Art of Catching VIDEO !!!!!!!

October 30, 2009

OK forget about the World Series, this is some really big news. The first Art of Catching VIDEO is now out! And even better…it’s FREE!

This is the beginning of a whole video library of information which you can easily access to improve your game or enhance your knowledge as a coach or fan.

Like I said, this first one is on the house. If you like it and are interested in more, they’ll be available for a small charge on my website.

This is a perfect opportunity for you as a player to get a high quality, cheap (or free in this case) private lesson from me. Simply download the video onto your iPod or similar device and head out to the field.

To access this first video on “Athletic Posture” simply follow this link to my YouTube site and you’ll quickly be on your way to more baseball enjoyment.

Excellent couple World Series games thus far. Pitching, pitching, pitching. You know what they say…good pitching trumps good hitting every day of the week. How about the performances of Cliff Lee, CC, Pedro, AJ, and Mariano? Something to behold.

Baseball truly is a game of “what have you done for me lately” isn’t it? How many more strikeouts can A-Rod absorb before the NY natives get restless and start booing? Poor Alex has about 100 strikeouts in the first couple games….what is that, a diamond encrusted golden sombrero he’s wearing?

And the umpiring fiasco continues. I really liked Charlie Manuel’s reply when asked if he thought the umpiring was any good. “You know, I’ve probably never thought the umpiring was good.” Spoken like a true big leaguer.

On the up-side, Joe Girardi showed some mercy (both for him and us) by pulling the plug on Nick Swisher. Man, I don’t know how much more of that act I could watch. It was painful. All I could envision was him walking through Grand Central Station getting heckled for the rest of his life. He was probably having that dream too.

How funny is that face Hideki Matsui makes when he comes into the duggout after scoring. It’s about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen…I love it.

Hideki Matsui mugging it up for the fellas.

Hideki Matsui mugging it up for the fellas.

2009 World Series Preview / Goodbye Coach Mallard

October 28, 2009

Fasten your seat belts, this series has the makings of a classic.  I can’t remember two more evenly matched teams butting heads. Here’s how I see it position by position….

Starting pitching – For me, Lee and Sabathia are almost a wash (making tonights game a treat). I’ll take Pettitte over whomever is Philly’s #2 guy – Martinez or Hammel. I’ll give a slight nod to Burnett over Martinez or Hammel  too.     Edge:  Yankees

Bullpen – I’ll take Rivera over God, much less Lidge. As for the rest of the set up crew I’ll give the nod to the Yankees…barely.      Edge:  Yankees

Catching – Well, you’ve got the hitting of Posada (and occasional defense of Molina) vs. the defense and scrappy offense of Ruiz. If you know anything about me, this is a no-brainer…Ruiz wins.   Edge:  Philly

First Base – Tough one for me especially since Teixeira isn’t hitting too much lately and Howard has been amazing. That being said, I’m gonna go with Tex and his defense and potential offense.  Edge: Yankees

Second Base – Another tough one…I think I’ll take Cano because Utley’s Steve Sax imitation on his double play turns scares the hell out of me (I hope not, but it looks like he might have a mild case of the yips.)   Edge:  Yankees

Shortstop – Is it the range and speed of Rollins or the offense and intangibles of Jeter? Gimme Jeter please.   Edge:  Yankees

Third Base – My ultra keen sense for the obvious tells me A-Rod.  Edge: Yankees

Left Field – Even though I’ve really enjoyed the way Johnny Damon is playing, I’ll take my man Raul Ibanez over just about anybody.  Edge: Philly

Center Field – Same thing. Even though I’ve enjoyed the way Melke Cabrerra has played, I’ll take the Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino.    Edge:  Philly

Right field – No brainer…and it’s not because Swisher is stranding runners like none other. It’s because, like Ibanez, I’ll take Werth’s game over almost anybody. He’s the man.  Edge:  Philly

