Posted 28 March 2012 - 08:55 AM
I have never, ever talked to a professional baseball player, yet by careful observation of their behavior on television during games, interviews, etc, often I can get a pretty good idea what's going on. I've played casual sports all my life, so I know what it feels like to be hit by a baseball, to be tackled, etc. Same with lots of sports fans. We're fans because at a lower level many of us have experienced what we see on television.
A few years ago (2009), I noticed that Liriano was tipping his pitches. I wrote about it because I was able to predict his pitches with about 80 percent accuracy. He was lowering his front shoulder before throwing a slider. Pretty obvious to me, so I mentioned "Liriano is tipping his pitches." Over and over and over again. Never did anybody acknowledge it until after the season, when they mentioned "mechanical issues." It looked like this:
O-/--|== <-- here comes a slider. If I could read him, don't you think professional hitters could, too?
Now, I haven't played competitive baseball since about fifth grade, and back then I had no idea how to read a pitcher. Forty years later, I've seen and heard a lot of baseball, including discussions among experts, and now I look for stuff like that, because I'm a fan. I've heard Bert discuss pitching techniques for years, and I've seen how so many young pitchers don't do what Bert recommends, like coming to the balance point. I've heard Gladden talk about the proper way to lead off first base. I've seen how Tim Lincecum incorporates the mechanics of throwing a modified cartwheel into every pitch, and how other pitchers hurt their arms because they do not use their legs, torsos and scapulae to generate cartwheel power.
I'm a fan, not a paid journalist, so I'm free to observe without conditions attached. I do not fear hurting the feelings of a manager, player or corporation, thus getting myself shunned or fired. My comments are mostly prompted by the old, 'hey, look at that' feeling that you get when you notice something interesting. One of the reasons I like watching baseball is because it's chock full of interesting things to notice, like how a pitcher like Maddox can win 20+ games without a big fastball, or how a player like Nick Punto helps teams win by knowledge and guile.
Like other bloggers, I am not paid to write this stuff, and I never will be. I do other things for a living, and sports writing is not part of it. If I'm not honest, ignore me or call me a liar. If I'm full of ****, say so. It's a real democracy out here in blogostan. A good observation is valued more than grammatically correct bull****, or Sid Hartman's corporate pandering.
On the other hand, in a way bloggers do get paid. If we write something well and true, sometimes people pay us attention. Further, some bloggers may have it in the back of their heads that someday, maybe they will get a paid job with a newspaper or some other media. I suppose it can happen, but I would hope the anticipation of such a career would not affect the honesty and openness of their writing. The moving finger writes, and if you're not honest, it writes that, too.