The Best! That They can Be? Or – Is There Room for Improvement? 5 Parts

What would it take for the following Batters to become even better Hitters than they have already presented themselves to Be?

giancarlo-stanton5Miguel Cabrera 2during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.Bryce Harper 20153mike-trout-batting-1

Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout are considered by most “experts” to be the “elite” hitters in Major League Baseball. They are all identified as “Super-Stars” who have the ability to change the course of a game if they are allowed to swing the bat in a crucial situation at a critical time in the contest. Since they are all “good” at their trade, they most likely wait patiently for the pitcher to make a mistake and then capitalize on it . That’s what a good hitter does! But the “Great” hitter is one whose mechanical advantage allows him to see and hit a pitcher’s best pitch, especially under those critical, game-saving circumstances.

Giancarlo Stanton has not yet reach that stage of “Batting Proficiency” where he could be counted on to consistently hit the Pitcher’s “best pitch”. In fact, in most critical situations, he seems to be consistently fooled by the pitcher’s “best pitch”. But at this point in his consistent development, he does something better than the other 4 members of my illustrious cinquain of elite performers. The best way to describe that attribute which distinguishes Giancarlo from all Major-League-Batters was already elaborated upon in my essay:  Hip Action—Fulcrum for Speed and Power to “Swing”.

Many baseball players have taken a liking to playing golf. Even a casual observer can notice the similarities of the swings in the application of strokes for each sport. Many batting coaches at all levels of play, from Little-League to the “Bigs”, are advocating the notion that the main ingredients to these swings are identical, and therefore a prospective baseball batter should adjust the mechanics of his swing to conform to those certain facets of the ideal golfer’s. The theory seems plausible, but under the scrutiny of scientific examination the idea becomes fraught with microscopic flaws that preclude ultimate batting proficiency.

An astute analysis of the golf swing differentiates two distinct actions of the hips when negotiating the two basic situations that a golfer can encounter. He/she is either swinging long, or short. When going for distance, with a wood or iron, the swing is facilitated by the powerful fulcrum effect of the front hip. The weight of the back hip and leg are pulled around and forward by the slow and sustained torque action of the muscles about the front hip and leg. A slight push of the back foot accompanies this action, and the body appears to end up in position close to an angle of 180 degrees, with head to toe perpendicular to the ground.Tiger Wood1Tiger Woods2

On short shots, the mechanics of the hips are such that the weight is concentrated on the back leg where the fulcrum effect is negotiated by the back hip. As the forward swing begins, the front hip is being pulled around and backward, a distance of the width of pelvis, by the torque action of the muscles stabilizing the back hip. Tiger8Obviously, the first swing is the power swing.

The power of the baseball swing differs from the golf swing in one major way, for two separate reasons. 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 contrasting actions are analogous to the “hinge-swing” closing and opening of a gateHinged gate1, and the movement of a turnstile.Turnstile1) In Baseball, 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. The angle formed, by a diagonal front leg and an upper body and head, as the swing is commencing and concluding is 180 degrees (or slightly less).Barry Bonds HRgiancarlo-stanton6Barry  Bonds 9

The dynamics of the golf swing involve a relaxed state of the body as it is gliding on a consistent steady course guided by a non-ballistic flow of the hips that carries the entire back-side (or front-side) of the body onto the weight of the front (or back) foot. Tiger_Woods7Since the power-fulcrum is the front hip (in a power swing), the slow buildup of torque in the “back-swing” precludes any loss of potential energy as the body efficiently glides through its range of motion. The head movement is minimal, yet unavoidable since all body parts revolve around the hinged front (or back) hip as the club is approaching a stationary object. Such a negligible infraction, while negotiating a moving object, would have a more debilitating affect, depending on the degree of difficulty.

In baseball, the most effective batsman will first assume a stance whose center of gravity is low enough to accommodate the rigors of fast moving ballistic reactions which are needed to offset the nuances of a baseball’s speed and directional proclivities. Instead of the slow steady flow of a golfer’s semi-flaccid body, the batter of a baseball has to have a body taut and ready to response in a “nanosecond” to the many possibilities that will confront him. Therefore the action of “turnstile” hips is what is needed to respond quickly to a 100-MPH fastball, or to patiently but apprehensively await the illusory action of curving or other off-speed pitches.

The “turnstile” action of the batter’s swing allows the vertical axis of the body to remain intact, which facilitates the least amount of head movement. The less head movement, the better the batter can detect the nuances of the speeding ball!Bonds -stanceBarry Bonds 2

IT is said that Mark McGwire is a pretty good golfer. If he played golf during the baseball season, he must have had a mentality that could easily adapt to each sport. If you ever watched him take batting practice before the game you saw him put on a show with what was essentially the same mechanism as in his golf swing. His stance was tall. The ball was not thrown with powering or deceptive intent. He stepped forward and swung off his front foot and hip. But during a game, he was in a low crouch that provided a low center of gravity, which afforded a much better opportunity to handle the moving ball with speed and precision.Mark McGwire 3Mark McGwire 1Mark McGwire 2

A 450-foot drive, off a well-attuned swing from Mark McGwire, gave reason to applaud a magnificent stroke. But, how was it that he sometimes hit a prodigious “shot” for 580 feet? When you really live up to that favorite expression of batters, “I got it all”, your bat made contact with the ball while the body was turning through the swing with the vertical axis intact!  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. (Read article – 9/13/2013 – “Inertia…”)__________________________________

Because of Stanton’s muscular statuesque 6 foot 6 inch, 240 lb. body, most people would assume that his physique alone determines the power and strength of Giancarlo’s swing. No doubt his “natural” physical endowment contributes greatly to his phenomenal feats of strength. But the “power” that facilitates the consistent manifestation of that strength is the Principle to which his body applies perfect accommodation. Whenever Stanton connects with a wicked line-drive or a towering Home Run, the speed at which it leaves his bat and the distance it travels is consistently greater than any other Major-League player.

at Coors Field on June 5, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.Giancarlo+Stanton3Generated by  IJG JPEG LibraryMIAMI, FL - MAY 22:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins bats during a MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Marlins Park on May 22, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Ron Elkman /Sports Imagery/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Giancarlo StantonDENVER, CO - JULY 23:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins hits a solo home run to left field during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Marlins defeated the Rockies 4-2.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 4, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)giancarlo-stanton5G. Stanton8

 

Over the years that he has been in the “Big-Leagues” his consistency for making solid contact has improved as he has consciously made an effort to decrease his stride and attain better visual discernment of the pitched ball. In the past, even with his exaggerated stride, he still managed to keep his “vertical axis” intact at the point where his front foot planted and allowed for complete facilitation of the “hip-action” spoken about previously.

Even with the horrific injury to his face by a pitched ball last year, he has managed a first half surge that defies belief. But, in order to take full advantage of his profound and fluid “hip-action” he must find a genuine means for eliminating the stride altogether. No one seems to realize that the “stride” (especially the leg-kick) is not necessary to facilitate the swing. In order for the swing to begin (properly), the front foot must be planted. Yet most (if not all) batters relegate themselves to vulnerability to the greatest “margin-for-error” in the entire batting regimen.  What is the only way to assure oneself of readiness to swing his bat? The only place where “timing” can be disrupted is in the stride. The batter never really knows when to put his foot down. Therefore, never pick up the front foot. Simply generate the needed momentum prior to swing by readying the hips to bring the shoulders, arms, and bat to the ball. By not striding, any batter will see the ball with utmost clarity, and allow for much better contact, no matter how strong he is.

With his natural advantage, when Giancarlo Stanton perfects his “NO-STRIDE” approach to  hitting, he will be Baseball’s Best Batter! But I guess we will have to wait 4 to  6 weeks before he can resume his dominance in punishing a pitched ball. G.S., don’t get discouraged. Best to the Best!

Coming Soon: Miguel Cabrera – How can he be better than he is now?

 

 

 

Albert Pujols: The Resurgence has Arrived!

 Albert Pujols 5 In October of 2013 I wrote the following article. Albert certainly had become the “rising star” of the Cardinals. As his Cardinal career was coming to an end, he was noticeably faltering until he had “Fallen” after the Angels acquired his seemingly over-priced services. But now in 2015, to “Everyone’s” amazement, he seems to have resurrected himself; but most experts fail to discern the factors most contributing to his apparent “Resurgence”- except Me!  Please read and see what you think?

