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Monday, February 17, 2014

Matt Williams wants his infielders to be dancing machines

This team philosophy was originally started by Gene Gene Mauch.

“I always ask the infielders if they can dance or not,” Williams said yesterday during his session with the media, causing a couple reporters to shoot glances at each other, trying to figure out if the new Nats manager was being serious or not. “If they can dance, then they can play infield. If they can’t dance, we need to get them lessons, then they’ll be able to play infield. So that’s all it really is. You play through the baseball and create rhythm and all that stuff. You become more accurate, all those things.

“They always play music during batting practice, right?” added Williams, a four-time Gold Glove award winner as a third baseman. “And I would always try to get my ground balls according to the music. I developed that type of rhythm according to what’s playing on the scoreboard. With the beat.”

Williams “couldn’t dance a lick” during his playing days, he said with a chuckle. He also once bashed 43 home runs during a season and was a top-notch defender, so he was still able to get by. But while he might not be the most accomplished guy on the dance floor himself, Williams does believe that being able to feel the beat can help players in a number of ways.

“Dusty (Baker) taught me early on as a hitter, ‘We always have music in the cage,’ ” Williams said. “So if we went to work in the cage, there was always music. And we would hit along with that rhythm, that rhythm to the music.

...Williams initially refused to choose a walk-up song in his playing days when that concept was brand new, saying that he didn’t need one. Eventually, when team staffers persisted, Williams let teammate David Dellucci to pick his song for him - “Tom Sawyer,” by Rush.

“I enjoy something that’s got a good beat to it, that I can hear the bass of it,” Williams said. “Especially on the field, because ... classical, it’s hard to get that rhythm. I don’t know about hardcore rap, but something that’s got the constant (beat), so that we can time things on the field.”

Repoz Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:54 AM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4658031)
Somehow I knew Gene Gene would be the reference:

Dancing Machine
   2. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4658058)
I avoided The Gong Show like the plague that it was so I never got the reference until moments ago, so thanks for the link. This explains why my friends back then called my girlfriend "Jean Jean, the sex machine". Life is funny.

“I always ask the infielders if they can dance or not,” Williams said yesterday during his session with the media

Yes, he has always asked his players that in all 4 of his days as a Major League manager.

Williams “couldn’t dance a lick” during his playing days

Those who can't do, teach. I get it. This should work out swimmingly for the Nats. Somebody needs to make a YouTube video of infielders dancing awkwardly--STAT!
   3. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4658060)
The Gong Show was _miles_ ahead of its time. Hell it's miles ahead of _this_ time. Plenty of stuff that was censored in the 1970s would be allowed now. Rarely did something from the 70s get past the censors that would clearly be banhammered now:

Have You Got a Nickel
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:23 PM (#4658068)
This explains why my friends back then called my girlfriend "Jean Jean, the sex machine".


You hope that explains it, anyway.
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4658069)
"The Gong Show" was stupid/smart genius. May all who dare speak ill of it with their profane tongues fall down dead and be devoured by worms.
   6. Natty Fan Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4658109)
"I never wanted to be a dancer. It's true! I wanted to be a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates." -- Gene Kelly

Also, anyone that liked the Gong Show should see "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" (2002). It's based on Chuck Barris' "recollections" of his double-life as a CIA operative during the 70's while he was doing the Gong Show. Yeah, no one actually believes him, but it makes for a strange, fun movie. Sam Rockwell is great, and it was George Clooney's directorial debut.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4658114)
Take a look at Barris' eyes in the clips linked to above. Maybe they shoulda called it the "Bong Show"? I never quite got the appeal of the show. I mean, to be "campy", can ya be campy on purpose? I am not so sure. Plan 9, or Mommie Dearest, or A Star is Born with Babs = very funny, IMO. But the Troma films aren't, for instance.
   8. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 17, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4658177)
Does anyone watch "Impractical Jokers" here? It is my most LOL current TV guilty pleasure. Joe Gatto is freakin' hilarious.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 17, 2014 at 06:08 PM (#4658186)
I suppose now we'll never see a Collins-to-Rutherford-to-Banks double play.
   10. AndrewJ Posted: February 17, 2014 at 07:42 PM (#4658229)
I read Barris's memoir Della, about his daughter. I'm sorry she died of AIDS, but it wasn't a very good book.
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 17, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4658232)
I suppose now we'll never see a Collins-to-Rutherford-to-Banks double play.


