [Courtney] hasnt been around the game, but lets give her a shot,
    manager Jeremy Owens said. Shes been here. Shes seen.The Blue Crabs released a
    short statement about the management change in March, but there was little
    fanfare.***Its four hours from game time, and the issue is tables.The Blue Crabs
    sell tables along the stadiums concourse for local vendors during games. But
    folding tables, as it turns out, are worth their weight in gold: the players
    need them for the clubhouse, concessions needs them to set up, the front office
    needs them in the main office.But right now, the game-day staff needs 25-odd
    tables for the vendors, and corporate sales manager Jason Sproesser protests,
    saying they dont have enough. Knichel tells him simply: Figure it out.At first
    glance, Knichel appears part-stereotype: Her hair is perfectly curled and she
    wears a large, monogramed necklace. Her office is not only decorated with nine
    years worth of Blue Crabs momentos, but also with a pink base from a breast
    cancer awareness event and a mug scrawled with Worlds best lady boss in pink
    script. On the wall behind her desk, theres a framed picture of the Blue Crabs
    opening pitch.If that clashes with the summer boys culture of baseball, Knichel
    does not care -- she has a vision for what she wants, and shes quick to respond
    if she sees something out of place.Earlier this year, Knichel was visiting the
    locker room after a game to talk to Owens. As she usually does, she called out
    before entering to make sure all the players were at least decently dressed. As
    Knichel walked in, a first-year player made a crack, miming her peering through
    her fingers to see the supposedly naked studs in the locker room. Knichel
    stopped.I was like, Dude, Ive worked here nine years, she said. If I wanted to
    look at d--ks, Id have looked at d--ks, you know?The locker room fell silent,
    and the player was so subdued he later worried if he was going to get released.
    Knichel went on with her meeting.People say stupid stuff, said Brian Bures, a
    three-year veteran among the pitching staff. Shes handled it as well as she can,
    I think. Youre going to get a reaction, because thats just how it is.Baseball as
    a whole -- and most especially the major leagues -- has long had a diversity
    problem. The all-womens league of the WWII era is long gone, and with the advent
    of softball, its rare that a woman makes her way onto a professional baseball
    team.The path to broadening executive and front-office positions beyond men has
    been tortuously slow. Some major league teams employ women at senior levels,
    particularly in marketing. But there are only a few women in player personnel or
    baseball operation roles. Linda Smith of the Kansas City Royals is one of a
    handful of women with direct input into player personnel decisions at the major
    league level.Kim Ng made waves after getting hired as an assistant GM by the
    Yankees and Dodgers, and she has been mentioned in several GM openings. She has
    been rumored to be the best candidate for the first female MLB GM.Minor league
    teams have seen a number of women as general managers -- though they typically
    dont make player personnel decisions; those are handled by the teams parent
    organization. A few hours down the road from Knichel and the Blue Crabs, Blair
    Hoke is GM of the Pulaski Yankees, a Rookie League team.With the Blue Crabs,
    Knichel decides who gets signed, who gets promoted and who gets released. Shes
    in charge of the bottom line, and that means when a player has to be acquired or
    released, shes in on the deal.On this day, Knichel is finalizing the reelease of
    high-profile player Fred Lewis, a one-time MLB journeyman.dddddddddddd Lewis has
    been injured most of the season. The Blue Crabs say hes cleared to play. Lewis
    says he still cant go and is still in pain. He hasnt shown up in a while and
    didnt show up for the team picture.Thats it, Knichel said after Lewis was a
    no-show for the team picture, though shed already made the decision to release
    him. Lewis official release came through the wire after Saturdays game.With that
    decision and countless other personnel moves, Knichel has already (quietly)
    broken barriers. She may break more.On the weekly teleconference with other
    league GMs, Atlantic League president Rick?White called everyone guys or fellas.
    Knichel is the only person on the call whos not a man.Halfway through this
    season, White emailed Knichel to apologize -- hed totally forgotten there was a
    woman on the call.I told him I dont mind, Knichel said. I know Im playing ball
    with the boys.Knichel is also dead-set to have things her way, and shes
    single-minded in her standards. If there needs to be 25 tables on the concourse,
    there are going to be 25 tables on the concourse. If the sales team needs to
    make 50 calls a day, Knichel says she doesnt expect to hear why its not getting
    done.Courtney is really strong-willed, said accounting manager Samantha Slovik.