Albert Pujols: The Rise. – The Fall! – The Resurgence?

Albert Pujols 1Albert Pujos 11Albert Pujols 14

Tony LaRussa, one of Baseball greatest managers, had the good fortune of being the “skipper” of the St. Louis Cardinals at times when the team included two of the Game’s outstanding hitters. And it is fair to say that these players, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols, had the good fortune of being managed by LaRussa.

McGwire was just finishing a long and illustrious career accredited with being known as one of History’s most prodigious sluggers. His legendary “tape-measure” home-runs” were initially lauded, but eventually disdained because of the implication that “steroid” use was a contributing factor in his uncommon and mythical feats of strength. Mostly gone unnoticed, after the “steroid-era” had been contested and virtually diminished from Baseball vernacular, was the fact that, from his inception into the Major Leagues, his tall, lean, and trim body, which bore no trace of the insidious trappings that Steroids ultimately produced, Mark was reputed as a power hitting “student-of-the-game”. It was his “Mechanical advantage” and his natural strength and ability that produced an abundance of home-runs in his formative “big-league” career. (He hit 49 Home Runs in his Rookie Year.)Mark Mcgwire 4

At the beginning, as well as at the end of his career, McGwire’s hallmark of stability and power lay in the position he took when he addressed the pitcher while in the batters’ box. He was a big and powerful man, but found no encumbrance while assuming a low, crouching stance.  In fact it was this “stance” which afforded him the maximum of stability and strength which were the most contributable factors in his powerful swing, before and after steroid-accusations. It had been purported that his vision was less than the normal “20/20”, so to his credit, he eliminated that particular margin of error with his stance. Poor vision and at least a “minimum” stride were his two main foibles, which ultimately contributed to any batting dysfunction. His body’s altered structure seems to indicate steroid use; but if true, it’s too bad. He didn’t need it! His strength was at the top of the charts already.Mark McGwire 1

Albert Pujols had the good fortune and pleasure to play with Mark McGwire and for Tony LaRussa – he must have learned from both. Pujols is one of the strongest men in baseball, albert-pujols- 13so he must realize that he doesn’t need any extra strength to be a consistent home-run hitter, or a .300 hitter. Whether he copied McGwire’s low stance, or found it himself is a credit to his good judgment. The other aspect of good-judgment on his part is his determination not-to- stride. For the first ten years of his Major-League career, these two characteristics of his batting regimen established him as arguably the best hitter in baseball. But it simply demonstrates how essential these two aspects are to uncommon batting proficiency.Albert Pujols 1

Two characteristics of Pujols’ batting style have become detrimental to his ultimate proficiency as a hitter that will forever place him below Barry Bonds as the “greatest-hitter” in baseball history. The fact that he holds his hands and bat high, while his arms are inordinately stretched out away from his body produce two distinguishable margins for error that will only exacerbate any slight ineffectiveness he may have previously experienced in his past-younger days.Albert Pujos 11Albert_Pujols_spring_tr_2009Albert Pujols 5

He apparently hasn’t recognized why he is a perennial leader in hitting into double-plays, even though he has consistently demonstrated magnificent hand-bat-eye coordination. In 2012, with the Angels, no one seemed to be able to help him understand why he was hitting so many bouncing balls for easy outs, to establish a batting average of sub-.200 in more than 100 at-bats. But it was in the 2011 season that started to show those detrimental effects and their imposing “doom”.

“Poor-Albert” was the best hitter in the “post-Bonds” era, and can regain that status, but not if he continues his present batting regimen, even if his patronizing commentators continue to predict that he will find his old self. The pitchers had been keeping the ball low, and with his bat high, had forced him to chop down and hit mostly ground balls, or bouncing balls, or pop-ups when the bat slices the front part of the ball. His first 2012 home-run was not that of a powerful Pujols swing, but rather a testament to his natural strength, barely making it over the left-field fence, on a pitcher’s breaking-ball mistake.

In his low stance Pujols should be able to hit the low pitch easily (as Barry Bonds did). Barry did not swing down on a low pitch, with the hope that his bat would strike it just right so as to slice the front end exactly right and get the required back-spin to carry the ball the distance for a home-run. He, as well as hitters like Ted Williams, realized that the bat had to come from behind and slightly below the pitched ball that was always descending into the strike-zone in order to hit it with maximum effectiveness at an angle close to 180 degrees.

Pujols’ slump is not due to some things that he is doing new and differently, but rather what he has been doing all along, but not thought of as detrimental to his over-all technique. The things being mentioned at this time are simply considered as margins of error that, if eliminated, will diminish or eliminate current mechanical flaws that impede proficiency.

  1. The low stance is requisite, but the slight bouncing of the body by the movement of knees moves the head and eyes and creates degrees of visual dysfunction.
  2. The “no-stride” is required to keep head and eyes at maximum stillness and secure ultimate visual acuity. But avoid locking the front foot into a position where the toes are almost pointing backward (Like Ryan Howard and Harold Baines). This is not necessary to keep the front side from “opening up” early. The negative effect occurs when the swing begins and the front leg is supposed to straighten as the backside is turning forward. The front knee cannot hold that position and the imminent sense of knee and ankle displacement abruptly jerks the body out of its smooth rhythm. (Harold Baines can attribute his knee problems to this uncompromising technique. And perhaps Ryan Howard, at times of batting deficiency.) All that is needed is for the front foot to plant itself firmly into the ground (at a 120 degree angle to the pitcher) to begin the swing. It doesn’t need to twist and plant.joe-dimaggio-s-legs-in-batting-stance-at-home-plate
  3. The problem with Albert holding his hands and bat high while having his arms extended away from his body is basically 2-fold:
    1. Even with Albert’s powerful shoulders, any extra weight extended away from the body will slow down the functionality of the body’s power source during the swing. Even more weight is added with the way he holds his bat in a horizontal position parallel to the ground.
    2. The hands and bat, if kept at that ultra-high position as the body begins turning into the swing, will have no choice but to swing downward at downward moving ball, even low in the strike-zone. The effect after contact is usually a ground or bouncing ball.
    3. It has been noticed by this observer that Albert has not been hitting the ball effectively to the opposite field, especially on pitches away. Perhaps balance is a problem. His stance may need to be widened slightly.

 

It is difficult for this observer to understand how a superb hitter, as Albert is, cannot detect what his problem is, and its remedy. He may very well feel that “no matter what, I’m going with what got me here, even if it kills me”. Well, I hope he has “9” lives, and the Angels have “Infinite Patience”. But there is an easier way — “adjust and adapt” with the help of an Absolute Principle.

Note: Before Albert started slumping, he held his bat more perpendicular to the ground while addressing the pitcher in his stance, rather than now, as the bat is almost completely parallel to the ground.Albert Pujols 14Albert Pujols 8

Can Albert regain his former batting prowess by  himself?  END!

Well, although I could not find any pictures or photos of Albert’s present “batting stance”, I have noticed from TV footage that 3 noticeable changes have occurred. His hands and bat are not so high; his bat is less horizontal (more perpendicular); his swing seems capable of coming from behind and under the ball (rather than swinging down).  Another change that might seem (to me) to be detrimental is that he is now taking a short stride. Although I advocate the “no-stride” approach, his present stride is fundamentally better than his previous “heel-lift-and-plant” from a side-way position.  His present stride allows his front foot to more easily turn to a 120 degree angle plant-position.

The only other change I would prescribe for Albert is his “hands-position” at the end of the bat. He is one of the strongest players in Baseball, yet he doesn’t seem to be able to hit a ball as far as many of the other “strong” players. Most of his Home Runs barely clear the fence. Barry Bonds and Ted Williams “choked-up” on the bat (at least a little), and their hands gripped the bat forcefully. Ted Williams' grip

Albert scrunches his hands tightly at the end of the bat (almost over-lapping), while his top hand lightly grips it with his fingers. That way, it would seem that the ball impacts the bat more than the bat could impact the ball.

I am hoping that Albert’s “resurgence” is not short-lived, but rather just a prelude to an even greater and complete “Resurrection”!

Baseball: “Penultimate” Expression of Perfection!

