March 5, 2017
Now that the winter workouts have started, I and the other coaches are impressed with the talent we have on the 2017 All-Star team. We had a discussion with the All-Stars on the upcoming season, and what we have to do to make it a winning one. Our defense should be good, our pitching should be even better, what is going to make the difference is our hitting. I don’t mean home runs, but making constant contact. With that said I have decided to run a hitting contest at our winter workouts. Starting with the fifth workout (March 5th), and running through the last four workouts we will run the contest. Rules: Coach Steve will start the contest in the batting cage, with pitching machine pitches, and decide the amount of pitches per All-Star. When the count starts; Each swing and hit (including foul tips) is worth 1 point. Each swing and miss is minus 2 points. After the count ends that All-Star tells me his total for that workout. I will run a total count through the 4 workouts. The twist with the contest; Before the last workout I will randomly put 2 All-Stars together, and their total count for the 4 workouts will be their complete total for the contest –i.e. - teamwork. Why? That way no one can be way ahead, or way behind, and it keeps all All-Stars cheering on their teammates, because one of them will end up being your partner. If you should miss a workout during the contest I will average your other scores for the missed workout, to keep you in the hunt.
February 12, 2017
Let’s talk defensive fielding stances, and responsibilities. The above two Cubs baseball players are in their correct defensive stances, the top is Javier Baez starting, then fielding, and Anthony Rizzo starting, then stretching at first, pretty good ball player’s right. The correct stance for all 7 defensive players is Low to the ground, why (it is easier to raise your body, than to lower it). Feet spread, knees bent, back slightly arched, head up, on the balls of your feet (NOT FLAT FOOTED) hands in front (NOT ON YOUR KNEES). When your pitcher goes into his windup on the mound this is the stance you should be in. Your eyes then should be on the batter, specifically his bat, why (watching the bat come through the strike zone, and seeing the ball come off the bat, your body will move automatically to the angle of the hit). Do this each and every time. Responsibilities Outfielders When the ball is hit, angle to the flight of the ball so it does not get behind you. If there is no one on base it is all right to stop a ground ball by going down on one knee. When doing this drop to the knee opposite of your throwing hand (i.e. right handed – left knee, left handed - right knee) this allows you to come up throwing in a natural motion. If the ball is not hit to you move to your backup position. Third baseman Field all grounders hit between you and the pitcher, don’t let the pitcher field it, why (he has to turn 360 degrees to throw to first, you are in a straight line). The same with grounders hit to the shortstop, if you can cut in front and field the ball, again you are in a straight line to first. If the ball is not hit to you move to your backup position. ShortstopYou are playing deeper than the third baseman, why ( so you have more time to react, and keep the ground ball in the infield). Ground balls hit towards second, again if you can cut in front of the second baseman and field the ball you are in a straight line to first. If the ball is not hit to you move to your backup position. Second baseman You are playing deeper than the first baseman, and shortstop, why (this allows even more reaction time, and a better chance to keep the ground ball in the infield, plus your throw to first is the shortest). If the first baseman fields the ball run towards first so the first baseman can throw to you, for the out. If the ball is not hit to you move to your backup position. First baseman Because of the shortness of our base paths (60 feet) only go far enough to field a grounder, that you can field and beat the runner to the base. If there is a runner on first then you can go farther on grounders because now your throw is to second base. On ground balls hit to the other infielders, go to first base, and set up (setting up means find first base with the back of your foot, the same foot as your throwing hand i.e. right handers - right foot, left handers - left foot). Why (when the fielder catches the grounder, and releases the throw toward first then and only then you stretch with your glove hand, and its corresponding leg (i.e. glove on right hand stretch with your right foot, glove on left hand stretch with your left foot). Stretching toooooooooooooooooo early, you cannot react to a miss throw. If the ball is hit to the outfield move to your backup position. Pitcher On the follow through of your pitch, bring your trailing leg forward, and you are now in the same defensive position as the other 7 defensive players. Field any grounders hit in front of you, when you do this, take your time, and set up your body in the right position to make a good throw to first, why (you now have the shortest throw to first, and added time to make that throw). If the ball is not hit to you move to your backup position. Catchers Ahhhhhh yours is a whole article, that I will talk about in upcoming TWIBs. AS STATED BEFORE THERE ARE NO SPECTATORS ON THE FIELD WHEN THE BALL IS HIT.