Where's the "Like" button?
   12. shoewizard Posted: February 17, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4658241)

Yes, he has always asked his players that in all 4 of his days as a Major League manager.


He was a coach in Arizona for several years and worked closely with all the infielders on a daily basis. I doubt he meant this since just joining the Nationals.
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 17, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4658244)

I don't know how much this helps with guys who are already professional athletes. I do know that after I began taking dance lessons a few years ago, my moves, quickness, and improvisation on the soccer field definitely improved.
   14. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: February 17, 2014 at 08:50 PM (#4658249)
"I always ask the infielders if they can dance or not. If they can dance, then they can play infield. If they can’t dance, we need to get them lessons, then they’ll be able to play infield."

That's... interesting. And by "interesting", I mean a little weird.
   15. VCar Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:38 PM (#4658302)
I suppose now we'll never see a Collins-to-Rutherford-to-Banks double play.


I see it as Banks to Collins to Rutherford. Banks could handle short with those fast hands. Collins is the prototypical short stumpy 2nd baseman. And Rutherford is really tall, lanky and low energy, perfect 1st baseman. Am I overthinking this?
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:42 PM (#4658304)
Am I overthinking this?


Yes, but your analysis is spot-on and I support you completely.
   17. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: February 18, 2014 at 09:15 AM (#4658367)
Great, when Williams gets his players to "hustle", it's gonna mean a ton of disco music at games. Ugh.
   18. villageidiom Posted: February 18, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4658369)
Great, when Williams gets his players to "hustle", it's gonna mean a ton of disco music at games. Ugh.
Kevin Long should have tried this.
   19. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 18, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4658375)
Bump
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4658458)
Upon further review, it occurs to me that Phil Collins is lefthanded, no? So it would have to be Rutherford-Banks-Collins. Rutherford could be a shortstop in the Cal Ripken physical mold.
   21. VCar Posted: February 18, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4658503)
True, Collins is a lefty drummer. Don't know which hand he throws with, but I think I've seen him kick a soccer ball left-footed so I assume he's a lefty thrower. Rutherford at short is an issue. He has less range as a guitarist than Jeter has as a shortstop. Bring back Hackett to play short, slide Rutherford to 3rd. And definitely bring back Gabriel to play catcher, since he has worn so many masks on stage over the years.
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4658513)
Rutherford at short is an issue. He has less range as a guitarist than Jeter has as a shortstop.


Yes, but his Mechanics are solid.
   23. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: February 18, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4658529)
What is the Genesis of this trope? We're talking baseball here, not "grossly overplayed bands of the 80s".
   24. villageidiom Posted: February 18, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4658559)
What is the Genesis of this trope? We're talking baseball here, not "grossly overplayed bands of the 80s".
You're welcome.
   25. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 18, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4658564)
Williams should insist that his infielders be able to perform Curly Howard's great ritual of wheeling around on the ground while going "Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo!" Better yet, they would this between pitches, before the pitcher delivers. The batters wouldn't know WTF was going on.

I haven't decided yet whether they should alternate doing this or if all four should do it at once.
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4658573)
Or bring back the simultaneous "hey, batter batter, swing!" chant from Little League. Of course, it was obviously useless even back then, but there was always that one coach in the league who was hyper-vigilant about "hearing some chatter out there!"
   27. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 18, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4658575)
I think the chant in my little league was something like "hey, babe, can't hit that ball!" I never quite worked out what it was, & damn if I was going to ask.
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4658582)
Even at age 10, I remember thinking, hold on a sec. Why are we trying to induce the batter to swing every time? If our pitcher grooves a fat one, don't we want the batter to take? Thus my everlasting support for overthinking things, as seen above.
   29. flournoy Posted: February 18, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4658598)
At age 10, you want the batter to swing because the pitcher can't hit the broad side of a barn, so you'll take your chances on a probable swing-and-miss over a probable ball to the backstop. Which doesn't excuse the aggressively annoying infield chatter.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 04:28 PM (#4658618)
At age 10, you want the batter to swing because the pitcher can't hit the broad side of a barn,