“Ultimate” Perfection within the Baseball Experience Will Be Attained only after the Following Imperfect Conditions Have Been Rectified or Enhanced:

  1. The D.H. has to be established in Both Leagues.
  2. The “Bean-Ball” must be eliminated, not justified.
  3. Umpires’ outside-inside corner discrepancy on wide breaking curve-ball must be resolved.
  4. Mandatory umpire assistance on Checked-swings.
  5. Establishment of a 2-bagged 1st Base (like Softball)
  6. 2nd & 3rd Basemen tap the “front” side of base to determine a “tag-out” (for fielder protection).
  7. Establishment of a D. R. (Designated Runner).
  8. Batters should get 2 strikes and 4 balls.
  9. No “intentional walk”. If at least 1 strike is not thrown to a batter, after four pitches he goes to 2nd. Base.
  10. A “D. R.” (Designated Runner) can also Pinch-Hit in the same game.

1.

The Pitcher is the hardest worker on the field! Let him focus on his primary job by letting him rest when his turn to bat comes up. The D.H. was the first solid attempt by Baseball to get rid of any superficial or perfunctory aspects of a game whose otherwise proud and purposeful intent was being undermined. The National League “Dinosaurs” continue to insist that the D.H. removes a distinct strategy that is integral to the Sport’s identity. All it does is remove a “little-skilled” or “no-skilled” hitter for a competent one, thus allowing for more competency where it is appreciated by all observers of the game.

A pitcher (now-a-days) can’t even bunt properly, and stands a good chance of smashing a finger, or two. Why run the risk? Ask Kevin Brown if he would rather have had someone batting for him when he smashed his fingers and couldn’t pitch for a good while. Or A. J. Burnett whose right eye might have given solid testimonybunting14 (Burnett) , and any of the others who have pulled hamstrings while running bases, when they could have been resting comfortably while mentally preparing to pitch the next inning? It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out the logical and rationally sound alternative to a pitcher batting. And other incidents including Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong breaking his hand while swinging at a pitched ball, and “relief” pitcher (Santiago CasillasCasillas2  ) pulling a hamstring legging an infield out, thoroughly exacerbates an intelligent person’s perspective on what is meaningful in Baseball. Is it going to take a serious injury to Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, or Stephen Strassberg, or their likes (Adam Wainwright for another) to finally come to the ultimately intelligent conclusion? I know that Kershaw, Strassberg, Greinke, Wainwright, and a few others think they have “batting prowess”, but their pitching is much more highly needed, without the risk of unnecessary injury.injured Pitcher (Wang) 1

The extension of a “Great” hitter’s career as a D.H. is another reason for admiring the American League initiative. Babe Ruth hit three home runs in his final game, before he was virtually forced into retirement. Babe Ruth 3 Just think of what it would have done for the fan-base as well as the extension of personal, individual worth to such Hall- of- Famers like Ruth, Jimmy Fox, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, and many others, to be able to continue their careers even while subjected to a somewhat limited fielding capacity, but still highly productive offensively. The whole process only improves the quality of team performance, and adds continually to the appreciative adulation of fans. Everyone benefits by innovation, even the stagnant thinker, once he accepts the inevitable aspects of positive change.

2.

Does Major-League Baseball truly want to stop the violent behavior that occurs almost always after a batter has been hit by a speedily pitched ball, or is IT merely giving “lip-service” to attempt to placate those fans who are repulsed by that barbaric tendency of most pitchers to stoically disregard the “well-being” and possible “livelihoods” of players whose healthy bodies are a requirement to continue in the game they (also) love to play (effectively)? There never was a good excuse to tolerate the abuse, and now there is absolutely no excuse for not obliterating its use in Major League Baseball.mean baseball face

Do you get the picture of, “Bludgeoning Effect” of a 90-100 MPH 5 ounce, hard, round projectile? hit by pitch13hit-by-pitch1Jimmy Rollinshit bypitch17hit by pitch14

The only practical RULE that will either eliminate, or at least diminish the hideous tendency to deliberately or “accidentally” hit a batter with a “Fast-ball” or “Hard Slider” or “Cutter”, is one that will award the batter 2 bases (not one), allowing him to pass First Base and go directly to Second Base, and putting him, or any previous base-runners, immediately in scoring position. If such pitched ball strikes a batter on a part of his body that is protected by “armor” of some sort (except helmet) then he is awarded one base. The umpire’s discretion would govern all aspects of the Rule.

Although Bud Selig did an admirable job as Baseball Commissioner, his most blatant omission or dereliction of duty was in not conceiving and enforcing this rule before he left office. His successor must (and will) do the “right thing”.  tony-coniglario2Will this guy ever play again? And will this guy Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewersever fully recover, to fulfill his potential ?stanton Face

 

3.

Not a day goes by, where I am watching a game on the MLB Station, that I see the circumstances of a critical situation, as well a player’s batting average, affected by the miscalculated judgment of the “home-plate” umpire with regard to a sweeping curve-ball over the outside or inside corner. I admit that in most situations, the umpires are uncannily accurate in their judgments on the bases. But for some unknown reason, they have not been tutored correctly on judgments regarding the action of the curve-ball as it moves around or across the outside or inside edge of “Home-Plate”.

When a right –handed batter is facing a left-handed pitcher (or vise-versa), and a sweeping curve-ball is caught a foot (or more) behind the plate, in the right-center of the plate, then the pitch is probably a strike. But if that curve is caught by the catcher off the right corner of the plate, it should be rightly judged as a ball, since it must have gone around the outside edge to be caught right on the corner, a foot behind the plate. But every day, I see an irate batter mumbling his way back to the dugout, silently or audibly cussing the umpire’s erroneous decision. Many times the game is dramatically affected by the call, inning ending with 3 men stranded, plus batter and manager being ejected for justifiably arguing the call.

But conversely to the previous example that negatively affects the batter is the circumstance that negatively affects the Pitcher. The same “lefty” may throw his sweeping curve that begins beyond the outside edge of the plate, but sweeps across the plate, and the catcher receives it a foot beyond and behind the home-plate. The umpire almost always calls that pitch a ball. But, in fact, it almost certainly “catches” some part of the plate, and should be ruled a strike. I admit that in order to call those two types of pitches accurately on a consistent basis would take more than mortal human skills. No umpire should have to be culpable for not accurately judging those pitches. That is why, eventually, MLB will install an electronic mechanism to make that judgment for the umpires (like It did with “Instant-Replay”).

It is unfair to the batter and pitcher, as well as the umpires and Major-League- Baseball, to have to endure traumatic and consequential effects of the poor-judgment that have been traditionally endured before this modern technological age arrived. If MLB has not yet thought of creating a “Home-Plate” that could be electronically implemented for practical use at all Big League Stadiums, then I would at least hope that some thoughtful executive would devise a prototypical model with which umpires could practice during the “interim”, so they could see first-hand that they are indeed missing those pitches, and attempt to solve the current problem by trial and error (for the time-being). I predict that, when that time comes, pitchers who previously received little or no notoriety will suddenly become “high-priced” Mounds-men, because that pitch will be found virtually impossible to hit.

4.

I’m sure that soon there will be a rule making “mandatory” that the Home-Plate Umpire be required to ask for assistance on all “check-swings” that occur in a baseball game. There is no reason not to have such a rule. No umpire, no matter how astute and highly skilled he is, can consistently discern whether the baseball thrown is a ball or strike, and still detect if the batter took an abbreviated swing at the pitch.

5.

With all the mishaps or arguments that occur around the First-Base bag, it would be appropriate that Major-League-Baseball take the initiative of installing a “double-base” First Base “safety” bag Softball double-base2to diminish the prospect of both injuries and disputes. The dispute that occurs most often has to do with a runner from Home to First who is running up the First Base line after striking out or bunting.runner Home to Firstfirst-base-image-basepath-33821467

The catcher or pitcher fielding the ball is sometimes in a direct line with the runner while throwing to First. Technically, this should not be a problem because the Baseball rule states that the runner must run on the outside of the base-line. IF the fielder hits a runner, who is on the inside of the base-line, with the thrown ball, the runner is supposed to be called out. But the umpire’s discretionary judgment naturally senses that the runner, after having hit the ball (or struck out), is simply taking a path most directly toward First Base.

