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View Full Version : Can Playing The Game The Right Way be taught?



Chip R
04-26-2007, 06:26 PM
For several years we have heard complaints on how badly the Reds execute the fundmentals. They fail to adance runners, make contact at opportune times, make defensive plays, get bunts down, play hit and run, steal bases, etc. Jerry Narron calls the successful execution of these fundamentals, "Playing The Game The Right Way" or PTGTRW. I'm not interested in whether you believe it is the right way to play the game or not. My question is can PTGTRW be taught on a major league level or should managers make do with what they have and forget about PTGTRW?

It seems to me that Billy Martin could make his teams play like that. You hear some of his former players talk about how he taught them to bunt, hit and run, steal, etc. I've head of other managers doing that too but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Whitey Herzog's teams were able to PTGTRW but it seemed to me he brought in players who could do that rather than teach the ones he already had to do that. I know Ron Washington turned Scott Hatteberg from a catcher who couldn't catch into a pickin' machine at 1st base. Bill Dickey turned Yogi Berra into one of the best catchers of all time. Most of us have seen the movie Major League where guys improved on their deficiencies at the major league level. Obviously it was a fictional movie but can things like that be taught to major leaguers or does it need to be taught in the minors? Pete Rose said when he was managing the Reds that the players should already know how to PTGTRW when they come up and he shouldn't have to teach them how. I think we all know Pete had a lot of other outside distractions but does what he said ring true? I don't think anyone can get Javy Valentin to steal 50 bases in a season - or 50 seasons, for that matter - but it seems like other teams don't have problems making contact when needed or laying down a bunt. Is that just because they have the right kind of players to do that or is it drilled into them by the coaching staff and manager? I'm no Jerry Narron fan but is it too much to ask for him to get the Reds to play better fundamental ball? He seems to be getting a lot of blame for it. If he's fired and someone else comes in with the same players and says he's going to make the players PTGTRW, can he do it with the talent that is there?

Ltlabner
04-26-2007, 06:53 PM
I think a lot of it get back to a players innate skill level. If you have a team of free swingers, you shouldn't be suprised that they don't make contact with consistancy.

Ryan freel will likely always be too agressive on the basepaths and make bad decisions. I doubt no matter how many times you tell Hatte to swing like a madman that he'd just start swining at every breaking ball and hot dog wrapper that floats by.

A manager can influnce things in a micro level. He may be able to connect with one player about one specifc issue or a couple of players about some general issues but I doubt he can revamp a team as a whole if they aren't aready inclined to do the little things.

I think teams that PTGTRW are built by getting the right players, not by forcing square pegs into round holes.

VR
04-26-2007, 06:58 PM
Good question Chip. The difference between the Reds and the Cards to me is mental preparation. The Cards seem to be ready to take advantage of every opponents weakness every game. They know the scouting report on every hitter and pitcher. They play over their heads. They are a unit.

Nobody gets to the bigs without knowing or understanding the 'fundamentals'. Pete was right, you shouldn't have to teach....but you should have to reinforce.

Unless the organization stresses the importance of sticking to them.....they will be overshadowed by the glory of a focus on home runs and strikeouts. Everybody loves the long ball, and the pitcher who k's everybody. But when those aren't 'on'....you very well better have a fundamentally sound team to get you through the ruts. Championship teams have that.

I hate Tony LaRussa with a fiery passion, but his boys come prepared to play every single day.

Ltlabner
04-26-2007, 07:32 PM
Great points VR. I noticed the Pirates taking infield practice before a game and the Philies did the same. In fact one guy must have taken 50 ground balls at 3b before the game. My father and I get to the ballpark at least 2 hours before game time and I don't think I've ever seen the Reds taking infield. Perhaps they take it before we get there, and move onto BP by the time we show up - so I'll cut them some slack.

But with all of the Reds issues with errors last year, you have to wonder if not taking infield practice before every game (assuming they didn't) would play some role in Narron continuing to talk about PTGTRW an no real changes taking place.

I don't think Felo would ever be a great SS (again, inherrant skill levels) but if he's struggling with throws, wouldnt' it make sense to have him out there for hours on end practicing taking grounders and making throws?

Natty Redlocks
04-26-2007, 07:32 PM
This might be a dumb comparison, but when my wife and I used to run a pizza place, we were totally anal about making everyone do every little thing in the most efficient, time-saving way, even when we weren't very busy and had plenty of time. The reason for this is that in stressful situations, people tend to revert to habit. So when the dinner rush began and we were swamped with orders, it was important to have everybody in good habits -- hustling and working efficiently. There were some who could do it but chose not to, some who tried to do it but couldn't, and some (the ones we kept around) who did do it. I can't say for sure the same thing would apply to baseball but I have a feeling it would, if the expectation -- and consequences -- were truly there.

I think it's clear Encarnacion worked his butt off this offseason to improve his throws, and I think it's because they told him he'd better do it or else.
I guarantee that if the starting pitchers knew they'd lose their jobs if they failed to put down a bunt, they'd practice it like crazy until they could do it in their sleep. Obviously a major league team can't afford to dump an effective pitcher over something like that but there has to be a way for a manager to impose consequences; otherwise they're at the mercy of their players. But to answer the question: Can PTGTRW be taught? Of course it can. A better question, I think, is: Is PTGTRW required, or just talked about a lot and hoped for?

