Honesty in sport

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Written by BRENDAN O’MEARA

What’s the point in being dishonest? As we’ve seen time and time again, the American public, and specifically sports fans, are a forgiving bunch of people. Unless, and here’s the biggie, you lie and lie and lie.

Public Enemy No.1 is Lance Armstrong. I think most people accepted a long, long time ago that he was full of dung (I know I did). All the people chasing him up the Alps were also doping, at least the half of the pelaton within striking distance of him. The others had no prayer.

Since this is a baseball blog with baseball sensibilities, the latest implication of Alex Rodriguez to PEDs in a Miami clinic is unsettling. He’s lied once and come clean once. Right now he’s not even welcome at Spring Training.

“I spoke to him last week. He was still barely, I think, on the crutches,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Sports Illustrated. “There’s not a lot that he can do here.”

Except be a tremendous distraction. Spring Training is a time of team building, bond building that needs to last—in the case of the Yankees—through October. His team doesn’t even want him around. See what being dishonest has brought upon him? Maybe if he swims around in a big vault like this, he’ll feel better:

You know the saying, it’s not the crime but the cover up that truly screws you, or something to that effect. In sport, it’s not the crime, but the lie that ruins an athlete. We’ve seen with it Lance, A-Rod, and Ryan Braun (a loop hole bailed him out once.)

Didn’t somebody say the truth will set you free?

What do you think?

No size, no problem: From Bilbo Baggins to Babe Ruth

Written by Brendan O’Meara

This post was far-too-long in the making. I moved and then I put it off. I bought a catcher’s mitt. Now I don’t even know if I want to play again. I just don’t know. Part of me thinks it might be pathetic for a 32-year-old to play baseball. Another part thinks that it’s just a game and plenty of others play slow-pitch softball, fast-pitch softball, basketball, etc. Why not play baseball? (Football would be pathetic. Am I right?). Well, here’s my post on hitting.

I’m only 5’9″. During my more competitive playing days, I hit a decent amount of home runs, many of them to center field and the right field (I’m a righty). But it got me thinking, what would it take to be a power hitter regardless of size? After all, chicks dig the long ball, right?

But how does a guy like this:

images… who’s about as tall as Bilbo Baggins, hit the ball out of the park? And what can you do to put more distance between you and the ball you just hit into the outfield? Since I’m getting older and slower, how will I make up for my deficiencies without taking the Cream and the Clear?

I read the chapter in Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body about becoming Babe Ruth. It’s interesting. It doesn’t involve massive amounts of weight training (I’d argue that hurts you), but making sure you’re fastest at the moment of impact.

It’s like what Ted Williams always preached: pull the ball. Part of that has to do with pitch recognition, but also with clearing the front hip. In order to do so, the front foot needs to point at about 12 o’clock. Otherwise the engine of the swing—the legs—won’t properly channel their power up the chain.

The swing must be compact. Think Don Mattingly. Also, think Mike Trout (go to 1:30 and see how tight the left arm is to the body).

Writes Ferriss:

Since the swing is closer to the torso, thanks to the elbow-in Slot position, pitches that are too far outside of the strike zone are unreachable. The hitter with the tighter swing is forced into better pitch selection because he can’t physically swing at pitches outside of the strike zone.

He goes on:

Contact with the ball is made further back, closer to the catcher. This naturally gives the batter more time to assess the pitch before initiating the swing.

You see this in Trout’s swing.

Tee work is a must but also hitting a heavybag. When the point of impact is 100 pounds, you can only imagine how fast a 5-oz ball will explode off the bat.

Gonna go out and hit the cages?

Catcher Love

Written by Brendan O’Meara

I liked this post by from North Dakota Twins Fan. He writes about whether Joe Mauer is a Hall of Famer or not. The catcher is the best and most taxing position on the diamond. Mauer has the potential, but if he can’t stay healthy, I don’t see a plaque for him in Cooperstown.

UPDATE: Working on a cool piece about hitting. Also, a buddy will share his traumatic experience at the plate when he was in Little League. Good stuff on Breaking Bat!

The Glove

Written by Brendan O’Meara

All right, so I bought the glove. Turns out it was only $40. It was marked down and I had a coupon. Bonus! (Plus, c’mon, I’m 32, I don’t need a $180 glove anymore. Back in the day, sure, but now I just need something that will stay together.)

I haven’t played ball since the summer of 2010, but I put in an email to my former manager in the hope that somebody will need a catcher. When you get into 30+ leagues, catchers are valuable. Nobody wants to get down into a crouch anymore. My knees are in relatively good shape. After all, this was how I got onto the diamond in that 2010 summer in the first place.

It was just how my father got on the field back in the ’50s. There lay the gear, the “tooooools of ignorance’ and nobody would don them. He couldn’t get onto the field so he threw on that gear. A catcher was born.

I’m an infielder by trade. I had caught just a enough to say I wouldn’t blink behind the plate, but when our catcher needed to pitch our manager quickly turned to me and asked if would I catch. Otherwise I would have been on the bench behind the other gaggle of middle infielders.

I caught that first game and it was rough. But by the end of the season, some of my teammates found it hard to believe I had never, by trade, been a catcher.

It’s the greatest position on the field. You’re the only one who is in every pitch of the game (the exception being if the pitcher throws a complete game). You’re the only one facing the field. You’re the general. You’re the leader. You’re the offensive line. You’re teammates, generally, appreciate your work back there. You have a good catcher and you have a chance. Strong up the middle starts behind the dish.

So, I’ve got my first catcher’s mitt. Now I need to get some gear.

It’s time to Break Bat.

Want

Written by Brendan O’Meara

$80? Not bad. I might have to buy it for the 2013 season.

I know it’s November, but when you’re no longer an athlete, it takes a lot of time to get the bones back into shape. I’m a little doughy these days. My muscles don’t twitch as fast. My shoulder’s range of motion is a drag. I’m a pulled muscle waiting to happen.

All that means is I have to get moving … slowly. This goes for you too. Whether you play slow-pitch softball or baseball.

1. Legs

I’m starting with 50% sprints for the rest of this month. I’ll crank that up to 60% or so in December and January. The goal is to be running 100% by May. I pulled my quads so bad the season I played two summers ago and they never healed.

Front squats and leg presses. Front squats really hit the quads while leg presses the glutes. Leg extensions isolate the quads too. So, as a catcher, these will ensure that the 200 or so body squats I do every game won’t erode my knees.

2. Arm

When I played in high school and college, I was throwing indoors in November, never extending the distance more than 60 feet. The tendency is to get greedy. Don’t. Don’t, unless you want to be sidelined before the season starts.

That’s it for now. Let’s give it up to this guy, MVP catcher!