Sunday, March 14, 2010

Go Ahead, See if You Can Hit It!

"I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it," - Sandy Koufax, Hall of Fame pitcher from the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers

   This week, as we started baseball practice at Toms River High School South, I made sure to take some time to go over some important ideas and concepts with our pitchers. At practice as they began throwing bullpen sessions and preparing for our upcoming preseason schedule, we took some time handle the mental side of the pitching. I typed-up a handout with about a dozen quotes about pitching and made sure to put this one on the end, in bold, like and exclamation point.

  Even though we had our first three scrimmages rained out, it gave us some time to focus on these important concepts.  I made sure to a few moments to read to them the quote above from Brooklyn bred Sandy Koufax - one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. 

The gist is - challenge the hitter! Throw them your best and see if they can handle it.  Don't worry about trying to dance around their talents, make them worry about your talent. 

Then end result of this idea should be every single pitcher's goal - strike one.  The sooner you get there as a pitcher, the sooner that batter is on the bench worrying about his next at bat against you.

 I happened to catch a minute or two of the Mets preseason broadcast of game from March 13th feature left-hander Oliver Perez who threw four no-hit innings. He was the lucky recipient of some personal coaching by Koufax who is connected to the Mets through owner Fred Wilpon who was Sandy's high school teammate in Brooklyn at Lafayette HS. The broadcasters let us in on the coaching and the proverbial "secret-sauce" - as many have tried to help Perez who has been struggling the past few seasons. Sandy said, you know what, just relax and throw the ball. 

And I'd bet he told Perez to make the hitters try to hit it.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baseball Offense - Made Simple


   Hopefully most of you are failiar with the strategy of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!). I think this acronym is perfect for figuring out baseball strategy and technique and works best in almost every situation.

  So I will break down for you the only three strategies a batter can be thinking about when he (or she) steps into a batters box and faces live pitching. In a game with endless possibilites, there are ONLY THREE THINGS A BATTER SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT!!!!!

1. - GET ON BASE - This would be a hitting situation when you need baserunners against a pitcher. Get the hot pitcher into the stretch. Make them worry about too many baserunners. You could be ahead big in the game. You could be behind big in the game. You could be in a tie game. It could be the first inning. It could be the last inning. Find a way to GET ON BASE.

2 - MOVE A RUNNER OVER - This second situation calls for the batter to put the ball somewhere in the field to move a runner to the next base. A sacrifice bunt. A ground ball to the right side of the infield. Get hit by the pitch. Draw a walk. Get a hit. All of those do the trick. Remember the goal is to move runners.

3 - DRIVE A RUNNER IN - This is probably the most imporant hitting situation because runs will be produced in the situation and the strategy in baseball is obviously to get more runs than your opponent. A sacrifice fly, a squeeze bunt, a ground out up the middle with the infield playing back - those all would work. Obviously home runs could do this too.

So in any offensive scenario for a batter in a baseball (or softball) game, there are only three potential things that he or she could be concentrating on!! Keep it simple and keep winning!!

Mitch Powitz