So, in most cases, if the runner is only slightly on or over the line in question, the umpire will not call him out if he is hit by the ball. To an observer, it would be unwarranted to call him out because, in most cases, the runner would sometimes have to abruptly deviate from running in a straight line to the bag, since, when he begins his trek to First Base, he is generally 2 or 3 feet inside the base-line. Also, for a runner to deliberately attempt to run outside the base-line, he would inadvertently put himself in a vulnerable position when reaching First Base, if the foot extending to touch the base was his right. It would have to cross over his body, thus the awkward angle of his leg with relationship to the bag would easily subject him to a possible twisting of his ankle (or worse).

Therefore, the utilization of the “double-bagged” First Base would not only make it easier for the umpires to enforce the rule of running outside the base-line, but the diminishing of the injury factor in most situations would be greatly enhanced. The runner’s target would no longer be the singular entity on the inside of the baseline, but would now be the “colored” object of attention on the outside of the base-line. Thus the proximity of runner to fielder would be less acute. For the runner to be safe, while running from Home to First (to beat out an infield hit), he must touch the “colored” portion of the base on the outside of the baseline. first-base-image-basepath-33821467If he steps on the white portion, without any part of his cleat touching the “colored” portion, it would be as if he had missed the base completely, and would be considered out (if fielder had touched the white base while in possession of the ball). If a batter hits the ball to the outfield, and has a chance for extra bases, he does not have to touch the “colored” base, but proceed in the traditional manner of “rounding” the “white” base.

The injuries that would most likely be avoided are those that would put the runner and First Baseman in close proximity to each other on close plays, especially on errant throws. Even when the First Baseman makes an easy catch of a high throw that keeps his body close to the bag, many runners (especially those with wide shoulders) have tripped while crossing the base with even slight contact with some part of the fielder.

The latest “serious” injury, that occurred to Zack Cozart of the Cincinnati Reds, probably would have been avoided if he had more room to negotiate the base he desperately tried to secure. Many of the injuries I have observed occurred because at the last moment, it was impossible for either, or both, player(s) (First Baseman/Pitcher and Runner) to avoid each other due to the fact they were all vying for the same “singular” bag. The only practical Solution to the entire matter of the “First Base Dilemma” is the “double-bagged” First Base “Safety-Bag”. And the “Safety-Bag”(colored portion) should be made of a slightly softer material so the runner’s cleat would not slip off a hard top-surface, as in the Cozart debacle.

DOES ANYTHING MORE NEED TO BE SAID?

Coming Soon: The Last 5 Proposals for Baseball Perfection

 

Anatomy of Reaction: Timeline to Disaster!

mean baseball facebaseball brawlpac_1

Anatomy of Reaction: Timeline to Disaster

By

John F. Paciorek

There is a runner on first base. The batter hits a hot shot that bounces off the heel of the pitcher. The ball ricochets toward the short-stop position. Since the short-stop instinctively moved toward 2nd base on the initial batter contact, an alert 3rd base-man fields the ball and attempts a quick but forceless, reverse under-hand toss to the short-stop who is standing for an inordinate amount of time on 2nd base, waiting apprehensively for the arrival of the ball.

As the play is transpiring, a hustling, aggressive runner is speedily running from first to second base. Upon seeing the ball eventually being fielded, his training and athletic instincts demands of him an attempt to break up what could be a double-play. However, the only aspect difficult to immediately calculate is a time-differential not customarily applied to the now given situation.

Because a runner usually decides to take out the fielder after or as the ball is being caught in preparation to be thrown, this particular runner doesn’t calculate correctly the precise time in which to slide. KCvsAs7The consequence of his ill-timing  is disastrous to the fielder, potentially hazardous to the runner/slider, and enormously disastrous to the sequence of events that follow during this game, and the games that follow.

After the slide, and the effect it has on the now injured short-stop, the runner initially exhibits genuine concern for the fielder. But the over-zealous attention, brought on by the obviously injured fielder’s teammates and the umpire, presents a futility to his plea for reconciliation, which no one is willing to take to heart.

As the umpire somewhat forcefully escorts the “defendant” off the field, all non-essential players continue a verbal barrage of condemnation and justification  toward each other, a solution harmonious to ultimate reconciliation being far removed from present status. K.C. vs A's 1Baseball, at its Finest!? NO!

Nothing more belligerent occurred during that game, but “Karma” seemed to have interceded on behalf of the team suffering the “fallen player”. Last moment heroics portended a “come-from-behind” victory KCvsAs4 . You would have thought that the  baseball “gods” would have been appeased by the fortuitous outcome for those beleaguered warriors. But NOOOO! The worst was yet to come.

The pitcher of revenge-seeking team was either instructed, or took it upon himself, to rectify his teammate’s misfortune, and struck the “culprit” KCvsAs 5of the opposing team with a 95 MPH fast-ball, for which he was immediately ejected (without warning)KCvsAS6. Then the “Bean-ball” war began, and carried onto the next day’s ballgame. What a blatant display of unsportsmanship, combined with lack of respect, human dignity, and an unimaginable demonstration of bestial ferocity! All because of a simple misappropriation of logistical intent! And, of course, the team that started that day’s fracas lost the game (when will “idiots” learn – “Karma don’t do dat”). (And the following game ended the same way  KC vs A's 2KCvsAs 8 Karma again prevailing.)

If the runner initially had more reasonably assessed the timing of sequential action, he would have discerned that his own speed would have garnered a “safe” response from the umpire had he merely extended his leg and foot to the basesliding 7, instead of ramming the shortstop with his entire body. As it was, he still beat the throw with his incorrect and inappropriate slide, the fact of which went unnoticed by the umpire because of his hyper- concern for what transpired in the aftermath. Everyone involved was at-fault, therefore everyone was to blame, and there-after everyone should have been “forgiven”. They were all trying to do their jobs to extreme heights.

At the most passionate of moments, the runner was thinking, “what do I do to help my team the most?” The short-stop, out of position, but closer to the bag than the second baseman alertly thinks, “the time-frames are cutting it close to impending doom, but I need to help my team”. The 3rd baseman’s lunge with extended glove gave no mechanical advantage to his effort to relay the ball with adequate force and speed, but “it’s my last ditch effort; what the hell”. And the umpire, no doubt appalled by the ferocity of the slide, and it’s immediate effect, made no call on the play, but hastily attended to the victim while incorrectly removing the runner (who was actually safe) from the field of play, intuitively recognizing the ramifications that were sure to follow.

Who was at fault? No one! Who is to blame? Everyone who participated in the action of that specific play! But all of them was/is entitled the right of forgiveness! But the debacle that followed is inexcusable, especially when you think of the motive behind the actions of all those players who participated in that inexplicable play – to WIN, with honest effort! The behavior that followed can never be forgiven, because it should not,  and would not, ever present itself if M.L.B. would enact a new rule that would make it virtually impossible for a pitcher, manager, team, or Organization to seek retaliation for anything that occurs during the course of the game. The Rule would state that: “If any pitched ball that could be assessed at optimum, or near optimum, speed should hit a batter, that batter would be allotted 2 bases (not one)”.

This simple rule would satisfy those teams and managers, as well as players themselves who suffer the pain and indignity of their opponents’ justification that they were merely pitching inside, and the ball got away. KCvsAs3That would’ve been fine if the victim and his team didn’t suffer the consequence of the disabled list and rehabilitation, especially to a “star” player. Nor would pitchers feel the obligation to “protect” their own players! The ultimate consequence to that pitcher or team whose propensity to throw recklessly “inside” is the uncompromising prospect of putting a runner immediately into scoring position, not to mention the beneficence to those runners already on base. Only the most selfish, arrogant, and probably non-contending teams would consider such flagrant dis-concern for winning. ( See a previous article, on my blog, dated March 19, 2015.)

Does Major-League Baseball truly want to stop the violent behavior that occurs almost always after a batter has been hit by a speedily pitched ball, or is IT merely giving “lip-service” to attempt to placate those fans who are repulsed by that barbaric tendency of most pitchers to stoically disregard the “well-being” and possible “livelihoods” of players whose healthy bodies are a requirement to continue in the game they (also) love to play (effectively)? There never was a good excuse to tolerate the abuse, and now there is absolutely no excuse for not obliterating its use in Major League Baseball.mean baseball face

Open Letter to Josh Hamilton – Somewhere in Houston

To Josh Hamilton, “Your success as a man supersedes your success as a ball-player, but the wholeness you expect of yourself is incorporated in the “balance” you establish in these two important areas of your life.” John Paciorek

josh_hamilton2josh_hamilton

“A good hitter is not merely one who makes solid contact with the ball. But rather, he is a batter whose body mechanics facilitate the action of the swinging bat to contact and continue through the ball at an angle that provides for a straight (non-hooking or slicing) and ascending line-drive. The ‘Art’ of hitting a baseball could certainly be defined in the context of describing the ideal hitter—‘He is one whose bat most consistently contacts and drives through 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.)”