WMR
04-26-2007, 07:41 PM
Well they can afford to dump a major-league effective pitcher for hitting one too many all you can eat buffets--COUGH Hancock COUGH--so why not dump one for not learning to get a bunt down? :laugh:

TheBigLebowski
04-26-2007, 07:59 PM
We should also consider if "Posting In the Game Thread the Right Way" can be taught or, are those who don't PITGTTRW just hopeless?

George Foster
04-26-2007, 08:12 PM
PTGTRW can be taught. I agree that people are going to make errors at bad times, that's baseball. What you can teach and stress is not trying to pull the ball to left field with one out and a runner on third...that's not smart.

You can teach and stress that if a pitcher is having control problems, and has walked 2 guys in front of you, you don't go up there hacking.

You can stress to hit the cut off man, you can teach base running. You can teach bunting, it's not a God given talent.

These are professional baseball players. This is their job. Do your job.

I know you are not always going to hit that sac fly, and you are from time to time going to strikeout at a bad time, but the things I mentioned above (not trying to pull the ball, taking pitches, hit the cut off man, base running, and bunting) should be done by a professional baseball player 90% of the time.

GAC
04-26-2007, 08:26 PM
Nobody gets to the bigs without knowing or understanding the 'fundamentals'. Pete was right, you shouldn't have to teach....but you should have to reinforce.

IMO, in today's game, too many players are getting to the bigs maybe UNDERSTANDING the fundamentals but not schooled in an applicable sense. And what, for the most part, are fundamentals equated with? Small ball? That's not what gets players multi-year, big money contracts. How many times have we seen a lot of those "basics" that fall into the definition of fundamentals ridiculed and mocked on this forum? ;)

You don't build a team to either extreme - playing small ball or a bunch of free swingers trying for that 3 run homer. But when you're playing against a solid pitcher and in a tight game, which the Reds have been in quite a few so far this year, fundamentals WILL make or break you. And while the bullpen has screwed us, I've seen a lack of fundamentals and simply stupid mental mistakes break the Reds quite a bit.

Yachtzee
04-26-2007, 08:31 PM
Skills, like bunting and fielding technique, can be taught. I think baseball smarts, like baserunning and knowing where to go with the ball are a bit more difficult.

dsmith421
04-26-2007, 08:33 PM
Regardless of whether it can be taught or not, the fact that Jerry Narron constantly refers to this aspiration in the press and the team constantly fails to accomplish these goals is a serious problem. Either Narron is blowing smoke to the media or the players aren't responding to his methods.

GAC
04-26-2007, 08:49 PM
Regardless of whether it can be taught or not, the fact that Jerry Narron constantly refers to this aspiration in the press and the team constantly fails to accomplish these goals is a serious problem. Either Narron is blowing smoke to the media or the players aren't responding to his methods.

Why are executing the fundamentals referred to as "his" methods?

GAC
04-26-2007, 08:51 PM
Skills, like bunting and fielding technique, can be taught. I think baseball smarts, like baserunning and knowing where to go with the ball are a bit more difficult.

Watching some of these players make some of the base running blunders this year that they have makes me wonder if they really do have smarts. They seem to react without thinking.

edabbs44
04-26-2007, 09:08 PM
Playing the game the right way can be taught...but I think that Narron, Wayne and crew just automatically slap that tag on any aging vet they sign to put a little shine on the acquisition.

IslandRed
04-26-2007, 09:08 PM
I have a fairly pessimistic view of the ability to teach major-leaguers to PTGTRW, at least as it extends to physical skills. We have a tendency to extend Little-League platitudes to grown men -- why, if they just had good coaching, or if they'd just try harder, etc. -- and I've seen it across all sports. But sports at the very highest level is hard, and when a guy is at or near his physical peak, improvement is hard-won. Furthermore, just because a player has some special ability that got him to the majors doesn't mean he has the innate ability to do everything at that level. Because you can hit for power doesn't mean you can field, being an elite pitcher doesn't mean you can hit, slick glovework doesn't mean you can throw, and hardly anyone gets bounced back to the minors solely for poor baserunning.

Take bunting. Bunting is a skill, and some people will naturally do it better than others. But while bunting BP fastballs is pretty easy, bunting an exploding slider is pretty hard, and assuming anyone can do it perfectly if they just practice a little is to cheapen the skill. Then consider that, with very few exceptions, the ability to bunt is a non-factor in determining whether a player reaches the major leagues today. So it shouldn't surprise us when any given ballplayer has trouble with it.

I'm not saying that players can't have a light come on and make a marked improvement in a given skill. I'm just saying that when you're dealing with mature players, you wouldn't want to bet on it.

Always Red
04-26-2007, 09:27 PM
In short- yes, players can be taught TRWTPTG.
But that happens in amateur ball and in the minor leagues.
Some players are more resistant to learning it than others.
If they have marginal talent, they move on to their life's work.
If they have MLB talent, sometimes their laziness (because that's what it really is) gets overlooked.

