First, I’m going to qualify myself with respect to this exchange of information and addressing my clarification on a few things.
Let me set the stage for giving you a little insight into what I am (for this exchange). For your response about your son, I’ll fit him into an A-Level Advanced Rookie setting, the best I can.
OK, here we go:
I’m a pitching coach who as been hired based on two things - first, my overall professional ability to hold down this job as pitching coach, and second of all, I was hired based a little thing called politics … using “who I know, in addition to what I know”.
It’s that second part that got me hired more than anything. That being the case, my homage is to the man that got me the job, and anybody that takes his place there after. I keep him happy, for the most part, then I’m happy. I’m also trusted to a large extent, will following this man’s way of doing things - keep the information stream going, watch out for being blind-sided with anything that has to do with the pitching staff, and keeping a certain degree of discipline with that pitching staff. I’ll get “go-fers” pushed my way. from time to time. These are people (interns sometimes) that are on the payroll, or not that, to help out. I’m also in tune with being very careful not to put any trust in these people (go-fers) because their ears are sensitive to anything that can be fed to the gossip chain … and that leads right back to the front office and my job security … and the man that I report to.
I have little or no control, for the most part, of who comes walking through the clubhouse door and rosters. Sometimes I’ll be asked, even sent to look over a man as a cross-checker, but that’s rare. So, like a mechanic who deals with the open public, I have very little to say about the car that pulls into my bay, BUT, I should have the knowledge and tools in my rollaway to keep that car running, and fix it from time to time - to an extent. When I see abuse I can address it, but, unlike the owner of the car, I have little control over repeated abuse. A lot of what a person does has a element of responsibility to it, and this is especially true of professional athletes. Repeated issues of not taking care of oneself, not following a training itinerary, does have its downside. The part that I mentioned earlier about keeping the lines of communication open with my boss, is very critical in these matters. Why? Because when I address something to a professional, that takes his place on a roster, he should come pretty well “pre-packaged” with most of the skills necessary for me and others to work with him as necessary. Why? Because this business that we’re in is ever changing and evolving - day to day, game to game, inning per inning. The better a rotation - players and coaches alike, are at evolving the better we are at surviving (keeping our job).
My experience doesn’t start and stop with just pitching. I’m a reader of people. I notice things that others miss, take for granted, overlook. In fact, these qualities are my bread-n-butter that everything else depends on. Sure, I can instruct just about anyone at this level on how to pitch, move, or not – but I shouldn’t have to. Remember, I’m dealing with people that are at where they’re at because they pre-qualified a job. So, I take my group of tradesman - apprentices, journeyman, and master tradesman, and I keep in mind the constants that each brought with them. Now depending on the space and time available, regular field sessions, meetings with trainers, and whatnot are a daily thing. But, not every pitcher has the same routines or schedules. Why? Because I’m more interested in finding out more about the unknowns - the rookies, the pitchers that came by my club from other clubs, those people that I’ve never heard of before. So a baseline of who and what I’m working with … no, make that who and what I’m responsible for, is my first priority. Also, some pitchers have their own way of dealing with “routines” that I have no say in - just happens sometimes.
More about baselines - some pitchers will have peaks-n-valleys as time goes on. Some will improve, some will require a closer eye, while others will simply crash-n-burn. But I do notice the things that don’t fit the man that is an everyday. His facial expressions, the way he sits during a meal or in the pen, even the way he may repeatedly rub the back of his neck, his body language around other players, little conversations that give me a hint that there may be personal issues orbiting the man. Also, remember the “blind-sided” remarks that I made earlier? I pay attention to people who just pop up outside or inside. Bookies, loan-sharks, constables with court papers, parents with a young lady and a baby carriage just outside the player’s entrance, little stuff like that. It happens.
How do I keep a rotation up to the task of meeting the challenges of this business? By sharing the load with the players themselves. To a large extent, these men have to address things like anyone else who holds down a job. They must keep up with the skills of their trade, stay healthy and report for work each day, punch in on time, and produce. That’s what they were HIRED for. And this is a work-n-process. A constant building, taking measurements, rough framing, finish carpentry, and a finished product that’s more of an art form that it is a tangible - in solid state.
It’s my job to be a job site captain, making sure all the trades fit in their proper place in time.
So, I have tradesman that have a pitch inventory. Some are heaters - those in the fastball family, and sometimes with a decent off-speed. Then I have a few junk guys, and a rookie or two. I don’t mess with the way they go about using those tools, but, I will address potential issues later on. If I can get a man to work with me, and I with him, all the better. But, if he persists on doing things his way - well, he’s the one out there not me. I’ll document as much detail as my skill level will allow, pass it on during regular and timely meetings with my boss, then if necessary have a “sit down” with those involved - or, let the chips fall where they may.
In athletics, performance is never a trusted norm. We’re dealing with the human element, and that injects a ton of variables. Take for example the great performance of a man three games in a row - then, he gets a bad night sleep, a meal on the road doesn’t sit well, has an argument with his wife/girlfriend - both, gets some personal items stolen from his motel room, little stuff like that. You talk about walks and a hit batter… if that was only the end of it! Performances in professional athletics has pressures that very few people can comprehend. And a pitching coach, batting coach, infield coach … and especially a head coach, has a daunting job of trying to address individuals in a manner that doesn’t insult their intelligence - on the one hand, and still retains a degree of performance value on the other.
So, in the final analysis, when a man take the field and starts walking guys, hits a batter, it can be a temporary thing that’ll blow over, or, a sign of things to come. I know the difference - I’d better. If I don’t, I’m not doing the man I report to any justice. Oh yeah, I’m broke to. So, I have a pitcher - starter, reliever,. closer and anything in between, and takes the field with me knowing pretty darn well what to expect. When the stuff starts to hit the fan, I’m the first one to know it long before anyone else. In fact, I’ve had to bite my lip on more than just a few occasions holding back a remark like …” told ya so.” But why would anyone send in a pitcher that is “if-ee?” That goes beyond this topic, and I guess we can address that in another topic heading.
Now that I’ve set the stage for your input, please keep in mind that I’m going to be addressing your input using your son in the context that I just mentioned. Now I know he’s not a professional, but he does have a lot of worth that I can use, and possibly help you and he at the same time.
What is your son’s pitch inventory - the pitches that he brings with him. * It’s not important how proficient he is, I’m going to take his pitch inventory as assets that were qualified during the scouting process.
What is your son’s inning tolerance? In other words, does his expertise hold value through three innings, four innings, five innings. ** it doesn’t matter if he’s brought in from a fielder’s position in relief for someone else without much of a warmup. Just an educated guess.**
Would you consider your son strong-willed enough to go in to the last inning with his team ahead by one, and shut the inning down?