Comments on Tonight's Giants-A's Game
I love major league baseball. I’ll grant that NBA basketball, premier league soccer and professional boxing (because of the price you pay if you aren’t good, and except for the fixes) are of similar caliber of talent/ability, but I won’t admit than anyone plays their sport better than MLB players.
Tonight’s game was a lot of fun, particularly because the Giants won. Lincecum wasn’t perfect in the first inning, but after that, he couldn’t have pitched much better.
The two most important things in pitching are stuff (velocity and movement) and command (the ability to throw the pitch to where the catcher has set up to receive it).
If a pitcher can throw the pitch to where the catcher has set up to receive it, he will get the pitch an inch or two off the plate every time. So long as that pitch isn’t belt high, it’s extraordinarily difficult to hit.
Buster Posey may never leave first base. He’s a natural baseball player, and he’s a pure hitter.
The Giants need a first baseman, and Posey, after fewer than 50 professional games at the position, is already better defensively than Aubrey Huff, who isn’t as bad as his reputation has it.
First base is a lot like catching: it’s about foot work and soft hands, and Posey has both. He played Gold Glove, Albert Pujols 1B tonight on about four different plays.
I want A’s pitcher Tyson Ross to succeed. He went to high school in Oakland and played college ball at Cal. He’s only 23 this year and already in the majors.
But he throws too much with his arm. He’s a big, strong bodied pitcher, but he throws almost entirely with his arm. I would like to see of a pitcher of his size and strength get his body behind his pitches, but Ross doesn’t.
His pitches are mostly arm, and I would expect an injury somewhere down the line. He’ll keep throwing the way he’s throwing now, until his arm breaks down, because he’s had success with it, and he gets a lot of ground balls.
In my mind (and I don’t think I’m alone in this), you want to see a big, strong pitcher get his body and legs behind his pitches.
Past martial arts training has led me to believe that the ideal pitching motion is integrated, in the sense that all of the body’s muscles should be contributing to the release point.
One of the things I love about watching Tim Lincecum pitch is that he fully understands how to be effectively wild. In other words, don’t throw the hitters any more pitches in the strike zone than you have to.
Get that first strike, and then make them swing at your pitches. One of the best all-time at this was Steve Carlton, who got more swings on pitches way out of the strike zone with his slider than any pitcher I can remember (except the great fastball pitchers like Ryan, Clemens and Jason Schmidt, who could set up hitters to swing at high 90′s fastballs at their eyeballs—no hitters at any level have consistently caught up with that pitch).
Pitching is mostly about changing speeds and changing locations. That, and stuff and command (if it was really that easy, you and I would be major league 20-game winners).
Hitters, even at the major league level, can be set up to swing at pitches that aren’t close, so long as the pitcher gets ahead in the count and can put the strike-out pitch where he wants it.
Love Mark Ellis. Just a professional ballplayer, who’s taken his talents as far as they’ll go. He’s a middle infielder, who provides just above-average major league defense, gets on base and provides just enough pop, that he’s truly a valuable player.
Tonight’s game was an example of why power is so important to the modern game. The Giants won on two-run homers by Pat Burrell and Benjie Molina.
Aside from the fact that fans love the long ball, power was discovered to be crucial almost as soon as Babe Ruth began to blast them out consistently.
As Earl Weaver once famously said, pitching, defense, and the three-run homer will win you a lot of ball games.
The Giants are an old-school team. They like their veterans who don’t make mistakes and make the right decisions (but, alas, get hurt too often), and they like their tools.
The Giants don’t hit enough three-run homers, because they like their pure hitters, rather than the guys who actually get on base.
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