Now, less teaching goes on on the big league level.
Players should know how to PTGTRW, by this point.

Only the manager can DEMAND that his players do so (that is PTGTRW).
Now if he says one thing, and his players constantly do another thing (**cough..2006-7 Cincinnati Reds, cough**), then we know the manager really doesn't run the ship.

Only by punitive measures, and that only means restricting playing time on the MLB level, can the manager get his point across effectively to his players.

I agree with about 80% of what Marty says these days. I love Marty, in a way, he's a great crotchety old man these days. He was 100% right today, IMO. I'm tired of hearing the manager say one thing, and see his team play in a totally different manner. I don't necessarily blame Narron, either. I think he's frustrated out of his mind that major league outfielders won't throw the ball to a cut off man, for instance, or the catcher doesn't know to cover home plate on a pop bunt with bases loaded.

This team is lacking veteran leadership, badly. Because that is who really demand that the game be played the right way, veteran leaders on the field, and in the clubhouse. They have the most cred with the rest of the players.

This team has no veteran leaders. This team needs the Kid to not be a kid anymore, but to demand excellence of all of his mates. He's the most obvious choice. I know he's hurt right now, and I don't blame him one bit for that, or for not being in the lineup. They need him in the clubhouse especially.

RANDY IN INDY
04-26-2007, 09:54 PM
You used to hear terms like playing baseball the "Oriole Way," or the "Dodger Way," but you don't hear those terms much any more. I think what is missing is the continuity in organizations that used to be there. You had the same guys teaching the same things in organizations, over and over, and when the minor league players reached the major league level, you knew exactly what to expect from them, as far as a fundamental approach was concerned. Everyone went to the same school. They knew how to play the game.

Now, with the great turnover in organizations at every level, you don't see those same things being taught, year after year. Organizational plans change and never get carried through for any length of time. Players, coaches and managers move from team to team, and they all seem to be "bigger than" the organization itself.

Two organizations that seem to have had some stability are the Cardinals and the Twins. They seem to play a certain brand of baseball and it is noticeable. There is something said for hiring good baseball people and sticking with them.

RFS62
04-26-2007, 10:07 PM
This team has no veteran leaders. This team needs the Kid to not be a kid anymore, but to demand excellence of all of his mates. He's the most obvious choice. I know he's hurt right now, and I don't blame him one bit for that, or for not being in the lineup. They need him in the clubhouse especially.


I'd say when Larkin left, he left a tremendous hole in veteran leadership.

Casey, Aaron Boone, several others led by example with work ethic, but Larkin was the man in this department.

I believe that you learn to play the game the right way by watching veterans who embrace that philosophy, wherever you come across them. In the minors or majors, they're around.

And it's different for each type of player. Playing the game the right way is different for Dunn than it is for Brandon Phillips. Different skill sets.

To expect Dunn to play the same game as Phillips is a very naive proposition. They bring different things to the table.

In general, I like to think of it as refining all of your traditional baseball skills and bringing a solid work ethic to the park every day. But Dunn isn't going to learn to bunt, any more than Harmon Killebrew or Frank Howard did back in the day. We like to romanticize these notions, but the same criticisms have been heard all throughout baseball history.

It's a skill that's taught in the minors to be able to hit the ball on the ground to the right side. We look at the Cardinals as an example of a solid fundamental team. They do "situational hitting" drills in the Cardinals spring training camp, and spend a lot of time on it. That doesn't mean you'll end up playing for a manager who values that skill, but if you're a Cardinal, you better learn how to do it.

It's taught throughout baseball, along with hitting the cutoff man and a myriad of other basic skills.

In a perfect world, all players would be Rickey Henderson. It's not a perfect world, though.

Ron Madden
04-26-2007, 10:08 PM
You used to hear terms like playing baseball the "Oriole Way," or the "Dodger Way," but you don't hear those terms much any more. I think what is missing is the continuity in organizations that used to be there. You had the same guys teaching the same things in organizations, over and over, and when the minor league players reached the major league level, you knew exactly what to expect from them, as far as a fundamental approach was concerned. Everyone went to the same school. They knew how to play the game.

Now, with the great turnover in organizations at every level, you don't see those same things being taught, year after year. Organizational plans change and never get carried through for any length of time. Players, coaches and managers move from team to team, and they all seem to be "bigger than" the organization itself.

Two organizations that seem to have had some stability are the Cardinals and the Twins. They seem to play a certain brand of baseball and it is noticeable. There is something said for hiring good baseball people and sticking with them.

Good Post, :beerme:

RFS62
04-26-2007, 10:12 PM
You used to hear terms like playing baseball the "Oriole Way," or the "Dodger Way," but you don't hear those terms much any more. I think what is missing is the continuity in organizations that used to be there. You had the same guys teaching the same things in organizations, over and over, and when the minor league players reached the major league level, you knew exactly what to expect from them, as far as a fundamental approach was concerned. Everyone went to the same school. They knew how to play the game.

