A Most Inexcusable Act of Irresponsibility for Perpetrating Nothing of Substance

Head first slide 4Head first slide 3Headfirst slide5

Over the past week Baseball fans have been witnessing the ill-effect of what has become a standard operating procedure for many base-runners in this modern era of Major League Baseball. Injuries and near-injuries have been highlighted on Television and Stadium Screens, accurately depicting the awkwardness and inherent danger of sliding “head-first” into a base. Early on, spectators and ardent fans were privy to the disabling consequences of the meaningless antics of Dodger and Angel Stars Yasiel Puig and Josh Hamilton. Fortunately for Puig he was back in action a few days after temporary rehabilitation. But Josh Hamilton is not as fortunate. He will be out of commission from 6 to 8 weeks, just after having successfully regained his former MVP status with his League-leading Batting average.hamilton-head-first

Watching Saturday night’s game between the Angels and the Mets, even the casual observer must be wondering, after watching the slow-motion replays of specific sliding plays, why players seem to be deliberately jeopardizing their individual careers as well as their Teams’ success with such reckless disregard for their personal safety. On a play at 3rd base, the camera showed conclusively how the Angel 3rd baseman casually placed his foot as an obstacle to the bag so that the head-first sliding David Wright (Mets All-Star 3rd Baseman) would be obstructed from a clear path to the bag. Wright was not only out on the play, but he jammed his hand and fingers into the ankle of Angels’ David Freese. If Wright had slid “spikes”-first, I’m sure that Freese would have had second thoughts about placing his foot in the way of the base-runner, who would have been safe. And instead of Wright’s own career being jeopardized, it would have been Freese on the disabled list.headfirst slide 6Mike Napoli 2mike-napoli-finger(Add Mike Napoli to the list. – This isn’t Rocket-Science)

Later that same game, Baseball’s Biggest Star, Mike Trout, laced a low-liner passed the Mets short-stop into left-center field. Trout’s hustling attitude gave every indication that he was going for two bases. Running full speed after rounding first he sprinted to second and, as his custom was, he slid furiously into the base, “Head-First”. He was safe, for the outfielder’s frantic throw was far off the mark, but when he stood up he began shaking his right hand and wrist. As the instant replay showed, he slid so hard that he jammed his right wrist and hand into the bag as the momentum of his powerful body was carrying him over it. Needless to say, the Angels can ill-afford to lose their Star player, and Baseball would surely regret his brief or permanent absent from the Game.Rays vs. Angels

These scenarios are no doubt being played out over the panorama of Major and Minor-League Baseball, as well as College and High-School arenas throughout the Country and elsewhere. The only half-way legitimate excuse for sliding “Head-First” is that for some unfathomable reason, a star athlete never learned how to correctly slide feet-first. Some (or perhaps All) head-first sliders might have had some traumatic experiences in Little–League, where the scrapping of their right or left sides with what were affectionately known as “razzberries” held a great reluctance to continue that regimen for securing a base. The lesser of two evils is undoubtedly a more practical approach, if its more serious consequences weren’t being considered appropriately. However, the “razzberry” situation would be alleviated if correct sliding procedure was enacted, specifically sliding on the “meaty” part of the “Butt”, rather than the “boney” part of the side of the hip.sliding 5sliding 10sliding8

When the expert “feet-first-slider” tucks his under-leg, his top leg stretches out toward the base, and that foot reaches for the bag while the infielder is trying to apply the tag. The adept runner can sometimes avoid the tag by placing his foot where the glove is not. The same can be said for the “Head-first-slider” who would try to feint with one hand while grabbing the base with the other. The difference being the vulnerability factor regarding possible injuries to face, neck, hands, wrists, and fingers of the “head-first” runner compared to less vulnerable aspects of the “feet-first” runner.

Major-League Baseball has rightly enacted the “Home-Plate Rule” to eliminate unnecessary contact at Home Plate. The Catcher can no longer obstruct the plate if he doesn’t have the ball. But at all other bases, no rule currently exists. Therefore, the only legitimate reason for infielders not to block the bag and secure a sure out in many situations is the code of “self-preservation” that inherently attends to itself as the base-runner is sliding in “Ty Cobb” fashion, with spikes blazing. No infielder with any common-sense is going to deliberately jeopardize life and limb and career and get in the way of a “spikes-first” runner. Thus – an integral point to help secure the careers of both the smart fielder and the “smart-runner”!Slide_1Ty Cobb sliding1Ty Cobb sliding 3

It is amazing to me that Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson were never injured. And because of that, all would-be Hendersons and Roses will continue to slide “Head-First”. You’d think that Josh Hamilton would have learned his lesson after sliding into Home Plate head-first, breaking a collar bone, and quickly dismantling another MVP season, perhaps contributing to subsequent unproductive seasons. Josh H. head first slideWho knows how many more times Josh will injure himself and maybe conclude his career? I surely hope he changes his sliding technique. And let’s all hope that Mike Trout doesn’t have to learn his biggest lesson the “Hard-Way”.sliding practice 1sliding 7sliding 1

You’re Only as Good as Your Last At-Bat?

You could be a potential “Hall-of-Famer,” a perennial “All-Star,” a “Gold Glove” fielder, a .320 hitter and still get “Booed” if you strike out in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded. You could have had three hits that game, with three RBIs, and four runs scored, but the morning sports headlines would read, “Hobbs strikes out to end the game.” And that’s what the world will remember, until Hobbs makes good his “next at-bat”.Baseball_Strike_Out 5

Baseball, as the quintessential metaphor for mortal inconsistency, has myriad scenarios into which the would-be “master-of- the bat” (Everyman) might slump forlorn into the doldrums, either temporarily or exhaustively, that would have his patronizing constituency express little or no patience, and summarily ask, “what have you done for me lately?”

As a Hollywood star, who refuses to expand his “Vortexual” repertoire, may prefer instead to bask in “its” own lime-light until the fading glory of past accomplishments incurs the consequences of a lack-luster, inconsistent, and ill-fated career, so too does a batter’s former heroics stand little chance of appeasing the frenzied adoration and satisfaction of fans lusting for the nebulous content of victory’s successes.

Life itself is an ongoing process. In order to live, you must progress — you must continue to bear fruit. The Bible has many stories depicting the fateful consequences for those who fail to rise above the “Status Quo”. Jesus illustrated for his apostles how the unfruitful tree dried and shriveled up when it failed to live up to its purpose; and the unfruitful servant’s dire consequence proceeded from his slothful and complacent enterprise.

Progress is consistent life-enhancement. To worship Life is to demonstrate “It” to the fullest. A full life is one’s highest conception of it at the present moment. But, as one strives (mentally and physically) to augment his present understanding, his experience expands to an even greater fruition.

Death is also an ongoing process, with Hell being not only the final destination but also the pathway to itself. Grief, agony, and frustration are the earmarks of unfulfilling and unsatisfying experiences, brought about by mortal deception and unsubstantiated fear of failure. Fear restricts innocent and unbridled confidence in unlimited capacity, which is inherent in worthwhile motive of desire. Any object of a “right motive” has no choice but to come to full fruition. It needs only to be nurtured by the understanding faith that good and its completeness have already been established by the Source of all good.

Wasn’t Jesus saying, in effect, that consistency is the highest praise! If we are not consistent in working good, then we in fact are sometimes working iniquity. If complacent in that sporadic state of being, we are not moving out of it into a more developed state.

In baseball, marked consistency is batting .300 or more. In any other area of life, that average wouldn’t be considered very productive, especially by Jesus’ standards. (I guess it’s going to take a higher sense of expectancy to raise the modern “batsman” to an elevated level of performance.) But even before that happens, it is evident that the best of that human endeavor is not satisfied with mediocrity and usually finds a way to vindicate his talent on one or more of his subsequent attempts. “A new day brings new opportunity to advance hope to even greater expectancy.”

When it is recognized that the Sun, Moon, and Stars do not brighten the days and nights by a brilliance of their own, their glory will be better appreciated by one and all for the magnificence it displays as an effortless reflection of the Source of “Never-ending-Light”.  Then we can more assuredly hope for that conviction that we will always be as good as “our next at-bat”.Roy Hobbs 2

Baseball’s Continuous Rebirth: A New Season of Hope and High Expectation

Major-League Baseball is upon us once more. The most ardent of baseball fans are looking forward to fulfilling their great expectations with relish, and of course Hot Dogs, Peanuts, Popcorn, and Crackerjacks.

