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rocklifter

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Reply with quote  #241 

Hitting has advanced....
Overall strength training has advanced.
I remember reading a few journals that asked the questions pertaining to what would athletes like Babe Ruth had been able to accomplish if he had the facilities to train....
What if they had the medical advancements for knee surgeries back when Mantle was playing?

I still believe that a few of the reasons why there isnt better hitting in fastpitch stems from a lack of good hitting instruction from top to bottom. Plus the fact that there are no two umpires calling the same strike zone in the college ranks.


Hey Frank.......
   I do realize that since you spent most of your athletic life pitching you would be more inclined to defend the discussions about the strike zone.....
But my friend how can you sit there and say that in fastpitch when a pitcher throws a curve ball and the catcher catches it in the opposite batters box.....That its a strike?
   I would never mean any disrespect at all and am not promoting the idea that the strike zone needs to be the size of a postage stamp. But if you have a lefty and she throws a curve and it ends up almost out of the opposite box....and the ump calls it a strike.....Come on my friend...
   The zone has a definition and it doesnt include or mention the zones being called today or from a few years back. Correct me if Im wrong but the zones havent changed in quite awhile and the plate is one of the major items used for determining a strike.


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JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #242 
rocklifter - I have never, nor would I ever, defend a strike call in which the ball wound up in the opposite batter's box. To suggest that such a call is "common" is equally naive or hyperbolic. Most people I've shared time with in the stands complain loudly about a pitch that crosses the corner of home plate and is caught by the catcher slightly outside the strike zone. They also complain about the "backdoor curve" which begins outside and breaks back in to catch the edge of the plate. I have seen strike calls that I thought were balls, but they were about 4 inches off the plate, not "in the opposite batter's box". I also believe that the major problem is where the umpires set up so that they literally are guessing the outside corner, and do a bad job of judging that corner, either to the detriment of the pitcher or the batter (even on a given pitch - like 3 and 2). The key is where it crosses the plate. If umpires are calling strikes in the opposite batter's box, even I could get people out, and I'm 75. Pitchers want all of the plate (any part of the ball touching any part of the strike zone - that's a strike), and hitters want the ball on a tee.
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
ssarge

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Reply with quote  #243 

Frank:

Good perspective - especially about umpire positioning - and I appreciate reading it.  My experience on the outside strike is a little different than yours.  I DO see the very wide strike, and it benefits our pitchers, too.  I DO absolutely agree with you that the back-door curve or screw is under-rewarded, and I do think umpires often give up on it a little too early.  (Whether this is the reason it is entirely underutilized - my opinion - would be an interesting conversation.  But I DO believe it IS underutilized.)


I can't speak with credibility for college play (or higher), because my daughter doesn't start college play until this (upcoming) year.  I have looked at dozens of hours of video of her hitting, and have come to respect that her view of whether a pitch is a strike is pretty darned accurate.  Enough so that when she tells me whether a pitch (in her AB) was / was not a strike, I believe her.

And in California Gold ball, the strike zone in GENERAL is pretty darned wide on the outside.  Opposite batters box is definitely NOT unusual.

I've come to the opinion that many umpires subconsciously have a pre-determined strike zone which is NOT affected by the height of the batter (My daughter stands in the front of the box and is nearly 6' tall, and has many strikes called that are nowhere NEAR the top of her knees as the ball passes her front knee, and absolutely not as it reaches the front edge of the plate (the strike zone).  But she also benefits on pitches called for balls which ARE below her armpits, and should be strikes.)   Similarly, in many cases, an umpire's strike zone seems to be determined by how far away from the batter the pitch is, as opposed to whether it touches some part of the plate.  I would maintain that their subconscious frame of reference is wrong, at least based on the rulebook.