Bench – Both are good, but I’ll take Stairs and Dobbs.  Edge:  Philly

Managers – I’ve gotta say, Manuel’s style has really grown on me. It turns out that underneath that country bumpkin demeanor is a man with a tremendous touch for the game. His decisions have been spot on for me, he doesn’t panic, I think he really knows hitting, and I love the way he seems to treat his players. I don’t know Girardi well, and we all know not to judge a book by its cover, but he seems a little too military/uptight for my taste. That being said, I think he’s good and I love his hitting coach Kevin Long.  Edge:  Philly

Intangibles – Boy, I really like both of these teams. For the first time in a very long time, I like the Yankees grittyness and swagger (Swisher and Teixiera have rubbed off.) Even A-Rod is sliding into home plate hard, running catchers over, and giving more than his tired cliches when interviewd. Philly is my favorite team to watch though. I love the way they run the bases, the loosey goosey way they play, the way Ruiz catches, the way Manuel manages, and they have the best mascot in the game.  Edge:  Philly

Pick – Philly in seven.

I don’t mean to bring the mood down, but I need to recognize the passing of a great baseball man, Ken Mallard. Coach Mallard was an old school character of the game, an underground baseball legend, and a staple to the southern California baseball scene. He headed the Estancia high school baseball program from around 1970 till 1994. His tough love and contributions to the game will be missed.

Baseball mourns the loss of Coach Ken Mallard at age 76.

Baseball mourns the loss of Coach Ken Mallard at age 76.

Defense comes first.

October 23, 2009

So whata game yesterday. Another instant classic to add to the other 10 classic games we’ve already had this postseason.

I’m going to make this post quick and to the point. That was a pretty big game for both the Angels and the Yankees yesterday right? Arguably the most important game of the season. And who gets the start behind the dish for both teams? The backup/defensive catchers – Jeff Mathis and Jose’ Molina.

Jeff Mathis, the guy can catch.

Jeff Mathis, the guy can catch.

Jose' gets the nod over Jorge for his defense.

Jose' gets the nod over Jorge for his defense.

In a game where, if they lose they go home, one of the best managers in the game, Mike Scioscia chooses defensive competence over offensive production at catcher.

In a game where, if they win they go to the World Series, another of the best managers in the game, Joe Girardi chooses to go with the catcher who can receive the ball and call a decent game over the guy who can hit.

If you’re a young catcher or a aspiring coach, take note. In the catching position, DEFENSE COMES FIRST! What the receiver does offensively is icing on the cake.

That being said, I hope everyone got a chance to check out that defensive clinic Jeff Mathis put on last night. He was flat out awesome. He must have blocked half a dozen or more balls in the dirt and called a gem. The way he and Lackey worked was a thing of beauty.

Speaking of that, how about John Lackey? I’ll take that horse on my staff any day of the week. What a stud. This guy obviously wants the ball, he’s not scared, and just keeps coming at ya. He works quick, he throws strikes, and he battles. In my opinion, he’s everything a pitcher should be.

Hope game 7 is a good one.

J. Posada

October 22, 2009

Hasn’t this postseason been fantastic so far?  I’m having a lot of fun watching. Some of these battles make me very proud to have been a player.

Today I want to talk a little bit about Jorge Posada since we’re getting to see so much of him lately. First off, let me make it clear that I really, really respect the guy. He suits up, plays hard, and throws his act out on the field everyday…and I have the utmost respect for anyone who can do that. Jorge is a decent defensive catcher and an outstanding offensive catcher.

Let’s talk about his defense for a moment. More specifically, let’s discuss his issues receiving the ball and the reasons why he doesn’t always catch the ball cleanly. Again, this is just my opinion, and I don’t mean to bash the guy in any way. To be honest, I think I could clean him up and make his job a million times easier and it would only take a few minutes. In other words, for me, he’s not that far off.

