pitching

Mad Al Hrabosky

“To be perfectly honest with you, I really feel that I have average physical ability, but when I get my psych and my self-hypnosis going, I can compete with anybody in anything.”

~ Al Hrabosky

Back in the day it was fun to watch “Mad” Al Hrabosky pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. He would psyche himself up behind the mound and appear to get very angry, and indeed, he ended up in at least one brawl. Here’s a TWIB Note video of him pitching and talking, and here’s him talking years later about what he was doing behind the mound.

Pitching in high school

This is a picture of me as a pitcher in high school. I don’t want to say that we were poor growing up, but I wore a large outfielder’s glove while pitching because I was afraid to ask my dad for a new glove, and the shoe on my right foot — the one way up in the air — was cracked in the middle.

(Many thanks to Dwayne Heidtbrink for the photo way back when.)

Interactions with Cubs players in my youth

I had two interactions with Chicago Cubs players in my youth.

When I was about 10 years old, Randy Hundley was the Cubs catcher and he came to speak to all of our little league players and parents at a large gathering. After he gave a speech we were allowed to ask questions. Even then I was interested in pitching, so I asked, “What do you talk about when you go out to the pitchers’ mound?” He answered something like, “Son, I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to use those words here.” (All the adults thought that was funny, but I was serious and thought, “Geez, why don’t adults ever take kids’ questions seriously?”)

Then when I was a senior in high school, Ron Santo came to one of my games, wearing his trademark leather jacket. Technically he went to his son’s game, but since I was pitching and we won, it was my game. ;)

Baseball’s ERA+ stat

I like baseball’s ERA+ stat. It gives you a way to compare completely different eras in a logical way. In technology it’s like saying which feat is better, creating a huge website like Facebook, or creating the first versions of Unix or Mac OS? All of them are great feats of engineering, but the tools available in each generation are so different that there’s no way to compare them, but in baseball the ERA+ stats lets you do exactly that.