Now, with the great turnover in organizations at every level, you don't see those same things being taught, year after year. Organizational plans change and never get carried through for any length of time. Players, coaches and managers move from team to team, and they all seem to be "bigger than" the organization itself.

Two organizations that seem to have had some stability are the Cardinals and the Twins. They seem to play a certain brand of baseball and it is noticeable. There is something said for hiring good baseball people and sticking with them.


I really agree with this.

The Cardinals do still talk about the "Cardinal Way" throughout their organization.

The "Dodger Way" was legendary when Alston ran the show. I used to have a book he wrote that outlined his whole philosophy and training techniques. It was considered the "bible" of fundamental baseball teachings.

steig
04-26-2007, 10:13 PM
I guess i'm confused on who is responsible for not PTGTRW. If a player makes physical error or mistake I do not hold that against the manager. The manager can't catch the ball for you or run between the bases for you. However, the manager can emphasize practice and try to grind the basics into his players. In the long run they have to perform the physical acts. If a player makes a mental mistake such as throwing to the wrong base or not putting a bunt down to the correct side then I do blame the manager. It is his responsibility to make certain the players know what to do in each situation. He is calling for the bunts and his coaches are positioning the defense and should be letting the defense know where to go with the ball in each situation.

Maybe in the end the responsibility lies with the general manager. If he believes the players are not working hard enough then he has to let them know and if the manager is not creating the correct environment then the GM needs to set things straight. Maybe we should be complaining about Wayne for how this team is currently playing.

flyer85
04-26-2007, 10:17 PM
It has to be in the jeans.

Razor Shines
04-26-2007, 10:23 PM
It has to be in the jeans.

It's hard to PTGTRW when you're wearing jeans.

flyer85
04-26-2007, 10:25 PM
It's hard to PTGTRW when you're wearing jeans.it's what inside 'em that counts. :evil:

WMR
04-26-2007, 10:26 PM
All Manchester United associations, from their earliest youth academies, to their camps, lower squads, and first-division, preach and teach "the Manchester United Way."

Razor Shines
04-26-2007, 10:26 PM
Great points VR. I noticed the Pirates taking infield practice before a game and the Philies did the same. In fact one guy must have taken 50 ground balls at 3b before the game. My father and I get to the ballpark at least 2 hours before game time and I don't think I've ever seen the Reds taking infield. Perhaps they take it before we get there, and move onto BP by the time we show up - so I'll cut them some slack.

But with all of the Reds issues with errors last year, you have to wonder if not taking infield practice before every game (assuming they didn't) would play some role in Narron continuing to talk about PTGTRW an no real changes taking place.

I don't think Felo would ever be a great SS (again, inherrant skill levels) but if he's struggling with throws, wouldnt' it make sense to have him out there for hours on end practicing taking grounders and making throws?

Marty has talked about this the last two games. The Reds do not take infield before games. I guess Narron says they do individual instruction instead. I think they should take infield before the games. I could understand not doing it in a day game after a night game or at the end of 8 or 9 games in a row, but for the most part I think they should do it. I think it would help, but apparently some teams do not do it.

flyer85
04-26-2007, 10:29 PM
This team is losing because of a talent deficit. No amount of hustle, small ball or infield practice can make that up.

RFS62
04-26-2007, 10:30 PM
Marty has talked about this the last two games. The Reds do not take infield before the game. I guess Narron says they do individual instruction instead. I think they should take infield before the games. I could understand not doing it in a day game after a night game or at the end of 8 or 9 games in a row, but for the most part I think they should do it. I think it would help, but apparently some teams do not do it.


MOST teams don't do it. I miss it a lot. Used to be quite a kick to watch teams take traditional infield and outfield.

I believe it's a major reason many teams miss the cutoff man and can't throw anyone out from the outfield.

And the synergy created by whipping the ball around has been felt by every player who ever played the game, IMO. I'm all for individual instruction, but I think it's a big mistake to ignore traditional infield/outfield practice.

PuffyPig
04-26-2007, 10:32 PM
Why is it whenever either the GM or the Manager mentions something about a certain player being a "professional and playing the game the right way" a bunch of posters will snicker?

It's probably the same reason why posters always want pitchers to pitch "more efficiently", but the thought of "pitching to contact" brings those same snickers.

flyer85
04-26-2007, 10:34 PM
Why is it whenever either the GM or the Manager mentions something about a certain player being a "professional and playing the game the right way" a bunch of posters will snicker?it's a euphemism for lacking discernable skills.

Cyclone792
04-26-2007, 10:37 PM
Well, first off I'd like to know a couple things ...

1) What exactly defines "playing the game the right way"?
2) Who on the Reds does play the game the right way, whatever the definition?
3) Who on the Reds does not play the game the right way, whatever the definition?

I think if you asked those three questions to a whole bunch of people, as I'm doing, that you'll get a whole bunch of different answers based upon styles of baseball and nothing more. I guess we'll see if that turns out to be the case.

For me, players who "play the game the right way" are players who help produce wins. These are players who either help produce runs offensively primarily with their bat yet also sometimes with other minor factors such as speed, or they help prevent runs with their arm (pitchers) or glove (fielders). Some players, such as a Barry Larkin, produced loads of runs each season in a variety of ways, including their bat, their feet, and their glove.