January 22, 2017
Dropped third strike: if first base is unoccupied, or there are 2 outs, on a dropped pitch that was the third strike the batter has to be thrown out or tagged. Infield fly rule: is a rule in baseball intended to prevent infielders from intentionally dropping a pop-up or allowing it to fall to turn a double play (or triple play). Without this rule, a defense could easily turn a pop fly into a double or triple play, when there are fewer than two outs with runners at first and second base or when the bases are loaded. If the runners stay near their bases to tag up, the defense could let the ball drop, throw to third base and then to second (or home to third or home to third to second), for a force-out at each base. If any of the runners stray too far from their bases, the defense could catch the pop-up and double-off any runner that failed to tag up. When the ball is in the air and the umpire signals that he is invoking the rule, the batter is out (and all force plays removed) regardless of whether the ball is caught. The rule applies only when there are fewer than two outs, and there is a force play at third base (i.e., when there are runners at first and second base, or the bases are loaded). In these situations, if a fair fly ball is in play, and in the umpire's judgment it is catchable by an infielder with ordinary effort, the umpire shall call "infield fly" (or more often, "infield fly, batter's out"); the batter will be out regardless of whether the ball is actually caught in flight. Umpires typically raise the right arm straight up, index finger pointing up, to signal the rule is in effect. If "infield fly" is called and the fly ball is caught, it is treated exactly as an ordinary fly ball; the batter is out, there is no force, and the runners must tag up. On the other hand, if "infield fly" is called and the ball lands fair without being caught, the batter is still out, and there is still no force, but the runners are not required to tag up. In either case, the ball is live, and the runners may advance on the play, at their own peril. An infield fly may be declared by any umpire on the field. Sacrifice fly rule: is a batted ball that satisfies four (Bremen All-Stars 5) criteria: 1. There are fewer than two outs when the ball is hit. 2. The ball is hit in the air (fair or foul). 3. The batter is put out because a defensive player catches the ball on the fly. 4. A runner who is already on base tags up and scores on the play (or 5. for Bremen All-Stars a runner tags up and advances to the next base). Sacrifice bunt: is a batter's act of deliberately bunting the ball, before there are two outs, in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base. A successful sacrifice bunt (and sacrifice fly) does not count as an at bat, does not impact a player's batting average, it does count as a plate appearance. How does an offensive team score a run while making the third out?: If the third out is a force out (i.e. a force out at a base, or a caught fly ball), then a run does not count. If the third out is a tag out (i.e. tagging a runner trying to get to a base), and the offensive run crosses the plate before the tag out is made the run counts. Sliding: going to the next base if you slide, it must be feet first, head first sliding is illegal in our league, you can dive (head first) back to a base. When you feet first slide, it is to stop your momentum, by feet first sliding you loss the length of your body in speed. When you head first slide you gain in speed the length of your body. Running to first: we already talked about how to run to first (hard and with our ears opened). But did you know that you also have to be in foul territory. What I mean is the white foul line that runs toward first base; you have to have your feet just on the outside of that line (foul territory). Why; if the throw from the defensive player hits you while you are running (i.e. – on a bunt), and you are in fair territory you can be called out for interference. Running to home plate; while running home from third base, again stay just in foul territory. Why; if a hit ball hits you in fair territory, you can be called out for interference. Ground rule double: In baseball, a ground rule double is an award of two bases from the time of pitch to all baserunners including the batter-runner as a result of the ball leaving play after being hit fairly and leaving the field under a condition of the ground rules in effect at the field where the game is being played. An automatic double is the term used to refer to a fairly hit ball leaving the field in circumstances that do not merit a home run as described in Major League Baseball (MLB) rules 6.09(e) through 6.09(h). The automatic double is quite often mistakenly called a ground rule double. Most commonly, an automatic double results from a batted ball hitting the ground in fair territory and landing out of play due to some non-unique aspect of the grounds, typically by bouncing over a fence or wall in the outfield. MLB rules also award a double when a batted ball goes through or under a fence or through or sticking in shrubbery or vines on the fence. These are known as "ground rule doubles" as the unique aspect of the grounds -- such as ivy at Wrigley Field or the walkways at Tropicana Park -- played a part in the hit. Specific rules also govern when fair fly balls are deflected into the stands by a fielder: for example, a fair fly ball deflected out of play by a fielder from a point within 250 feet of home plate is considered a double. This applied in an unusual play August 3, 2007 when Melky Cabrera of the New York Yankees hit a ball that ricocheted off Kansas City Royals pitcher Ryan Braun's foot and bounced into the stands in foul territory. When two bases are awarded by either ground rule or league-wide rule, any baserunners ahead of the batter are entitled to advance two bases from their positions at the time of pitch but may advance further if the umpire feels the batter/runner would have made it to the third base completely uncontested. (7.0 MLB Umpire Handbook)
January 15, 2017
Let’s Talk Bunting The Bremen All-Stars use the bunt as an aggressive offensive tool. 1. Why do we bunt, to move a base runner to the next base (sacrifice bunt). 2. To confuse, and make the defense nervous (bunting for a base hit), they don’t know what the batter is doing, is he bunting, or is he swinging away. The following video is how we will teach the All-stars to bunt.