The preceding paragraph is an excerpt from my Book, The Principle of Baseball, and All There is to Know about Hitting. My frustration (as well as that of all ardent fans) with the apparent lack of competence that has infiltrated the mind and batting technique of one of the most talented “Baseball-Players” in the Baseball community has prompted me to write this letter in hopes of somehow reaching the eyes of either this player, his agent (or familyJosh Hamilton 1), or the highest echelons of the organization whom this player represents.

No one seems to be able to help him out of his current and on-going “funk”. He seems to think that by just continuing as he is doing will work out his particular problem naturally without any “scientific-help” from a knowledgeable “expert” on the subjects (both physical and meta-physical). I have written many essays on the “Art” and “Science” of hitting a baseball, many of which are included in my book, previously mentioned. The following is an excerpt from my essay, “The Scientific-Artistry of Hitting a Baseball:

 

“Is the act of hitting a baseball efficiently an “Art’ or a ‘Science’, neither, or both? Those who demonstrate a high degree of talent in any of the various art forms could easily be described as ‘artists’. There is adequate evidence to indicate that many or most good artists (of which Batters are included) have a ‘natural’ propensity toward the artisanship in which they are engaged. But their optimal level of proficiency is most often derived from the degree to which they accumulate enhanced understanding by means of scientific examination of all aspects of their chosen profession. Therefore, hitting a baseball most effectively would have to be construed as both an ‘Art and a Science’.

In professional Baseball, to be the best hitter you can be, you must apply science to your natural artistry or you will never achieve mastery over the elements (mental and physical) that have superimposed a phenomenal limitation upon your highest expectations. Those outstanding physical athletes who make it to the ‘Show’, but eventually find themselves languishing  in mediocrity, are typically the very prospects who could become stellar bats-men if they would engage a scientific-examination conducive to complementing their artistic predisposition. And they, who are performing at the prevailing ‘high’ standard of Major-League batting proficiency, could be setting new and higher criteria, if a more pronounced attentiveness to scientific inquiry were investigated for their optimal development.”

Josh Hamilton has reached a point in his illustrious career where intelligent pitchers have seen him enough to know his “margins for error” and can successfully circumvent his “natural-artistic” strong-points to wreak havoc on his phenomenal exhibition. Although he is each still physically capable of demonstrating his former prowess (with the correct mental regimine), he must now make certain adaptations of which neither he nor his “instructional-gurus” seem to be aware or willing to apply.

At the completion of his current shoulder and drug rehabilitation program, I would like to offer my service in the form of a simple consultation. He can contact me personally, or simply refer to my Book and website, www.johnpaciorek.com. Being a former professional ball-player I am aware of the singular reluctance of a “transforming super-star” to heed the advice of anyone outside his own sphere of influence. However, a meeting “of the minds” might have the effect of reaffirming a sense of confidence that seems momentarily lost to him who would regain his former high status, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and professionally.

When scientific principles are universally understood, every true sports enthusiast will be his own diagnostician, and Truth will be the universal panacea. Principles are not rigid, oppressive rules designed to limit or restrict individual creativity or expression, but rather to enhance them. They are foundational cornerstones on which to construct exemplary forms and visible expressions of excellence. To do the best you can do is not only determined by the enthusiasm and natural ability you seem to have been afforded, but also by taking advantage of the natural laws which govern the dynamics involved in the activities with which you find yourself engaged.

 

To “believe assuredly” is to have absolute faith in a proven principle. On the human level it’s hard to find an “Absolute” belief for which to have 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. The scientific principle of hitting a baseball is not going to secure a successful hitting application. But a ball player with faith in the “perfect principle”, and the patience and courage to live by, and practice it unflinchingly, has the best chance to accomplish his goal of being a “Prime Major-League Hitter” and a positive contributor to himself, his family, and society.J. hamilton2

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, innovative 19th century pragmatist made 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”.

There are many ball players who could benefit from this practical instruction, but hopefully this chosen one would reap his just rewards as soon as he makes my acquaintance. Here’s hoping for a quick return to normalcy for one of my favorite players and one of my favorite Teams.

Sincerely submitted,

John F. Paciorek – Former M.L.B. player with Houston Colt 45s – Holder of Highest Lifetime B.A (1.000), Highest O.B.P. (1.000), Highest Sl.P., Highest Fielding % in M.L.B. History – And the subject of a new Book by Steven Wagner, entitled, Perfect…

How to Improve Individual Batting Prowess and Collective Offensive Competency in M.L.B.?

From Tragedy’s Pain and Anguish, A New Look at How to Enhance the Batting Competence In M.L.B. and All of BASEBALL.

conigliaroplaqueConigliaro Grave

There is only one legitimate way to improve the Major League batting Prowess, but there are countless artificial/superficial ways. In “round-table” discussions, Major-League Baseball analysts have recently been pondering the prospects of what would improve the batting prowess of Baseball’s elite branch of offensive facilitators. Since Pitching has become so dominant, a few obvious solutions center around how to make the pitchers’ effectiveness be less than preponderant. So, two logical proposals have been placed on the table:

  1. Lower the Pitching mound (maybe “flat-ground”). More pitchers are now having surgeries on shoulders and elbows. This should increase that rate and diminish the ranks of the “high-quality” pitcher, eventually.
  2. Move the Mound back beyond 60 ft. 6 inches; perhaps nearer to 2nd Base. That could eliminate the cost of a 9th player. The pitcher could add to his burden the duties of a 2nd Base-man by scampering to cover the “hole” after he pitches the ball. The N.L. would like that. Plus, Greinki and all other former shortstops could augment their batting with additional fielding prowess as well. Of course that is liable to jeopardize their longevity as a player. The price for “Contrived Glory”!
  3. *Of course if an analyst were willing to “think outside the box” he might see the practicality of stricter rules concerning the Pitcher-Batter relationship that would certainly boost the confidence level of the batter in a way that produces more offensive competency. The greatest threat to all batters’ ultimate success is fear of “Death by Pitch”. Ray_ChapmanRay_Chapman_Graveltonyconigliaro3Everyone in Baseball knows this, either consciously or unconsciously. But no one really speaks out-loud about it. Batters don’t want that image embedded in conscious thought when going up to the plate, and Pitchers, although they don’t mind hurting an opposing batterhit by pitch6, don’t want the stigma of criminal intent on their “political” resumeshit by pitch4. I don’t know how many times I’d heard (in my short professional career) a pitcher irreverently say, “I’m gonna stick one in his ear”hit-in-face-pitch9. I actually heard one pitcher on my team bragging about seeing blood trickling from the ear of someone he had “nailed” (this was before ear-flaps were required on helmets.)

*A. Aside from mandating a pitcher to throw no faster than 80 MPH, the surest way to improve Major-League batter-confidence in order to improve competency is to take away (at least partially) the pitcher’s “intimidation-factor”. IF a pitcher wanted, he could “nail” a batter any time he intended. jeter-hit-by-pitch2And when a pitcher intends to hit a batter, to hurt him, or to scare the hell out of him (especially a good or smart hitter), he will set him up to expect a breaking pitch. The best of hitters has conditioned himself to first look-fastball over the plate. But to hit the curve or hard slider, he must wait and anticipate any pitch coming at him to break away. IF he detects that the ball is not intending to deviate from its straight-line trajectory, he will abruptly hit the ground or “turn, roll, and bend or fall”. If he waits too long, he’s “dead-meat”. If the batter is hit in the head (glancing or solid blow), drilled in the back, side, rump, arm, elbow, wrist, hand, leg, knee, ankle, or foot, he is awarded first base. If he is unable to continue in the game (perhaps placed on the D.L. for a week, month, or life) another player substitutes for him. The next batter grounds out, and the inning is over and all is forgotten, except by a Tony LaRussa, Kirk Gibson, or Kevin Towers, who, in all fairness to his player (and who would not empathize?), and in just retribution to ageless “tradition” will continue the policy of complete and utter disregard for the health and well-fare of another “human-being” (and it is usually an innocent batter who gets the brunt of “retaliation”). (Are you getting the picture of, “Bludgeoning Effect” of a 90-100 MPH 5 ounce, hard,round projectile?)hit by pitch13hit-by-pitch1Jimmy Rollinshit bypitch17

*B. The only practical RULE that will either eliminate, or at least diminish the hideous tendency to deliberately or “accidentally” hit a batter with a “Fast-ball” or “Hard Slider” or “Cutter”, is one that will award the batter 2 bases (not one), allowing him to pass First Base and go directly to Second Base, and putting him, or any previous base-runners, immediately in scoring position. (Then, maybe for extra measure, accredit him with a 2-base hit to boot.) If such pitched ball strikes a batter on a part of his body that is protected by “armor” of some sort (except helmet) then he is awarded one base. The umpire’s discretion would govern all aspects of the Rule.

