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Backing up Bases

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

Last night after our Easter festivities I settled in to watch the last half of the Red Sox vs. Orioles.  Last year (2013) the Orioles set a number of different fielding records and were rated the best defensive team in Major League Baseball.  They have been on the same path this year with only 4 fielding errors through April 20th, all made by Manny Machado's replacement third basemen Jonathon Schoop.  Insert Manny Machado, and they may be errorless through Easter Sunday.  Tonight that same great defensive team blew a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning with an error to make a total of 3 on the night.  This article will discuss how the pitcher, who did not commit an error, could have saved the game.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth and the bases loaded, Bostons' Mike Carp hit a line drive to the left fielder David Lough.  Dustin Pedroia, the runner on third, did not immediately tag up.  So when Lough caught the ball for the second out of the inning, Pedroia was scrambling back to the bag.  Lough caught the ball and threw the it in at full speed to the third baseman Schoop even though Pedroia did not tag, who was out of position as the cutoff man to home. Schoop was only a couple steps off the bag at third when he decided to dodge the ball coming at him from left field. 

The ill-advised throw to the out of position cut off man sailed 15 up the foul line, past the catcher standing at home plate and the pitcher who only gave a half hearted effort to back up the play.  Since the pitcher did not hustle from the crack of the bat to get in position to back up the throw he wasn't able to field the ball, it got past both of them, and Pedroia came into score the winning run.  The pitcher was not charged with the error but in my opinion he was just as much at fault as anyone involved in the play. 

It is the pitcher's job to hustle behind any base there may be a play and get as far back toward the fence as possible.  The further back the pitcher is from the play, the more time he has to react to a bad throw.  In this situation the Orioles pitcher only got to the edge of the home plate dirt before the errand throw came in and had no time to react.  The left fielder and third baseman also had chances to keep Pedroia at third base, but with a little hustle the pitcher could have made up for their mistakes and saved himself a loss!

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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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