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Behind Nelson Cruz’s Maniacal Preparation:
From his Seattle Mariner days but a reminder of how much work the 40-year-old Cruz puts in to maintain his elite level of play.
Nap time can vary, but it’s daily.
“If we play at home, I like to do it after BP,” he said. “If we are on the road, I do it before BP.”
Post nap will include a dip in the cold tub for about five minutes, followed by some time in the warm tub.
Cruz’s on-field workout is another process. He doesn’t walk into the cage and try to bomb homers. There’s a plan to his batting practice, which includes driving the ball to the opposite field. Sure, by the end, he’s launching balls over the fence at distances his teammates only wish they could reach.
But he’s become a more complete hitter by showing this discipline in batting practice. Though he rarely plays in the field anymore, Cruz will still take fly balls on most days because he still wants to play in the outfield at some point. He’ll even take ground balls in the infield to keep his body active.
“It’s fun for me,” he said.
Kansas City Royals Pitching Development Has Changed:
“We’re not going to draft a guy, have them come in and be like, ‘We need to do this, this and this,'” Stetter said. “The biggest thing is, you have to trust your eyes. If a pitch is working, the hitter is going to tell you. The hitter is going to let you know if your stuff is good enough. And if it is, you’re going to keep going with it. And if you get to Double-A and the hitters start hitting it, you’re not getting swings and misses, we’ll know what kind of changes we might make to that pitch to make it better.”
“A lot of times, if you’re having a guy throw a four-seam, and it’s got a two-seam tilt, it might not always add up that he should be throwing all four-seams,” Stetter said. “There’s some stuff with Rapsodo and Edgertronic camera where we can sit there and make a decision on a guy, where, it might be more beneficial if he throws more two-seams, or it might be beneficial that he throws more four-seams. With new technology, you can tailor it to the guy. Certain grips play better to horizontal-breaking sliders.”
Joe West Never Missed A Call:
"This is what people don't understand: When an umpire has a bad night, he goes back and looks at it," he said. "There has to be a reason you missed the call. Three ways you can miss a call: lack of concentration, lack of positioning, lack of timing. The Denkinger play at first base [in 1985 when the] Cardinals lost the World Series to the Royals. Don Denkinger overhustled on that play. He took himself out of position to see that play. Is that a bad thing that he hustled? No. But he put himself in the wrong spot. He's one of the best umpires the American League has ever had. He's remembered for that call. That's not fair. There's no batting average for performance for an umpire. They grade you, yes. But when you miss some, you can't go out and hit a homer. You have no recourse to get that back."
99-Year-Old Roger Angell On Modern Baseball Statistics:
I think some of the new stats are useful. Good baseball played by Major Leaguers is so far beyond us—it’s the hardest game in the world to play well. And what underlies [the stat revolution] is, I think, a conscious and effective way to get some of this back, to say, “We know better. We know what the batters are doing. They don’t know what they’re doing.” It’s understandable, but it doesn’t add to the joy of the game for me. I’m not very statistical by nature, so I could be wrong about this. And I know a lot of people now use these stats and talk about them with interest. But also, it’s part of the huge alteration of the game itself. People tilting their swings and swinging for homers and striking out in huge numbers. This is a gigantic change in the game. I think home runs are OK, but on the whole, I prefer a triple.
Are We Teaching Wrong?
Mr. Hirsch also takes issue with grade schools’ focus on “skills.” Whether it is imparting “critical thinking skills,” “communication skills” or “problem-solving skills,” he says such instruction is a waste of time in the absence of specific knowledge. He describes the findings of the National Academy of Sciences on the subject of the “domain specificity of human skills.” What this means, he explains in the new book, “is that being good at tennis does not make you good at golf or soccer. You may be a talented person with great hand-eye coordination—and indeed there are native general abilities that can be nurtured in different ways—but being a first-class swimmer will not make a person good at hockey.”
He cites the “baseball study,” conducted by researchers at Marquette University in the 1980s, which found that kids who knew more about how baseball was played performed better when answering questions about a text on baseball than those who didn’t understand the game—regardless of their reading level. The conventional response in education circles is that standardized tests are unfair because some kids are exposed to more specific knowledge than others. In Mr. Hirsch’s view that’s precisely why children should be exposed to more content: Educators “simply haven’t faced up to their duty to provide a coherent sequence of knowledge to children.”
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