*C. Although Bud Selig did an admirable job as Baseball Commissioner, his most blatant omission or dereliction of duty was in not conceiving and enforcing this rule before he left office. His successor must (and will) do the “right thing”. tony-coniglario2Will this guy ever play again?Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewershit by pitch10(G.S)And will this guy ever recover, to fulfill his potentialstanton Face?

As an aside-note to this specific topic, especially interesting to me, who is not much of an “old-school” advocate, is that Baseball’s Founding Fathers may have understood some factors of the game that hadn’t really come to light until the era of “Saber-metrics”. Back in the “old-old-days” any time a batter made it to first base, he was considered to have gotten a “base-hit”, and his average attested to this. Somewhere within the successive generations it was felt that the “art of getting on base” was not as important or glamorous as hitting the ball safely for a base-hit. So, rule changes denigrated those whose batting averages were below others’ of their contemporaries. (Imagine an era of no protective head -gear.)

Not until “Saber-metricians” established a verifiable scale of consistent positive characteristics to denote the over-all value of the offensive and defensive attributions of all players did the re-justification of the so-called “mediocre” ball-player come to Baseball awareness. Not only is “hitting a base-ball the most difficult skill to perform in all of sports”, but Baseball itself is, in my estimation, the most intricate and difficult of games to play in all of Sport. (That’s another topic for discussion, perhaps with “Hunger-Games”).

Also for consideration should be the fact that the 2 greatest Pitchers of all time, Walter Johnson and Sandy Koufax, would never throw at a batter. And if they accidentally hit a player on an intended inside-corner pitch, they were humble and considerate enough to apologize. They relied on their mastery of the “Art of Pitching”, and didn’t resort to any barbaric, intimidation factor to enhance their success. That’s the way Baseball was usually played in the Sandlot Leagues, where kids of my era would have been appalled if they knew their “heroes” were deliberately throwing at batters. Since “Bean-Balling”mean baseball face has been written about in such fondly sentimental fashion lately, Little-League and High-School Pitchers have recently developed the “Cool” penchant for throwing at the batter. Hit_By_Pitch7(L.L.)One way (the only way) to stop all this “Non-Sense” is to adopt this “new rule”, and continue the  enhanced modification toward making the Game of Baseball the most civilized as well as the most fun game for kids and adults to play.

Monuments and Plaques have been constructed in posthumous honor to players like Tony Conigliaro TonyC1969conigliaroplaqueand Ray ChapmanRay_ChapmanRaymondJohnsonChapmanPlaque, but a more practical and immediate memorial to all batters who incur the volatile and violent impact of any misplaced pitched ball would be the awarding of at least a two-base accommodation for their physical and mental anguish, not to mention the Team’s just compensation for their inappropriate loss if said player languishes on the Disabled List.

The following is part of a Newspaper article appearing in a Boston paper after Tony Conigliaro had the misfortune of being hit in the eye by a pitched baseball:

August 1967: A glum Tony Conigliaro ltonyconigliaro3was in his hospital bed at Sancta Maria Hospital in Cambridge while being treated for a cracked cheekbone, dislocated jaw, and damaged retina. This was the fifth time in Tony’ Cs major league career that he has been hurt by pitched balls. He suffered a separated shoulder during spring training when a John Wyatt fastball sailed during batting practice. During his rookie season, he suffered a hairline fracture of the left wrist after being hit by a Moe Drabowski pitch. A month later, he was out for six weeks when a Pedro Ramos pitch broke his right forearm. And in 1965, Wes Stock of the Kansas City A’s put Tony out of the lineup for 12 days with a broken hand. The injury from the Jack Hamilton pitch would prove to be the most serious of all. And ultimately “ended his life as a ball-player”.

I know that it is no consolation to Tony C. and Ray Chapman, but all batters, in all the Baseball Leagues in America, and around the World, would certainly feel a little bit better if they were awarded an extra base after being bludgeoned anywhere on their bodies by the force of that speeding, hard, round projectile fondly referred to, in most cases, as a baseball thrown by a Pitcher.                                                                                            THE END!

The Good Hitter, and The Great Hitter – Part IV (Conclusion)

Joe Morgan1Mark Mcgwire 4 Yaz-300934860.JPGBabe Ruth 3Albert Pujols 15Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay RaysTed Williams - Power&SpeedBarry Bonds 17

Part IV – Conclusion!

In conclusion, I would submit that the physical prowess of today’s athletic baseball players is far beyond that of the past. The pitchers are bigger, stronger, and have more of a vast assortment of training procedures and deceptive pitching techniques (as well as scouting reports) than their forebears. And the batters, while seemingly disenfranchised by this fact, are themselves equal in physical stature and have access to training techniques to potentially offset that superior Pitching preponderance. Every player dreams or fantasizes about getting a hit every time he comes to the plate, and even wonders, in dismay, why it is that he cannot fulfill his dream. Futility leads to hopelessness, and thus creates the enduring saga of the .250 hitter, or less. If Einstein was correct when he said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, then let every batter begin his quest for “perfection” in his own hope-filled mind, and imagine for himself how to pursue his daunting quest by the practice of a principle most likely to develop faith in his assured success. How and where to begin?:

Description: Ultimate Dimension—In the realm of mortal consciousness this dimension is
non-existent. It only exists in the hopes and dreams of those whose childlike rebuke of the cold conventionality of human imperfection would stand in defiance to the claims of those stagnant horizons of self-imposed status-quo. As the image and likeness of something greater than a vain-glorious adulation of individual self-aggrandizement, he that would be capable of climbing toward the supreme heights of ultimate bats-man-ship is one who is least fraught with a limiting sense of personal prowess. Anyone aspiring to a Self-recognizable commitment to nothing less than a Perfect Principle has the only hope of attaining the grandest height of proficiency, for himself and those who would follow his example.
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-Self 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. Could anyone besides a “Jesus” bat 1.000?Baseball - JesusCoaching10

Description: Penultimate Dimension—This chrysalis state from which an earnest achiever
would merge into the ultimate of highest batting proficiency is obviously the closest step to perfection. If batting perfection is impossible on the human level, then would it not behoove any semblance of mankind to strive for a suitable facsimile thereof, to a level as close as possible to that ideal, instead of stagnating at the miry depth of conformity to the sub-.400 range of hitting. If all those reading this paper were in agreement with a collective goal of developing the highest possible batting proficiency at this level, then where must we begin to explore this nebulous realm of Penultimate dimension?
Taking the advice of Aristotle and the inspired Scribe of Psalms, is it possible to extrapolate, from the collective archival achievements of Baseball’s most formidable hitters, a hint of productive principle from which to glean a promising standard for enhanced batting proficiency?
Thoughtful consideration of a good many aspects of the entire batting regimen must be
understood and applied conscientiously, in order for maximum proficiency to be demonstrated. The question has been, and might always persist. What is the proper regimen for establishing a technique that will procure the consistent, maximum effect while hitting a baseball? Many have theorized about the prospect, but only a handful have established credibility through their practical applications. But, of these, the closest to extracting a complete and understandable facsimile of truth has been Mr. Ted Williams, who happened to be the last Major League player to bat .400 over the course of an entire season.Ted Williams' follow through
Although Mr. Williams was nearly perfect in his understanding and application of the
principles governing the absolute definition of batting prominence, he was not altogether
un-flawed in his actual approach to its impeccable demonstration. The closest exponent of the perfect batting technique was/is Barry Bonds. He, in obvious ways, supersedes the brilliance that Ted Williams embodied. Barry&Ted(The only thing difficult to decipher 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 his misrepresentation of the “Power-Principle” with an unsuitable penchant for the illusory enhancement of chemically induced stimulation?)

