Tim Kurkjian’s Catching Article

January 6, 2011

Baseball journalist and ESPN analyst, Tim Kurkjian just came out with an excellent article about the importance of the intangible aspects of catching and the impact they have on a team. Game calling, managing personalities, controlling the pace of game – all the subtle things make a catcher so important.

He called me the other day for some information and here’s a couple small excerpts of what I had to say from Tim’s article…

“You’re preaching to the choir, you’re talking to a guy who made his house payments [by calling and running a game],” said Brent Mayne, who caught in the major leagues from 1990-2004. “What’s the most important part of the game? Pitching. If it wasn’t, why would teams throw this kind of money around lately? [That said] you have to have a good catcher. It’s like having a phenomenal race horse, but no jockey. Will the horse win the race without one? Probably not. Someone has to know when to use the crop and when not to.”

“Some pitchers need to be patted on the back, some need to be kicked in the ass, and a catcher has to have a feel for that,” Mayne said. “That’s extremely important, and it’s rare today. You have to be able to sense that. You have to be an amateur psychologist in some ways. There’s so much more to pitching than following a scouting report to a tee. That’s not how it works. That’s not the ultimate decision. The ultimate decision is the feeling in your gut. Carlos Ruiz has that, and Cliff Lee knows he has that. Anyone can sit in the stands and look at a scouting report, or an iPod, and know what to throw next. But sitting in the stands, you can’t see the subtle shift that the hitter makes after a pitch. Only the catcher can see that. And that’s where the feel for the pitcher comes in. The best pitch any pitcher can throw is the one he can throw with conviction, whether it’s the right pitch or the wrong pitch. The catcher’s job is to give him that conviction.”

If you’re interested, click here to read the rest of the article…enjoy.