Baseball is truly America’s national pastime. It not only epitomizes the “new-wave” national standard for universal “equality for all”, but characterizes the highest sentiment for democratic reform throughout the world. The indigenous character and homespun heritage of our country’s National Pastime foster the innovative and endearing qualities of America that can transform a competitive world into a peaceful arena willing to incorporate the essence of those qualities into an enduring fabric conducive to all spiritual, mental and physical environments.

As we have seen displayed on the Inter-National playing-field, jubilant participants have  contributed to a universal camaraderie where the peace of goodness has been applied and appreciated. The Game of Baseball is the ultimate in sports activity! To all participants, players, fans, and officials  its unique simplicity conveys a human drama, and then reveals and resolves the complexities that would elicit trauma from mortal life’s uncertain circumstances.  “Could mere human contrivance order such preciseness, from the tri-hedral dimensions of the field of play, to the definitive specifications and range of intricate function for the designated participants?” – Socrates (from Plato and Socrates: Baseball’s Wisest Fans – by John F. Paciorek)

As the world has fast become a theatrical stage for public sentiment to display both outrageous and benevolent characterizations of humanity, a universal demand for the highest possible standard of excellence can be embodied by those who would be model-heroes for aspiring youth. “Conceptions of mortal erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal.”

As a professional Baseball Player myself, and subsequently a perennial fan and teacher of the “fundamentals”, my thought(s) about the “Game” gradually has been transformed from that of vigorously active participation to vicariously passive appreciation. My life’s purpose is no longer striving to be the greatest athlete, or baseball player, nor is it to fulfill my physical potential. I have simply come to recognize that my sole purpose is to experience “Goodness”.

So, starting my day from a spiritual basis, I begin looking for and anticipating those human experiences that afford me the opportunity for “Maximum of Good”. Good is God! God is not only good; He is All the Good that is and can be. The Psalmist states in at least four verses, “Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Jesus himself was not only the excellent example of God’s Goodness, his “Gospel” message promoted the “Good News” of Our Father’s ever presence. The ancient Greeks inter-changed the terms excellence and “virtue” to mean the same. And again the Bible describes the “Virtuous Woman” as finding “goodness” in everything she did from morning ‘til night.

Every man’s search for Goodness must begin with God, and vice-versa. In every venue of human life experience can be found opportunities to witness a glory emanating, even gradually, from the prospect of goodness. On the amateur level, parents and other adults support the nurturing cause of developing educational and recreational activities for prospective leaders and rising stars, while appreciating every good or enhanced step along his/her way.

But, we find excellence displayed to the utmost in every venue of the Professional realm. The “maximum of good” is what people pay money in order to vicariously experience the ultimate satisfaction in Sports, Movies, Theatre, Opera, and all other forms of genuine Escapism.

When I go to a Major-League Baseball game, I am expecting to have the experience of witnessing the “maximum of good” that the highest level of the Sport can deliver to my full appreciation. It is a “Spiritual Experience”, at which, and for which I am never disappointed, no matter which team wins. When I go to a Little-League game, I don’t have the same “high-expectation” of “excellent” performance, but I do look for every slight indication of Good’s presence in the intentions, enthusiasm, sportsmanship, and mechanical application of skill of all the participants.

Baseball will always be America’s endearing National Pastime to me, for whom the season never ends.

John Paciorek played for the Major League Houston Colt.45s. (Currently, Astros).  He now teaches Physical Education and coaches Sports at Clairbourn – School in San Gabriel, CA. He has written two books: The Principle of Baseball, and All There is to Know about Hitting; and, Plato and Socrates: Baseball’s Wisest Fans.

Patience – Timing – Batting

If you would watch a professional baseball game (especially Major League) through the lens of a microscope you would notice that the effectiveness of all batters is determined by how well they wait for the right opportunity before they commit their bodies to begin forward motion to conduct their swings. Those who patiently wait for the precise moment to quickly and powerfully respond to the ball in the strike zone are most assuredly the more proficient of bats-men. But is there anything a batter can or must do while he is patiently waiting for the pitcher as he is delivering his pitch?

It is incumbent upon every batter to establish a rythm in order to gain a sense of momentum to counteract the force of speed and power elicited by the throwing action of the pitcher’s body and arm before he can effectively initiate his swing. The most common prelude to any batter’s swing (professional or non-professional) is the usually-accepted “stride”. This stride can be utilized in a fashion either linear (straight-forward) or eliptical (front knee kick).Mickey Mantle 1Mickey Mantle 2RodriguezAlex 1

In the two photos of Mickey Mantle (above)it can be observed that he sometimes took a stride of about 2 feet, and was quite a notable bats-man who struck out a lot. Within the 50 or so years since Mantle and other former Baseball dignitaries graced the Major-League playing fields, new theories for greater batting prowess have evolved that would try to lessen the margins for error in swinging the bat, to diminish the strike out rate that the “long-stride” seemed to perpetuate.

The “high-leg kick” (like A-Rod, above) was an attempt at stabilizing the “head-from-moving” while still providing enough rythmic momentum to initiate the batter’s timing mechanism. The front foot would not stride out (as Mantle’s did) but simply relocate to the point from which it began. And, from there the action of swing could be initiated while the head and eyes remained relatively stable.

The swing itself cannot begin until the front foot has planted into the ground. And there have been many times when a batter’s foot was still in stride as the ball was in a position to be swung at. Or the foot was urgently planted a lot earlier than appropriate for swinging at the pitch. In either event the batter’s timing was adversely affected by the “stride”, from which he was too early or too late. Also, the stride, whether linear or eliptical, moves the body, which moves the head which contains the eyes which would see the ball (as clearly as possible). The only solution from which to eliminate or diminish substantially the “margin for error” that depreciates a batter’s vision and timing  effectiveness is the “No-Stride”. Barry Bonds 1

 

The proficient “bats-man” will remain balanced throughout the swing more often than the less proficient batter. And balance is determined by a consistent rotary flow of body parts, of which none preempts the timing and function of the others. If the batter is impatient (whether consciously or unconsciously), and starts his forward action too soon, the entire mechanism for balance is disturbed and the integrity of the swing is compromised. Once the flow begins it should not stop until “bat-ball” contact is made and the follow-through concluded. So the big question remains for each batter, “when to begin?”

Another question that accompanies the first is “what to begin?” To answer these two questions, in reverse order, is to discern the riddle and to solve the mystery of the phantom “.400-plus hitter”. The quandary involved in “what to begin?” is determined by whether, or not, the batter takes a “stride”. If he takes a stride, then his action begins with forward linear movement before he plants his front foot. If he doesn’t stride his first action is to plant (push down on) the front foot.

About 95% of all “Big-League” players stride toward the ball or the “plate”, and another 4.09% incorrectly interpret and apply the benignancy of the “non-stride”. Thus, less than 1% exhibit an understanding that the stride is an unessential element to initiate the proper swing. And the subtle answer to the query of why very few batters are inherent prospects to hit .400 or more in this generation is furthermore re-established!  Most hitters think they need the stride to initiate the momentum to counteract the power and velocity of the pitched ball, while the very act of striding is the determinant that will ultimately diminish the effectiveness of the function of an otherwise productive swing. The alternative (non-stride) is the correct approach, but no one seems able to put faith in its prospectus.

If a batter would “not-stride” he would eliminate the most detrimental margin of error in the complicated network of proficient “bats-man-ship”—seeing the ball with optimal acuity. Even if the distance and abruptness of the stride are negligible, keeping the head and eyes perfectly still is virtually impossible while the body is traversing any number of vertical planes. A single degree of movement would negate the level of efficiency to that same extent and nullify perfect acuity. If a batter could entertain the prospect of hitting .400, he would certainly have to reduce the margins of error with regard to all aspects of mental and physical procedures, of which optimal seeing is a top priority.

The problem that all batters face is their own reluctance to understand that the stride is not necessary for applying a forceful front foot plant just prior to the swing itself. It is merely a matter of mental and physical conditioning to attain the proper foot-plant to negotiate the swing. First, mentally recognizing the good prospect of the “non-stride”, then physically practicing the reaction-time sequence of maximum effort and movement ultimately will acclimate the batter to a higher proficiency level.

