baseball

If the Houston Astros want to do the right thing ...

If the Houston Astros want to do the right thing, they should just tell opposing batters what pitch is coming. For every at-bat during the season. If they can win the World Series that way, more power to them.

An old white building I have one memory of

Back in the days of my youth, the town I lived in used to hold Little League tryouts in the first floor of this old white building. In one of the exercises, one of the coaches — my dad — used to hit ground balls to us. All of us wannabe players would stand in a single-file line near the front door and front windows, with the line wrapping along the windows on the right side. My dad would stand at the back of the building with a bat and hit these rubber-coated baseballs at us. We had to field them and then throw them to another coach who stood at the back of the building.

I don’t know why, but every time it was my turn to take a ground ball, my dad would hit it significantly harder than he would for the other kids. Boy, that used to piss me off, and it’s pretty much the only memory I have of this building.

I haven’t been back there in many years now, but it looks like the Little League baseball park is still behind this building.

“Mad” Al Hrabosky alvin January 30, 2020 - 10:50am

“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.

A demonstration of how the Houston Astros were stealing signs alvin January 17, 2020 - 10:25am

Back on November 12, 2019, a Twitter user named Jomboy demonstrates how the Houston Astros were stealing signs against the lowly Chicago White Sox in a 2017 game. The interesting part here is that nobody was on second base, this video seems to show that they were stealing the signs from the catcher to the pitcher using the center field video feed.

Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo passed away on December 3rd

Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo passed away on December 3rd. Back in the day, he came to one of my baseball games, wearing his trademark leather jacket. Technically he went to his son’s game, but since I was pitching for the opposition and we won, it was my game. :)

My dad would have loved to meet Mr. Santo, but he stopped coming to my baseball games by that time, so he missed out on that. In fact, my mom, with all of her problems, was the last parent to see me in a baseball uniform. She came to see a game after I injured my shoulder, and it turned out to be my last game.

Zach Greinke’s changeup grip

This is a nice photo of Zach Greinke’s changeup grip when he pitched for the Dodgers. I never did master the changeup before I hurt my arm, but in retrospect I wish I had learned how to throw it when I learned how to throw a curve. My ERA my junior season (before the injuries started) was 1.00, and I have no doubt it would have been 1/2 of that if I had known how to throw one. (I don’t remember where I got this image, but it was probably espn.com.)

There’s an important lesson here about (a) role models and (b) expanding your horizons that I need to write up at some point, but the short story is that Cubs pitchers at the time threw fastballs, curves, and splitters, so as a teenager that’s what I threw.

Wrong Thinking

Here’s a story about what I call “Wrong Thinking.”

Way back in high school when I was playing baseball, a pitcher named Catfish Hunter became the first baseball player to get paid over a million dollars a year. I thought that was crazy, in a bad way. One day I talked to my dad about it, and asked him why people like farmers and engineers who did more important work didn’t get paid like that.

He didn’t have a great answer at the time, and that thought kept on bothering me. These days I think a correct answer he could have given me goes like this: “Baseball is in the entertainment business, just like singers and actors. For whatever reason — some sort of supply and demand, and a need for entertainment — society is willing to pay those people a lot of money. So if the money bothers you, what you can do is make that money just like Catfish Hunter, and then give it away however you see fit.”