Archive for the ‘First Base Coach’s Corner’ Category

Ed. Note: We asked former Minor League player and coach Hunter Roscoe to give us his quick take on several recent stories that have appeared on Getting Blanked and elsewhere over the weekend. Here’s what he had to say:

Could The Octavio Dotel Experiment Be Over? – “Veteran closers need to be used in a role that they’re most comfortable in: closing ballgames. What do the Jays expect if they’re not going to use Dotel in the ninth inning?”

Tom Henke Is Inducted Into Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame – “There is nothing harder in baseball than getting three outs in the ninth inning. Absolutely nothing. Great closers aren’t made. They’re born.”

Moneyball: Full Trailer – “I’ll pass.”

Stealing Signs – “It’s like my first coach always said: ‘The pitch is mightier than the word.’ It’s not a catcher’s place to complain. If he isn’t happy, call for a fastball in Andruw Jones’ back during his next at bat.”

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As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t trust statistics and numbers unless they confirm what I already know to be true. All these complicated formulas that measure how good or bad a player is are hooey.

You can’t know the game unless you’ve played it. And the people who use stats to provide analysis haven’t played the game. They haven’t been in the batter’s box when the pitcher is bearing down on you. And they haven’t been on the mound with runners on and the game up grabs.

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Back in the early eighties when I was catching bullpen sessions for Charleston in the Sally League, I came across a young hot shot from Missouri who lit up radar guns and hurt my receiving hand with a fastball harder than a hammer. I knew right away he was going to be a successful Major Leaguer. And sure enough, he went on to win 194 games in the big leagues. That kid’s name was David Cone.

194 wins is great and everything, but unfortunately for Cone, he lost focus late in his career and ruined any chance he had of becoming a Hall of Famer. With a stronger mental game, Cone could’ve been one of the all-time greats and won even more World Series rings.

Even more unfortunately, it seems that the weak mind that plagued his later playing days has continued to affect him after his playing career came to an end. In a recent interview with the New Yorker that I was told about, Cone admits that his favourite website is FanCharts and that he likes to evaluate players based on graphs, charts and numbers.

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Today’s newsletter article is dedicated to Randy Poffo, who passed away this afternoon after suffering a heart attack while driving. I had the pleasure of managing Poffo while we were in Jupiter with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals. I always knew he had what it takes to be a professional athlete at the highest level. Randy, this one is for you.

I’ve been around this game for a long time and if I’ve learned anything it’s that you have to have played the game to know the game. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to go a single day without seeing some personality on television or reading a writer in a newspaper or magazine, who has never played a single inning of baseball, going on about his or her power rankings. Believe me, I know all about these types. I subscribe to both ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated and I watch a lot of baseball on TV.

You wouldn’t ask an American about fortune cookies, or a vegetarian about the benefits of charcoal grills versus propane. So, why would you give pay any mind at all to what someone who hasn’t played the game has to say about baseball?

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There’s no question that just behind the manager and his coaching staff, the most important role on a baseball team is its closer. You can have the greatest lineup in the world, the best pitching staff too, but if you don’t have an intimidating presence coming to the mound in the ninth inning, you might as well forget about winning baseball games.

For the Seattle Mariners, they planned on starting the season with David Aardsma as their closer. Aardsma is exactly the type of player you want coming out to anchor your team’s win. He’s over six feet tall, has a hard fastball and comes out of the bullpen to music that I don’t approve of. Unfortunately, like most closers, he’s a little bit kooky upstairs, and he didn’t have the mental fortitude to avoid injury.

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I’ve been around this game for a long time, and believe you me, you can’t get a hit with a calculator, catch a baseball with graph paper or bust a slump with math. If a guy isn’t hitting the way he used to, you can’t turn to statistics. No you’ve got to ask him what he’s changed from his routine and his approach from when he was hitting well to how he’s hitting now.

For instance, I happen to know for a fact that last year Matt Kemp was, as the kids call it, courting Beyonce.  She’s an easy on the eyes R’nB singer who’s popular with this generation of hoodlums. It all sounds like cats squealing to me. But that’s beside the point. What I want to write about is the effect that distractions can have on a baseball player. Specifically, a certain type of distraction.

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