Monthly Archives: March 2014

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 (as is the expansion of the Universe). 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; the unfruitful servant’s dire consequence that proceeded from his slothful and complacent enterprise; as well as the “rich man’s” quick demise after his intent to expand his barns and not his “horizon.”

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 expects (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; and is the subject of a new Book, entitled, Perfect, by Steven Wagner.

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 rhythm 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 120 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 120 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 less, the tension on the front foot, ankle, and knee can have a dire affect 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 obsolete, 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.