I am fired up. The pitchers and catchers officially arrive in camp today. Although nothing of significance happens until Tuesday, it will still be nice to see some pictures of the team working on the basics. I am dying to see these photos.
Let’s hope we spend some time on bunting. I am serious. Why is it that most players can’t execute a bunt with anything remotely close to a high percentage? Everyone on the team needs to spend time refining this skill. As you and I both know, it will make a huge difference during the season.
Trust me I get frustrated very easily, but nothing gets me going more than watching our beloved club stab at the ball like the bench warmer from your Little League team. (Jon Lynch where are you these days?) Were any of us taught like this? I know I sure wasn’t! Back in the day, we practiced bunting with our best pitcher on the mound. It happened to be a stud right hander named Ryan Phillips and he would throw as hard as he could. Just like a game. I wonder if that happens in Bradenton?
When all of us bunted growing up, how were we taught? I vividly remember Coach Phillips (Ryan’s dad) screaming….”Bend your knees! I am not telling you again Smith!” He would then calmly say, “Keep those shoulders square to the pitcher. It is the only way to get it down!”
One unique technique he would use was a basketball. He wanted to pulverize his point of the proper stance into all of our brains. (heh, it worked!) we would “shoot” it back at the pitchers mound. And then we would quickly pick up our bat. Ryan would fire his fastball and each of us would drop a nice bunt down on the grass. Our head and eyes would remain still just like the fundamental he taught us for making consistent contact on our hitting stroke. How many times do you see this in todays game?
I guess my rambling point is this….are todays players so enamored with themselves that the basic thrill of sacrificing yourself for the good of the team is no longer exciting? There are several good bunters, but have you seen a great bunter lately?
Critics (if I had anyone that would read this) will point to the average runs in a game being over four. Hell, four and half I think. I completely understand that valid arguement. But I feel for the Pirates to win ball games, fundamentals should be a priority. Wouldn’t it be great if our starting rotation could bunt effectively? Even eighty percent of the time? Seventy?
I trust we will improve in this area this season. How many games will be decided by one run this year?
Improve our record.
Here’s to seeing a picture of Maholm in the Tribune Review with his shoulders square to the pitcher, who I hope is Ian Snell throwing a fastball, laying down a perfect bunt.