As it stands right now, the 2007 Cincinnati Reds are 10-12 after 22 games. They've also allowed 100 runs while scoring only 91 runs. That dreaded pythag formula that some people dislike shows that a team scoring 91 runs and allowing 100 runs would most often produce a winning percentage of .457.

How many wins does a .457 winning percentage net after 22 games? Precisely 10, which is exactly how many wins the 2007 Reds currently have. You want the Reds to improve their won/loss record? Put players on the roster who produce wins, lots and lots of wins. If the players don't produce wins, then the the team simply won't win.

Anyhow, if somebody differs with that take of "playing the game the right way," then really I think it just comes down to styles of baseball and nothing more. If the Cincinnati Reds scored 100+ more runs than they allowed in any given season, then August and September of that season would be downright exciting for any person who claims to be a Reds fan.

And the above is what every Reds fan needs to understand. If you want your Cincinnati Reds to win, then they have to outscore the opposition by a significant margin - 100+ runs - over the course of the season. They have to maintain a roster of players that produces wins at a greater rate than most of the rest of the National League, especially the rest of the National League Central. If they're successful in that endeavor, then they'll win, and in the eyes of most people, then they'll be playing the game the right way.

It wouldn't matter if that team was chock full of sluggers with league average pitching who just outslugged teams by scoring 850 runs while allowing 750 runs. It wouldn't matter if that team was a reincarnation of a Dead Ball Era team that utilized dominant pitching and a lower run scoring small ball type of offense by scoring 700 runs while allowing 600 runs. Both those teams would be in the midst of an exciting playoff chase come August and September.

Would one of those teams be "playing the game the right way" better than the other? Not for me. Maybe so for other people, but so long as the team is scoring 100+ more runs than it allows throughout the course of a single season, then that team is "playing the game the right way" as far as I'm concerned.

paintmered
04-26-2007, 10:39 PM
consider that, with very few exceptions, the ability to bunt is a non-factor in determining whether a player reaches the major leagues today. So it shouldn't surprise us when any given ballplayer has trouble with it.

So very true. :clap:

The guys who are in the bigs are because they either rake or can flash the leather, sometimes both. Ballplayers don't make the 25 man roster because they can move the runner over, and yet we crucify them when they fail to execute. I'm not saying it isn't important; in certain situations, it obviously is. It's such a paradigm shift between moving up through the minors and playing "fundamentally sound" baseball in the majors.

Nobody ever made it to the big leagues because they could ground out to second.

flyer85
04-26-2007, 10:43 PM
with very few exceptions, the ability to bunt is a non-factor in determining whether a player reaches the major leagues today. could it be because in the overall scheme of things the skill of bunting just isn't very important to success in the major leagues.

paintmered
04-26-2007, 10:52 PM
could it be because in the overall scheme of things the skill of bunting just isn't very important to success in the major leagues.

It's been shown that exchanging outs for bases is a losing proposition. 100 years of modern baseball can produce a great number of trends.

Maybe it isn't important, but folks sure do get bent out of shape when it isn't done right.

Caveat Emperor
04-26-2007, 10:52 PM
It's been my observation that there are two types of players that "Play the Game the Right Way" -- the incredibly talented ballplayers and the barely adequate ballplayers.

The incredibly talented baseball players PTGTRW because their natural gifts allow them to do everything on the diamond necessary. I'm talking guys like Bonds in his prime, Jose Reyes -- guys who are truly 5-tool talents and are naturally amazing fielders, naturally great hitters, etc. They're so phenomenolly talented that they're almost immune from making dumb mistakes -- too fast to run into outs, too good with the bat to strike out swinging when they need contact, too good in the field to make anything other than the odd error.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the barely adequate ballplayers PTGTRW because their only hope of advancing out of the minors and sticking in the majors is if they never give anyone that extra incentive to send them out. They work ten times harder because they need to show their commitment to the game, they concentrate on little aspects of their games (bunting, making contact, fielding, etc.) because the aggregate of those talents has to compensate for the lack of any major skills. A lot of these guys end up as the utility infielders people randomly fall in love with, and sometimes they end up as below-replacement level starters and cost-savers.

Everyone else falls into the middle -- talented in some areas, lacking in others -- and have warts in their game that give the illusion of not PTGTRW. In reality, the player is probably doing everything he can to play the best baseball that he can, but natural deficiencies in his game prevent people from saying that he PTGTRW. Maybe its warts from not making enough contact (Dunn), or bad defense (Piazza), or being a general bonehead (Bradley), but whatever it is its the part fans fixate on. The fans, as a previous post mentioned, all think that any given deficiency is a result of lack of hustle, lack of practice, or (sometimes) poor attitude. They look at the player and say "He doesn't PTGTRW", but thats really a lazy shorthand for "I wish he was a more talented player."

So, I say that if you use the classic definition of PTGTRW, I don't think it can be taught. Ballplayers are all different animals -- now moreso than ever -- and they do different things well. To expect a team full of guys that all can do everything well is foolhardy. The key is for people to stop holding players to some archaic and hypothetical standard and appreciate what they do well, as opposed to pining over what they don't.

