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Friday, May 23, 2014

Fangraphs: Pedro Martinez on the Art and Science of Pitching

Pitching is feel. Your hand and the ball is a marriage that should never end. The pitcher and the ball should be married forever. Hands, fingers, the ball – they should be married forever. It’s like caressing your wife. It’s touching and getting that feel to know her, alone.

I don’t care if you are Pedro Martinez, stay away from my wife.

villageidiom Posted: May 23, 2014 at 08:46 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awesome, fangraphs, pedro martinez, pitching, pitching mechanics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. gehrig97 Posted: May 23, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4712032)
Funny excerpt aside,if the psychology, strategy and mechanics of pitching interest you, check out "A Pitcher's Story," by Roger Angell (TFA reminded me of several passages from the book, which chronicles David Cone near the end of his career).

Oh. And Pedro rules.
   2. Nasty Nate Posted: May 23, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4712060)
Cool article.
   3. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: May 23, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4712085)
English is his second language and he talks about pitching like a poet.
   4. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: May 23, 2014 at 12:21 PM (#4712095)
Fangraphs has really been nailing down a lot of these fun, interesting player interviews lately. Particularly pitchers. A nice addition to their quiver.
   5. Urkel's Boner Posted: May 23, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4712147)
I can tell you right away the difference between two balls.


So it's not like caressing your wife then?
   6. Lars6788 Posted: May 23, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4712183)

English is his second language and he talks about pitching like a poet.


IMO Pedro is easily the most measured and well spoken of any baseball player from the Dominican I've heard speak in the past 20 years.
   7. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 23, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4712200)
He's got to be one of the smartest guys to ever play the game. This is what you get when you combine incredible intelligence, incredible athleticism, and a 95 MPH fastball.
   8. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 23, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4712218)
IMO Pedro is easily the most measured and well spoken of any baseball player from the Dominican I've heard speak in the past 20 years.


I don't think you need the "from the Dominican" part of that statement. I would rather listen to Pedro talk pitching than anyone else. His work on TNT has been great but my favorite was a Red Sox game a couple years ago where he joined Dennis Eckersley and Don Orsillo in the booth for a couple innings. Orsillo shut his trap and Pedro and Eck were unbelievable. It was the best analysis I have ever heard.
   9. Greg K Posted: May 23, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4712226)
Poz's top 100 entry on Pedro was fun to read.

He begins it with a seemingly unrelated story of Tony Pena showing Joe around his boyhood home.

“Right there,” Pena said as he pointed at a photo on the wall, “there used to be a picture of Jesus.”

The picture is now of Pedro Martinez.


Link
   10. Walt Davis Posted: May 24, 2014 at 02:02 AM (#4712479)
"Now here comes the fastball Mrs. Idiom"

"Oh my! Mr Martinez!!"

"And now ... "

"Oh ... OH!"

"See same motion, but different speed, yes? That was the changeup."

"Can ... can you do that one again?"

"Similar, this time it's the circle change."

(Faints.)
   11. Craig in MN Posted: May 24, 2014 at 08:25 AM (#4712503)
"Come here Mrs Idiom. But first I need to load up with some pine tar and sunscreen. What's that? No, no one uses Vaseline anymore...this gives me a much better grip.

Wait, where are you going Mrs Idiom?"
   12. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 24, 2014 at 08:44 AM (#4712505)
Is there any reason why the Baseball Network doesn't tape a one-hour rpund table on "pitching" with Martinez, Greg Maddux, Orel Hershiser, etc?
   13. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 24, 2014 at 08:46 AM (#4712506)
I loved the Poz article about Pedro, and I don't disagree with a word of it. I'd have Pedro higher than this, though. His 99-01 peak was insane (people forget that he was just as good in 01 as the two prior years and iirc he pitched over 100 innings) but even the years around it were masterful. I forget who it was here who put together a great list of WAA in consecutive years, but I think Pedro was #1 among all pitchers through 6-7 years and still top 5 through a decade. That was, I think, in the hall of merit thread.

If you weigh career more heavily than dominance it's certainly fair to have Pedro down the list (I think Poz does a good job with that issue in the Warren Spahn article) but Pedro is what makes me lean towards viewing peak as more important than career.