True, but that doesn't preclude the accidental grooving of a meatball. Trust me, it had to happen sometimes, because I didn't bat .000 in Little League. So the categorical swing-at-all-pitches chant is improper, I say. Improper!
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 04:47 PM (#4658640)
Now that I'm thinking about it, we can add Saul Zaentz to our infield of People Who Can't Dance In '80s Rock Songs. Put him at short, because as Fogerty notes, he can pick it.
   32. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 18, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4658672)
Little League is nothing more and nothing less than organized hate crime against belly itchers.
   33. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 18, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4658686)
At age 10, you want the batter to swing because the pitcher can't hit the broad side of a barn,


At age 10 you want the batter to swing because you don't teach kids to play baseball to work a walk.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 06:10 PM (#4658706)
You also don't want to teach them to engage in meaningless ritual jabbering.
   35. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 18, 2014 at 06:17 PM (#4658709)
You also don't want to teach them to engage in meaningless ritual jabbering.


Your bigotry against Papists has been noted in the building.
   36. villageidiom Posted: February 18, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4658723)
At age 10 you want the batter to swing because you don't teach kids to play baseball to work a walk.
You want to teach kids not to make an out when on offense. They need to learn to recognize balls and strikes, and tune their reflexes to react quickly to that pitch recognition.

Where this is a problem, at age 10, is that many pitchers haven't learned the muscle memory to throw strikes consistently, or the motor skills to make small corrective adjustments when they don't. That is not a problem for the batters to solve.

At that age, at the start of the season the batters are ahead of the pitchers, and there are a lot of walks. That also means games run longer, which volunteer umpires don't like, which leads to a widening strike zone as the game goes on. That teaches nothing, other than that you get what you pay for.

Toward the end of the season the pitchers are better, either because they have learned to throw strikes consistently, or at least because the coach has sorted out who has learned it and who hasn't. At that part of the season I completely agree with you. Some batters got conditioned in the first half of the season that walks are easy to get because pitchers are so bad, and they were easy strikeouts while standing and waiting for ball 4. Other batters, having developed their pitch recognition, are able to capitalize on the steadier diet of strikes. But they wouldn't have learned pitch recognition without taking pitches.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2014 at 06:47 PM (#4658724)
You guys realize that this is a completely separate issue from thinking that the kids in the field need to be yammering on during every pitch, right?
   38. dr. scott Posted: February 18, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4658732)
i guess that leaves an outfield of silver, philips and mayhew... would need to have a serious groundball pitcher though, as those guys did not show much commitment. could probably get a good pitching staff from yes or elp.
   39. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 18, 2014 at 11:36 PM (#4658807)
You guys realize that this is a completely separate issue from thinking that the kids in the field need to be yammering on during every pitch, right?


You do realize why coaches have asked kids to yammer during every pitch, right? It's in the hope that it improves the odds that any one of them is paying attention when the pitch is thrown. Coaches don't really believe that the batsman will be prompted into involuntary action by the plaintive cries of "Hey, batter, batter, batter....swing."


At that age, at the start of the season the batters are ahead of the pitchers, and there are a lot of walks. That also means games run longer, which volunteer umpires don't like, which leads to a widening strike zone as the game goes on. That teaches nothing, other than that you get what you pay for.


Volunteer (or paid, it doesn't matter) umpires who don't widen the strike zone in such situations are a scourge on humanity. Whatever pitch-recognition development skills that are retarded by Eric Gregg-sized strike zones are more than made up for in every other way possible by keeping games from being a parade of walks.
   40. Greg K Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:02 AM (#4658811)
You do realize why coaches have asked kids to yammer during every pitch, right? It's in the hope that it improves the odds that any one of them is paying attention when the pitch is thrown. Coaches don't really believe that the batsman will be prompted into involuntary action by the plaintive cries of "Hey, batter, batter, batter....swing."

