What I'm Reading
This is a collection of interesting or insightful articles that you might enjoy.
The Brilliance of Brad:
Facing American League-favorite Oakland in the opening round of the 2002 playoffs, the Twins got off to a horrendous start. Radke issued a one-out walk in the first inning to Scott Hatteberg and Pierzynski’s error on Eric Chavez’s two-out single would ultimately lead to two runs scoring.
The Twins got a run back in the top of the second inning but more disaster awaited in the bottom half. They allowed a harmless infield pop fly to fall in with two outs, allowing a run to score, then third baseman Corey Koskie booted the next play.
“(Radke) was ticked off,” Koskie said.
Pierzynski rarely saw Radke get frustrated. That wasn’t the case in Game 1.
“He never got mad at anything but he came in and started screaming at us,” Pierzynski said. “’Wait a minute, Brad is mad? We must have really screwed something up.’”
Steady as always, Radke found a way to work around it. He retired 10 of the final 13 batters he faced, completing five innings. Though he left with a 5-3 deficit (only one of the runs was earned), Radke set the tone for an all-time Twins comeback.
The Porta Potty Park:
Ah, the temporary outdoor stadium that never was.
Minnesotans had been staying away from the Dome in impressive numbers. It had become a cliché for former Twins attendees to say, “It’s not just the losing. We don’t get enough nice summer days to waste them by going inside the Dome.’’
Clouser decided passion could be rekindled by giving the fans a chance to see the Twins play outdoors.
Ellerbe Becket was recruited to design a ballpark with bleachers holding 25,000. The grass at Bloomington’s Kelley Farm site would be manicured. Temporary restroom facilities and concession areas would be constructed … this only a handful of Killebrew home runs from where the fans last saw an outdoor home game for the Twins at Met Stadium in 1981.
Voit’s Growth As A Hitter:
Health is part of the explanation for Voit’s season, but Pilittere said he’s focused on working more efficiently and in preparation for a game-by-game basis. Instead of taking pregame swings by volume, he’s facing machine pitching that simulates the pitchers the Yankees expect to see on a given night. If the starting pitcher is a slider-heavy left-hander, he’ll take swings in preparation for that.
Sam Bornstein, a University of Iowa baseball’s analytics team member, has joined SimpleSabermetric’s Jake Stone to contribute to that website.
In his introductory post, he demonstrates how technology is improving an organization’s player development decisions.
While some may view the introduction of these technologies as bad for the game, that is certainly not the case. These technologies give us a quantifiable method to make data-driven decisions. Using technology to aid in the player development process is a lot like using a calculator on a math exam - without it you may be able to get to the right answer, but with it you can be sure you're making the best decisions possible to get to that answer quicker. This example is directly applicable to today’s game as well. The coaches who have been in the game forever have an immense amount of valuable experience. However, as more and more technology is introduced we are able to rely more on data to make our decisions than previous experiences.
Matthew Wolff’s Unorthodox Golf Swing:
He’s a golfer who swings the club like a baseball player. And he’s 18 holes away from defying logic all the way to a historic major championship.
Wolff and DeChambeau are at the vanguard of a generation of golfers who hit the ball far. Really, really far. They worry about the consequences later.
“There’s a lot of holes out there that maybe people would try to hit it in the fairway or maybe take the safe play because it is a U.S. Open and they know that pars are a good score, but I don’t really like to think of it that way,” Wolff said Saturday.
Before swinging, Wolff shimmies his hips like he’s readying himself for a dancing number. Then when he draws the clubhead back, he takes it unusually far outside. It sets up for an unusual follow through. But the result is clear: Wolf creates an extraordinary amount of power that few on tour can rival.
Here’s a video breakdown of Wolff’s swing. While not necessarily the same, you can see some of the same elements in some baseball swings. For instance, Byron Buxton’s hips and legs using the ground to generate force. It’s amazing to me how much golf as a sport has embraced using technology and breaking convention if the numbers back it up, which feels different when watching baseball broadcasts and hearing announcers lament the “launch angle swing”.
While Wolff is a good story, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau transformed himself into one of the greatest long ball hitters on the tour today -- through science, technology and intent. What’s interesting is that Dechambeau developed his own powerful swing derived from a 45-year-old golf textbook, not unlike one of today’s hitter’s refining their craft using Ted Williams’ seminal book.
Building Mentally Strong Players:
Footballers can tend to mentally rehearse failure daily. They can remember the mistakes and the poor plays in detail. They can learn helplessness in the quiet of their mind. They may need to deliberately shift these inner pictures to their best games, best moments, best plays.
This tweet from sports psychologist Dan Abrahams reminded me of something pitching coach Wes Johnson did for Jose Berrios last year.
LAST: Is This Pitch Legal or Not?
What I'm Listening To (Spotify Rec)
What I'm Listening To (Podcast Rec)
- Hosken Bombo Disco likes this