The “non-stride” entails a number of components that, if not considered equally important to each other, affect the integrity of the batting mechanism. But to understand the legitimacy of the non-stride is the first step in patiently conquering the .400 barrier.

Which of the following two questions best offers a solution to the problem of inefficient batting? Does the strength of the swing come from the stride, lunge of the body, and extension of the arms? Or does it come from the rapid and controlled rotary transfer of weight that occurs after the front foot plants and the front knee begins straightening diagonally to help force the front hip backwards, to allow the back hip to move quickly forward, with a turning bent back leg?Mark McGwire 3

The actions, in the second question, lead the upper body into an orderly series of movements that precipitate a power surge directing the bat into the ball. And without a stride the batter can be assured of the best possible visual acuity for tracking the in-coming pitch.

The following conditioning sequence will facilitate a habit-forming regimen to accommodate the essential training needed to begin the conquest of stagnant hitting deficiency.

4-STEP HITTING DRILL: (This should be done without a bat first, then with a bat after total DSC_0119DSC_0120DSC_0121DSC_0122DSC_0123coordination has been mastered.)

 

Step 1 – Assume a position of maximum strength and balance. Get as low a stance as to not feel too uncomfortable, with feet spread at the distance of your normal stride. (Remember, a low stance gives you a natural advantage of a smaller strike zone as well as a fundamental posture for stronger and quicker movement. If you understand the value of this “principle,” any physical discomfort you seem to have with a low stance will diminish as your body becomes acclimated through repetition and positive results.) Then begin the repetition of the entire hip-shoulder “weight-transfer,” step by step. Repeat five attempts focusing on the straightening of the front leg, by pushing down hard on the front foot with the feeling of pushing your body backward. If the body does actually fall backwards, off balance, your back foot and bent knee are not doing what are required of them.

Step 2– Focus on the action of the back leg. With a low stance, as you assume that the transfer of weight is imminent, drive the back bent-knee forward with force, rotating from the outside of the big toe of the back foot. Focus on maintaining a bent back leg during the simulation, but be conscious of the other three stages (especially the front leg).

Step 3—Focus on front shoulder action. As front foot is planting, be focused on how forcefully you can shrug and pull the front shoulder up and backward. If the movement feels weak, it’s probably because the hips did not initiate the action.

Step 4—Focus on back shoulder and elbow. When the front shoulder shrugs, the back shoulder (with elbow) automatically lowers. The muscles of the Pectoral (in chest) and Latissimus (in back) areas drive the elbow down and forward ahead of the back hand. The hand is thus in a palm-up position to force a flat bat through the ball. So focus on the backside of the upper body coming through. But be conscious that the front side seems to be initiating the action.

After these four steps have been mastered, use a bat and go through them again, using a batting tee until mastery is attained. After that, go through the same procedure, this time combining step one with step two, and step three with step four, making it a two-step drill. (Then, step two with step four, and step one with step three.)DSC_0125DSC_0126DSC_0128DSC_0129DSC_0130

Remember, you are working to see how fast you can complete the entire action “perfectly”. Only perfect practice will make perfect, so perform the drills at full speed with the expectation of reacting faster as the mechanics of the swing are perfected. Eventually you can move the tee to cover all the areas of the strike zone. Remember also, to assure that the head not move, refrain from taking a stride—you really don’t need it anyway if you perfect the “four step” drill.

Also Remember: When assuming your stance, always have the front foot pointed at a 45 degree angle (or slightly less)to the pitcher, not a 90 degree angle (or more) which many batters assume because they have been told that it will keep their front hip and shoulder from opening too quickly. The front foot, at a 45 degree angle, will allow the weight tranfer during the swing to be more accommodating to the front knee, ankle, and foot joints. While, at 90 degrees or more, the tension on the front foot, ankle, and knee can have a dire effect on the ligaments and tendons while the body is twisting and turning on its rotating axes. Harold Baines and Ryan Howard can attribute their knee and ankle problems, and well as their erratic batting effeciency, to the extremely awkward front foot positioning in their stances. Just look at the front foot positioning of outstanding hitters such as Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, to validate the proper transfer of weight during the swing.Ted Williams (feet in stance)joe-dimaggio-s-legs-in-batting-stance-at-home-plate

To “believe assuredly” is to have absolute faith in a proven principle. On the human level it’s hard to find an “Absolute” from which to have an absolute faith. The True consciousness in all of us can discern the correct path to take, the right doctrine to espouse, and the most plausibly scientific way to hit a baseball.

Patience: Prelude to Perfect Timing (Batting)

The Patient Hitter

Just about everyone knows that patience is an attribute (virtue) that is profitable even under dire circumstances where immediate response may be indicated. Patience allows for the opportunity to accurately assess a particular situation in order to perceive whatever prospect is available to counteract any problem, or its potentiality. Patience prevents the loss of essential sequence experience when one is inordinately hurried to complete a required task. And Mind evokes patience to discipline the minutiae of individual elements to proceed in sequential order, without skipping steps, for the purpose of effective function, from foundation to pinnacle of success.

Coming Soon:

What to do, and how to do it, to attain the perfect timing to hit a baseball effectively?

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing: Expectation of Light brought to Focus.

All Big-League pitchers either consciously or unwittingly ascribe to the famous quote attributed to Hall of Fame Pitcher, Warren Spahn: “It is the objective of every batter to establish an unobtrusive rhythm of momentum in order to ‘time’ and hit the pitched ball with maximum efficiency; while it is the Pitcher’s goal to upset that rhythm so the batter has difficulty in ‘timing’ the pitch and hitting the ball with ‘authority’”.

In the modern era of Major-League Baseball, the most proficient of batters have commanded rates of success in averages ranging from 30 to 39%. The last Major-League batter to surpass the 40% barrier was Ted Williams, who batted .406 in 1941. George Brett batted .390 in 1980, and Tony Gwynn batted .394 in 1994. That means that pitchers have been more successful in achieving their collective Goal than batters have been in reaching their objectives. That is not to mention the myriad bats-men toiling at a miry continuum transpiring between the ranges of the .299 to .200. Batters don’t seem to know how it is even possible to transcend from their degrading level of deficiency to an aspiring degree of proven proficiency.

A pitcher who effectively utilizes every natural physical asset that he has been endowed with can achieve ultimate success, but only if he is capable of knowing when and where to throw a specific pitch, as well as demonstrating a propensity for directing the ball forcefully to that specific place. Proper mechanics, facilitating both power and control, must be complemented with the knowledge and understanding of the batter’s Psyche in order to offset his formidable capability for productively hitting a baseball. The pitcher’s job will be easy or difficult, according to the degree of perfect application of the “principle of pitching” (throwing), as well as the extent to which the batter follows a proven, commendable principle of his own.

In professional baseball, it is an assumed fact that good batters can hit the fastest fastball and the best of curves when they know what pitch is coming. In batting practice, they’ll hit a pitcher’s best “stuff” consistently, if he tells them what’s coming, at least after a few swings and their “Timing mechanisms” are set. In games, the most astute hitters remain effective by learning to identify (either consciously or unconsciously) certain peculiar habits of pitchers, who may “telegraph” their intentions by slightly changing the characteristics of their normal procedure.

All pitchers should be aware of the salient and subtle characteristics, both physical and mental, of all the batters they will face. Batters with poor mechanics should be relatively easy outs for pitchers who understand how to circumvent those areas where such hitters could be a potential threat. Batters with good mechanics can be more than formidable foils, if the pitcher lacks the experience, skill, and delicate perspicacity to discern their potential strengths and weaknesses.

Albert Einstein’s revelations, based on his Special Relativity theory and subsequent Photo-Electric Effect explain that “…the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion.” And his observation of “time-dilation” indicates the phenomenon of different times for different observers. With his contribution to the establishment of Quantum Physics he informally states, that “at the fundamental levels of matter, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, not certainties”.

The batter who understands these principles, and competently applies them to his hitting technique, can reap unprecedented benefits. A low, stable stance, without a visual-degrading stride, presents an impenetrable structure of defiance and credibility to any pitcher hoping to perforate what seems an impervious piece of offensive weaponry. However, most batters, unacquainted with the finer essences of scientific examination, unwittingly expose themselves to myriad factors of vulnerability, of which astute and punctilious pitchers are known to take complete and unrelenting advantage.

