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Damage Control in Pitching and Golf

Posted on April 14, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Today I'm watching the final round of the Masters, my favorite day to watch golf all year.  Augusta National is the most beautiful, yet unforgiving golf course on the planet.  When golfers miss their Lokations during this tournament they are penalized more than on any other.  By the same token, pitchers are hit around when they miss Lokations facing great hitters.  In this blog entry I want to discus how playing an unforgiving golf course and pitching to a great hitter are similar.  

In pitching the opponent is the hitter, while the opponent in golf is the course.  When you face tough hitters, just as when you play tough courses, Lokation becomes the most important aspect of success.  Good hitters will take advantage of Lokation mistakes and make you pay by driving the ball for extra base hits or taking a walk.  Difficult golf courses will make you pay with penalty strokes after missing Lokations in the water, woods, or the short side of the hole.

Damage control is a huge key to scoring well on a hard golf course or getting a good hitter out.  You have to miss in the correct Lokations to give yourself a chance at success.  For example, hitting an aproach shot into a green with water on the right is comparable to facing a right-handed pull hitter on the mound.  You obviously want to hit your Lokation first and foremost in either situation, but if you don't, you want to miss to the left of the green or away from the batter.

It is very important to be aware of the correct miss whenever you are weighing your options on the course or on the mound.  The good news is that pitchers should have an easier time than golfers when it comes to damage control because in pitching it is rarely a mistake to miss low, as in the 4 Zone or below.  For golfers, missing in the correct Lokation will be more difficult because their damage control miss could be different everytime.  

Whether you are a golfer, pitcher, or both, the next time you are on the mound or course, pay special attention to where your misses end up and the result that follows.  You'll find out that if you are concious of damage control and make adjustments accordingly, you will have a lower score in golf and give up less runs on the mound.     

 

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Pitch Lokation and Defensive Shifting

Posted on April 01, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

When discussing Red Sox manager John Farrell and the decision to defensively shift players in the field more often, commentator and former pitching great Rick Sutcliffe gave the following quote on Opening Day while calling the Yankee Stadium home opener.

"John Farrell is a big believer in all the (defensive) charts and putting together a plan and incorporating that with a pitcher who has command.  You can have all the defense that you want set up, but if you are not hitting the target with the ball, it's not gonna happen."

I thought this was a very good point because pitch Lokation is not often factored in during defensive shifts when it is actually the most important factor in determining where to play fielders.  There is no good defensive alignment for bad pitch Lokation.       

 

 

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Behind Plate Camera Angle

Posted on March 27, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

I am watching the Oakland A's play the Chicago White Sox in a Spring Training game.  One of the camera crew members backed the TV truck over the centerfield camera wires and they haven't gotten it fixed yet, so they are showing the game from the camera angle from behind home plate.  The game has an old school feel and it makes me imagine what it would have been like to watch a game on film from the mid 1930s to the late 1950s. 

The behind the plate angle pulls my eye toward the hitter more than the center field camera does.  It makes me pay more attention to the hitter's reaction because pitch Lokation cannot be seen as easily from behind the plate.  Watching the hitter can tell a story on how well they are seeing the ball and whether their timing is good or not.

The A's pitcher Jarrod Parker has thrown four perfect innings with five strikeouts up to this point in the game and he is commanding extremely effective off speed pitches in the Go Zone and 4 Zone.  From this angle I can see hitter's weight shift forward early on the off speed pitches and how his off speed command is making the hitter's swing late on fastballs.  

The worse a hitter's timing is, the less precise Lokation needs to be.  The better a hitter's timing is, the more precise pitch Lokation must be.  Tonight Parker has disrupted timing and had precise Lokation, a great combination that often ends up in a victory for the team.

We cannot forget to pay attention to hitter's body language and reactions as coaches, catchers, and pitchers.  A check swing on a pitch that isn't even close probably means the hitter isn't seeing the ball well and they're timing isn't the best.  When a hitter can take a very close pitch without flinching (quiet take) then it generally means they are seeing the ball well and their timing is better. 

The camera angle behind the plate can also paint a bigger picture of what is happening from pitch to pitch. It shows base runners getting leads and the jump they get when attempting to steal a base.  It gives viewers a chance to see middle infielders working to hold runners on second or the timing involved in bunt plays.  Fans are also able to see the pitcher changing his hold times in the stretch so runners cannot time the delivery and get a good jump.  

Generally as pitchers we want to gravitate towards our strengths more than the hitter's weaknesses, but don't ignore what the hitter is telling you about their mindset with body language during the at bat. Body language is the most frequently used and strongest form of communication there is.  Always remember to look for reactions from the hitter and use it your advantage if it fits in your skill set.  

 

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