Team Clark
04-26-2007, 10:53 PM
It can be taught. The Reds just simply do not have the coaches in place to teach them. For YEARS the Reds have had sub par coaches in the Minor Leagues because they pay rock bottom. In this instance you get what you pay for.... (Keep in mind that when they DO pay someone those guys get results... i.e Soto, Ruhle, Greenwell) Big League wise they have a good staff. The problem rears it's ugly head at that level where precision is key. Big League coaches shouldn't be teaching FUNDAMENTALS at the Big League level. Period.

Ron Madden
04-26-2007, 10:54 PM
It's been shown that exchanging outs for bases is a losing proposition. 100 years of modern baseball can produce a great number of trends.

Maybe it isn't important, but folks sure do get bent out of shape when it isn't done right.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :thumbup:

RFS62
04-26-2007, 11:16 PM
It can be taught. The Reds just simply do not have the coaches in place to teach them. For YEARS the Reds have had sub par coaches in the Minor Leagues because they pay rock bottom. In this instance you get what you pay for.... (Keep in mind that when they DO pay someone those guys get results... i.e Soto, Ruhle, Greenwell) Big League wise they have a good staff. The problem rears it's ugly head at that level where precision is key. Big League coaches shouldn't be teaching FUNDAMENTALS at the Big League level. Period.



I've always felt that baseball has it backwards. They should put the best possible coaches in the low minors and pay a decent salary. The very idea that we pay a big bonus to a draftee then stick him in the hands of our lowest paid coaches seems incredibly stupid to me.

Roving instructors aren't enough. You should build a player's skills with sound instruction from the beginning, if for no other reason than to maximize your investment.

George Foster
04-26-2007, 11:20 PM
It can be taught. The Reds just simply do not have the coaches in place to teach them. For YEARS the Reds have had sub par coaches in the Minor Leagues because they pay rock bottom. In this instance you get what you pay for.... (Keep in mind that when they DO pay someone those guys get results... i.e Soto, Ruhle, Greenwell) Big League wise they have a good staff. The problem rears it's ugly head at that level where precision is key. Big League coaches shouldn't be teaching FUNDAMENTALS at the Big League level. Period.

Say what you want to about Tracy Jones, and I for one think his show now is more about him than the Reds, but he brought up this same point last season.

He said that the Reds pay rock bottom for the coaches and the scouts in the minors. He suggested that the Reds do some head hunting. If the Twins scouts are paid 85K a year offer them 120K to work for the Reds. These are just pennies to the Reds as compaired to a bad signing. The same goes with coaching. I'd say a AA manager is lucky to make 50-75K a year. If they are good, offer them double to coach for the Reds farm system...again pennies compaired to the money they spend on players. Tracy had a good point.

RFS62
04-26-2007, 11:23 PM
It's been shown that exchanging outs for bases is a losing proposition. 100 years of modern baseball can produce a great number of trends.

Maybe it isn't important, but folks sure do get bent out of shape when it isn't done right.


Deciding whether to bunt or not is all on the manager.

Being able to do so when called upon is all on the player.

And it's a lot harder than people seem to realize. It's a skill, and if you don't work hard on it, you won't be able to do it under pressure.

George Foster
04-26-2007, 11:23 PM
It's been shown that exchanging outs for bases is a losing proposition. 100 years of modern baseball can produce a great number of trends.

Maybe it isn't important, but folks sure do get bent out of shape when it isn't done right.

Except in the 9th inning, tie game with a runner on 3rd...right? Go for the homer baby.

paintmered
04-26-2007, 11:33 PM
Except in the 9th inning, tie game with a runner on 3rd...right? Go for the homer baby.

I knew someone was going to take a shot at me because I failed to include the word "generally" in my post. :rolleyes:

Yachtzee
04-26-2007, 11:58 PM
It can be taught. The Reds just simply do not have the coaches in place to teach them. For YEARS the Reds have had sub par coaches in the Minor Leagues because they pay rock bottom. In this instance you get what you pay for.... (Keep in mind that when they DO pay someone those guys get results... i.e Soto, Ruhle, Greenwell) Big League wise they have a good staff. The problem rears it's ugly head at that level where precision is key. Big League coaches shouldn't be teaching FUNDAMENTALS at the Big League level. Period.

I think this is my biggest gripe about how the Reds do things. Ever since Marge Schott destroyed the scouting and farm system, which to that point was up there with the Dodgers as one of the best, I've been waiting for them to start rebuilding the farm system in the scouting and development areas. I'm still waiting for that to start. GMs can stock the farm system with talent all they want, but without decent scouting and development, it's a real crap shoot as to whether that talent realizes its potential.

mth123
04-27-2007, 06:23 AM
Nobody ever made it to the big leagues because they could ground out to second.


What a great line. Added to my sig.

Ltlabner
04-27-2007, 08:14 AM
Marty has talked about this the last two games. The Reds do not take infield before games. I guess Narron says they do individual instruction instead. I think they should take infield before the games. I could understand not doing it in a day game after a night game or at the end of 8 or 9 games in a row, but for the most part I think they should do it. I think it would help, but apparently some teams do not do it.