Throughout the history of Baseball, it can be stated without reservation that “The Premier Pitcher Principle” has been the dominant factor with regard to the confrontational relationship between the pitcher and the hitter. Contests categorically pronounce the pitcher victorious in at least seven out of every ten encounters. Pitcher dominance is due to two main conditions, detrimental to the make-up of the traditional batting technique: the high stance, and the stride. The high stance ultimately creates an inappropriate viewpoint from which to clearly see the ball throughout the distance of its flight from the mound to home plate. The movement of the body during the stride also distorts clear visual acuity, while providing an indefinite and inconsistent starting point from which to begin the swing. Removing or changing those two conditions would immediately decrease the margin for error, in favor of the batter.

The best pitchers, if not consciously aware of those facts, instinctively sense the batter’s particular vulnerability, and keep the ball where he can’t hit it effectively. The smart pitcher, at times, seems to be the only one cognizant of the fact that he is standing about 1 foot above the plane of home plate. Batters who swing down on the ball must be oblivious to the fact that every pitch is descending into the strike zone. The perceptive pitcher must at least sense that a batter’s eyes, in a high stance, will have difficulty accurately following the descending flight of the ball as it is transcending countless horizontal planes. Therefore a low strike would entail extraordinary kinesthetic ability on the part of the batter in order to hit the ball. Also, the forward stride would not go unnoticed by the observant mounds-man. As a magician, working his audience, so the pitcher would take delight in a batter whose peripatetic eyes will wander everywhere and not stay still, to focus.  Off-speed pitches would wreak havoc on unsuspecting head-gliders, until an infrequent fastball zips right by them.

When a good pitcher encounters a batter with a low stance, he is immediately aware that this hitter has a minute strike-zone, has a greater range for hitting the high or low pitch, and his body’s low center-of-gravity has the potential for providing a quicker and more powerful stroke. However, if the batter has a pronounced stride, the pitcher’s fear is alleviated somewhat, because excessive eye movement is imminent, and the prospect for his back leg to straighten seems forthcoming. Mixing pitches, with impeccable control, leaves this batter’s threatening demeanor as a negligible affectation.

However, the batter in a low stance, who doesn’t stride, creates the only true conundrum for the pitcher of the “premier principle”. This hitter’s low, stable stance provides for maximum balance, quickness, and power, as well as for constant visual acuity, to avoid the natural distortions that any extra movement creates, throughout the flight of the ball and the swing of the bat. Therefore, when “Premier Pitcher” meets “Premier Batter” in this one-on-one confrontation, pitcher must rely heavily on his Einsteinian postulates that “…the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion; …the phenomenon of time-dilation states different times for different observers; and … at the fundamental levels of matter, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, rather than certainties.”

Since this batter’s eyes are stationary, the pitcher, like a magician, has to distract his incredulous challenger from distinctly focusing on the specific, by substituting a series of decoys, by means of extraneous movement or evoking superfluous thought patterns. He needs to curtail the condition of uniformity for which the batter relies, and exchange it for a haphazard, indefinite, change-of-pace series of stimulation to keep the hitter off-balance. If he thinks like the hitter, hides the ball well, changes speeds on all his pitches, and has command of the strike-zone, he has a statistical chance to defray his costs with minimal expenditures, like ground balls, pop-ups, impotent fly-balls, “right-at-um” line-drives, or “bleeding” base-hits.

If batters only knew that there is a “Premier Batting” Principle, the “Premier Pitching” Principle would become extinct, and only the “Master-Magician” would remain.   The pitcher wants to assert his mastery over the batter and deny absolute validity to the application of his proven Principle. And that is the only recourse the pitcher has. Since the batting principle is sound, the pitcher must deny the batter’s right to perfect application. He can do this only by abiding by the same mechanism of statistical probabilities as the hitter. Remember Einstein’s “special relativity” correctly asserts that “the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion.” And from what has been statistically certified over the history of pitcher-batter relationships, the disproportionate advantage to the pitcher cannot be denied. The batting Principle could assert a more pronounced effectiveness against the statistical dominance of the “Premier Pitcher Principle”– (which is merely an illusion).

The missing link in applying the hitting principle has always been the inconsistent visual acuity of the batter in accurately detecting the speed of the fast-ball, as well as the direction and varying speeds of “breaking” and other off-speed pitches. All this, of course, was due to excessive movement of the head, the primary culprits being the high stance and batter’s stride. The pitcher’s arsenal of distracting and illusory forces will still work its devastating carnage on ignorant bats-men, until the Einsteins of a new era of batting prominence will set the standard for hitting elegance.

Einstein and The Home-Run Principle

Einstein 2 Einstein 4                                                  

(Success without Steroids)

Albert Einstein’s name was in the News a lot in the year 2000. He was no longer living, but was voted “The Man of the Twentieth Century” by most prominent magazines in our Nation and in the World. The publication of his “Relativity Theories” at the beginning of the 1900s, as well as some of his other prominent works, turned the world upside down with their simple but masterful, yet controversial innovations. When his theories were finally proven valid, and applicable to many areas of human endeavor, he was recognized as a genius, and truly the father of twentieth century enlightenment.

Complexity gives way to Organized Simplicity

The “Home-Run Principle” is a formula that will explain the mechanics of hitting a home-run, not with complicated mathematical equations (nor chemically induced enhancements), but rather in terms of the simplicity that Einstein discovered in his “Relativity” theories as well as his Photo-Electric Effect that gave birth to the rationale for “Quantum Physics.”

Baseball teams and many players, both professional and amateur, have adopted, over the past years, various theories for what they hoped would be instrumental in effectively hitting a baseball. However, the “Scientific Community” would probably balk at the proposed hypotheses of those misguided seekers of masterful bats-man-ship. Unfortunately, these “pseudo-Einsteins” have managed to convince a large body of Baseball’s intelligentsia and “blue-collar” artisans of the practicality of some of the most preposterous ideas for properly hitting a baseball.

One common theory that seems to have captured the imagination of prominent baseball enthusiasts within the last decades, or so, is that one which prescribes the utilization of the force of gravity to facilitate the mechanics of swinging a baseball bat in a downward arc. The purpose would be to contact the speeding baseball in such a way as to precisely “slice” the front end of the ball to get the backward spin that would allow it to carry over a greater distance than would a ball that makes flat-solid contact with a bat. Also, it might be supposed that stronger muscles come into play to facilitate a more powerful swing.

This idea of back-spin was extrapolated no doubt by someone whose human perceptions alertly noticed that a tight backspin cut through the resistance of the air better than did squarely-hit balls that “knuckled” and dropped rapidly. The premise that “back-spin” for the “home-run” ball is more desirable than “top-spin” is sound; but the conclusion that such spin can be artificially produced by an exaggerated, downward swing is too absurd for rational thinkers to accept.

With all the variables presented to a batter as he is attempting to strike a baseball in a most productive manner, the last thing he wants to do is to have his entire hitting mechanism suddenly governed by the extent to which he correctly applies the Pythagorean Theorem (“…the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the length of the hypotenuse”). The batter, in the batter’s box, is standing 60+ feet from the pitcher, on a plane almost 1 foot below the level of the “pitching-rubber”. An astute “bats-person” must realize that any ball thrown from a height range of 5 to 7 feet would have to follow a descending line or arc, in order to enter the batter’s strike zone. baseball_flightTherefore, any batter whose notion of proper hitting technique includes the proposition that a downward swinging bat can effectively strike a downward moving ball with the least margin of error does not understand the statistical improbability of such folly. Such is the trademark of the “under-.270 hitter”.

Those confused individuals, who have experienced some success with the “Downward” technique, usually evaluate that success based on the amount of “seeing-eye” base-hits they produce rather than on the true quality of the “bat-to-ball” contact. Of those hits, the highest percentage is on ground balls that find a way through the infield. The “line-drives” that are deflected somewhat parallel to the ground are the few examples of the bat meeting the ball perfectly, at the right time, at the perfect angle, to effect a preferred result. The probability of this desirable effect happening in a high percentage of “at bats” is unlikely.

Higher Probability for Success?

Most professional baseball players have good hand-eye coordination. When they swing down on a ball they will very often make solid contact. Therefore, in most hitting situations, the best that an effective batsman can do is hit a ground ball. Or if he really hits it squarely, he can hit a high bouncing ball. And the only way for something productive to happen is for the ball to get between two infielders, for a base hit.