So here’s what I see. First, notice his set-up (stance) and his target. Both excellent. He uses excellent Art of Catching posture with his back fairly perpendicular to the ground – he’s balanced and “stacked.” His target is large with his fingers pointed straight up, and his elbow is below his glove. All good so far.

Then the pitch is thrown, and that’s when things go a little haywire. First, he has a tendency to squeeze his glove as some kind of timing mechanism. This is a no-no. Like a hitter with a big hitch, this is a timing device that’ll sometimes work and sometimes won’t. In other words, it’s inconsistent…which is fine for a hitter, but no good for a catcher.

Secondly, and most importantly, he’s got a bad habit of receiving the ball with his elbow above the glove. In my book, we call this “chicken winging”. The funny thing is, if he would simply receive the ball from the way he is set up, he’d be great. But he goes from correct to incorrect and causes himself a ton of issues.

For him to start from such a solid position only to come undone is unfortunate and really hard for me to watch, especially when I know it would only take about ten minuets to fix him. Once again, he does a lot of things right. I like his stance, his target, and the way his lower body initiates movement towards an incoming pitch. From there, however, it goes downhill. If you’re trying to learn from watching him, watch everything until the ball is about five feet out of the pitcher’s hand, then close your eyes.

So that’s it. That’s my synopsis of Jorge Posada’s issues clanking the ball. If anyone knows him, give him my number. I’ll be in NYC in a couple weeks and be happy to help him out….pro bono no less!

You're receiving the ball from a compromised position when the left elbow gets higher than the glove. Here, J Posada goes about as far as you can go without "chicken winging."

You're receiving the ball from a compromised position when the left elbow gets higher than the glove. Here, J Posada goes about as far as you can go without "chicken winging."

Updates, upcoming events, the desk

October 18, 2009

Hope everyone is enjoying the playoff action. There’s been some seriously cold weather happening and some seriously good pitching going down. Like they say, good pitching trumps good hitting every day of the week.

Here is an update on some things happening in my world. First off, if you have XM/Sirius radio, tune in at about 6:35 AM PST/9:35 EST tuesday mornings for a little radio gig I’m doing with Buck Martinez and Scott Graham. It’s on XM Radio Channel 175/Sirius channel 210.

I’m doing a baseball card/autograph show titled The Backstop Boys in New Jersey on November 14. This show focuses on catching and some of the greatest to ever wear gear will be there signing – including Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and…me! Don’t ask how I got thrown into this mix. I didn’t ask. Aside from scoring a free trip back to NY, I’m really looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the giants of the position. I’m gonna bring my recorder and see if I can get a few little interviews (if I can muster the guts to approach these guys).

I’ve been doing a lot of work putting together the first Art of Catching video tip. I know I’ve been saying this for a while, but I’m getting dangerously close to revealing the first in what I envision to be a series of instructional catching video clips that you can download. This will debut with a brand new web site that’ll hopefully load quicker and be more user friendly. Keep your fingers crossed. I’ll believe it when I see it!

And the last thing going on is I just finished up a new desk. I know this is totally random (you should be used to this from me by now), but I made a desk. You see, I’ve got this odd shaped nook that I work at and I couldn’t find a desk that would fit. So I made my own. I went to the hardware store, bought some wood, cut it to fit, took the legs off the old desk and attached them, attached a little detail to the front, cut out some of my favorite images from some of my favorite books (among them The Science of Hitting .300), pasted them to the wood, then covered the whole shebang with this super high gloss varnish called Aristocrat.

I was kind of going for that 1970’s varnished photo on a wood plaque look. Or you know the tables you eat on when you go to an old seafood restaurant? The one’s where all the sea shells and nautical junk are varnished into the table? I’ve always been fascinated with those and that’s what I tried to build. I think I did it and am pretty happy with the results. Check it out…..

My new desk in the nook.

My new desk in the nook.

A close up of some of the images I varnished into the desk.

A close up of some of the images I varnished into the desk.

A detail of the front detail work.

A detail of the front detail work.