Throwing and Catching

This is a good article for the younger players that are looking to improve. The article is written by Rick Johnston of The Baseball Zone. I cant say enough in order to be a better hitter, fielder, or thrower is to repeat, repeat, and repeat some more. There is a need to use the proper fundamentals and work your tail off. Check out the article-http://blog.thebaseballzone.ca/baseball-blog-toronto/bid/65387/Throwing-and-Catching-Quintessential-Defensive-Baseball

Bob Brown

 

Drop and Drive VS Tall and Fall

I am a believer in the drop and drive method over the tall and fall. I even had a discussion with a former MLB pitcher several years ago. This gent is a very good pitching coach and is a tall and fall guy. He is very good at what he does and has a big following.

I think back on our discussion and just laugh about the whole scenario. What originally got me going was I asked him how a second baseman should throw the ball to first base. I am old school on this issue; the second baseman needs to stay low. The perfect example is to watch Manny Trillo and the way he threw the ball in the 80s, he stayed low and threw the ball ¾ or side arm. The runner from first on a double play attempt knew he had to get down because of the way Trillo threw the ball. I think it is very important for second basemen and shortstops to be able to throw from down under, and to stay low.

Before we could even get to the issue of throwing the ball, Scott gets into position of fielding the ball like an infielder. What got me going was he gave an example of catching the ground ball with the alligator style. Anybody that knows me, I am not a believer in this method at the least bit. Well we got mouthy on the walk back to the mound. I had my pitching coach with me and I can still see us all walking back to the mound and the look on Walt’s face, still humors me.

I think the next lesson we discussed the issue of drop and drive and tall and fall. It was the same thing to hot heads disagreeing, except I didn’t say too much, because he knows pitching. My strength is base running and fielding, and not pitching.

Scott Terry was the former MLB pitcher that was our pitching coach. Scott is very good as a pitching coach and is firm in his opinion. I just disagree with him on these two issues. I have seen Scott a few times after our lessons and he remembers me. Good Humor! We get along very well now and I hope that he will do some writing for us or make some comments.

I remember when Mark Pryor came up to the majors, and all the analysts were in awe of him and his delivery. The consensus was he was so nice and easy with his motion and had the perfect delivery. Pryor was a tall and fall guy, and I said from the beginning he was going to have arm problems. Pryor had arm troubles his entire career and never came close to what the experts thought he would accomplish.  

Tall and fall is exactly as it says, the pitcher stays as tall as possible to be able to throw in a more downward angle to the hitter. The pitcher then seems to just fall with his lead leg and not to drive on his back leg. It looks to me like the pitcher is using nothing but his arm and not using his body, legs or trunk.  The lead leg is not extended like the drop and drive.  It seems to me they don’t follow through on their delivery; it seems the back leg just drops by their side. If you are following through your back leg should be a little closer to home plate than your lead leg.

 

I like to give this example, a shortstop fields the ball and he throws to first base. He completes his throw and his body follows the ball towards first base. Watch Jim Edmonds play center field and see him get behind the ball and then he goes in the direction of the base he is throwing too. His follow through has him rather violently going towards the base.

Here is another example, Shawon Dunston at the tail end of his career he played for the Cards. He was normally a shortstop but with us he played leftfield. I saw him do this a couple of times where he would be charging the ball with the runner on second and was going to do his best to throw the runner out at the plate. He was in the one way charge and fielded the ground ball and he fired to home plate, and he gave it everything and fell forward after making the throw! Dunston and Edmonds did this the proper way where you follow the throw and sometimes falling forward on your face.  My point is I don’t think the tall and fall guys follow their throws to home plate.

Drop and drive is the pitcher pushing off the rubber and driving out to about the height of his body, towards home plate. His body drops so to be able to push off of the rubber and is driving hard to the plate. The pitcher is using his trunk, legs, upper body and arm to make his delivery to the plate. When you drive to the plate you also release the ball closer to the hitter, which makes your pitch quicker. The perfect example is Tom Seaver Hall of Famer that pitched for the Mets and the Reds.

I really prefer the drop and drive because you are using more of your body than just your arm. I will have the majority of people and the professionals disagreeing with me, but that is ok, I am a big boy.

I can’t wait for Scott Terry to get back with me and write some articles.

Bob Brown

Cardinals Run Down Play 4-30-13

The situation had the Red player Brandon Phillips on first base. Cardinal left handed pitcher Jaime Garcia threw over to first and had Phillips picked off. Phillips took off for second base and the Cardinal first baseman threw the ball to shortstop Pete Kozma. This is when it becomes a mess! The ball was thrown all over the place and it looked like 10 year olds were playing the game!

Kozma ran the runner toward first base but threw the ball way too early. The first baseman received the ball and ran the runner towards second and threw it again to Kozma. He starts to run the base runner towards first and throws the ball early again. The throw was pushed and only went a couple of feet. After this was all over Phillips was out at second base.

I played shortstop and second base and this situation would arise from time to time. This is a simple play and it amazes me how it just gets screwed up all the time. I would literally yell for the ball and get the runner out fast by tagging him or forcing him to be committed to the previous bag and then I would throw him out.