I haven't heard much of the last two games, especially yesterday (stupid customers).

I agree with Flyer and others that say that no amount of hustle or extra work offset a lack of tallent, however, how can you expect someone to maxamize that tallent if all they don't practice the skills that are critical in MLB success?

Dunn is the perfect example. Fantastic loads of talent but a complete disaster in the field last year. Apparently he put in extra work over the offseason and this year, there has been a marked improvement in his outfield D.

Narron says the team does individual instruction. First question, how does this build a cohesive team? Second question, with all the individual instruction, why are some players making the same mistakes over and over? Is your personal instruction effective?

Wheelhouse
04-27-2007, 09:31 AM
I don't know of it can be TAUGHT. It can be LEARNED. PTGTRW is developed through the experience of being in similar situations consistently. If you want players of this type, make your lineup consistent.

RANDY IN INDY
04-27-2007, 09:34 AM
So very true. :clap:

The guys who are in the bigs are because they either rake or can flash the leather, sometimes both. Ballplayers don't make the 25 man roster because they can move the runner over, and yet we crucify them when they fail to execute. I'm not saying it isn't important; in certain situations, it obviously is. It's such a paradigm shift between moving up through the minors and playing "fundamentally sound" baseball in the majors.

Nobody ever made it to the big leagues because they could ground out to second.

I think the difference is that a lot of the very talented players of today don't care to do those little things that players of yesteryear considered important and were expected to do when called upon. Talent or not, it takes practice to keep sharp at certain skills. You can't execute a baseball skill with regularity, when called upon in pressure situations, if you don't practice it. You also shouldn't have to nag big leaguers like you do little leaguers to practice to stay sharp. You also shouldn't have to teach them to do basic things that are expected. Today's players are probably more talented than ever before, but many cannot execute skills that were once in the possession of most every player. It is a different breed. Organizations need to get back to the basics in the minor leagues and start supplying players to the big league clubs who can execute the fundamentals of the game.

Chip R
04-27-2007, 09:44 AM
I guess i'm confused on who is responsible for not PTGTRW. If a player makes physical error or mistake I do not hold that against the manager. The manager can't catch the ball for you or run between the bases for you. However, the manager can emphasize practice and try to grind the basics into his players. In the long run they have to perform the physical acts. If a player makes a mental mistake such as throwing to the wrong base or not putting a bunt down to the correct side then I do blame the manager. It is his responsibility to make certain the players know what to do in each situation. He is calling for the bunts and his coaches are positioning the defense and should be letting the defense know where to go with the ball in each situation.



That's a good point and that's a reason why I started this thread. I have read testimony from players that a certain manager stressed that they PTGTRW and they did it. Now, I don't know if those players had those talents to begin with and they just lay dormant until that manager started stressing them or if they were taught those skills by the manager and his coaches. David Ross yesterday is a good example. Narron felt that the squeeze was the right play and he asked Ross to lay one down. Ross tried but he fouled the bunt off and eventually ended up striking out. I suppose a foul bunt is better than missing the ball alltogether since if he had missed it, the runner on 3rd would have been a dead duck. Is it Narron's fault that Ross failed to get the bunt down or is it Ross' fault for not executing?



Marty has talked about this the last two games. The Reds do not take infield before games. I guess Narron says they do individual instruction instead. I think they should take infield before the games. I could understand not doing it in a day game after a night game or at the end of 8 or 9 games in a row, but for the most part I think they should do it. I think it would help, but apparently some teams do not do it.


I read an article about 2-3 years ago on ESPN.com. I'll see if I can dig that up today. Anyway, the article was about the Twins and how they take infield before every game. It suggested that that was a key to their success.

I don't know if that would help this bunch or not. I know Marty blew a gasket yesterday because Josh Hamilton missed a cutoff man. I'm not excusing not hitting the cutoff man but Josh has barely played above A ball. If I had a 3 year old kid who made a mistake and a teenager who made the same mistake, I'd be much harder on the teenager than the child because the teenager should know better. So, with Josh, you take the bad with the good and a few plays later he threw a guy out at home. I think taking infield on a regular basis coulldn't hurt the Reds and may help them. I don't want to see them take infield just for show and to quiet Narron's critics.

RANDY IN INDY
04-27-2007, 09:48 AM
Reminds me of a coach I once had who, daily, drilled us unmercifully. I can still hear him.


Gentlemen, repetition, repetition, repetition................it is the key to our success.

jmac
04-27-2007, 10:04 AM
When I started hearing this "not taking infield practice" thing, it shocked me tremendously.
A basketball coach gives personal instruction in the locker room then they go out and "warm up" on the court.
To me....if they are gonna pass on infield practice, may as well lay off the batting practice too.

RFS62
04-27-2007, 10:11 AM
The infield and outfield practice controversy is a recurring topic on XM's morning show.

Some teams take it every now and then, most don't ever.

Big mistake, in my mind.

Chip R
04-27-2007, 10:18 AM
I read an article about 2-3 years ago on ESPN.com. I'll see if I can dig that up today. Anyway, the article was about the Twins and how they take infield before every game. It suggested that that was a key to their success.