By knowing that a pitched ball is always traveling downward into the strike-zone, the intelligent batter will devise a technique that will ensure that the bat will strike the ball on a line as close to 180 degrees as is possible. AlbertPujolsLOWER_HALF_DRIVE_HIPSTo be 100% accurate with his guidance of the bat-to-ball is most improbable. But if the swinging bat is on the same parallel line as the in-coming ball, then the probability of solid contact will be strong, and the result most often will be a desirable ascending “line-drive.” If the ball is miss-hit because the bat strikes it slightly above or below the center of its diameter, the effect will also be positive. “Slightly under” (forcing tight back-spin) will facilitate a long, high, “carrying” drive (home-run type); while “slightly above” (forcing tight topspin) will facilitate a hard looping line drive.Barry Bonds 4Barry Bonds 17

The “Home-Run Principle,” is a fundamental basis upon which the application of the proper mechanics of hitting a baseball can influence the quality and productivity of the stroke. This process includes so vast an array of variables that it is no wonder it would take an Einstein and his use of Quantum Physics to ordinarily deploy the probable determinants for consistent home-run hitting.

Is Strength the Key?

Most baseball analysts subscribe to the notion that a batter has to be extremely strong to be a consistent home-run hitter. (This is why every extreme aspirant to contemporary “Baseball-Glory” unwittingly ascribes to steroid enhancement!) While strength is an asset, mechanics play a more important role! If a person is capable of hitting one Home-run, he is capable of hitting seventy or more, if all the required conditions are present every time.Ossie 2Ossie Smith 1 A “weak” player, who has hit a home-run, did so because he was able to apply the proper mechanics to his stroke, at the appropriate pitch, at the correct time. Theoretically, he should be able to repeat this action, at least every time the same conditions are present.

Every mature adult (male), who is not hampered by some physical encumbrance, has the strength to hit a home-run! What he may not have is the specific coordination and mechanical understanding that facilitates the home-run stroke.

Most people think that Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds have hit a lot of Home-runs because they’re so big and strong. But it’s because of the intelligent and consistent manner in which they applied the “Home-Run Principle” to their hitting mechanics that they’re such prolific home-run hitters.

Mark McGwire 3   Barry Bonds 10

Their strength was a factor (steroid induced, or not) with regard to the distance they consistently hit their home-runs. The extent to which a normal person’s “warning-track” shot is caught and theirs’ make it over the fence is directly attributable to strength. But a normal person’s “warning track shot” is only due to the fact that something was missing in the vast dynamics of the swing, which precluded the ultimate function. If all preliminary conditions were met at the “contact point,” the launch would have carried over the fence.

Key Components

The “Home-Run Principle” is based on the perfect application and integration of following components:

  1. Balance and stability of the stance.DSC_0125
  2. Security for undisturbed visual acuity.DSC_0128
  3. Self-contained power source.DSC_0126
  4. Balance and stability from start to finish of swing.DSC_0130

 

  1. A low center of gravity can be established by spreading the feet to the width of one’s normal stride, and bending the knees as low as can accommodate comfort and quickness. This strong base affords the batter the fastest possible reaction time for a twisting body to respond to any variation of pitched balls. One of the most prominent features of a low stance is the obvious advantage the batter has with the establishment of a smaller strike-zone.

 

  1. With the low-wide stance, the batter is in an “ultra-stationary” position, from which to view the pitched ball with a minimum of distortion. As a tennis, or “table-tennis” player, receiving serve, is bent over and down as low as he can, to see the speeding ball on as close to a parallel level to the eyes as possible, so the batter, in a low stance, views the pitched ball with most clarity.

 

  1. With the body already in a stable and powerful position, from which to initiate the action of the swing, the only preliminary movement needed by the batter, as the pitcher is delivering the ball, is to brace himself (or “gather”). From there he awaits the arrival of the ball into the striking “zone.” The gathering simply implies that the front part of the body is twisting or coiling slightly in the direction toward the catcher, bringing the hands to a position just beyond the back shoulder, making ready for the body to “recoil” as the ball comes to the plate. The “coiling” is initiated by the front knee turning inwardly off a pivoting big toe. While the back foot is anchored flat, the weight of the body is centered from the upper abdomen to the ground directly between both knees. The hips and shoulders follow the backward rotation of the twisting torso (the body never leaning backward with any concentration of weight on the back leg—the “buttocks” looks to be sitting on a high stool). The entire action of the backward twisting and subsequent forward explosion in the opposite direction, as the swing takes place, occurs while the head remains stationary and the eyes still, focusing on the ball. The fulcrum for the hip-action in the perfect baseball swing is neither the front nor the back, but rather the center, as both the front and back (hips) work synergistically to maximize the speed of the turn along a constant vertical axis and horizontal plane. The front foot secures the ground with such force from the straightening front leg that the front hip is being forced open as the back hip is driven forward with equipollence by the aid of a forward driving back bent-knee. If performed properly, the vertical axis of spine and upper body remains constant while the hips are rotating along a consistent horizontal plane.

 

  1. After the swing has been completed, every part of the body will have rotated around and under the “fixed” head. The height level of the batter at the end of the swing should be approximately the same as it was at the beginning. Stability and balance at the end is as important as at the beginning. This order procures maximum efficiency for the sensitive guidance system which the forces of the body provide to the eyes and head.

What Constitutes Maximum Visual Acuity?

Everyone realizes how important it is to see properly in order to perform well. And all athletes are required to perform well, even while their entire bodies are in motion. Outfielders and infielders have to run or move abruptly to catch balls, and most do so very proficiently. No professional baseball player has trouble catching a ball while he is standing still and keeping the ball at eye-level.

There are some prominent “Hitters” in baseball whose abilities seem little diminished by the subtle head-movement in their batting styles. But, “congratulations” to those .300 hitters who intuitively realize that the least amount of head-movement has a direct relationship to successful “bats-man-ship.” Conversely, the more pronounced the head movement, the lower the batting effectiveness. Great athletes seem to have the ability to make certain physical adaptations that allow them to counteract visual distortions, some of the time (especially in their younger years), to maintain a respectable productivity. But, if all hitters would recognize that they are not sacrificing power by eliminating the “stride” and keeping the head still, their current batting performances would improve.

Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory states that “…the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion.” Along with his contribution to the establishment of Quantum Physics that informally states, that “at the fundamental levels of matter, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, not certainties,” Einstein’s revelations impart practical appliance to the “art of hitting a home run.” Since Einstein’s theories center around his study and application of the characteristics and qualities of light, all of humanity can capitalize on their utilization in the most practical of ways.

When a baseball enthusiast is watching a game at home or at the ballpark, he will periodically tell himself that he definitely could have hit the ball that the batter just missed. He saw it perfectly! The catcher behind the plate often wonders why he’s not a better hitter than he is. After all, “when I’m catching, I have no trouble seeing the ball all the way! Even curves, screwballs, splitters, knuckle-balls, etc.” Since the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion, why is the batter’s perception of the moving ball different from that of the spectator or the motionless catcher (or even the “faculty-diminished” umpire)? The most probable answer is that the batter’s eyes are not seeing as the eyes of these “spectators” are seeing, as Einstein’s revelation of “time-dilation” would indicate—the phenomenon of different times for different observers. A similarly remarkable observation was made by another highly esteemed authority from an earlier era when he said, “…the light of the body is eye; if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Be still and focus!

Most Difficult Task

If Einstein were a sports enthusiast, he’d probably not agree specifically with the Ted Williams statement that “hitting a baseball is the single-most difficult thing to do in all of sports.” He’d probably say that, “hitting a home-run is the single-most difficult thing to do in all of sports.” To hit a home run, a batter has to be almost perfect in his application of the “the laws of physics” with regard to the mechanics of swinging a baseball bat with precision and power. To be a consistent home-run hitter the batter must also have an understanding of all the elements that are included in the dynamics of hitting a home run. Theoretically, it is possible to hit a home run every time a batter swings at a baseball. However, as Einstein and others have found, through Quantum Mechanics, when trying to establish the essence of matter, that “at the fundamental levels, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, not certainties.” Therefore, with all the elements and combinations of variables with which a batter has to deal, from within and from without himself, the “uncertainty principle” gives compelling testimony that mastering the “rubic’s cube” of hitting a home-run every time is highly improbable. However, the knowledge itself, of such feasibility, enhances the statistical probability of success.