    Shes on a path, and she knows what shes set out to do.Knichel is one of a few
    women in senior management at the Blue Crabs front office -- Slovik is in her
    third year as accounting coordinator, and Alexandra Wohlenhaus is the box office
    coordinator. Both describe Knichel as approachable but unmistakably
    headstrong.Wohlenhaus, Slovik and Knichel make the Blue Crabs something unusual:
    a baseball front office with women in all of the senior management positions.
    All three started as interns with the Blue Crabs, and each has been promoted
    within the system. Knichel says it wasnt some grand scheme or vision -- just a
    result of the most driven and organized rising in responsibility.I didnt bring
    those girls in because girls are better, Knichel said. But are these girls
    better? Kind of, yeah.***Knichel may be on baseballs outer rim, but there are
    still occasional brushes with the big time.Earlier in 2016, the Blue Crabs were
    involved in a swirl of rumors around minor league moves. The Batavia Muckdogs,
    operating at a significant loss and struggling with flagging attendance, were
    for sale.A group of local investors wanted to bring the Batavia Muckdogs to
    Waldorf as a Nationals affiliate -- but the deal fell through because of a lack
    of agreement between the Nationals and the Orioles, both of whom had to approve
    the deal because Waldorf is in the territory of both organizations.What would
    have happened -- or what still might happen -- is totally up in the air to
    Knichel. She said she has no idea whether a minor league organization would
    incorporate some of the Blue Crabs front office or bring in their own people.But
    Knichel and White both said they were confident that the Blue Crabs would remain
    in Southern Maryland through the 2017 season and likely through the 2018
    season.***During the afternoons leading up to game days, Knichel takes a lap
    around the stadium. She circles every inch of the place, putting up placards
    that have fallen down, straightening umbrellas, pulling down signs still up from
    yesterdays game.I like to do it every day, to make sure everything is good,
    Knichel said.In her first days and weeks as GM, Knichel struggled with
    micromanaging. Everything had to be perfect -- and nobody could do it better
    than she could.Ive learned to relinquish duties, Knichel said. And if something
    goes wrong, thats okay.Micromanagement is an understandable issue for Knichel,
    who has worked her way up the ladder in Waldorf. After nine years, this is home
    -- even at the fringes of a sport that is still struggling with the concept that
    women are just as qualified to run the show as men.She happily shows off the
    features shes most proud of: the kiddie wading pool just off the outfield that
    she had re-filled this year for the price of one outfield sign, the picnic
    tables along the concourse she had installed, the staff members spaced out along
    the concourse acting as de facto ushers and concierge.Knichel remembers putting
    seats together minutes before the gates opened for the first-ever Blue Crabs
    game.Now, Regency Furniture Stadium, which shares a parking lot with a metro bus
    stop and whose concrete is chipped and siding is starting to peel, is the place
    she doesnt want to leave.She knows this ballpark better than everyone,
    Wohlenhaus said.This, Knichel said, is a place thats very special to me.On this
    particular Saturday, Knichel is standing along the third-base concourse. People
    started lining up outside the gates well before they opened, and theres not a
    rain cloud in sight. Today will be a good day.The Blue Crabs averaged about
    3,500 in attendance in 2014 and 2015, good for the top 10 of independent league
    baseball. On a good Saturday like today, the park might bring in 5,000 or
    more.The chucks get some good use: just before the gates open, it turns out the
    Blue Crabs are, as usual, one table short. So Knichel hustles down to the
    clubhouse and helps haul the final table into position. When another vendor
    requests some chairs, she ducks into a concourse closet and finds a few for
    them.Shes not joking when she says she knows everybody -- dozens of people come
    up to her to say hello and to chat with her for a few minutes during the game.
    Theres the owner of the local Chick-Fil-A, a big sponsor; theres the guy who
    runs a local haunted house; and Knichels mom scolding her for missing church two
    Sundays in a row.Tonight is a good night, though. The stadium is full, and
    Knichel is able to present a local charity with a check for more than $5,000.
    Whats more, the Blue Crabs win 5-3. After the game, there are fireworks and a
    party on the field. But its already 10 p.m. and most of the young families head
    home.Knichel is still on the field, and good thing she wore her chucks. Some of
    the fireworks from the postgame show blew onto the field, and somebody has to
    pick them up. ' ' '