Catching Instructional Video Clips!!

May 27, 2010

Alright folks, wanna know what the heck is going on behind the dish? My growing Art of Catching video library is the easiest way to learn the mechanics, techniques, and mental approaches that’ll help you excel as a player or coach. Heck, it’ll enhance your enjoyment of the game even if you’re just a curious fan.

As of this moment, I’ve got six in-depth clips available. For under $5 these videos give you the opportunity to drastically cut your learning curve and learn the position from a guy who caught well over 1000 games in the Big Leagues and is one of only a handful that can properly teach catching.

Here are the titles of the clips and what they’re about….

1. “Athletic Foundation” – (this one is free by the way!) A 6 minute video on the correct body positions that will maximize your God given talent regardless of what athletic endeavour you pursue. It’ll give you a great foundation for all of your catching mechanics. click here for preview

2. “Catcher Stances” – A 14 minute clip covering the three catching stances you’ll use to become a productive backstop. click here for preview.

3. “Catcher’s Off-Set Technique” – I like to work from the ground up. This 7 minute video, along with the clip called “drop knee” will teach you how the lower body should move to properly receive, block, and anticipate pitches. This is a must for any aspiring catcher. click here for preview.

4. “Catcher’s Drop-Knee Approach” – Part 2 of how a catcher’s lower body should move. This 8 minute clip defines and teaches the proper way to use the drop knee. This is a very important tool (but highly misunderstood) that every catcher should have in his tool box. Once again, learn this from one of the pioneers of this approach. click here for preview.

5. “Glove Mechanics / How a Catcher Receives a Ball” – The title pretty much sums it up. This 14 minute clip contains everything I know on how to properly, safely, and effectively catch a pitch. Tons of information that will make receiving a heck of a lot easier. click here for preview.

6. “How to Block a Ball in the Dirt” – A very detailed 17 minute clip that’ll turn you into a human backstop. Period. click here for preview.

What do you have to loose? A couple bucks? How much is it worth to learn the proper way to receive the ball so you don’t break your thumb? Coaches, how much is it worth to stop watching your catchers run to the backstop because they don’t know how to block a ball. How much is it worth to take your game to the next level? Remember, you’re playing a position that is ripe with opportunity – the high schools, colleges, and even professional ranks are crying out for someone who get the job done behind the dish.

It’s much cheaper than a private lesson with me and much more convenient. Give them a try. If they don’t dramatically improve your skills and enjoyment of the game, I’ll refund every cent!!!

Jose Lima

May 24, 2010

Jose Lima was a good dude. It took me a while to figure that out, but eventually I did. Jose was definitely a good guy. I’ve gotta admit, early on as a guy playing against him, his act could easily rub you the wrong way. But being around him on a daily basis as a teammate (Dodgers, Royals) gave me a different perspective.

Jose was cut from a different cloth than most. He was a different cat. He was a lot of things at the same time. He was loud, a tad obnoxious (in a good way), a showman, and a hot dog.

But he was also a heck of a good ballplayer, a good teammate, a hard worker, and a benefit to baseball in general. And make no mistake about it, Jose Lima loved baseball. What I liked best about him though was he was consistent. When you came to work everyday, you knew what you were getting. Jose Lima was Jose Lima everyday of the week.

Through the good times and the bad (of which he had many), Jose stayed true to himself and I respected the hell out of him for that. It’s easy to be an entertainer and a hot dog and mingle with the fans when you’re going good. But not too many guys have the cajones to run that same act out there even when you’re scuffling and the whole world thinks you’re nuts. Jose did it though…everyday.

Whether he won or lost, whether he was in the Big Leagues or playing independent ball, he was still gonna be on the dugout roof before the game signing autographs for kids. He was still gonna be on the top step of the dugout pulling for his teammates during the game. He was still gonna have a smile on his face. He was still gonna be living life a little larger than most. The guy was consistent and that ain’t no easy thing to be in the tospy turvy, one day you’re a hero – the next a goat, world of baseball.

Riding the "Lima Time" wave.

From a pitcher/catcher standpoint, he was a blast. One of the funnest (if not the funnest) guys I ever caught. Because catching him was like jazz. It was out there, improvised, risky, and entertaining. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. But it was never boring.

Scouting reports? What scouting reports. You could throw those out the window when Jose pitched. We were going with his strength, and his strength was momentum. The guy didn’t have the greatest stuff in the world, but he sure had an ability to stir up a ruckus…LIMA TIME BABY! When he could get that momentum wave big enough, the guy could stop anyone.

We worked well together. He knew I got his act. And he understood mine. And there was a mutual respect that came from that understanding. I knew how he liked to attack hitters and tried to accommodate, but at the same time, push his limits. (He predominantly worked away with fastballs and changes, but I loved to push him to occasionally challenge guys and brush hitters back inside). Jose was kind enough (smart enough) and a good enough teammate to trust and try my suggestions. I think we brought the best out of each other on the field.

We had many games where the game calling was like butter. I almost didn’t need to put down signs. Often, as I was putting down the numbers, he was already starting his windup with that exact pitch. We could get on the same page pretty easily and a two, or sub two hour game was not out of the ordinary. The four hitter he twirled against St. Louis in the 2004 playoffs was one such game. That was Lima Time at its best and one of the high points of my catching career.

I’m gonna miss Jose. At only 37, I think he had a lot left to offer…who knows, maybe he would’ve pulled off another one of his amazing comebacks. One thing’s for sure, baseball lost a great ambassador and the world is a little less interesting without Jose Lima walking around. Take care buddy.

