Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Throwers vs. Pitchers

What else are they going to say? The Phillies to a man say the season isn’t over and though time may be running out they haven’t given up. The percentages aren’t on their side though history does offer a very few glimmers of hope. So out come the “stranger things have happened” quotes or “we have to take this one game at-a-time” statements.

I am willing to indulge their fantasies a little longer and in that spirit offer the following advice to some members of the pitching staff: Get a grip, now! You are entitled to get annoyed occasionally when a call doesn’t go your way, but don’t use your pique as an excuse to go off your game altogether.

Last Friday night it was Brett Myers blowing his cool again; on Sunday Vicente Padilla took a turn. Both pitchers ended up losing their respective games. The umpire hasn’t been born yet who likes to be shown up; so storming around on the mound cussing this or that “blown” call does nothing to advance one’s cause.

I’ve said it before in this space: many of the Phillies pitchers don’t appear to have a game plan. It’s a classic case of throwers vs. pitchers. As Warren Spahn once put it, “Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.” Whitey Ford offered this insight, “You would be amazed how many important outs you can get by working the count down to where the hitter is sure you’re going to throw to his weakness and then throw to his power instead.” The common thread here? It doesn’t hurt to think about what you are doing out there.

If the young guys on the Phillies staff still insist on just throwing, however, I’d suggest they follow the advice George Bamberger, the legendary Orioles pitching coach, gave one of his charges who was suffering through a particularly difficult outing: “If you know how to cheat I wouldn’t wait one more pitch.”

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