Here is an example of what needs to be done. The pitcher picks off the runner at first, the runner bolts to second base. Our first baseman throws to the shortstop, and he receives the ball. The shortstop takes off fast, holding the ball in his right hand and once the runner is square to the base and about 20-25 feet from the bag and committed, you make one throw and he is out.  The fielder can make a fake throw but only once, if you do it repeatedly, the receiving fielder can be faked out and miss the ball.  There are a lot of times the runner can be run down and the ball not even thrown.

The runner always has to be run to the bag he came from.  My 12-13 year olds knew what to do and I still see this simple play being done wrong by major leaguers! I would literally yell run him and the players knew what to do.

Bob Brown

Terrible Cardinal Base running!

In the first inning Jay hits a single and Carpenter follows up with an infield single. We have runners on first and second. Holiday is up and bombs a deep fly to right field. The ball hits high on the wall and bounces to the right fielder. There was no way the fielder was going to catch the long drive. We ended up with runners on second and third with one out! I am beside myself, I have seen this happen in high school and it should never happen there!

I am going to explain in detail what happened and what should have been done.

Jay was tagging up on the long fly ball; there is no excuse for this to happen! He had to be far enough off of the bag in order to be able to score. He should have been about twenty to thirty feet off the bag and then he would have scored. If the ball would have been caught, he still would have had time to tag up! We worked and talked about this play in practice, and this should never happen in the majors!

Carpenter did everything right except not knowing where Jay was. Carpenter, if the lead runner did his job, should have been at second or real close. He would have been in position to go either way. Carpenter should be thinking, to come all the way home! Holiday was just shocked by what was happening in front of him. The mistake Holiday makes if the lead runner did his job, was not running hard on the play!

Then on the very next play is a hard grounder to the right of the third baseman and he boots the ball. The hitter would have been safe at first base! Carpenter is running on a ball that is in front of him, and gets tagged out!!

My goal is to have the youth and high school coaches, pound into the players the right way to play the game!

The rest of the game will be hard to watch with baseball like this.

If my young players had done something this bad we would be working like heck to correct this terrible baseball. This bad baseball has to be corrected at the youth or high school level.

We are in the second inning and Jay does not slide into second the correct way on a double to right field. It was a close play and he did a stand up slide with his left foot leading, which means his body is closer to the tag. He needed to do a fade away slide to stay away from the tag. His right foot hooks onto the far inside of the bag and his body stays low!

The Pirate catcher has a ball in the dirt and he tries to back hand the ball instead of blocking the ball. The ball may not have even been in the dirt in the replay. I didn’t pay real good attention, because I am disgusted with bad baseball!

The Pirate shortstop fields a ground ball and throws a little wide to the right of the first baseman. He is in full stretch and the ball just hits the tip of his glove. He had time to stretch for the ball and then over extend beyond the ball with his foot off the bag. He then catches the ball on the way back in with his weight coming back to the bag. This is a rocking action that can be practiced!

They are now talking about how the Cardinal farm system has a reputation for teaching the game the right way. A discussion like this after the first inning of terrible baseball! Hrabosky did say  there is more teaching done at the major league level than ever before. I have heard him say this several times. Why is the game not being taught right at the young ages?  I think all these mistakes should be corrected at the high school level. I was teaching the right way to play at the youth level.

We are all going to work real hard to make the game better!

Bob Brown

High School Baseball Coaching Needs to Improve # 1

I think this is the level of play that can help baseball improve the most. A good high school program can create a real good pipeline of talent from youth baseball, to the higher levels. Read my article on coaching high school baseball, there is some good information.

A good high school coach not only runs his own program but also has some input on the youth program in his community. In order for this to work, the coach needs to be well respected and has to really know the game. The community needs to see his leadership, enthusiasm and concern for his players and program. He is in a position to elevate the play and encourage the better athletes to play baseball. This coach is the person that can make a difference in the way the game is played at all levels.

The correct instruction that is being taught at the MLB level needs to be funneled down to the high school level. Then the high school coach gets the youth coaches in on the program. You notice I say the correct instruction at the MLB level. There are some things being taught at this level that I shake my head and think, what is going on here. Everybody needs to read all of my articles and how I report on the Cardinals and MLB! I will explain numerous situations and plays that are just not correct. The commentators are even shocked by what is going on in the game today. They can’t say too much because they are being paid by the team. I am not being paid by MLB so I can say exactly what is right and what is wrong.

I see a lot of problems in the way the high school game is being taught. I am going to do my best to correct and explain in detail, what needs to be done. I have been saying for years, they are trying to make the game easier to play, but not better. I have high expectations for the players and will not dummy down the game.

My experience at the high school level was not good and for my son Jeff, it was even worse. There was 3-3 ½ hours of practice where there was so much wasted time. I watched some practices and heard about them and wondered how this coach was going to improve the players. The way of teaching was just running scrimmages, and standing around. This is just terrible! Read some of my previous articles on coaching, and what needs to be done to improve the game.

In this article I will discuss a couple plays and what is being taught.