Statistically Consistent Home Run Hitter

Statistics are formulated from the accumulation, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of specific data, hopefully to be applied to a practical use. Home run hitting could very easily fit into the category of such practical use to some aspiring Major-Leaguer. (Application of Home Run Principle will preclude the need for “steroids”)

If one is familiar with all the “specific data,” and his analysis and interpretation are correct, he can reasonably assume that his chance of improving on his current output is at least statistically promising. But, even if one has all the knowledge and understanding from the processed “data,” by what means does he put a practical plan into action to complete his quest for being a Home-run hitter?

With complete assurance that the Principle is sound and applicable, the “disciple” must then practice. But only “perfect practice” will suffice until the perfect swing is established. There are gradations of practice sessions to be accommodated before the final testing period against legitimate pitching, in game situations, can be warranted. These gradations begin at the lowest possible level and evolve as perfection in each step has been mastered.

Gradation of “Perfect Practice”

The physical dimension of this practice of Principle (from within) can be enhanced with the application of the following multi-step hitting drill:

FOR HITTING: Four things happen at the same time, with the upper and lower portions of the body, at the critical point where the transfer of weight comes into play. The front foot plants and knee begins straightening (forcing “front hip” backwards). The back bent-knee rotates forward with thrust from the inner thigh and groin (helping to pull the “back hip” forward. The front shoulder shrugs upward (at first impulse), and pulls backwards (at second impulse). The back elbow (with shoulder) drives down and forward (by means of “Pecs. and Lats.”). All this happens at the same time before the arms and hands bring the bat to the striking position. To be done perfectly, the head has to remain perfectly still as the entire body rotates under it. As the bent back knee reaches its forward-most point, the head is directly above it through the swing.

Always remember that the speed and power of the swing is determined by the speed of the hips and shoulders. The effectiveness of the hip-action is determined by the bent back knee, which helps keep the bat on a “level” plane when the swing begins. If the back leg begins to straighten during the swing, the head and body lunge forward and upward, and the bat inadvertently goes over the ball, not to mention compromising the integrity of vertical and horizontal axes. Also, moving forward to hit the speeding ball has a set of potential problems of its own.

 

4-STEP HITTING DRILL: This should be done without a bat first, then with a bat after total coordination has been mastered.

Step 1 – Assume a position of maximum strength and balance. Get as low a stance as to not feel too uncomfortable, with feet spread at the distance of your normal stride. (Remember, a low stance gives you a natural advantage of a smaller strike zone, as well as a fundamental posture for stronger and quicker movement. If you understand the value of this “principle,” any physical discomfort you seem to have with a low stance will diminish as your body becomes acclimated, through repetition and positive results.) Then begin the repetition of the entire hip-shoulder “weight-transfer,” step by step. Repeat five attempts, focusing on the straightening of the front leg. Push down hard on the front foot, with the feeling of pushing your body backward. If the body actually does fall backwards, off balance, your back foot and bent knee did not do what was required of them.

Step 2– Focus on the action of the back leg. With a low stance, as you assume that the transfer of weight is imminent, drive the back bent-knee forward with force, rotating from the outside of the big toe of the back foot. Focus on the back leg during the simulation, but be conscious of the other three stages (especially the front leg). The vertical axis should remain intact, the head, spine, and hips on the same vertical plane, while the hips are rotating horizontally around that same vertical plane.

Step 3—Focus on front shoulder action. As front foot is planting, be focused on how forcefully you can shrug and pull the front shoulder up and backward. If the movement feels weak, it’s probably because the hips did not initiate the action.

Step 4—Focus on back shoulder and elbow. When the front shoulder shrugs, the back shoulder (with elbow) automatically lowers. The muscles of the Pectoral (in chest) and Latissimus (in back) areas drive the back elbow down and forward ahead of the back hand. The hand is thus in a palm-up position to force a flat bat through the ball. So, focus on the backside of the upper body coming through. But be conscious that the front side seems to be initiating the action.

After these four steps have been mastered, use a bat and go through them again using a batting tee until mastery is attained. After that, go through the same procedure, this time combining step one with step two, and step three with step four, making it a two-step drill.

Remember you are working to see how fast you can complete the entire action “perfectly.” Eventually you can move the tee to cover all the areas of the strike zone. If you notice that most of the balls are not being stroked in an ascending “line-drive,” then you may want to break the swing down again, with both “one-arm drills” (front first, then back). If you’re not familiar with the “one-arm” drills, they are merely simulations of the normal swing, using just the front or the back arm separately.

Remember, to assure that the head not move, refrain from taking a stride—you really don’t need it anyway, if you perfect the “four step” drill. When you feel that a mastery of these elements has occurred, you are ready to advance to a set of “soft-toss” drills. The mastery over these will qualify you for higher steps, until a state of extreme readiness is reached. Then your hitting mechanism will be finely tuned to near- flawless application for simulated game conditions.  After this, your only challenges will come from the actual live pitchers you will face in actual game situations.

Physical and Mental Competency

So, will you be ready? Physically, you will be! Will that be enough? No! You must consult your “statistical data” for an understanding of the other facets that are involved in hitting—those that apply to the challenges that come from “without.”

The pitcher may want to assert his mastery over you and deny absolute validity to the application of your proven Principle. And that is the only recourse he has. Since your principle is sound, he must deny you the right to perfect application. He can do this only by abiding by the same mechanism of statistical probabilities as you. Remember Einstein’s “special relativity” correctly asserts that “the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion.” And from what has been statistically certified over the history of pitcher-batter relationships, the disproportionate advantage to the pitcher is what now needs to be denied. The Home-run Principle can now assert a more pronounced effectiveness against the statistical dominance of the “Premier Pitcher Principle”– (which is merely an illusion).

The missing link in applying the hitting principle has always been the inconsistent visual acuity of the batter in accurately detecting the speed of the fast-ball, as well as the direction and varying speeds of “breaking” and other off-speed pitches. All this, of course, was due to excessive movement of the head, the primary culprits being the high stance and batter’s stride. Although the pitcher’s arsenal of distracting and illusory forces will always wreak their havoc on unsuspecting “head-gliders,” the Einsteins of a new era of batting prominence will set the standard for Home-run-hitting elegance.

Coming Next: Perfect Timing is what Focus is all about.

Greatest Hitter

Greatest Hitter

Baseball has had a treasure trove of outstanding batsmen for whom the public hoisted highest admiration. And its youth have persisted in trying to emulate these idols for decades, with aspirations to further their own glory. But the mechanical advantage that propels an amateur into the professional ranks is not easily discernable to the ignorant or naïve eyes of youngsters.

Ted Williams' follow throughAlbert Pujols 15Good Swing 1Mark McGwire 2                                Barry  Bonds 9

It is easy to appreciate any and all of those professional baseball players whose artistic preponderance have negotiated the ladder of masterful bats-man-ship to a verifiable degree. But the only way to describe the best of batters is that “he makes excellence look simple.” Although it was not really simple, abiding by a strict discipline of simple mechanics, he has perfected his technique through arduous, repetitive labor, from which the human physical endeavor appears effortless and instinctive.

“Batting” is an individual sport-skill that encompasses a variety of challenging variables. A batter has to “put in order” all of them to be a proficient “hitter”. It takes physical strength, flexibility, quickness, and timing, as well as the mental attributes of courage, confidence, determination, fortitude, for even the least skilled professional to “stand-in” against a 95 M.P.H. fastball, or 85+ slider, plus the myriad of off-speed pitches.

Ted Williams was nearly perfect in his understanding and application of the principles governing the absolute definition of batting prominence, but he was not altogether unflawed in his actual approach to an impeccable demonstration. The closest batter to mechanical perfection was  Barry Bonds.

