Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The 1-1 Pitch Count

What MLB Stats Tell Us About The 1-1 Pitch Count -- And How To Use This Secret To Your Advantage When Pitching

The 1-1 count is the crossroads in the hitter-pitcher matchup. It's the difference between a batter moving to the edge of the two-strike abyss or getting ahead 2-1 and being able to anticipate the type and location of the next pitch.

Here are the results for all MLB hitters this season after each count.
1-1 became 1-2 BA: .188 OBP: .241 SLG: .283 OPS: .524
1-1 became 2-1 BA: .263 OBP: .398 SLG: .423 OPS: .821

What do the stats tell you? Get ahead of hitters in the count, get ahead of hitters in the count, get ahead of hitters in the count!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mike Singletary Full Press Conference...Classic HD Quality

Post game press conference from Mike Singletary on having a team first attitude and what it takes to be successful as a team. While the setting he chose to air his comments is questionable, I do believe with the importance of many of the concepts that he is speaking of. Check it out!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rays play small ball to even Series

World Series Game 2 was a great example of small ball by Tampa.

-The Rays manufactured three of their four runs without a ball leaving the infield
-Speed, good defense and outstanding pitching -- it's how the Rays won 97 games
-Momentum shifts the Rays' way, even as the World Series moves to Philadelphia

Quotes from Game 2:
"You're not always gonna hit home runs," Maddon said. "When you're facing better pitching, when you get an opportunity to score a run, you better take advantage of it. And if there's less than two outs, it doesn't have to be a hit."

"Big things happen," Pena said afterward, "when you focus on the smallest of things."

Shaky starting pitching, an offense struggling and a Rays team that is getting back to its roots all suggest a Series that has shifted noticeably Tampa Bay's way, even as it shifts to Philadelphia and rowdy Citizens Bank Park.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

9 = 8 ?????????

Albert Camus weighs in with a thought, although it's not clear if the French existentialist had any advice for hitting a split-fingered fastball. Economist Alan Greenspan is also represented.
The words of college basketball coaching great John Wooden are cited.

"Integrity Has No Need Of Rules." — that's Camus.

"Rules Cannot Take The Place Of Character." — Greenspan said that.

"Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To." — that's all Wooden.

"9=8."— Now, that one belongs to Joe Maddon, the unconventional skipper who sold his young players on the motto that's become the club's mantra during an improbable run to the World Series.

"I didn't know what the hell it meant at first," designated hitter Cliff Floyd said, recalling a speech Maddon delivered on the first day of spring training.

Some players rolled their eyes. Others stared straight ahead with blank looks on their faces.
Floyd, a 14-year veteran signed last winter to add leadership and stability to the clubhouse, gave Maddon the benefit of the doubt.

"It was a different speech than what you're accustomed to hearing when you come to spring training. It's usually, 'We've got a good team, you've just got to believe it.' It was different. So when he said it, people perked up. 'Whoa. OK, let's figure out what this means and try to accomplish it."'

The rest, as they say, is history.

"9=8" essentially translates to nine players playing hard for nine innings every day equals one of eight post-season berths.

Maddon also sold the concept that the Rays, who won 66 games and finished with the worst record in the majors in 2007, could make the playoffs if they got nine more wins because of hitting, an additional nine because of pitching, and another nine because of defence.
Turns out he was prophetic. The Rays had never won more than 70 games in a season, clinched a post-season berth for the first time with their 93rd victory — exactly 27 more than a year ago.

"I'm so used to the eye roll. I'm so used to the scoff," Maddon said, looking back on that first day of camp. "I'm so used to it, and I'm really immune to both … At some point, corny can turn into cool."

While much of Tampa Bay's success can be attributed to young talented athletes such as Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Scott Kazmir, players say Maddon's insistence that things are done "The Ray Way" is responsible, too.

Although he's an intellectual type who prefers fine wine to a cold beer following a game, Maddon can be one of the boys.

When Upton decided on a whim to get a Mohawk haircut last month, the fad caught on in the clubhouse. Maddon joined in the fun, getting his hair cut and noting the importance of solidarity.
"That stuff all matters," he said.

It all promotes calmness that spills over onto the field.

"He's acts like he's one of us in here, and that's awesome. Guys appreciate that," rookie David Price said. "He comes in, we have gangsta rap music just blaring in the locker room. Does he say a word? No. It probably stops about two minutes before the first pitch is thrown. Joe just lets us be us … He has a relationship with every player, and no relationship is the same. That just speaks volumes about Joe."

Maddon's also shown he can be a disciplinarian.

The manager benched Upton twice for not hustling on the bases after Maddon first tried to get the player's attention in a private conversation. He preaches approaching every game the same — be it spring training or playoffs — and is convinced that's one of the reasons the team has not been overwhelmed by the post-season stage.

"Our program's been validated. Our concepts have been validated," Maddon said Tuesday.

"It's not anything complicated. It's the basic stuff. Running hard, good turns. Playing catch. Fastball command. First to third. Those kinds of things. Everybody thinks we're so fancy, but we're so basic."

The Rays don't plan to change anything now that they're in the World Series.

"We're going to be the same loose guys we've always been," Longoria said.

Fellow rookie Fernando Perez agreed.
"We're looking at it just like other games. It's a young attitude, but I think it's fitting," Perez said.

"I think we're respecting both sides of the coin. We know we may never ever be here again. But there's kind of a confidence that we think we will be back — not that we're taking this for granted at all, but I think that in a lot of ways we're taking it the right way."
The Ray Way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to reach the top

Four stages required of reaching the top:
1. You must learn how to be COMPETITIVE.
2. You must learn how to win.
3. You must learn how to handle winning.
4. You must take it to another level.

The Enemy We Face

The Enemy We Face
Courtesy of the book, "Make the Big Time Where You Are" by Frosty Westering.

The enemy I had, I didn't even know.
He followed me unseen, wherever I would go.

He blocked my plans, he blocked my way,
He countered me, even before I could say.

Each time I would make the effort to try,
He made me afraid, so I'd let things pass by.

One night I caught him and grabbed for his mask;
I wanted to see, I wanted to ask.

But to my amazement as I looked at his face,
It was me that I saw, and I prayed for GOD'S GRACE.

The enemy who had been hiding inside,
I finally let go of, and the enemy died.

My new friend inside shares an exciting new way.
He says "YES WE CAN" as we start out each day.

Our SPIRIT in life is the KEY TO IT ALL.
Our BELIEF deep inside picks us up when we fall.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Love for the team!

Great article about a player's sacrifice for his team. The article is about a player who decided to cut off his pinkie instead of sit out the rest of his senior season. While cutting off a body part is definitely the extreme, it is a great story on how this player feels about the team and his love for the game.

Here are a few excerpts with a link to the article.

"To have somebody tell you that you've played your last game of football, I just wasn't going to let that happen," Trevor explains. "I couldn't do that to my teammates. I'd take a bullet for those guys."

"When I think about how much I love football, and my team, I just get goose bumps," says Trevor, who, big shock, wants to coach after he graduates. "To be able to play and hit people and not get in trouble for it? Man, it's a blessing. I love my team. And I'm a big believer in actions speaking louder than words."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Muscles are a lot like life!

Great stuff courtesy of Coach Cooley:

"You can’t change the muscle without fatigue, and it’s impossible to really fatigue the muscle without pushing it. The only way it gets transformed is by pushing it beyond what’s comfortable.

It’s kind of like life. Our lives don’t really change until those moments where we were pushed, and that’s where we grow the most and our life becomes more rich. If you don’t push your body beyond what it’s comfortable with, nothing changes."