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Archive for March, 2009

There were many scenes like this one at the BC-Clemson game, but the Eagles didn't take their big lead for granted.

There were many scenes like this one at the BC-Clemson game, but the Eagles didn't take their big lead for granted.

It is rare that you see a team sacrificing with an 8-run lead, but that is exactly what the Boston College Eagles did on Friday in their game against Clemson (ranked #20 in the country).  In fact, they attempted to do it on two occasions. In the bottom of the 4th up 8-0, DH Matt Hamlet advanced Robbie Anston to 2nd base with a sacrifice bunt.  With the same score in the bottom of the 6th inning, the Eagles tried it again (this time with a runner on 2nd base with 0 outs).  Was this unconventional? Was it a sign of respect for the Clemson Tigers? Should teams with big leads take this approach more often?

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In this game, I think we had a case of a coach understanding that a team like Clemson could put up a lot of runs in a hurry. By bunting, BC Coach Mik Aoki sent a message to his kids that there was a lot of game left to be played and they still needed to fight for every run. It was even more important to send the message in this game seeing that 7 of their 8 runs had been scored on homeruns and the fact that it was the first game of a three game set. Losing a lead like that in game 1  could have been a devastating momentum shift. Rest assured Eagles fans…BC extended its lead and rolled to a 13-1 win.

I’d like to see more coaches manage in this fashion. Don’t think just because you put up some crooked numbers early in the game that it will happen again. Play for one. Those insurance runs can really drain the opposition emotionally. Do you agree?

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BaseballThink is partnering with the Boston Amateur Baseball Network, New England’s top resource for adult baseball, to provide them with baseball tips and strategy from local amateur ballplayers. From time to time, you will find our content displayed on the network’s website-bostonbaseball.com. The site is the most comprehensive resource for New England adult baseball and also provides general baseball information useful for ballplayers of all ages.

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BaseballThink correspondent Jim Storer visited Louisville Slugger last week as part of the Innovator’s Road Trip.

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We had a great “behind the ropes” tour with Rick Redman, the VP of Customer Communications at Louisville Slugger. It makes the most sense to start this post where our tour ended, in the Slugger Museum. Inside the front door there’s a butter churn.. huh, what’s that got to do with baseball bats? Well, that’s what we asked and here’s what Rick told us.

Louisville Slugger – Beginnings (click link for audio recording)

We found this to be an amazing story that really highlighted what we’d been hearing throughout the Innovators Road Trip – innovation usually comes from improving or building something based on a product that already exists.

Back to baseball.

In the early days of baseball (and still today), players would try anything to get a little edge. Rick told us a story about how players traveling in the area playing games would often sneak out of the hotel early in the morning and wait outside the Slugger factory so they could get in first (and get the best wood) when they opened the doors. Talk about competition!

Early on the company hand-turned all of the bats they made on a lathe. This relatively time consuming process limited their production capacity, but the personal attention they gave each player helped them build a strong brand that’s kept them in business for 125 years!

During our tour, Rick introduced us to Tom, who had been working in the factory for 39 years. He’s currently working on MLB player bats (all done with a computerized lathe), but he started out hand turning bats on a lathe and offered to show us how it’s done. Check out the video.

Now take a look at how long it takes to produce the same bat with today’s technology.

Making a major league bat takes even more precision. Slugger has one machine that they use to produce bats for MLB players. It cost them $1M and uses a computer to store all of the individual players specific characteristics and make bats to match.

Pretty cool stuff, but not as cool as seeing the pile of wood stock that Pedroia’s going to use to bring Boston another World Series title this year. 🙂

Pedroia's Lumber

Jim

Note: Cross-posted on innovatorsroadtrip.com

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1st base footwork

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Many baseball observers underestimate the value of having a 1st baseman who has sound footwork and technique around the bag.  It is not always obvious because bad footwork doesn’t necessarily translate into errors. More often, it will result in limited range.  In today’s post, I will focus on one fundamental that is extremely important for a 1st baseman- don’t stretch until the ball is on its way.

When you stretch before seeing the ball’s path, you restrict your range in all directions (left, right, up, and down). You will have more success if you 1. see the ball, 2. adjust your feet based on the ball’s trajectory, and 3. stretch to the ball. By doing this, you will have a better chance to catch balls thrown to your left and right. Furthermore, you will dig more balls thrown in the dirt and jump higher for balls thrown over your head.

This is something that should be practiced, so you are able to do it very quickly. In many cases, you will have a split second to complete all three steps.  Once you get it down, you will feel more comfortable around the bag and more confident that you can handle anything thrown at you. You will also make your fellow infielders look better, which they will appreciate.

Coach’s Tip-

Invite your middle infielders when running 1st base footwork drills

This is an important concept for middle infielders to understand because they are often required to cover a base and receive the ball like a 1st baseman (i.e. when a force out is being made and there is no chance to turn a double play). For example, there is a runner on 1st base and a groundball is hit into the hole on the left side of the infield to the shortstop. There is no chance to turn a double play. The 2nd baseman should cover 2nd base like a 1st baseman and concentrate on making one out.

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Catching-5 Keys To Success

*Guest Blogger* Dan Jalbert writes about what it takes to be a successful catcher.

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Dan with actor Jimmy Fallon during the filming of Fever Pitch

Blogger Bio
Dan Jalbert, now 33, has been catching since the age of 11. He played baseball at Danvers High and St. Lawrence University, and has played since 2000 in the Boston MABL, Yawkey League, and MSBL. He won the Tony C Comeback Player of the Year Award for the Rockies in the Yawkey League in 2008. He still plays for the Rockies as a Catcher/DH, is the head coach of the AAU 13U Scorpions, and does catching and hitting lessons at Extra-Innings Woburn. He also was a baseball player extra in Fever Pitch.

The Catcher

It is no secret that catching is like no other position on the diamond. The catcher is looking directly at every other position on the field on every pitch, and must be aware of every little thing that is going on.

Be a field general

A good catcher must be a field general, he takes charge of the game and helps control what happens between the lines with his pitch selection, defensive calls, etc.

Observe the tendencies of the batters

Catchers have to take mental notes of each batter’s stance, swing, and at bats so as to know what pitches to call when that batter comes to the plate again. I can usually look at a batter’s swing and approach in the on-deck circle and have a good sense of how I want to pitch to that batter.

Do your homework so you do the thinking for the pitcher

The catcher must be the thinking part of the pitcher/catcher battery, so that the pitcher doesn’t have to think much. The pitcher’s responsibility should be to get on the mound, take the sign, and deliver the ball to a location. In addition, the catcher is usually the one to relay signs about pickoffs, bunt coverages, first and third situations, etc. to the rest of the team and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Develop a good relationship with the umpire

He has to make the pitcher look good with good frames, and this will hopefully develop a good relationship with the umpire.

Be tough- physically and mentally

The catcher must be both physically and mentally tough, as squatting for every pitch and taking fouls off the shoulders, mask, feet, and thighs definitely takes its toll in the summer heat!

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