Ok, a couple quick things before I jump into the topic at hand for this month. First, apologies are necessary for missing the January newsletter. I won’t ruin my apology with an excuse but I know how many thousands of you sit anxiously on your seats awaiting my monthly dribble and you were all devastated that I didn’t get a newsletter/article out in January. (By the way, Yes I’m being sarcastic!). Second, for those who’ve been asking but have not checked, there is a new picture of my son, Alex, on the homepage of my website. As the caption states, I literally had to pretend to pitch to him before he’d squat down. We play a version of ‘indoor ball’ each night in the living room. I haven’t quite figured out what the rules are but he seems to know them and that’s all that counts I guess. Third and finally, I get Clinic/lesson requests routinely from all over the place. Quite literally, every day there is a clinic/lesson request in my email box. My schedule fills about 4 months in advance so, please keep that in mind when/if you ever want to schedule something in your area. I do have the last 2 weekends of April open, and that will conclude the clinic season until Labor Day for me. My own season opens up in San Antonio Texas the first weekend of May. But, the 2 weeks before that are wide open for weekends or weekday clinics/lessons if anyone is interested. I know many high school and college programs are in full swing at that time and the travel teams are just getting outside for trainings at that point. Another thought is the new service I’m offering of the batting training. NO, not teaching batting but throwing batting practice to your team. In this, I will identify holes in their swing and show them how a good pitcher will probably attack them in games. I can speed it up or slow it down to whatever velocity is required/necessary but it’s the movement that the girls struggle with most of the time. They aren’t used to seeing such biting dropballs or riseballs quite like this. So, if interested in the last 2 weeks of April drop me a line. My family will be in Denmark visiting other family so, I can do anything midweek or weekend. Ok, enough advertising.
Each month I’m sent dozens of ideas for newsletter topics. Most are pretty good and I have ever desire to write about that topic but, with only doing 1 newsletter per month, it’s hard to know which topic is best. So, I try to pick the most common question asked during a month time frame. This month’s most common theme was involving other pitching instructors. However, I’m just not in the mood today to go into The Pitching Coach Mafia and all their stuff. It’s depressing to me. I’ve got all kinds of stories I could share about PCM people, maybe I should write a book of them. I’d have to enter witness protection after doing it but, it may be worth it. After all Sammy the Bull wrote a book while in the Witness Protection program. But, like Sammy the Bull Gravano, I’d probably find myself in trouble again with the very people I’m trying to hide from as I continue to see what gets taught. Remember that story I told a year or so ago about the PCM guy who would ban you from his website forum if you mentioned my name? Well there’s a better one from a PCM’er in Cleveland who insisted to a student of mine that unless she changes her motion from pitch to pitch (stepping short/long, side to side) then there is no way to make the ball go high/low or to the sides. I’m amazed to hear all along, despite the pitching career I’ve had and continue to have that I cannot make the ball go high or low doing it the way I do. Imagine my surprise to learn this! I guess all this time, I’ve been throwing pitches right down the middle and unable to make it move doing it the way I do. You know it’s genius’s like that PCM member who are wasting their intellect and brains with softball. We need that person to solve the Israeli-Palestine conflict where they can put their superior brains into action for the good of humanity.
That just goes to show you the flaw in society. You need a license to go catch a fish but no credential or brains to teach someone how to pitch. Something is wrong with that.
One thing I’m also amazed at is how many pitchers don’t take their personal catcher to pitching practice. I know that schedules are sometimes tough to coordinate but, whenever possible, I would insist on this if I was a coach or parent of a successful pitcher. The catcher is the unsung hero for a pitcher and like a good umpire, you only realize a catcher when they do something wrong. Sad but true. Think about it.. good umpires don’t want to be seen on the field. They want to make the call and let the game go. Catchers are involved in every pitch, same as the pitcher but only get ‘seen’ when they do something heroic or bad. When a pitcher throws a great game, it’s not often that the catcher is complimented. And there is always that friendly rivalry between pitchers and catchers but, the truth is they need each other. A good catcher looks bad without a good pitcher and vice
One of my pet peeves in the sport is coaches who call pitches for their battery. For some reason this is most common in softball rather than baseball and I don’t get why. For whatever reason, coaches don’t teach pitchers/catchers what to look for in a hitter or situation. They don’t teach them to hone their instincts. Instead, they just teach the mechanics of catching without the mental side of it. I guarantee you there is no 2 people on that field who understand the situation better than the pitcher and catcher, but you have to teach them how to react and respond to everything. It doesn’t come naturally. In my opinion, coaches calling pitches is a microcosm of society at large today. Everyone wants things done for them instead of doing it themselves. Instead of exercise, take a diet pill, etc.
Girls can be taught, the same as boys can about what pitches are appropriate and when. The catcher needs to be taught what to look for, how to remember the hitter’s last at bat, what the umpire’s zone is, how to talk to the umpire between pitches/innings, and how to set up one pitch to help the next. It’s so sexist and down right stupid to think girls cannot learn this. And it can begin at pitching practice with a quality pitching coach who can teach the rules of thumb about what to throw and when. It’s not an exact science. Catchers will get it wrong, so will coaches. Besides, regardless of who’s calling the pitch, the pitcher has to throw the ball where it’s called anyway. And that pitcher should have veto power over everyone! Yes, coaches, that means you too! The pitcher knows if the ball is slick, if the rubber is crooked or muddy, if the seams are to high/low on the ball, if it feels heavy, etc. THEY KNOW THIS, NOT YOU. From personal experience, nothing is worse than throwing a pitch, watching it get smacked and KNOWING I shouldn’t have thrown THAT pitch. Even if it’s the right call, the pitcher has to feel right about that pitch. This is when pre-game meetings and between inning talks come into play. Discussing how to attack the hitters will play a role in what is the best pitch to throw.
It’s troubling to admit but, good catchers are hard to find. It’s because we aren’t teaching the catchers anymore, we’re just showing them. This is how you catch the ball but depriving them of how to think for themselves and for the pitcher is an aspect of the game becoming extinct quicker than we realize.
I lovingly call catchers a necessary evil. But the truth is, they can be a pitchers best friend or worst enemy. Why do you think most catchers LOVE the Bull Durham movie? It wasn’t for the fine acting by Costner or to see Tim Robbins in his underwear. It was because it showed a catcher TUTORING a pitcher on how to be great. Of course, they left out of the movie that it was probably a pitcher who originally taught the catcher!!!!!!!!!!!