Barry Bonds 10

The only thing difficult to decipher about Barry was whether or not he was conscious of his pre-eminent status as a pure extrapolation of principle, or was he subject to faltering, due to lack of understanding? His strength was incontestable (after Mark McGwire had retired), his athletic ability was indisputable, his timing was nearly impeccable, and his stance, approach to the ball, and fluid mechanics were incomparable. His only slight deficiency seemed to be in the realm of the mental accountability, which manifested itself physically at times of uncharacteristic, momentary slumps, as well as in questionable decisions to enhance his prowess.

thBarry Bonds 3Barry Bonds Pirates 1992 (2)Barry Bonds 2Barry Bonds Pirates 1992Barry Bonds 11

As the pitch was delivered his front foot strode forward, ever so slightly so as to maintain maximum visual acuity. His body gradually leaned over and down so he could maximized his perspective on a ball that he intuitively knew was traveling in a descending line or arc. With his front shoulder down and in, and his back elbow up, he waited until the last possible instant, (while his hands rhythmically lowered his bat slightly below his waist and backward), then pushed down, hard, on his front foot, from which began the strong and rapid straightening of the front leg. This action initiated the quick and powerful turning of the front hip backwards, which occurred simultaneously as his back bent knee and hip powered forwardly. At the same time that the lower body was administering its function, the right shoulder was instigating the preliminary movement to initiate the swinging of the bat.

After the front foot-plant, the front shoulder, at its precise cue, “shrugs” upward, securing the shoulder girdle while maintaining “a head and eyes” that are completely still, focusing on the ball. The “shrug” creates the opportunity for the back shoulder to follow its natural downward thrust to initiate the action of the back elbow to drive forward. At this point, the hands have locked the wrists into place, from their previous swaggering momentum, and the entire body continues on its course, with the arms and flattened bat trailing in a slightly upward direction to meet the ball at an angle of close to 180 degrees. The consistency of his bat meeting the ball at close to 180 degrees accounts for the fact that most of his Home Runs were carried on a trajectory of a high “line-drive”. The “Art” of hitting a baseball certainly could be defined in the context of describing the ideal hitter– “He is one whose bat most consistently contacts the ball in a manner that facilitates a straight and ascending “line-drive.”(To hit the ball in any other manner would be to miss-hit it.)Barry Bonds 17Barry Bonds 12Barry Bonds 8Barry Bonds Follow through                                      Barry Bonds 7

Is there anyone smart enough to figure out how to duplicate his technique?

The three major components in effecting the proper technique for batting a baseball are these: balance, vision, and power. As the pitcher throws the ball, the batter’s strong balanced position allows his eyes to focus on the point where the ball is being released. Preliminary movement implies that his body is “gathering” itself to brace for any number of possible conditions. The body maintains a low center of gravity to ensure stability, while shifting its weight slightly inward (not back) to initiate a quick twisting response to the ball as it presumably enters the “zone.” The quick twisting response is effected by a rapid sequence of fluid rotary movements simultaneously by the entire turning body, beneath the stationary head. If balance and focus are maintained from start to finish, the power and effectiveness will be evident in the beauty of the “follow-through.” A batter establishes stability and balance to perform his task when his center of gravity is low. His ability to see the ball most clearly is determined by the extent to which his eyes are on a parallel level to the ball, and the degree to which the body and head maintain a stable vehicle for proper focus. Power is generated most effectively with the body in a stable, balanced position, from which all movements can be produced most speedily, and with a minimum strain to accompanying body parts. The centripetal force provided by the stable position of the vertical axis produces the powerful centrifugal force, which magnifies the power elicited by the turning hips and shoulders.

The rules are simple and orderly. To abide by them and commit them to proper interpretation are what seem to be difficult, especially to those who prefer to act on their own fallible human instincts instead of a sound basic principle. A prominent 19th century philosopher makes this statement for our consideration, “The higher false knowledge builds on the basis of evidence obtained from the physical senses, the more confusion ensues and the more certain is the downfall of its structure”. Therefore, make it SIMPLE — by letting Principle speak for itself!

The scientifically minded “artist-of-the-bat” should understand and adhere strictly to the rules of his mental-physical application, and rest his performance on this sure foundation. He should hold his thought perpetually to the idea that his natural talent and indisputable scientific certainty can and will evoke from Principle the rule for mastering the most difficult task in all of sports.

Coming Soon: Einstein and the Home-Run Principle (Maximum Success without Steroids)

Principle for Batting Excellence

The Best Hitter that You Can Be!

Can any ball player be the best batter without striving for perfection? It is very unlikely that one’s natural ability alone will entitle him to the position of a prominent Major League Hitter. To attain the status of a “Big-Leaguer”, a naturally phenomenal athlete must refine what might be considered his undisciplined “artistic” talents, and nurture them under the auspices of an established tutelary principle. However, Professional Baseball hasn’t yet established such a principle by which aspiring young athletes (batters) can easily transform their crude, individually designated operational mechanisms into the precisely fine-tuned generic machinery for which their consistent productivity would certainly be validated and universally appreciated. What is currently in practice is a trial and error forum that culminates in either pronounced enhancement or deterioration, according to the sensitive responsiveness of the applicant for development. “Many are called, but few are chosen!”

There is enough practical evidence to preclude the possibility that anyone could actually attain the status of Perfection, at-bat. However, is it not reasonable to imagine that the current standard for excellence in batting could be significantly advanced, were it not for the arrogant or narrow-minded presumption that nothing more can be done by scientifically reducing all margins for technical error?

Although the most proficient of batters are they who strive to be the best that they can be, and espouse the most rigorous of physical regimens in order to sustain a productive readiness, if the principle to which they commit their efforts is not founded on an exact science, then the results of those efforts will be highly imperfect at best, and ultimately discouraging to earnest seekers for optimal accomplishment. If the practice of an imperfect principle is what diminishes the quality of their work as a batter, would it not be conducive to their betterment to explore and find the principle that promotes the most consistent success?  Excellence can be achieved as a goal only if excellence is the starting point from which to proceed.

Aristotle pointed out, in his Nicomachean Ethics, that, in order to begin a study of anything that would lead to the highest understanding and demonstration of its universal verity, one must “behold” an example of a closest facsimile to the ideal estate, study its admirable characteristics, and extrapolate from its obvious functional proficiency a common entity by which a generic standard could be discerned, duplicated, and possibly expanded upon. Then Excellence in any field of human endeavor is achievable to anyone willing to devote a “heart and soul” effort toward mastering the definable concomitants to successful enterprise.

But what if a concrete example of definable perfection can not be found and emulated? If one searches unsuccessfully for a tangible reference point from which to exploit a specific enterprise, all is not lost if he rests his constructive hope in the ever-inexhaustible realm of mind (consciousness). Surely, if one had the aptitude, he could glean some resolve from the intent of a famous quote, whose paraphrase would read as such: “Some people see the imperfect things of the world, and wonder why? But I envision the perfect things not yet present in the world, and wonder why not?”  When Michaelangelo was asked how he could create such beautiful sculpture from a block of stone, he replied, “The sculpture’s beauty was always there. I merely chiseled away the debris from off its form”. He must have known the form of the image before it was made evident by his handiwork.

An astutely perceptive mind could visualize those attributes closely aligned to the proper mechanics of the flawless expression of the perfect swing of the bat. Mark the perfection in thought, and behold its expression in action: for the end result is beautiful efficiency. And the “Hope” of success is inspired from the confidence which issues forth from one’s understanding of the principle that expedites the most precisely scientific demonstration of function. Confidence, an intangible element, is acquired through an absolute faith in the principle from which a batter bases his ability to produce the stroke that can be applied consistently in any given situation in the “box”, during a game. Is there anything close to the “Perfect Principle” for achieving maximum success in batting?

Perfection on a human level is most improbable, as an axiom from a “Quantum” analysis has suitably implied, “at the fundamental levels of matter, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, not certainties”. But when the margins for error are attenuated, the probability of success is proportionately increased. Taking Aristotle’s proposal into consideration, an astute batting analyst should certainly acknowledge the primary, near-perfect facilitators of excellence to be Barry Bonds (as well as Ted Williams).

Coming: The Greatest Hitter!

Masahiro Tanaka – Successor to Nolan Ryan’s Flawless Mechanics

Nolan Ryan was Baseball’s greatest pitcher (and a timeless example for all “wannabes” to emulate), not only because of all the records he set, but also for his ability to stay healthy for so many years in order to set those records. His blazing fastball, “off-the-table” curveball, debilitating change-up, his “tactical” control, and his competitive spirit were the defining attributes of his incomparable mounds-man-ship.

Most people think that he was of an uncommon breed of ballplayer whose physical strength was the criterion by which he would be judged so competently. But there are many strong-bodied pitchers in Baseball who don’t make it to the Big Leagues. And there are varying degrees of finesse in those who do make it to the Major League level.

