When stepping out of line creates a straighter line….
You’re no doubt tempted to file this one away under UTTER NONSENSE along with “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” and other impossible Zen koans, or just roll your eyes because you’re well acquainted with my deep love of word-play and lateral thinking problems, wishing I’d get to the point faster, which actually is kinda my point here. Continue reading “When Stepping out of Line Creates a Straighter Line”
All good seasons must come to an end but not before some bad plays are atoned for. Our spring was defined by camaraderie and cohesiveness, as we supported one another pitch by pitch, picking up a teammate whenever he goofed, especially if that goof made a difference in whether we won or lost. Perhaps to a fault. We encouraged one another to bounce back and grow, and we extended mercy when a darker part of us wanted vengeance. Well, maybe not vengeance. But sometimes, in a totally harmless and boyish and reasonable way that we would never act upon, we wanted to throw something at the culprit. So to conclude our Froph season and prove we’re far from sainthood, we chose to bond a final time by reenacting our errors in the crosshairs of a water-balloon firing squad. Even the coach had to pay for his mistakes….
Grandma, who had been contentedly reading her John Grisham and sipping ice tea in the shade, turned to her five-year-old granddaughter, who was wrist-deep in a concoction of mud and leaves and ill-concerned with anything baseball related, and said, “Something important is going to happen right now.” And it sure did.
Not so long ago in a galaxy very similar to this one, there was a freshman game played on a field identical to ours. The two teams were essentially evenly matched, and the ballgame was scoreless in extra innings. The visiting team was in the field, and though its starting pitcher had been dominant to that point, his pitch count was now well over a hundred. He was showing signs of tiring in his warm-ups. He stretched his shoulder after each throw and insisted he only needed three pitches to get loose. Uh, right. Continue reading “The Signer = The Sign”
A Blake Swanson walk-off homer sealed Brooks Gosswein’s six-inning no-hitter and the varsity team’s fourth straight division title.
You crushed that pre-game wiffle ball into a tailwind and sighed satisfied with sound contact, but with that very swing you started building an unnatural upper-cut. You didn’t intend to swing that way, and you probably didn’t register the more-than-minor adjustments in your bat bath as they happened, though sometimes the flight of the ball offered hints. But you did alter your swing. And other hitters will too if they get the same teammate.
The principle is that, over enough repetitions, your swing plane will tend to match that of the thrown ball.
That’s the power of a practice partner. He can change your swing without your permission. Well, so long as you remain ignorant. Continue reading “Drop It”
All too often an infielder makes an errant throw in a game, immediately followed by the chorus of baseball pundits in the stands or dugout hollering, “MAKE SURE YOU GET A GRIP ON THE BALL…OR DON’T THROW IT!”
No one can argue with those words. Better to make just one mistake and, say, allow the runner to reach first than make two mistakes and advance him to second, to say nothing of other baserunners who may be in play.
When someone yells at you, it’s hard not to wonder: If a bad grip can cause a bad throw, what can cause a bad grip? Sometimes it’s water, sweat, or grime on the ball or fingers, sometimes it’s spin on a batted ball, sometimes it’s just a lapse in concentration. Those are the usual suspects.
But if you’re a middle infielder or third baseman, sometimes it’s how you’ve broken in your glove. Continue reading “Broken Throws and a Glove Break-In”