Barry Bonds was capable of hitting in excess of 100 home runs per season, and batting .400 or more, because he was closer to flawless technique than anyone who has ever played the game. His strength was/is incontestable, his athletic ability was indisputable, his timing impeccable, and his stance, approach to the ball, and fluid mechanics were incomparable. In the few areas in which Ted Williams was lacking, Mr. Bonds was prolific. His only slight deficiency seemed to be in the realm of the mental accountability, which manifested itself physically at certain, momentary slumps.

What was it that Barry Bonds did consistently right, that most, if not all, other batters only
do sporadically? The answer is 5 separate things. They are the following:

Bonds -stanceBarryBonds_bat flatBarry Bonds 11Barry Bonds HRBarry  Bonds 92001-10-05-bonds homerun-follow through
1. He established a strong low center of gravity within his stance.
2. He eliminated the movement of his head and eyes as he strode (very slightly).
3. He waited patiently for the ball to get to him.
4. When the ball got to his hitting zone, 4 things happened simultaneously:
a. The front foot planted quickly and firmly. Front leg began to straighten.
b. Front shoulder shrugged upward, while back elbow drove downward to flatten bat.
c. Back bent knee drove forward, as hips turned rapidly and front leg straightened.

d. The shoulders followed the hips in rapid succession, with hands and bat still behind            back shoulder until arms extended through the contact with the ball.

5. From contact, through the straightening of arms, through the follow-through, the
shoulders were continuously flowing, until they (shoulders) had changed position.

Consistency in Batting effectiveness (Home Run proficiency) had never been more highly
demonstrated than by Barry Bonds in the 2001 season, when he set what seems an                  insurmountable record, for anyone but Barry Bonds himself. And, in 2002, he won his             first (of what should have been many) “Batting Crown”. His extra power had catapulted         him to a higher level than had been previously thought possible. When he wasn’t quite         so strong, his drives were careening off the walls instead of sailing over the fences. Is               there anyone else smart enough to figure out how to duplicate his technique? “Truth is         revealed! It needs only to be practiced.”—M.B. E.

A few batters who have emerged since the Bonds era ended, who seem to have attained the most essential characteristics necessary  to continue the proliferation of Batting Excellence, are Miguel Cabrerra and Chris Davis. Miguel C. 4Chris Davis 4Cabrera’s consistency ranks him higher on that elite list than Davis at this point in their respective careers. Even with his “Triple-Crown” prowess and multiple MVP awards, Miguel has one particular flaw that, if corrected, could garner for him the highest tier in the hierarchy of Batting grandeur. That “flaw” is his “high-leg-kick” to initiate his approach to his “launch-position”Miguel C. 3Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays. Like other “H. L. Kickers”, RodriguezAlex 1that front foot, while in “suspended-animation” is subject to inconsistent “planting” that is the most crucial element necessary in initiating the swing. If “timing” isn’t perfect, such batter is either Late, or Early with the “plant”. When asked how he manages his ability to get out of momentary slumps, he offered the following statement, “I just don’t stride with my front foot, and it works itself out”. Duh! That’s the secret to the natural success that anyone would experience. So why doesn’t he do that all the time?

The most noticeable flaw that keeps Chris Davis from performing at his optimal level is his “Shawn Green”, Tall, Open, High-Bat stance Chris Davis (Stance). But from there he moves into a position of utmost advantage Chris Davis 3.

If Chris Davis would start from this position Chris Davis 3, but avoid the stride completely, he would be more ready for any pitch thrown to him. Then he would simply plant his front foot, and let the rest of his swing occur in its otherwise majestic sequence. C.Davis 7Chris Davis 4Chris Davis 2Chris Davis 1 With his natural power ( not needing to be steroid enhanced) Chris is the front-runner to legitimately replicate the Bonds’ mystique and carve out a niche in Baseball’s legendary “Hall of Heroes”. But only if he changes his false-impression of “proper hitting technique”! He must incorporate a new stance, and approach to the ball with thought-processes and actions of the scientific application of the proper batting mechanics practiced most consistently by Barry, and Mark McGwire (the vanguard to such scientific-artistry being attributable  to Ted WilliamsTedWilliamsShortSwing2).

Bonds -stanceBarryBonds_bat flatbonds - contact 2Barry Bonds 17Barry Bonds 21Mark McGwire 5Mark McGwire 1Chris Davis 4
The End!

The Good Hitter, and The Great Hitter – Part III

Mastery of Bats-man-ship

Four Degrees (Dimensions) of Competence:

Fourth Degree—Ultimate Dimension

Third Degree—Penultimate Dimension

Second Degree—Scientific Dimension

First Degree—“Phenomenal” Dimension

Definition and Examples of Four Dimensions of Bats-man-ship:

First Degree: Phenomenal Dimension—The manifestation of what appears to be a natural propensity of a physical entity to perform to his/her highest degree of physical competency without the use of supplemental mental facilitation is indicative of a most primitive, single dimensional, fastball-hitting mentality. “Power versus Power” exhibits in a batter a need to gain a forward momentum in order to counteract the otherwise debilitating effect of a pitcher’s blazing fastball. Adapting to “off-speed” pitches entails a dimension of thought that includes a scientific component. A batter, incapable of adapting to any such circumstance, becomes easy prey to the pitcher who can throw a curveball for a strike.michael-jordan 3 Thus, the sudden, or gradual, decline in promise of the physical “phenom”. “Matter and its effects are states of mortal mind which act, react, and then come to a stop.”—Mary B. Eddy (S & H) Many there be that are called, but only a few are chosen from the ranks of the purely “Phenomenal”.

Second Degree: Scientific Dimension—Coalescence of Science with the Art of hitting a baseball begins a confluent Scientific-Artistry that supersedes the antiquated adherence to the superimposed brilliance of the “natural-athlete”. The development and refinement of batting skills began to take shape as individuals became determined to perform at higher and higher standards. When mere strength and “natural-ability” reached the limits of peak performance, conscientious hitters found that “technique” extended their effectiveness and longevity. Certain natural principles began to be applied to the peculiar aspects of the hitting game of “Baseball.”

The power of the swing was not maximized by strength alone, but was more reliant on the principles of “mechanics.” Strength was important and vital, but without proper mechanics, the integrity to optimal performance was undermined. Imagine the faces of disbelief and awe when “tiny,” or scrawny-looking players with the correct mechanics out-hit, and outslugged bigger and stronger players whose mechanics were suspect. EPSON MFP imageJoe Morgan 2Finesse had become, and still is, the main ingredient to precise hitting. “Some thoughts are better than others. A belief in Truth is better than a belief in error, but no mortal testimony is founded on the divine rock.” (Mary Baker Eddy—S&H . . .)

Third Degree: Penultimate Dimension—Highest Human demonstration of the scientifically-artistic display of bats-man-ship does not quite reach the level of perfection for which all batters (consciously and unconsciously) strive in vain. The last man to hit .400 was almost considered a god for what was considered a batting average as close as one can get to perfection, with an efficiency rating that barely exceeded 40%. By attaining a “hit” in only 4 of 10 at-bats, TedWilliamsShortSwing2Ted Williams was unsuccessful more often than he was successful, but still considered (by most) the greatest hitter in Baseball history. His attempts at combining scientific understanding to his prominent physical endowment and artistry were seminal to a new wave of expanding thought, but were in no way conclusive to those who were to behold the first rays of his enlightened approach to hitting a baseball. And because his scientific inquiry did not have the benefit of modern technological scrutiny (video, slow-motion replay), as well as not taking into account every single aspect of the “batting-pitching” condition, he and others gleaned little from his merely intuitive but speculative hypotheses. Technical flaws (although understandable now) prevented his progressive steps to the “gate” and possible entry into the realm of the “Ultimate” dimension. “Among them that are born of woman, none was greater than (Ted Williams) John the Baptist: not withstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11)

Fourth Degree: Ultimate Dimension—A Spiritual dimension is the fundamental basis from which to build any endearing structure that will ultimately glorify the source as well as the effect of meritorious and magnificent display. The bats-man of the ultimate degree would be capable of hitting the ball squarely every time he swung his bat. Perfect application of a perfect principle probably sounds impossible, improbable, or a product of wildest IMAGINATION. But, “Seek first the kingdom of Heaven (Vortex) and the righteousness therein, and all these things shall be added unto you.”(Matt. 6:33) No mortal has yet demonstrated the competency that would exemplify ultimate bats-man-ship because mortal thought is incapable of comprehending and attracting the probable components necessary to manifest the ultimate bats-man.