I wish Greg Maddux and Pedro could do a conversation about pitching, listening to them talk for an hour about it would be magical. Two of the smartest players ever.
   14. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 24, 2014 at 08:47 AM (#4712507)
Damn, coke to Gonfalon. Curse typing from a smartphone!
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 24, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4712508)
Is there any reason why the Baseball Network doesn't tape a one-hour rpund table on "pitching" with Martinez, Greg Maddux, Orel Hershiser, etc?

actually, I've always found Maddux to be a Jeteresque cliche machine when axed about pitching. . Which is a shame because it would be interesting to find out what he REALLY thinks
   16. JE (Jason) Posted: May 24, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4712517)
Damn, coke to Gonfalon. Curse typing from a smartphone!

Typing three paragraphs from a smartphone not named BlackBerry is cruel and unusual punishment, Scott. More importantly, while typing were you holding the steering wheel with your knees and shifting gears with your left hand?
   17. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 24, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4712518)
So make it two or three hours, and add in glib guys like Larry Andersen and Curt Schilling, thoughtful old-timers like Jim Kaat and Tom Seaver, guys who might surprise us like Mike Mussina and Charlie Hough, coaches like Leo Mazzone and Dave Duncan, or so on. Maybe it wouldn't be more dynamic programming than "The Prime Nine foul lines in baseball history," but then again, it might.
   18. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 24, 2014 at 09:59 AM (#4712523)
If the Hall of Fame did some roundtables with players like suggested in #17, I would consider going for an overnight trip, bring the family, do some shopping or golfing, eat a nice meal, whatever. Even some guys that weren't that good, but are clearly very thoughtful, like Brian Bannister.

Also, regardless of any personality deficiencies Dan Duquette might have had, despite the fact the Red Sox did not win a WS while he was GM, I have to say: His understanding of how special Pedro was (remember, he trade for him twice - to get him to Montreal for DeShields, and then to bring him to Boston for Pavano, etc.) singlehandedly makes his tenure at least reasonably successful.

One of the greatest serendipities of my life has been to be a Red Sox fan who lived in Boston for only a couple of years...but it was during the peak of Pedro's career. Every 5th game was must-see for several years, and it was an incredible privilege I'll remember the rest of my life.
   19. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4712531)
More importantly, while typing were you holding the steering wheel with your knees and shifting gears with your left hand


Swype is much less painful than the old days, but it is so much harder than a keyboard. But I'm on a train, and I didn't want to bring my laptop with me for memorial day weekend. So I've got a 3 hour trip to practice on.

Reading long articles is also pretty hard, I just finished the second half of the 15k word article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the Atlantic.

The lengths I go to prevent being alone with my thoughts.

I fully agree with bringing great players in to discuss aspects of baseball. You could get guys like Ricky to talk base-running and Ozzie to talk fielding. Do an hour panel with a moderator and then a q&a session for another 30m-1h
   20. gehrig97 Posted: May 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4712557)
My "Dream Team" pitching panel would probably include Pedro, Seaver, Cone, Al Leiter and Schilling. I'm basing this strictly on the guys I've heard discuss pitching at some length--this has nothing to do with career accomplishments. Keeping the panel to no more than five.

**If you want to swap Hershiser for Leiter or Schilling, I'd still cool with that.
   21. gehrig97 Posted: May 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4712559)
@19: Why does Rickey not have a weekly podcast? WHY?
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 24, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4712604)
I've always found Maddux to be a Jeteresque cliche machine when axed about pitching. . Which is a shame because it would be interesting to find out what he REALLY thinks


When he was active, Maddux was always very cagey about his pitching, and made it clear he was not going to reveal any of his secrets. Has he been interviewed at length since his retirement? I imagine he'd be a lot more open now.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: May 25, 2014 at 03:01 AM (#4713052)
In his prime, Steve Stone provided great insight on pitching strategy, setting up hitters, knowing when you needed to throw something else, etc. The older, post-Dusty cranky Stone didn't seem to do much of that the couple of times I've heard him but maybe such a roundtable -- we need some stats guys!! -- would bring out the best of him.

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