April 30, 2009

Some of you might be about ready to throw your computer out the window because I keep sharing my fascination with barefoot running and the Tarahumara Indians. However, because I’m feeling lazy, I’m going to share this article that my friend Teddy sent me in lieu of a full-on blog. Hope you enjoy, or at least don’t smash your computer. Once again, dig the Indian smile. Click here.

The Kicks

April 27, 2009

I was going through my storage the other day and happened upon a little cache of cleats that I used to use.

I wore Mizuno for my first couple of seasons and then switched over to Nike. Why? Comfort and money. Their cleats fit me the best and the contract they offered made sense. 

After my third or fourth season, I started wearing plastic cleats most of the time. I found them to be much easier on my body. Maybe I was too slow to tell the difference, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference traction wise. Once in a while if the plate area was particularly hard or sandy, or if I hadn’t gotten any hits in the plastic, I would switch back to the metal. 

My thinking was this. If I wasn’t getting hits, it’s probably the cleats. If not my shoes, it could be the bat. Often times it was the batting gloves and once or twice it turned out to be my undershirt. Never me though.

Anyway, back to the cleats. These Nikes were, as they say in Hawaii, da special kine. They were extremely hard to get and not sold publicly. Basically the upper of the metal cleat is from a template they used in the late 80’s. The plastic soles on the other cleats are also from a mold they used in the 80’s. For me, it was all about those comfy plastic bottoms. 

The bottom line was, and probably still is, the model they made in the late 80’s to early 90’s was pretty much perfect. Very little padding, simple, fit like a slipper. But they still have to sell right? Even though there wasn’t much to improve upon, Nike has to come up with a new and improved model for every future season. Air pockets, different cleat configurations, different looks, etc. You know the drill. Madison avenue. (This reality leads me to believe we’re being up-sold with all of the bells and whistles and padding on running shoes. We don’t need it. Go barefoot baby…but that’s a whole different subject.) 

So this was my dilimna, I wanted to wear the same cleat I used in 1991 even though I was playing in the year 2004. Since I was little more than a walking billboard for Nike, they obviously wanted me wearing the latest and greatest. It didn’t do them a whole lot of good if I was wearing something over a decade old and Johnny couldn’t run over to Sportmart to buy it, right?

And that IS what happened. The baseball gear heads who really paid attention saw the cleats that I wore and started calling Nike asking for them. I turned out to be a major headache. That’s why I said they were extremely hard to get, even for me. I basically had to convince Nike that if I didn’t wear this particular ancient model, my body would fall apart. So that’s what I did. I got a doctor’s note, trainers note, principal’s note, and then layed down on the floor of the locker room in front of the Nike rep and threw a complete kicking and screaming tantrum until he said I could have em.

Man, it was all worth it. These cleats were da best.

The Wii

April 24, 2009

Ok, I finally broke down. I marched my butt over to Best Buy a couple days ago and bought the Wii. What can I say, those commercials with Tim Lincecum and his virtual twin got me. 

We’ve got some pretty strict rules in the Mayne house about TV time and have never had a video games. I want the rats outside playing. Matter of fact, I have never played home video games. Never. Wait, take that back, I did play a little Pong on Atari back in the day.

But those graphics on the commercial got me. I never got a chance to hit against Lincecum and want badly to take him into the water at San Fran down the right field line. How else was this going to happen unless I bent the house rules a little bit? Furthermore, I don’t know if I ever got a hit off Randy Johnson. Now I’ve got the chance.

So we’ve only had the game for a day or so, but I give it two thumbs up. Super fun. Realistic. Fairly easy to learn but challenging. I really like it. Only problem is, my son came in the door from school yesterday, ran up to me and whispered in my ear “Wii” like he was a crack addict or something. And like a zombie, I followed him right to the TV.

May 3rd Seminar

April 23, 2009

For those in the Southern California area, I’ll be giving a catching seminar on May 3rd at a facility in Fountain Valley called Lifeletics.  It’ll be a few hours long and open to both parents, coaches, and players.  For more information, pricing, and times click here and scroll down to “Catching 101 with Brent Mayne” or call 714 843-1989. It will be limited to 50 folks, so hurry up if you’re interested! Hope to see you there.

The Game With No Signs

April 21, 2009

True story. It was 1994 if I’m not mistaken, the year Jacobs Field opened in Cleveland. Anyway, I was with the Royals and we’re playing the first game of a three game series. It’s the bottom of the first and before you know it, we’re down like 8 zip…and we only have one out.

I remember Doug Linton was pitching and taking a beating. Our manager, Bob Boone, had been out to the mound a couple times, baffled by the fact (as we all were) that the Indians were coming out of their shoes on every single pitch thrown – like they knew what was coming.

They obviously had the signs, but how? Was the first or third base coaches picking them from me or Linton? Was the on deck hitter relaying them to the hitter? The runners on base seeing something? We were baffled and nothing we tried remedied the predicament. It was to the point where I needed to put some cotton in my ears to muffle the deafening crack of the bat as the Indians came unglued. 

So somehow we limp out of the inning and make it back to the dugout. Boone’s going nuts and the pitching coach is going nuts….basically the ship has taken on some serious water and nobody has a clue how to plug the hole.

At this point it occurs to me that the game, even though we’re only in the top of the second, is basically over. With that in mind, I approached Linton (who surprisingly is still pitching) and tell him just to throw whatever he wants. No signs. What do we have to lose? You throw it and I’ll try to deal and catch it.

And you know what happened? The Indians didn’t score another run the rest of the game! We had about 6 different pitchers throw that game, and we didn’t use a sign the whole time. They threw it and I tried to catch it. The weird thing was, it really wasn’t that hard. Not to pat myself on the back too much (well alright, maybe I am bragging a bit) but I caught just about everything cleanly.

I found it much harder to catch a pitch when you’ve been crossed up. Things can get a little dicey when you’re expecting the ball to move a certain way and it goes the opposite, like when you call a curve and the pitcher throws a heater. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it every game, but just seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and reacting worked for that particular day and effectively stopped the Indians from getting the signs. 

What were they doing? I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure, but if you want my opinion, I think they had a camera somewhere. Here’s a picture of Doug pitching for some crazy team. All for now. Adios.