I talk enough about pitching in the dugout and in the bleachers, but I figure Iím good for one more go-round before hanging up the spikes for another year. Besides, I hear things and I just have to comment.
There is no room for excuses when you take the mound. You either do it or you donít, like Yoda says. There is no try. Itís not that you didnít get the call; you didnít make the pitch.
Pitching is all about attitude. You either have that attitude or you donít, and we know as quickly as your first warm-up pitch.
Baseball is simple and you play by some simple rules. The first rule of pitching is never blame the umpire. Itís not his fault you canít throw strikes.
Second, signs from the catcher are merely suggestions, not directives. You are the one who has to make the pitch, not the catcher or the guy on the stool in the dugout. And if the coach had a pitch to call, Iíd tell him, ďDonít worry, I got this handled.Ē
This was my game, not his.
But then you better darn well make the pitch.
Third, we pitchers finish what we start. Relief is something for upset stomachs. A pitch count is best left in Little League.
While I appreciate the importance of strike one, my best pitch was always strike three because that was my money pitch. Besides, they couldnít touch strikes one and two.
I saw the count as free money, if you donít use them you lose them, and I used them all.
Notice the attitude?
And, if you are a relief pitcher and youíre coming to take my place, you better not be standing on the mound waiting for me to leave.
There is only room for one arm on the rubber and at the end of the inning my base runners better be where you found them because if it were up to me Iíd be pitching to the next hitter.
I hate relief pitchers Ö even though I was one once.
There was a guy I pitched with in rookie ball we called ďOne Pitch Rich.Ē Rich couldnít protect a lead even if you gave him a gun and a badge. If ďOne PitchĒ replaced me in a ball game and I left with runners on base, I already had those runs factored into my new ERA before I hit the dugout steps.
I wouldnít even have my jacket on yet, and CRACK! there goes One Pitch Rich backing up third.
It got so bad with Rich over the course of the season that he was afraid to throw strikes with runners on base. Thereís nothing worse than watching a pitcher lose control of his strike zone.
I enjoy talking pitching with those who know how to talk pitching, though not everybody can talk pitching. You have your pretenders who think they can, but remarks like, ďI didnít get the call,Ē never comes out of our mouths.
Pitchers will be the first to take responsibility for bad pitches and a true pitcher never points the finger of blame at his defense.
I lost a perfect game once in the top of the eighth inning because of a ground ball that went through the wickets at short. The next hitter lined a two-out single to center.
I didnít blame my shortstop. I just didnít make the pitch.
I love that kind of simplicity when it comes to pitching. Remember, this game isnít that hard.
Itís a simple game. You pitch it. They donít hit it.
Thatís all there is to it.† †