January 8, 2017
Let’s talk pitching, (more precisely effective pitching). The above graph shows three of the more effective pitchers the All-Stars have had. We have had many good All-star pitchers over the years, but what made these 3 more effective, it was not their velocity which was slightly above average, but they had memorized their pitching mechanics, and with each and every pitch, the delivery was the same. That shows up in the two columns in red, one is the direct result of the other, they threw 65% to 70% strikes (or 2/3rds of their pitches were strikes), and because of that they walked few batters. Teams they faced knew they had to swing the bat to get on base, and that allowed our defense to make outs. As I stated before, we will use the winter practices to develop fundamentals, and memorize effective pitching mechanics. The following pitches will be shown, and practiced with the All-Stars in the winter workouts. Coach Town will do the instructing, and these pitches are all thrown with fastball motion. We are not teaching curve balls, or any pitch that makes the pitcher put undo strain on their arms. How To Grip And Throw A Four Seam Fastball. Four-seam fastball To grip the four seam fastball, place your index and middle fingertips directly on the perpendicular seam of the baseball. The "horseshoe seam" should face into your ring finger of your throwing hand (as shown in the picture on the left). I call it the horseshoe seam simply because the seam itself looks like the shape of a horseshoe. Next, place your thumb directly beneath the baseball, resting on the smooth leather (as shown in the picture on the right). Ideally, you should rest your thumb in the center of the horseshoe seam on the bottom part of the baseball. Grip this pitch softly, like an egg, in your fingertips. There should be a "gap" or space between the ball and your palm (as shown in the middle picture). This is the key to throwing a good, hard four-seam fastball with maximal backspin and velocity: A loose grip minimizes "friction" between your hand and the baseball. The less friction, of course, the quicker the baseball can leave your hand. Two seam fastball A two seam fastball, much like a sinker or cutter (cut fastball), is gripped slightly tighter and deeper in the throwing-hand than the four-seam fastball. This pitch generally is thought of as a "movement pitch" (as opposed to the four-seam fastball, which is primarily thought of as a "straight pitch"). When throwing a two-seam fastball, your index and middle fingers are placed directly on top of the narrow seams of the baseball (as shown in the picture on the left). Next, place your thumb directly on the bottom side of the baseball and on the smooth leather in between the narrow seams (as shown in the picture on the right). How To Grip And Throw A Circle Changeup To throw a circle changeup make - quite literally - a circle or an "OK" gesture with your throwing hand (using your thumb and index fingers). You then center the baseball between your three other fingers (as shown in the middle picture above right). The baseball should be tucked comfortably against the circle. Throw this pitch with the same arm speed and body mechanics as a fastball, only slightly turn the ball over by throwing the circle to the target. This is called pronating your hand. (Think about this as giving someone standing directly in front of you a "thumbs down" sign with your throwing hand.) This reduces speed and gives you that nice, fading movement to your throwing-arm side of the plate. How To Grip And Throw A Splitter Splitter A split-finger fastball is an advanced pitch. Typically, it's only a good pitch if you've got bigger hands. That's because the pitch itself should be "choked" deep in the hand. This is how splitters get their downward movement. Your index and middle fingers should be placed on the outside of the horseshoe seam. The grip is firm. When throwing this pitch, throw the palm-side wrist of the throwing-hand directly at the target while keeping your index and middle fingers extended upward. Your wrist should remain stiff. Cut fastball How to Throw a Cut Fastball Although many pitchers are interested in the cutter, it is the most difficult fastball grip to learn. Index and middle fingers across the seams But grip the outer half of the ball In order to achieve, the cutting movement, you will apply middle finger pressure to the ball. There is no wrist pronation (turning of the wrist) with the cut fastball. The movement from a cutter is the result of the grip alone.
December 31, 2016
The above major league hitters are Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber. Look at where their eyes are (ON THE BALL). Look at any major league hitter, and their stance, and swing might vary, but when they make contact, they are all virtually the same (eyes on the ball, chin down). This is what we will teach you, (the contact), and if you learn it you will have success. We will teach the basic fundamentals of swinging the bat, the proper stance, the proper armll. In the past I have tried many training aids to help the All-Stars learn this art, and make it automatic. I have never really found any aids that do this, it has been mostly verbally reinforcing the All-Stars over and over again in the batting cage. THAT IS UNTIL NOW We will be using the following in the batting cage this winter, and I think it will help train our eyes to be on the ball.
December 24, 2016
Let’s talk at bats, (not hitting - that’s later) and running the bases.
When you get in the batters box, take your front foot out of the box, and take a look at the third base coach (between every pitch). The All-stars third base coach is Coach Steve Zellmer, he will give you signs on what he wants you to do, (he’s goooood, and aggressive so do what he wants).