Meaning that a girl who sets up crowding the plate is going to have the ball called for a strike even though it is pretty far outside.  The INSIDE strike - on any hitter - is a fairly rare call (fairly rare PITCH these days, for that matter).  And again, I am talking only about the level of play (Gold) and geography (west coast) with which I am most familiar.  We do face a LOT of college pitchers, though.  Pretty much the norm in summer time.  And many of the umpires working our games work in college as well.

I do absolutely believe this is subconscious on the part of umpires, and I would expect most would deny it is even possible.  Pretty real phenomenon, though.  Your description of it being caused by umpire setup resonates well with me.

So you adjust.  You don't wory about it, you don't complain about it, you just play with it.  That's the game.  But it can be frustrating for a hitter who spends hundreds of hours learning proper mechanics to hit the very inside pitch hard and fair, then crowds the plate and NEVER sees the pitch.  But instead gets strikes called on outside balls she couldn't reach with a snow shovel.


And to be clear, I understand and respect that great pitchers stretch umpires' zones by moving the ball out an inch at a time until the umpire finally pushes back (IMO, Osterman is the best in the world at this).  Even though I am a hitting guy, I really think this is a skill that HAS to be rewarded, and for 100+ years of MLB - and certainly in my observation of the highest levels of softball - it has been.  (Maddux doesn't have 330 wins because of his 86mph FB).  As a hitting guy, I hate it (LOL), but tip my hat to the athletes who can pull it off.  So that phenomenon is NOT what I am referencing above.


(My greatest pet peeve is the called third which is a little lower than the umpire has been calling, AND a little further outside.  Because it is both, it seems to enter another strike zone diagonally tangental to the zone established for the rest of the game.  Got to hand it to the pitcher who pulls it off, though.)

Best regards,

Scott


JoiseyGuy

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Reply with quote  #244 
Scott - I hear the lament of the extended strike zone much more from California than anywhere else, although I do hear it some from other geographies. I simply cannot speak intelligently to the strike zone favored by umpires in California as I don't live there, and don't watch softball there. I am willing to give those complaining persons on the West Coast some credit for verisimilitude because there are many of them. I agree with you about Osterman. She is one of the smartest pitchers I've ever seen, and her control (not to mention superior movement) is impeccable. Give her four inches off the plate, and she will hurt you all game there. Isn't this a great game??
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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
Ifubuildit

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Posts: 97
Reply with quote  #245 
Scott stated:
I've come to the opinion that many umpires subconsciously have a pre-determined strike zone.

I have had that opinion for at least 30 years. There is no way an ump can have an accurate view of the opposite corner so they have to predetermine. As for the outside pitch I would agree it seems to be getting out there a little further.

I personally think its because of the angle of the ball coming across the plate now from the pitcher. If I am allowed to step outside the lines of the plate to deliver my screw, curve, or drop curve, the angle is going to look different to the umpire and what used to appear as a ball now looks like a strike.

Personally I dont like it and a prime example of it would be Mowatt this past season. She was outside those lines more than she was in them. I dont know if this is a west coast thing or not, but its not in line with the rules of the game as far as I am concerned and I am both a hitting and pitching coach. There is no way I am teaching a pitcher to step outside the line to throw the screw or curve.

Elliott.  

JoiseyGuy

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Posts: 24,423
Reply with quote  #246 
PD - Don't blame me. It's your choice of literature. Reader's Digest, though excellent bathroom entertainment, is not written, save the vocabulary section, to improve vocabulary, or even to strain it.
P.S. Remember that in "another life" in lectures I spoke of literature as having or not having verisimilitude in the same way that an umpire sees either a strike or not a strike.

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"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking. Where it is absent discussion is apt to become worse than useless." Leo Tolstoy

"Do not try to teach pigs to sing. It will frustrate you and infuriate the pigs who will unite in anger against you, and you will never achieve singing your song". Dr. Petersen
MAXX

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Posts: 116
Reply with quote  #247 
Found this thread linked on another site and wow, what a blast from the past. Some familiar names who are no longer posting unfortunately. How time flies.
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