Two of my favorite players have formed habits that have finally shown how detrimental these annoying characteristics can become, especially in times when individuals cannot afford the luxury of passively tolerating their defective attributions. First, it is true that Mike Trout is the most fun and exciting player to watch play the game. His refreshing attitude, and his speed and power certainly make him a worthy candidate for this year’s MVP Award. But as good as he is, how much better could he be if he stopped “taking the first-pitch fastball, right down the middle?
Although he almost always battles back (sometimes from an 0-2 count), and is considered by many as a very good “2-strike” hitter, Pitchers purposely get ahead of him (almost always) by throwing a fastball right down the middle, and watch him passively take the pitch as if he is simply sizing up the pitcher and setting himself for the next pitches. Now, this might have been a successful ploy for a while, but Major-League Pitchers are now taking advantage of “his generosity” of offering one (or maybe two) preliminary strike. But then, after the juicy – fat pitch, they have started jamming him in-side, then finishing him off with sliders or fast-balls away, if he doesn’t pop-up or ground-out with the high “inside-heater.” You’d think that, at least once in a while, he’d set himself for that “first-pitch” and “rip-it.” It might ultimately change the current “dynamic” and get him back to hitting .300, and striking out less. “What’s he Thinking?”
Secondly, with all the injuries this season to players who have stubbornly continued to slide “head-first” into “the bag,” it was only a matter of time before the “most notorious of them all” – Mike Trout – injured himself sliding (Head-First). But he waited until the most important part of the baseball season to injure his thumb. He must have felt himself invincible, since he does appear to be the “strongest – looking” player in Baseball. But what he, and many others (including his compadre – Josh Hamilton) have not taken into conscious consideration are the following facts:
1. Experts have thought that sliding feet-first is faster.
2. The upper parts of the body (head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers) are much easier to injure than the lower portions (unless of course the player hasn’t learned the proper technique in sliding “feet-first.”)
3. No defender is afraid to place his own body in the way of a “head-first” slider, and block the base from the runner. He would be “less-inclined” to block a “feet-first” slider. No infielder ever stood in front of the base when Ty Cobb was sliding.
There is no-telling how Trout’s thumb injury will affect the rest of the Series, but I hope it’s not serious enough to stop his “Game 3 Comeback.”
Josh Hamilton’s idiosyncrasies have left him in states of chronic depression and depreciation of skill. He has been injured and sidelined so many times, primarily from not being able to overcome his “instinctive” nature to slide into bases “Head-first.”
His current chest-injury probably is the result of sliding on his chest. It’s no wonder that his facial expression and body-language during the last two play-off games are they that give any spectator the impression that he appears to be in a “Stupor.” The question “What is he thinking?” is mute compared to “Is he even thinking?”
It’s easy to understand why he would be depressed for not being able to perform like he and everyone else knows he is capable of performing. But what can not be understood nor justified is, “why does he continue to slide head-first”?
He needs a lot of work to correct the flaws in his batting mechanics, but he cannot even focus on those until he is able to be healthy. And the first important thing he needs to do to attain and maintain his health is re-vitalize his thinking about how important the “little-things” in baseball (and in life) are. He had (perhaps still has) as much skill, if not more, as Mike Trout. Will we ever be able to see it demonstrated again?
Here’s hoping that two of my favorite players regain their former countenances and proficiency. Best to them!