Simple Basics in Baseball Pitching

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The basics. It is always the simple stuff. And that’s what Dr. Samuel Johnson was saying where we don’t need to be taught as much as being reminded.

Charmaine and Your Business Professor shared a meal with old friends Scott and Lisa Sommers. Scott played professional baseball in the Red Sox franchise and has a daughter playing D1 softball.

He knows baseball.

So we talked about what our son John could do to improve his pitching. (This is coaching as free consulting.) Scott left us with five take-aways.

1. The best pitch is a first pitch strike. A batter will step up to the plate with batting, say, .300. But this average changes dramatically if the batter is ahead or behind in the count. Being ahead is always good. May the odds ever be in your favor.

2. Walking batters will eventually catch up to bite the pitcher — even if the pitcher has a low ERA. Baseball is like a casino: it is hard to beat the house in the long run. The odds are against the gambler.

3. John is pitching in the low 90s and pitching around a batter is more of a challenge. Young pitchers always have control issues as velocity increases. The pitcher should keep a smaller strike zone and even give up the batter making contact. Make the batter earn his way on base rather than a walk.

4. Maturing and growing pitchers will get better. Scott tells of pitchers who steadily improved over the years. We don’t always remember the early struggles of a Sandy Koufax — only his perfect game against the Cubs in Dodger Stadium, September 9, 1965.

5. Finally, Scott reminds us that Baseball is a game to be enjoyed by players and fans. George Will writes about Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, but Dr. Will was referring more to work ethic in achieving success. Baseball is a labor of love.

And this is why John smiles when he pitches.

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