Tag Archives: baseball flame thrower


Those are the words my high school baseball coach used to say when he tried to get me to use breaking balls more often against power hitters. I didn’t buy into it preferring power vs. power and let the chips fall where they may. Which in a way is what we’re seeing in the game today.



The game of baseball today at its highest level is all about power. the talk in baseball after the All Star Game, and especially after Giancarlo Stanton’s Home Run Derby explosion (video), is this……..what’s up with all the home runs this year? 

A degree of panic is setting in as once again MLB has to answer the question yet again – do we have a bunch of juiced up players in the game today?

Commissioner Rob Manfred answered the question while in San Diego this way….”We think it has to do with the way pitchers pitch and the way hitters are being taught to play the game. You’ve seen some unusual developments in terms of home run hitters being up in the lineup to get them more at-bats. So we think it has more to do with the game this time around, because we’re comfortable we’re doing everything we can on the performance-enhancing drugs front.”

Typical spin you might expect from the man hired by the owners who like to see the “asses in the seats” that home runs bring as George Steinbrenner liked to say……except for one thing……

In this case, he’s probably right and here’s why……

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In 1987, the playoff bound Detroit Tigers were looking for a starting pitcher to solidify their rotation. The Atlanta Braves were willing to part with imageDoyle Alexander, but they wanted a young pitcher in return. They put two names out there for the Tigers and said, “Give us either one”. The Tigers held on to Steve Searcy who was closer to the majors and gave up on a low minor leaguer the Brave scouts coveted – the recently enshrined Hall of Famer John Smoltz.

Three years ago, the Mets put the NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey on the market. imageToronto bit and they were willing to give up the Mets prime target in the deal, Travis D’arnaud. Years from now, Mets lore will say that the deal would not have happened if the Blue Jays hadn’t tossed in a young righty named Noah Syndergaard, but at the time he barely made the list of Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects sliding in at #95.

A little more than a year ago, Noah Syndergaard did not travel North with the team. Instead, he was farmed out to the AAA Las Vegas 51’s for what was called “seasoning” like he was a tomato or something.

There imagewere concerns about demeanor on the mound and his ability to control himself. Never was there a question about his pitching arsenal. It seemed like it was more about the confidence level on both sides, but the pendulum swung more to Syndergaard on that question. He went 3-0 with the 51’s and was called up on May 5.

And the rest is just the beginning of what they say is history in the making……….

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Any business consultant advising a potential client will advise that the first  – and most important decision they will make in the process of starting up – is the location of their business. Where will you generate the most traffic? 

Pitching in the major leagues successfully is like that too. It’s not the velocity of the pitch, it’s the location of the pitch that matters. Nearly all hitters who reach the big leagues can turn on a 100mph fastball if it’s in their wheelhouse and the best hitters can do it even if the pitch is not in that zone but still catches the meat of the plate.

The difference though for a pitcher then, unlike a business , is that he wants and needs to be out of “traffic” in areas of the strike zone that fall in what’s known as “the black” part of the plate. Easier said than done.image

In July of last year, I wrote a column titled The Lost Art Of Pitching that received some attention but did not delve deeply enough into the subject matter. So today, let’s look deeper because what our eyes and hearts see is not often what you get when it comes to successful pitching and pitchers……..

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