Monthly Archives: June 2015

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 as 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 (and Bryce Harper), 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 (or Harper) debacle.

DOES ANYTHING MORE NEED TO BE SAID?

Coming Soon: The Last 5 Proposals for Baseball Perfection