Some of the signs he gives:
1. Bunt - don’t bunt the ball back to the pitcher, bunt it down one of the lines, it’s harder to field.
2. Take - that means don’t swing.
3. Fake bunt - ohhhhh that confuses the defense.
4. Make contact on the next pitch - (wherever it’s thrown), (that’s a steal and hit play) (hit and run in the majors).
5. Steal - that’s for a runner on base. Our rules are a base runner can’t leave the base until the ball crosses the plate.
6. Delayed steal - a delayed steal is where the base runner after the ball crosses the plate will edge out a few steps, toward the next base, and see what the catcher, and defense does. If the catcher lobs the throw back to the pitcher, or throws behind the runner steal the base. If the catcher runs towards the runner, or throws in front of the runner then go back to the base.
Now when you hit the ball, and you will hit the ball, on your follow through take a quick look at where the ball is headed then run hard. Keeping your eyes on, (and ears opened) the first base coach who is usually Coach JZ (Jeff Zellmer). He will tell you to run through first, or round first, and then he will tell you to come back to first or go on to second. If it’s run through first, don’t slow down till you are past the base, if it is round first do a banana cut see how the banana angles outward, that’s the angle you take around first. Why; so you can head for second in a straight line instead of your momentum angling you out towards the outfield.
If you are told to go to second then it’s, run hard (ears open for Coach Steve at third) to give you directions on whether to round the base, or on the bag (stop at second). When you are on base, and the next All-Star is in the batters box, when he looks at the third base Coach for signs, you do the same, the Coach might give you #4, or #5, or #6. By paying attention to the base coaches, it will help you get extra bases, and it will help you score runs. We the coaches have been doing this a very long time, and we know when, and how to take advantage of the other teams defense. By doing this it confuses the defense, makes them nervous, makes us aggressive, and we score a whole lotta runs, which is fun.
If you follow the base coaches advice, and run hard, but still you get thrown out, whose fault is it. NOT YOURS It’s the Coaches FAULT.
THAT’S ENOUGH FOR THIS TWiB, the rest will be as Joe says “some other day some other time.”
December 17, 2016
Let’s talk defensive backups, and why we do them. You watch any major league game, and when the ball is hit 9 defensive players move. They all have backup responsibilities, and the reason why is they know any throw that gets away the runner will take an extra base. By backing each other up they keep runners honest, and they keep the game close. Runs will be scored, but you need to make the other team earn them, and not give them easy runs. Backups are part of the game, we need to learn them, and then do them. To watch a team move into their backup positions, spectators realize that’s a baseball team, and not just nine young men playing baseball.
Remember: (there are no spectators on the baseball field when a ball is hit).
The items in blue, the Bremen All-Stars do not do. For the Bremen All-Stars the following backups are used, for the most part they will remain the same at the next level of play.
1. When a ball is hit to the shortstop, or third baseman, the left fielder charges, in case the ball gets through, the center fielder goes towards the ball, and the right fielder goes behind first base for the backup, with no runners on base, the catcher runs towards first base in foul territory as a backup.
2. A ball hit to either the first baseman or second baseman, the left fielder goes towards the infield for a backup, the center fielder goes towards the ball, and the right fielder charges, in case the ball gets through, but if does not the right fielder goes behind first base as an backup, with no runners on base, the catcher runs toward first as a backup.
3. A ball hit to left field, the center fielder moves to left field as a backup, the right fielder moves behind second as a backup, the shortstop goes towards left for a cutoff, the second baseman goes to second base, the third baseman goes to third base, the first baseman goes towards the infield as a backup, or cutoff, the pitcher goes behind third base as a backup, and the catcher stays at the plate.
4. A ball hit to left center field, either the left fielder makes the play, and the center fielder is the backup or the center fielder makes the play, and the left fielder is the backup. Everyone else goes to their positions as in play #3.
5. A ball hit to center field, the left fielder, and right fielder communicate with each other on who the center field backup is, and the other fielder heads for the infield into his backup position. The shortstop and second baseman also have to communicate with each other on who is the cutoff, and who covers second base. The first baseman, third baseman, pitcher, and catcher move as in play #3.
6. A ball hit to right center field, either the right fielder makes the play, and the center fielder is the backup, or the center fielder makes the play, and the right fielder is the backup. The left fielder goes towards the infield into a backup position. The second baseman goes towards right for a cutoff, the shortstop goes to second base, and the rest of the infielders go to their positions as in play #3.
7. A ball hit to right field, the center fielder moves to right field as the backup, left fielder moves as in play #6. The second baseman, and shortstop move as in play #6, and the rest of the infielders move as in play #3. Sounds confusing, it is, but once it’s learned, we are on our way to being a competitive All-Star team.
What’s even more confusing is the following.