Maybe I just played in little gentleman's leagues or something, but I can't recall anyone delivering any chatter that referenced the other team (except maybe something like "this guy pulls the ball, so watch out" or something like that. Generally you shout encouragement to your pitcher, or talk to each other on the infield, remind each other who has the bag, how many outs there are, where the throw is going. I'm pretty sure if someone had ever said "hey, batter batter...swing" the coach would have taken him aside and said that wasn't sporting. I didn't realize kids actually do that.
   41. Greg K Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:04 AM (#4658812)
At that age, at the start of the season the batters are ahead of the pitchers, and there are a lot of walks. That also means games run longer, which volunteer umpires don't like, which leads to a widening strike zone as the game goes on. That teaches nothing, other than that you get what you pay for.

There's a balance to be struck. The closer you can get to an actual baseball game the better for the kids involved. But if a kid is walking the park, sanity has to trump the attempt to create an accurate simulation of MLB.
   42. jobu Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:04 AM (#4658813)
i guess that leaves an outfield of silver, philips and mayhew... would need to have a serious groundball pitcher though, as those guys did not show much commitment. could probably get a good pitching staff from yes or elp.


Chester Thompson as Designated Hitter.
   43. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:09 AM (#4658814)
I'm pretty sure if someone had ever said "hey, batter batter...swing" the coach would have taken him aside and said that wasn't sporting. I didn't realize kids actually do that.


We used that one when I was a kid. My kid's team doesn't do that. Their efforts are more sing-songy. There's "Full Count, Full Count, Pressure on the Batter (accompanied by the similar song from the dugout, only the pitcher is the one being pressurized). The meanest of the songs is "Hey Batter, what's the matter, you can't hit the ball."

Though on my son's all-star team, the coach made it clear that they weren't going to sing, reinforcing the idea that it's designed to keep the attention of the potential drifters more than anything else.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4658936)
You do realize why coaches have asked kids to yammer during every pitch, right? It's in the hope that it improves the odds that any one of them is paying attention when the pitch is thrown. Coaches don't really believe that the batsman will be prompted into involuntary action by the plaintive cries of "Hey, batter, batter, batter....swing."


Yes, I realize that, but it's still ridiculous and obnoxious (see 40 and 43).
   45. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4658939)

Yes, I realize that, but it's still ridiculous and obnoxious (see 40 and 43).


To each his own, I guess. As an adult, it gets a little wearying when you've got to listen to it for six innings, but the game isn't about me anyway. I think it would be ridiculous for high school kids to do it. Not so much for 8-10 year olds. Then again, I generally have a much different view of what the hell Little League is for than some other folks.

   46. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 19, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4658945)
In every league I coach in (under Cal Ripken League rules) "hey hey no batter" type chatter is not allowed and in fact when the pitcher goes into his windup it is against the rules to chatter. There's a fair amount of between pitch chatter (of the type referenced by SoSH in #43) but the chatter is greatly decreased from when I was a kid when pretty much anything went.
   47. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4658958)
(under Cal Ripken League rules)


Not familiar with this - does it mean every kid has to play every inning of every game or something?
   48. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4658960)
Not familiar with this - does it mean every kid has to play every inning of every game or something?'


And the tournament expenses are brutal, what with every kid having his own room on the road.
   49. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4658964)
Not familiar with this - does it mean every kid has to play every inning of every game or something?


No, it's just a different organization from Little League. The rules are basically the same but there are a few differences (I think CRL uses a different month as the age cutoff for example). I don't think there are dramatic differences but I noted it just in case Little League does still allow chatter.
   50. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 19, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4658969)
Maybe I just played in little gentleman's leagues or something, but I can't recall anyone delivering any chatter that referenced the other team (except maybe something like "this guy pulls the ball, so watch out" or something like that. Generally you shout encouragement to your pitcher, or talk to each other on the infield, remind each other who has the bag, how many outs there are, where the throw is going. I'm pretty sure if someone had ever said "hey, batter batter...swing" the coach would have taken him aside and said that wasn't sporting. I didn't realize kids actually do that.


You're in Canada, IIRC. Probably you guys all wore little skirts or something.

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