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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Astros’ Zack Greinke tells batter what’s coming, gets swinging strike anyway

Houston Astros right-hander Zack Greinke made his fourth start of the season on Wednesday night against the San Francisco Giants. Greinke delivered his second consecutive quality start, but that isn’t what anyone is going to remember from this outing. Rather, folks will recall Greinke telling the Giants what pitches were coming—and getting them to swing and miss anyway.

Throughout Greinke’s start, it appeared that he was calling out signs and signaling his pitches to his catcher. Because the stadium was empty, and because he wasn’t particularly subtle, that meant letting the opposition know what was coming as well. Take a look at a few examples.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 11:37 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: zack greinke

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   1. Astroenteritis Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:14 AM (#5969366)
And the Astros continue to chisel away at the integrity of the game.
   2. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:43 AM (#5969368)
We should applaud Greinke’s effort at personal sign-restitution to compensate for the Astros prior sign-stealing. If only Commissioner Manfred had prohibited the Houston catchers from giving signs all season, and required all the Astros pitchers to signal their pitches from the mound under their opponents’ observation.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: August 13, 2020 at 06:15 AM (#5969373)
The Astros are evil cheaters but this is badass.
   4. Ron J Posted: August 13, 2020 at 08:01 AM (#5969377)
#3 I remember an old Dizzy Dean story about a game where he dominated the opposition while telling them what was coming.

There are enough Dean stories that I was never really sure whether it happened.

And now this.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: August 13, 2020 at 08:13 AM (#5969378)
It's really smart, which isn't surprising for Greinke. Why would the batter necessarily believes him? In all likelihood, it would simply create some confusion. I don't think a pitcher could do it forever. But breaking it out occasionally (particularly if he threw in a phony one; hold two, throw the fastball) could keep hitters off balance.

   6. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 13, 2020 at 08:26 AM (#5969379)
In one of his books Luciano told a story about Fisk telling the batter what was coming. He said the hitter was so baffled ("do I believe him or not?") that he had no chance and struck out.
   7. BDC Posted: August 13, 2020 at 08:51 AM (#5969382)
"It is not enough to know what is coming," said Henry Wiggen. "You have still got to hit it."
   8. Rally Posted: August 13, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5969400)
There was a lot of speculation, I don't know if it was ever confirmed, that Mike Piazza was telling batters what was coming in the 2004 All Star game, when Roger Clemens gave up 6 runs (2 homers) in the first inning.

Clemens' history with Piazza before that ranged from antagonistic (a beaning) to bizarre mental patient stuff (throwing the broken bat at him in the 2000 WS). Would have been completely understandable if Piazza hated Clemens, though there was certainly risk if that's what he was doing, like Roger deciding to cross him up.
   9. Itchy Row Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:01 PM (#5969408)
I read somewhere that Jim Thorpe would get bored during his college football games and he'd tell the defense where he was going to run on the next play. It didn't help them much.
   10. SandyRiver Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:02 PM (#5969409)
In "The Long Season" Jim Brosnan told of a Reds teammate who was constantly being hammered by Willie Mays (not an uncommon phenomenon). Finally this guy told catcher Ed Bailey to tell Mays what was coming.

"Are you nuts? He's already hitting about .600 off you!"
"Well, he can't hit me any harder than he's doing now. Do it, and don't cross him up!"

Brosnan said that the pitcher had far fewer troubles with Willie after that.
   11. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:33 PM (#5969413)
It's really smart, which isn't surprising for Greinke. Why would the batter necessarily believes him? In all likelihood, it would simply create some confusion. I don't think a pitcher could do it forever. But breaking it out occasionally (particularly if he threw in a phony one; hold two, throw the fastball) could keep hitters off balance.

The Astros were likely doing this to themselves with their cheating scheme, unless the stolen signs were at or very near 100% accurate (they weren't). As loud and obvious as the trashcan signals were, there's a good chance some teams were stealing back their own stolen signs and switching their sequences when the Astros' guesses became too accurate... or biding their time and then switching in a key situation.
   12. JRVJ Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:49 PM (#5969415)
FTR, Greinke was not an Astro during their 2017 season. He deserves none of the griping about what the Astros did or didn't do that season.
   13. Pirate Joe Posted: August 13, 2020 at 06:07 PM (#5969480)
They are running a show on AT&T Pittsburgh about Tony Pena. They talked to him and a few of his former Pirates' pitcher teammates about how Pena would sometimes tell batters what was coming. Pena told one of the pitchers, maybe it was Rick Rhoden, that the secret was to never lie about what the pitcher was going to throw, because every hitter would think to themselves, well, he didn't lie last time, but surely he's going to do it this time.

   14. phredbird Posted: August 13, 2020 at 06:58 PM (#5969498)

@4, i believe what happened was he told the press boys or somebody that all he was going to do was throw fastballs in his next start, and he 3-hit the dodgers or somebody.

i used to have a couple of bios of him somewhere. he came by his nickname pretty naturally.
   15. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 13, 2020 at 08:24 PM (#5969519)
Didn't Greinke have a start in his Royals days where he only threw fastballs? He was trying to see if he could get by with just location, and my memory is that it didn't work.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2020 at 09:33 PM (#5969539)
I think it was a spring training game
   17. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 13, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5969541)
Ah, thanks.
   18. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: August 14, 2020 at 01:03 AM (#5969566)
Larry Bird was pretty good at this kind of thing too.
   19. mike f Posted: August 14, 2020 at 01:33 PM (#5969615)
Trevor Bauer (of course) did the same thing.
   20. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: August 14, 2020 at 11:28 PM (#5969774)
Bill James related stories of Smoky Burgess driving Richie Ashburn crazy telling him what's coming.
   21. Srul Itza Posted: August 15, 2020 at 12:00 AM (#5969778)
All this makes me think about Mariano. He didn't have to tell them what was coming. They knew it was the cutter almost every time.

And they still could not hit it.
   22. Ron J Posted: August 15, 2020 at 09:19 AM (#5969795)
#21 Pete Alexander was also supposedly a (mostly) one pitch pitcher, relying on location.
   23. pikepredator Posted: August 15, 2020 at 02:33 PM (#5969818)
Interesting how somebody who is open about his social anxiety is also one of the more relatable players in the game.
   24. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 15, 2020 at 04:03 PM (#5969838)
There is a great book out there to be written about Zack Greinke.
   25. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: August 15, 2020 at 05:00 PM (#5969876)
#23: it might even help. You can find a baseball player "relatable" without ever talking to him (which is where social anxiety would cause problems). Meanwhile, that he's got this problem and is really open about it humanizes him for the rest of us.
   26. McCoy Posted: August 16, 2020 at 09:59 AM (#5969935)
Something like 80 pitches or more of the 106 total thrown were fastballs for Kevin Millwood in 2003 during his no hitter. I don't recall the exact amount I just remember it was a staggeringly high amount.
   27. McCoy Posted: August 16, 2020 at 10:02 AM (#5969936)

My fastball was the flavor of the day," said Millwood, who threw it on 81 of his 108 pitches. "The fans were great, they were loud and on their feet. When I got two strikes, it was so loud I couldn't hear myself think. That made me more nervous."

Huh. Memory was pretty good.

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