Cervelli and the Helmet

May 20, 2010

I sat down to write this blog all ready to tear into Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli for wearing the biggest helmet since Rick Moranis’ Lord Dark Helmet in Spaceballs. Honestly, I thought, what in the heck could this guy be thinking. I just got done writing an Art of Catching Tip of the Week about the importance of wearing the uniform correctly. For cryin’ out loud, didn’t he get the memo? Didn’t he read it?

I mean, the guy’s finally getting a chance to play everyday for the Yankees, in the biggest theatre in baseball, and he’s rolling out looking like Gazoo from the Flintstones. Nobody can tell if he can play or not because everyone’s fixated on that enormous dome.

And then it occurred to me that he’s had a history with concussions. Could there be a connection? Sure enough, there is. Turns out Cervelli isn’t the sartorial misfit I thought he was. The guy is going for safety over looks. Hmm, interesting choice. Fernando Lamas (or Billy Crystal) probably wouldn’t agree with that choice…remember their quote, “it’s better to look good than to feel good.”

Personally I don’t know. Alienate every girl in New York by wearing an enormous helmet or risk another concussion (but look tight) with a normal helmet. I suppose I’d go with the later. Risk it all, but get all the chicks. What good is being a Yankee anyway if the girls think you look like a goof? Then again, maybe he’s married. If anyone’s interested in Cervelli’s take, here’s the article.

Cervelli's turbo lid.

The inside of "the dome"

Lord Dark Helmet

Bengie Molina Fights Back

May 17, 2010

I know, I know, I’m slow afoot. I’ve always been slow. I look like a greyhound but run like a turtle. Got it. I’m not the only one though. Just about every catcher ever to play the game is in the same boat. The simple fact is, if we could run, we probably wouldn’t be strapping the gear on in the first place.

Just ask Craig Biggio. He was a catcher, but he could fly. What did they do? They got him the hell out from behind the dish is what they did. Speed is a valuable commodity and never goes in a slump. Anyone who’s been around the game for two seconds knows that if a guy can boogie, he won’t for long if he’s in that crouch all the time. There’s something about that squat that just saps the speed right out of you.

On the other hand, if a guy can’t run, his options are severely limited. Especially if he doesn’t hit bombs or have a canon for an arm. For that guy (me) there’s exactly one option…catch. And so I view it as kind of a blessing. If I could’ve ran, I probably would never have put the gear on. And for me, the gear made (and continues to make) a lot of house payments.

Geez Mayne, get the piano off your back!

That being said, it’s never a whole lot of fun when someone calls you out on your lack of speed. It’s kind of like having big ears or something and people keep making fun of you. You know you’ve got big ears, but do they have to keep pointing it out?

That’s why I really felt for Bengie Molina when ESPN did that stupid Chariots of Fire thing of him rounding third and getting hosed at home. I actually didn’t even watch it, someone told me about it. I refuse to watch. Yeah ESPN, we know Bengie’s slow. He’s a catcher for chrissakes!

I’ll admit this is a sore spot for me so maybe I don’t have the best perspective. But it seems like ESPN has gone a little over the line on this one. Not a lot, but definitely over the line. I’m sure the clip was funny, but going out of their way to make a special segment which makes fun of a player? Why? Isn’t that the arena of Saturday Night Live? It just seems like a cheap shot and not cool for me. Especially not cool for an ex- catcher when they’re making fun of my peoples.

Apparently Bengie didn’t dig it too much either. He eloquently shot back through his MLB blog. Here’s a slice…“Look, you can say I’m the slowest guy in baseball or in all of sports or in the entire world. I don’t take issue with that because I AM the slowest guy. I have always been the slowest guy. I can’t challenge that criticism. But ESPN’s intention was not to criticize but to humiliate.” For his whole article click here.

I loved it. I always liked him before, but I really like him now. Thanks Bengie for articulating (without whining or defending) what it’s like to be chronically one step behind. Till next time, take it slow.

Stealing Signs with Binoculars?

May 13, 2010

I love it, a little sign stealing controversy. The Colorado Rockies have accused Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer of using binoculars to pick signs from the catcher. So, first off, let’s refer to Billy Martin’s famous quote, “cheating is as much a part of baseball as hot dogs and score cards.” And that’s the truth.

But it’s all really fuzzy terrain from there. Some cheating is alright while some goes against the “unwritten rules” of the game. For example, a first or third base coach or someone in the dugout or a baserunner picking signs off a catcher who sets up too early is cool. On the other hand, batters peeking in or the use of electronics (ie. scoreboards or TV cameras) or binoculars, not so cool.

But binoculars in the bullpen? I’m not buying it. Unless Billmeyer was trying to put some Jedi mind trick on us, it’s just too obvious, right? There’s far better and far sneakier ways of doing it. It’s my guess that the binoculars were in the bullpen for the reason they’re in just about every team’s bullpen….to check out chicks. Check the game tape. I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts there’s a hot looking girl sitting somewhere around home plate during that game.

Why is it always the really good teams that get accused of this stuff? How come Kansas City doesn’t encounter this kind of controversy? It’s always the telescope used during Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world” which propelled the Giants to the World Series. Or binoculars from the champion Phillies. Or the scoreboard lighting up to give pitches to the great Cleveland teams of the mid 90’s.

I wrote a past blog about a game I caught with no signs that happened against that particular Cleveland team. I’m pretty sure (and I’m not the only one) that they were doing something squirrelly with the scoreboard to relay signals to the hitters. And come to think of it, wasn’t Charlie Manuel the hitting coach there at that time? I have to do a bit more research, but maybe we’ve got something here…..nah.