Nolan Ryan is at the top of list of outstanding pitchers in Baseball history because he fine-tuned his pitching mechanics to a point near-to-perfection better than any other pitcher (past or present). It was the ultimate use of proper “mechanics” that not only fostered the most economically sound use of his body to control and propel the baseball with maximum intent, but also secured an unusually long career.

When he began his Big League play with the New York Mets, he was a typically promising “fire-balling” physical “phenom” who didn’t have a clue as to how to maximize his efforts with power, control and endurance. Wildness and injuries plagued him until he figured out a semblance of mechanical efficiency while playing for the Angels. As he progressively redefined his body mechanics he was able to sustain higher efficiency ratings in his pitching performances as well as maintain a relatively high capacity to avoid arm and shoulder injuries.

The application of sound mechanical principle to his “art” of pitching is undeniable, but very seldom duplicated by the current stock of “pitching” professionals.  If Nolan Ryan hadn’t changed from the style of his youthful days of undefined ignorance, he would not have sustained what turned out to be a long and illustrious career.

Maximum efficiency for a pitcher includes the following components:

1) Maximum velocity (95 to 100MPH);

2) Fast breaking Pitch;

3) Desirable control (strikes, but avoiding the center of the plate);

4) Endurance (100 to 140 pitches- 7-9 innings);

5) Longevity (15 to 20 years of peak performance)

There are some Major League pitchers who are bigger and stronger than Nolan Ryan was. And some of them throw harder than he did. But there are none who have the mechanical potential to experience his productivity, longevity and injury-free accommodation – until Now!

NolanRyan 13Nolan Ryan 8Masahiro-Tanaka 3Masahiro+Tanaka 16Tanaka 15Tanaka 2Tananka 11Tanaka 20

Curt Schilling, and Randy Johnson (who was tutored somewhat by Ryan) were two who had the best chances to “survive and achieve”, and they did. Currently, the Pitcher with the “Best -Mechanics” in all of professional Baseball is Masahiro Tanaka. The common denominator for all four of these masterful mounds-men is the simple fact that none of them straightened his pitching-arm as he began and continued the action through the course of his delivery until after the forward momentum of the turning backside of the body catapulted the shoulder, bent-arm and ball toward the plate.Randy J 15Randy J.5Nolan-Ryan 1200px-Nolan_Ryan_17C.Schilling 10-schilling11Tanaka 23Tanaka 25Tanaka 24

At that point, the arm began a straightening process that quickly and briefly extended it forward with the follow-through. The leverage that the bent arm provides diminishes the weight imposed on the shoulder and elbow, thus fortifying their strength to implement function with speed, control and optimal force. The lighter the weight, the faster the shoulder will rotate, and the faster and more accurately controlled will be the ball as it leaves the hand of the pitcher whose total body mechanics are intact.

The only fallible aspect of Nolan Ryan’s delivery was his high front-leg kick as he began his delivery. Most unscientific minds (and possibly Nolan himself) have wrongly accredited the “high leg kick” as an aspect of his success, but it was wasted motion, and compromised his status when a runner was on base. Runners could steal more easily because of the wasted and time-consuming movement. The move is wasteful because the foot has to come down to a low position before the forward body-drive begins (which is really initiated by the back bent-knee, driving forward).NolanRyan 13Masahiro+Tanaka 16

Pitchers think that the leg-momentum coming down from the “wind-up” contributes to the power drive. Actually it does nothing except waste energy that could be conserved for more practical use. The “power-drive” doesn’t begin until the front foot is near the ground.Japan v Chinese Taipei - World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1NolanRyan 16C.Schilling 12Randy J. 13

Most often the strongest and most promising of physical specimen incur the wrath of such blatant disregard for physical limitation. A prime example that comes to my mind was Darren Driefort, associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Darren had shown great promise until undue strain to his pitching arm necessitated elbow surgery.  After a second surgery was precipitated after he continued in his previous ritual of improperly d.dreifort 7.d.dreifort 8darren driefort 1implemented mechanics, his Baseball career ended.

Maximum efficiency for a pitcher includes the following components: 1) Maximum velocity (95 to 100MPH); 2) Deceptive Change-up; 3) Fast breaking Pitch; 4) Impeccable control (strikes, but avoiding the center of the plate); 5) Endurance (100 to 140 pitches- 7-9 innings); 6) Longevity (injury-less-enabling 15 to 20 years of peak performance); 7) Base-stealing deterrent (quick move to plate – no wasteful motion). Even Nolan Ryan did not possess the last attribute, but he could have.

All of the preceding components can be easily attributable to every single, able-bodied Big League pitcher of the modern era, if each would first subscribe to one critical facet of a primary pitching principle that differentiated “Nolie” from every other pitcher. The axiom would read as follows: “the farther the ball moves away from the body, as the arm is preparing to deliver the pitch, the heavier the weight will be to the stress and strain of the elbow, shoulder and torso” (not to mention “to the speed” of the throwing action).

The following pictures illustrates the GOOD VS. BAD! Masahiro and Nolie  -

Masahiro-Tanaka 3Tanaka 17Tanaka 15Nolan-Ryan 3Nolan Ryan 4

And Darren Driefort: It’s a shame, because he was a great athlete with great potential.

d.dreifort 7d.dreifort 8darren driefort 1

To correlate the six components to optimal pitching production the following comments will clarify the propositions:

1) A powerfully built athlete, who presumably establishes his power base from a low center of gravity, needs only to facilitate a mechanism for quickly manipulating the strength of the actual throwing apparatus (the shoulder). The lighter the weight on the arm, the more economical will be the movement of the shoulder to manipulate the arm. The straighter the arm and the farther its hand is extended away from the body the heavier it will be for the shoulder to manipulate quickly. Reduction of the speed of the shoulder will ultimately reduce the speed of the ball when it eventually leaves the hand of the pitcher. Therefore, the result is a failure of the pitcher to fulfill his maximum potential.

2) The hardest throwing pitchers usually have the fastest breaking-pitches, because of the power of the body that has a low center of gravity, and the speed of the shoulder as it moves the arm quickly through the tight range of motion as the fingers and hand provide the appropriate pressure.

3) As a dart-thrower (with bent arm) is more apt to demonstrate more control than a “long-armer”, so the efficiency quotient for the optimum in accuracy is bound to be in favor of him who has to negotiate a less cumbersome task.

4) A pitcher is a finely-tuned “piece of equipment”. Maximum efficiency rating is based on his workload over time, and predicated on the strength of the individual components comprising the collective integrity of the “Unit”. He is only as strong as his weakest link. Maximum output may be good for a minimum of time before the weak link destructs and the mechanism fails. Masahiro, Curt and Randy (as well as Nolie) could go longer because the bent elbow affords less of a preponderance for “weak-linkage”.

5) Simple deduction based on conservation of human resources provides less wear and tear on the physical apparatus, thus allowing for greater longevity.

6) A “lefty” is always the best deterrent to a base-stealer, but a bent elbow and a less elaborate front-leg kick could assure a “rightie” of minimizing the threat of “thievery”. The pitcher has to remember that it is not the front side that initiates the forward momentum for the pitch. The back bent-knee thrust (from the muscles of the groin) instigates the forward linear movement of the body after the relaxed front hip and leg turn inward with front foot near the ground. The front hip  turns so that the “butt” is advancing forward as the back of the front leg and heel of the front foot are stepping  toward the plate. Then, after a short arc of the turning hip and leg, the foot plants with toes pointed toward “home”. The front leg braces in a bent position as the back bent knee drives downward until the hips and torso powerfully rotate in turn to provide the thrusting power for the shoulder and arm sequence. The “bucket-holding” position of the throwing arm quickly changes as the hand and ball are brought to their place slightly above the throwing shoulder. At that point the body is completing its forward thrust as the arm starts its quick and brief extension, at the conclusion of which the fingers of the hand release the ball at the snap of the wrist (before the arm would straighten; but never completely snap the elbow closed). The quickness and efficiency of the entire delivery is predicated on the simple proposition that the less time needed to get the arm in position to throw facilitates a mechanism for the economical display of power, speed, and accuracy.

Tanaka 22Masahiro-Tanaka 3Masahiro+Tanaka 16Tanaka 23TANAKA 31

Now, no pitcher in professional baseball has better “Mechanics” than Masahiro Tanaka!

Coming next: Principle for Batting Excellence!