Be a Man
Recently, between innings of one of our inter squads, I was listening to two of our kids jaw-jacking each other. The pitcher had gotten the hitter to hit a weak grounder. He was pleased with himself. The batter (one of the better high school hitters around) was taking the bait and kept talking smack. Finally, as he took his position in centerfield he yelled, “Be a man. Throw me a fastball!”
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve ever heard a hitter think that was an appropriate comment, and god knows it won’t be the last. However, I do have to tell you that I think as far as comebacks this comment far outweighs the following famous comments;
1. Yea, well my dad is gonna kick your dad’s butt.
2. At least I’ll be sober in the morning. You’ll still be ugly.
3. Because I said so.
“Be a man. Throw me a fastball,” is tops on my “ignorant things to say” list. We don’t play slow –pitch softball. Yes, I do know that in the beginning of baseball history the pitchers sole purpose was to give the hitter something to hit. But that was then, this is NOW.
Our pitcher is fighting to earn playing time in every intersquad. He gets a lot more notice from us as coaches if he can get a good hitter out. He did his job.
The hitter had one of his at bats where he doesn’t get a hit. So what? It wasn’t the end of the world for him. Just to make a point, I always ask my guys would you be happy if you made 5,000 outs as a big league ballplayer? So, there’s the intelligent way to look at the outs you are going to make if you want to stay in baseball.
My apologies to all the hitters in baseball, but I know you like to puff your chest and declare that everything is mano-a-mano. But your fundamental misunderstanding is that you believe, it equates to the pitcher has to throw the ball as hard as he can. You are the guy that has it all wrong. The pitcher has no obligation to your misguided sense of what is supposed to happen.
Or, maybe you are just clever enough to get into a pitcher’s head, and this is one way you can regain your natural advantage. Your natural advantage is your self-confidence that you can hit any pitcher. Maybe it is just a great psyche job on your part?
This old baseball coach doesn’t give you that much credit. This crap of chest puffing is false bravado because you refuse to believe what just happened. Some guy on the bump that you failed to respect got you out. So what if he threw you a curve ball? So what if he tossed a change-up?
Very few pitchers can stand on the hill and just toss fast balls. As a pitching coach I try to maximize my hurler’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses. If a guy on my staff isn’t blessed with a lot of arm strength, I work on the things he can do well. If I have a guy that is nearing the end of his career, but he loves the game, I’ll encourage him to try anything including knuckle balls. It is my job to prep every guy to able to get hitters out. I don’t care how he does it, as long as it is legal within the framework of the baseball rules.
In high school baseball our roster is made up of who is legally registered in our school. This is our talent pool. As coaches we have to create the best possible team from that group of kids. We aren’t a major league roster that can just dump as many candidates into the top end of the funnel as are available. Natural selection will always produce some result that brings the cream to the top.
Our seasons are too short, our choices are severely limited, and we adjust to the facts and not some hitter’s misguided sense of right and wrong. If we want to produce the best result for our team, we take what we have and strategize a plan that gives our organization the best chance to get to get into the playoffs and ultimately win it all.
However, if it wasn’t high school baseball, I’d still tell you (hitters) to shut up and get to your position on defense. You are the same guy that would get tired of chasing balls in the gap. You are the same guy that would yell, ‘try throwing something else.’ Unless you are athletically blessed, pitching is about adjusting to a hitter’s weakness. If he knows you are a dead fast ball hitter, he is obligated to put a wrinkle on the ball.
If he gets locked into your sense of false bravado and tries to throw harder, it will kill his fluid mechanics. Everyone knows that when a guy “muscles up” the radar gun reveals less speed. Experience proves to me that in this instance command goes away also.
So, you can keep running your lips. It makes you look almost as silly as you did when my guy got you out. Please keep saying silly things, it gives me things to write about to keep the whole baseball world entertained.