Games » Detroit TigersApr8
Topic of the day: Walks
During this game, I took notes on the correct way to catch a fly ball while looking into the sun (and no, it’s not running away screaming while covering your head…I tried that), the rule of thumb for picking up balls with your bare hand and why Betancourt’s situational at-bat was so bad in the eighth inning.
But by the end of the game, I decided there was only one subject worth dealing with: walks. Or, as most managers refer to them, f–– walks. They say baseball is a game of numbers, so here are a few: Throw strikes to 10 batters and you’ll get seven to eight of them out. Throws balls to 10 batters and you’ll get none of them out.
Pretty simple, huh?
So why don’t big league pitchers throw strikes? Are they incapable? I really doubt that.
I play on a team of over-the-hill ballplayers whose idea of a running program is getting to the snack bar before it closes for the night for a hot dog. Our pitchers ice their arms by getting a beer from the bottom of the cooler. Last season, our staff of aged, overweight, sometimes balding, occasionally drunk or hungover pitchers averaged 1.4 walks every nine innings.
Robinson Tejeda averaged 6.1.
Juan Cruz averaged 5.2
Dusty Hughes averaged 5.1.
So are we better athletes? Nobody in their right mind would believe that. I think the answer is simple: On my team, walks aren’t tolerated. If you don’t throw strikes, you don’t pitch. We’ve all get better things to do than watch someone walk the world.
Too many major leaguers nibble: Try to throw the perfect pitch right on the black and when they miss, fall behind. Once they fall behind, they can continue to try to make those perfect pitches and risk giving the batter a free pass or come farther into the zone and risk getting smoked by a hitter who now has a pretty good idea of what’s coming.
Watch good pitchers. They trust their stuff and their defense. They bite off more of the zone on that first pitch and then begin to work the corners. Hitters see this pattern and begin to swing earlier in the count, reasoning the first pitch may be the best one they see.
Even though they all have fabulous stuff, some of the Royals are in the process of pitching their way out of the big leagues because of their mental approach…but that’s OK, they can come play with us in the Senior League.
But they’ll have to throw strikes.