The first play to discuss is the slow roller hit to the third baseman and he has to come in and bare hand it or glove it and throw to first base. I always taught my players how to bare hand the ball and stay low and throw to first base. I had a player at the age of 13-14 that could do this like a MLB player. The reason Ross could excel at this play was hard work and high expectations. I never did dummy down to my players and I do not want any coaches to ever dummy down again.

We get to the high school level and it is totally different. They were taught to never bare hand a ball unless it was stopped! I really wasn’t shocked because I had anticipated this would happen.

The ball that is hit a little harder and you need to use the glove, is the next subject. The way to teach this is for the third baseman to charge in and use his glove as a shovel, in front of his body. He shovels the ball to his bare hand and then stays low and throws across his body to first base. This is only done when there is not time to get your feet set.

The high school thought is to charge and field the ball on your left side using only your glove. You transfer the ball to your bare hand after running several steps, and you then throw from an upright, set position. By running several steps you are giving the runner more time to get to first base. This always drove me crazy, do not teach this way! This exact play just happened in a high school game and the coaches were happy, and the announcer said the play was done right by the third baseman getting his feet set first. The runner was safe and could have been out if done correctly.

I do understand that some third basemen at a young age will not be able to make this play correctly and will have to set their feet. The problem is this is also being taught at the higher levels and is not correct.  I want my players to be athletes and not a bunch of robots. The idea of this play is to get the runner out.

It is the same with a roller to the second baseman. You either bare hand or use your glove like a shovel. The second baseman needs to stay low and throw from a low position. The second baseman should make all of his throws from a low position. They teach the second baseman to field the ground ball and rise up straight and throw over handed to first. If there is a close play, the time for the second baseman to rise up and throw can make a difference in the runner being safe or out.  I always taught to play fast but don’t hurry! We need to get everybody to think this way to improve the game!

Bob Brown

 

Discussion Mike Matheny Letter to Parents

Mike is a man of strong character and is sharing his strong ethics with the players that he is coaching. I agree with about 80% of what he has stated in the letter to parents. I will give my opinion on a couple of issues that I think Mike might understand.

When I was in the dirt with my players, I had very few problems with any parents. The ages of the boys that I was given the responsibility of coaching were between the ages of 12-15. Before that I was on a staff of other coaches and worked mainly with my son Jeff.

I had a parents meeting with a handout and I explained the rules similar to what Mike says on the responsibility of the players and the parents. I had my parents directly involved with my program and they were part of the success. The team needed the help on fundraisers and travel arrangements. We were a baseball family and with the help of my coaches and associate coaches we were a formidable bunch. We were not a tryout team like a lot of the travel teams in St. Louis. I had all local boys and we won a lot and were always able to win or compete against the cherry picked teams.

My concern with Mike is on the issue of emotions. I can’t see a player that is a competitor that is busting his rear on the diamond cannot show emotion. I would teach my players that when you make a tag, you have to sell it. I am a huge competitor and most young athletes are the same way. If there is a play at second base and the runner is definitely out, for the player to not show emotion is ridiculous! What needs to be done is for the coach to let the players show emotion but not to show up the umpire, by arguing. The players will never argue with the umpires, the player can say “I got him” and then walk away and let the coach take care of the situation. That is what the good coach is for, and he needs to approach the umpire in a firm way and say I think you missed the call. Then smile and listen to what he says and then walk back to the dugout. I think this is the perfect way to run a youth team on this subject.

This level of baseball in my opinion is strictly about player development. I told my players and parents that I was getting my players ready for high school and beyond. I was not as concerned about the umpires’ calls as I was more concerned about playing the game the right way.  We had a play that my third baseman dived to his left and threw from his knees over to first; the ball was in the dirt but scooped up. The umpire said the runner was safe. My coaches went nuts, I calmed them down real fast and said Ross and Brett did everything the correct way. It was real good baseball!

I can’t imagine fans at a baseball game being silent and not yelling support to the players. I would not expect my parents or fans to act this way at a game. What should not be tolerated is any arguing from the stands with an umpire or verbally abusing the other team. When I was in the dirt, I always handled the umpires and always had respect from the men in blue. Head coaches you need to understand you are in charge of keeping your whole baseball family under control. I can’t imagine “Come on, let’s go, you can do it”adds more pressure to the player. I think this is showing support for the player and team. I can’t imagine being at a baseball game and not hearing fans supporting the players.

Mike also writes about the lost of respect because the kids hear their parents complaining about the teachers or coaches. Mike goes on to say that his dad taught him that the coach is always right, even when he is wrong. I do not agree with this at all, I wouldn’t want my son to be a yes person robot to not think for himself and agree with a coach that is wrong. I think we need to have more people to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong.  I have to say, this is one of the reasons I started this business was to improve the coaching at all levels. I think the game of baseball should be played a lot better, and the reason it is not better, is because of poor coaching. I see so many mistakes at the major league level that should not be happening. I am talking about the little things and also basic stuff that major league players should know. I have a lot of old timers that feel the same way I do on this subject.

In conclusion we need baseball coaches that are hard working, honest, responsible, and really know how to teach the game. Mike is one of these coaches and I just disagree with him on the emotions of the game.

Mike Matheny Letter to Parents

Bob Brown