As you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of how both Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli block the ball in the dirt. Although effective, their approach is slightly non-traditional because their bare hand doesn’t always get behind the glove. I like to call it the “rodeo block” because with the glove covering the “five-hole” and the bare hand positioned off the right hip, they resemble a bull rider in a rodeo. That being said, for me, their technique is simple, valid, and very effective. I’m not sure which Angel coach (Scioscia?) is responsible for helping them, but whoever it is does a good job.
Since I consider Mathis to be one of the best at this facet of the game, I’m kind of surprised that he broke his wrist blocking. Did anyone out there happen to see it or have access to video? I missed it and am very curious. I’d expect something like that to happen to a receiver with poor technique, but not to Mathis. Then again, maybe the ball just took an unusual bounce. Then again, maybe he just messed up.
In my playing days, I used this “rodeo” blocking technique quite a bit. I’d say about half the time. Half the time my hand would get behind the glove, and the other half it would be outside the right hip. I was always very conscious that the bare hand would be in one of these two spots and nowhere in-between.
In other words, for me, the bare hand should never be in “no-man’s land.” That area inside the right hip in front of the right thigh but not behind the glove. That area is dangerous and that’s the area I’m guessing Jeff’s hand was when it got hit.
But again, I’m not sure. If anyone has more information, please comment and share. Thanks.
Oh yeah, a perfect spot for a shameless plug. If you are a coach or a player and don’t want a broken wrist, check out my book The Art of Catching so you can learn how to make the area behind the dish safer and more efficient. Also, keep checking my video store for clips on blocking.