I’ll begin in my normal fashion of asking those who haven’t done it to please sign
up on my Frappr map. Go to <www.frappr.com/houseofpitching> and plug in your info.
It takes 30 seconds and it’s a really neat thing. I also encourage those of you
with team websites to get your own map.. it’s great to make contacts all over the
world. Plus, you can then be annoying like me and keep asking people to sign up!
As I’m sure the softball world knows, Eddie Feigner died this past week at the age
of 81. I knew Eddie for a number of years and his show King and his Court was one
of the most famous in the USA for a very long time. I always liked him and thought
his show was great entertainment for people but, it is incredible to me how many
people thought the show was real. It was as real as professional wrestling.
Someone once asked me about him and if I thought he was the greatest pitcher ever.
My response shocked him somewhat because that would be like comparing Meadowlark
Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters to Michael Jordan. Sure, both were very talented
basketball players but one was a show, the other wasn’t. Eddie Feigner was a very
good pitcher but, was a smarter business man. I think at some point in his life he
realized he could make his living by turning his pitching into an act
and that’s exactly what he did. Many believe he threw a pitch at 104 mph and others
have made similar claims in yesteryear about how fast they threw. I’ll say this
much: in 2006 the fastest pitcher at the World tournament was gunned at 86 mph.
Please bear in mind, pitching rules are less restrictive today and radar is more
accurate. So, did ANYONE ever throw 100 mph in softball? Well, if the aren’t doing
it in 2006, they sure weren’t doing it in 1966!
As the season approaches for 2007, the lessons I do are becoming more and more
packed full. As I’ve said in previous newsletters, it always amazes me how pitchers
take the entire winter off then, as if cramming for an exam, they try to get a whole
winter’s worth of pitching in before the season during a 5 week stretch. But one
thing that is equally as puzzling to me is why more of the pitchers don’t bring
their personal catcher to practices. Come to think of it, I wonder why the
catchers, parents of the catchers and team coaches don’t encourage the catchers to
come. A great catcher can help their pitcher through rough patches. They can
identify mechanical flaws and help correct them. They can learn pitch sequences and
practice them at pitching practice. They can learn how to call their own pitches
during a game. Oooops, shame on me for suggesting that!
For some reason, the overwhelming majority of coaches in softball think they have a
better grasp of what pitches to call then the 2 players who are actually involved:
pitcher and catcher. Afterall, that coach sitting on a bucket has a full
understanding of all the elements in the equation, right? The coach knows if the
ground is slippery, if the ball feels heavy, if one ball has better seams than
another, if the pitcher/catcher saw a flaw in the hitters swing that can be
exploited, etc. Ummm, wrong.. on all counts. I’m flat out appalled by watching a
coach call pitches when ESPN airs the College World series. Do you mean to tell me
that girl got a scholarship to a major university as a catcher and doesn’t know how
to call a game? That is a major indictment of the over all coaching they must be
receiving from the beginning of their playing days. Why are they not taught HOW to
call a game from the start?
For whatever reason, girls are not treated the same as boys in this respect. There
is absolutely NO reason why pitchers and catchers should not be taught the art of
calling a game and how to look for things in a hitter’s swing in softball. It seems
to be a gender thing because I see boys baseball pitchers shaking off pitches all
the time from their catcher. Regardless of gender, a pitcher and catcher need to
be on the same page about how to attack a hitter, what the overall game plan is, and
other intangibles that people who’ve never pitched before cannot understand. What
are some of those intangibles? Well, lets take the ball for example. Every ball
feels different, one might feel slick, another heavy. Another might not have seams
or has too high of seams. The reality is, there are times when a ball is in play
that will not work with a certain ball for one reason or another.
Ever notice on baseball when the pitcher doesn’t like the ball given to him after a
foul ball? Why do you think that is? It’s because something didn’t feel right.
And as a pitcher, I can tell you there is nothing worse than throwing a pitch that
you know in your heart is not the right one to throw at that time and watching it
get smashed for a hit (or worse). I’ve done it a 1000 times.. then I kick myself
for not trusting myself and shaking off the catcher. I cannot even imagine what it
would be like to be TOLD by somene who is not even in the game to throw a certain
pitch, with a certain ball, in a certain situation, and expect a good result. I
have news for you, if a pitcher has any doubt in his/her head about that pitch not
being the right one at that time… he/she is already defeated.
Yet, for some reason girls are never taught to think for themselves in the game.
It’s a form of supression if you ask me. In my opinion this is one area that needs
to be investigated by a Women’s Lib group or National Organization of Women. Why in
the sport of softball are females not taught fundementals of pitch selection?
And before anyone comes to me and says: “The coaches have a game plan, they chart
the hitters, etc. thats why they call the pitches.” I will say this… they do that
in baseball too. And they have pre-game meetings where they discuss these things.
If a catcher doesn’t follow the game plan by calling bad pitches or makes a bad
pitch selection, then a discussion should take place between coach, pitcher and
catcher. But to never teach the catcher what is a good pitch selection or a bad one
is a sad thing.
The truth is, the best coach in the world is not the one who trys to control every
aspect of the game but instead teaches the the players how to control the game for
themselves. Moreover, a great coach will teach their hitters how to ‘set up’ a
pitcher for the pitch they want, especially when the coach who is calling the
pitches cannot see the intangibles. A pitcher needs to know when they actually have
the hitter set up, or if the hitter has the pitcher set up! These things need to
get taught to young pitchers/catchers at young ages, which will give them plenty of
time to learn the game inside and out. Sure, mistakes will happen. A bad pitch
gets called from time to time. But good pitches also get hit for HR’s a lot too…
that doesn’t mean it was a bad pitch, it means it was a good hit. There’s a big