End Part III

Coming Soon: Part IV (Final)

The “Good Hitter”, and The “Great Hitter” – Part ll

 

Even at the lowest levels of cognition, hitting a baseball is an art form. And some artists are just better than others! But with a serious application of scientific involvement, couldn’t  the artisanship be made to conform to a standard beyond what is customarily acceptable?Leonardo da Vinci expanded the scope of previous artistic standards with his own innovative application of scientific principles. Complementing his sensory sensitivity with the calculating precision of scientific understanding, he let principle and finesse govern the practical beauty of his structural and delicate successes. His work reached the confluent acme of scientific artistry!

What is it that prevents Baseball’s hitters from expanding the boundaries of batting  excellence to a point at or beyond the .400 mark? It is both a lack of insight and perspective that prohibits a mechanism from becoming readily available to catapult any prospective bats-man beyond the self-imposed limits of ignorance and irresponsible conformity. Three hits in ten at-bats seems a reasonable respectability to anyone willing to ignore a pathetic 30 to 35 percentile efficiency-rating as being the high standard bearer for baseball’s batting elite. Though it is true that hitting a baseball is the single-most difficult task in all of Sports (as ascertained by Ted Williams), is it reasonable to become complacent with a productivity rating whose low level has no comparable equivalence in any other area of business or athletic acumen?T. Williams - Science 3

A hope-filled pragmatist within the realm of Baseball’s professional bats-men might  investigate all means (scientific and otherwise) by which that abhorrent statistical anomaly can be improved upon or removed, or at least be diminished from the tablet of baseball consciousness. What would such an investigative assignment entail? It would probably include reconnoitering all available resource reference material that would be pertinent in order to attack such a bewildering set of circumstances. paciorek book

All the greatest minds in history would probably have to be consulted for their expert opinions as to the mesmerizing and enigmatic circumstances involved, from Socrates, Plato IMG_1217 and Aristotle to Newton, Einstein, Stengel, Berra, Paciorek,  as well as St. Paul, Augustine, and Mary Baker Eddy.

Borrowing from the Platonic dialogues, let us begin with a Socratic Dialectic inquiry so as to advance beyond an initial stage of ignorance. Why is it not possible for a batter to get a base hit every time he comes to bat? The immediate intelligent and practical answer would probably be that the 9 defensive players would somehow find a way to prevent that from happening—it has been a tradition in almost 7 of 10 at-bats. But Socrates might further the dialogue by asking “What would prevent the fielders from catching the ball when he hits it (if he didn’t strikeout)?”

A perceptive “interlocutor” might venture an array of educated guesses. “If he hit the ball over the fence, the fielders couldn’t catch it! And if he demonstrated an exact and precise principle of batting technique, the mechanics of which would considerably lessened the margins of erroneous calculation, then it might be theoretically possible to maximize his effectiveness to a more certain degree.”

Tirelessly in pursuance of an ultimate solution, Socrates might again inquire, “Is it conceivable for a batter with highly acute physical sense perception and strength, as well as pronounced scientific understanding and demonstrable application of sound mechanical principle to effect a flawless swing that would propel the baseball over the fence every time a ball was pitched for a strike?” The mindful student might respond, after thoughtful consideration, that “it is conceivable, to thought, that such a prospect would be possible, but the human practicality of such a degree of success would seem highly improbable.”

Albert Einstein would probably agree with the perceptive student, since his Einstein 4Relativity Theories precipitated the onset of Quantum Mechanics whose main postulate states that “at the fundamental levels of matter causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, not certainties”. But Newton’s advanced mathematical appliance of Calculus certainly made it evident that previously incomprehensible circumstances were now afforded a venue from which to reduce those margins for error that had previously exacerbated most querulous situations.

Since Socrates’ method of teaching always left room for additional inquiry, although the responsive student advanced to a higher plane of understanding, the solution was assigned to greater depths of investigation and personal practice. But Aristotle offered some advice to those searching for excellence. From his “Nicomachean Ethics”, I paraphrase what he said, “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”.

The Bible may have put it even more succinctly, where in Psalm (37:37) it is stated, “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.” 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.

Astute analytical research on the topic of “The most productive means for becoming a most proficient Bats-man”, would have to begin with a visionary outline of what might be considered the various degrees of observable competence and perhaps the underlying characteristics (if any) of the ultimate form of “excellence”. si_ted-williams-science-2Then, perhaps an elaboration of those varying degrees (with examples and illustrations) could describe the characteristics of each, and establish a platform for any prospective high achiever to undertake advancement toward that Ultimate goal.

End Part II

Coming Soon: Part III

The “Good Hitter”, and the “GREAT HITTER” – Part l

According to contemporary Baseball thinking, the “good hitter” is a batter who waits patiently for a pitcher to make a mistake (puts the ball where he does not want to—where he knows the batter is most capable of hitting it), and capitalizes on it, and effectively hits the ball with authority at least 2.72 times out of 10 at-bats. To me, there are many ways to be a “good” hitter, but only one way to be a “Great” hitter. The good hitter will wait and hopefully hit the pitcher’s mistake. The “great” hitter will be able to hit the pitcher’s best pitch.

Since the standard for being a good hitter is so low, then it might be well to presume that the standard for “perfection” is not or cannot be what a dictionary definition of perfection might imply. In Baseball, there is not an example of Ultimate Perfection. But under guidelines for what is defined as Penultimate, we can estimate the ultimate potential of those who might be the closest to perfection.Barry Bonds HRTed Williams - Power&Speed00934860.JPGMiguel Cabrera 2Albert Pujols 14

When most Baseball people attempt to analyze the highest proficiency of bats-man-ship, they see the skillfulness of the hitter as being comprised within a two-dimensional realm, natural phenom” and the “smart hitter”. Phenomenal exhibition would be a basis of evaluation that acknowledges the artistic, natural propensity of an athlete who, under his presently yet unrefined circumstance, makes solid contact of bat to ball without his advocating any strict adherence to disciplined principle.Babe Ruth 3 Most notable examples are those “Blue-Chip” prospects who are BIG, STRONG, and FAST, whose physical attributes garner for themselves “big bonus bucks” when they sign their initial contracts and carry the fresh hopes of those organizations that intend to weave this new and endearing material into a more durable fabric for team building. Matt Kemp 9(Thus the recycling of “team-building” continues until the futility of errant ways obviates, and heads roll.)

The “smart-hitter”Joe Morgan1 is a cunning adversary for any “pitcher”, with instincts and astute deductive processes that can successfully promote an effective hitting prowess. This type of batter combines his natural physical talents with a cursory understanding that certain indefinable mental qualities are essential to offset the sometimes-crippling dependency on physicality alone. He tries to incorporate a mental component into his prominent physical dimension because his instincts reveal some underlying mechanism to higher achievement. Rusty Staub4But without a thorough investigation into the depths of mechanical understanding, the closest his trial and error tactics will get him to his highest proficiency is the range encircling the .300 mark. Not bad, but far from superlative achievement!

The mentality of most professional batters, because of the overpowering “arms” of most professional pitchers, is one with two limited approaches to maintaining a relatively successful attack on the respectable .300 average. “See every pitched ball and swing at strikes,” and “look for a particular pitch, and make sure you hit it” are two simplistic notions that rely primarily on one’s quick physical responses to the given stimuli. And the success of either is determined by the quickness of the batter’s reflexes and the inability of the pitcher to put the ball where he wants it. The highest degree of consistent productivity is never attainable with either of these approaches because their sporadic and sometimes remarkable success is achieved while the batter’s senses seem to be acutely within “the zone” of feeling good, a state of being that is ephemeral at best. On any given day any such hitter could look like a potential “hall-of-famer”. But, by the end of a regular season, his numbers some times add up to a compelling mediocrity.josh_hamiltonBryce harper2john

End of Part I.

Coming Soon: “Good Hitter”, and the “Great Hitter” – Part ll