Found it. And it was actually from almost 5 years ago.

http://espn.go.com/magazine/vol5no20twins_infield.html

September 18, 2002
Twin Killers
By Jeff Bradley
ESPN The Magazine


Twins: Intro (http://espn.go.com/magazine/vol5no20twins_intro.html) | Catcher (http://espn.go.com/magazine/vol5no20pierzynski.html) | Metrodome (http://espn.go.com/magazine/vol5no20twins_home.html)


Good Morning.

A pleasant enough salutation for just about everyone on earth. Yet for Minnesota Twins infielders, these two words have been despised for years. "Good Morning" is former manager Tom Kelly's name for the most cruel and unusual spring training workout known to man, a 2 1/2-hour groundball-breaker and throwathon conducted on an oven-baked infield in Fort Myers, Fla.

When Twins infielders enter the clubhouse and see "Good Morning" marked on the team's daily schedule board, they understand that by the time they are eating their pregame cold cuts, their elbows will be stinging from sweat and dirt mixed into their scraped-up skin. Their quads and glutes will be something less than functional, their arms too tired to raise above their heads and their weight down five to seven pounds from when they punched the clock.

"Just a comprehensive workout," says infield coach Al Newman, who endured his share of Good Mornings playing for Kelly from 1987 to '91. "TK wanted to know who hadn't kept his arms and legs in shape during the winter. And he wanted to see which guys were mentally capable of making a play when physically they were exhausted."

When Ron Gardenhire was promoted from bench coach to take over for Kelly this season, Good Morning remained part of the Twins' spring program. For one thing, Gardenhire believes in Kelly's curriculum. For another, he knew his current infield wouldn't have had it any other way. Around the horn, from third baseman Corey Koskie to shortstop Cristian Guzman to second baseman Luis Rivas to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, you've got a unit that believes you play like you practice. They learned to approach Good Morning as a test they needed to pass.

"We hate it," says 2001 Gold Glover Mientkiewicz. "But we love it, too, if that makes sense. We consider ourselves the best defensive infield in the big leagues. And we think the reason is that no one works harder than us from Day One of spring training. There are times we've got five guys hitting fungoes at one time. Everyone's got to have their head into it, or someone will get hurt. And the ragging that's dished out when someone muffs a ground ball, when it's 300 out and you can hardly move, it can get guys pretty pissed off."

The ragging comes in four distinct languages: English, Spanish, Spanglish and Canadian. The Twins infield has been dubbed the League of Nations -- each position represented by a different country. Koskie is from Canada. Guzman is from the Dominican Republic. Rivas is from Venezuela, and Mientkiewicz is from the good ol' U.S.A. "Honestly," says Mientkiewicz, "we could do without the Canadian. He's the one guy no one can understand."

Koskie, 29, fits every Canuck stereotype: easygoing, borderline goofy, not much into fashion and, yeah, he'd probably rather be playing hockey. In fact, he says he did not start to take baseball seriously until he was 21 -- when he signed -- because he was tending goal for a Junior-A (eh?) team in Manitoba. To watch him handle the erratic hops coming off the hard and soft spots of the Metrodome turf, you can imagine Koskie between the pipes. "We yell all the time," says Mientkiewicz. "'Glove save, and a beauty!' Hit it within his wingspan, he's going to make a play."

Says Koskie, "Sometimes my hockey instincts take over and I throw my body in front of the ball. But watching Guz, I've learned to relax and catch the ball."

Guzman is the coolest member of the unit, the one with the most flair. "I played with him in Double-A in 1998," says Mientkiewicz. "I knew after two days he would be in the big leagues. His arm, his speed, his confidence." A year ago, after the Twins stormed to a 5632 record and a five-game lead in the AL Central, Guzman went on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. By the time he returned in mid-August, the Twins were 64-58 and 4 1/2 games off the lead. "We lost our spark," says teammate Denny Hocking. "It made us realize what a great player he is."

The youngest member of the infield is Rivas, 23, playing in just his second full season in the bigs. With outstanding range and a kamikaze mentality on double plays, Rivas may already be the most respected member of the infield. He is known as the worker bee of the group. "Luis takes a minimum of 250 ground balls a day," says Mientkiewicz. "Late in the year, that's unheard of. I probably take 25 this time of year, tops. If I had his mentality, I'd be a lot further along in my career." When Mientkiewicz was awarded his Gold Glove last season, Rivas congratulated him, and then said, "I want to be the next guy on this team to get one of those."

Every day during batting practice, Rivas and Mientkiewicz play a game with backup catcher Tom Prince, challenging him to hit a ball through the right side. It's all in good fun -- if your idea of fun is getting rug burns at 5 p.m. before a 7 p.m. game. "We're not happy when someone puts a ball in between us," says Mientkiewicz. "We have right-side pride."

Communication runs like a telephone wire, from pole to pole, around the infield. Mientkiewicz and Rivas have their thing. So do Rivas and Guzman, and Guzman and Koskie. "Watch us," says Mientkiewicz, "and you'll see guys who are tuned in to the game, always moving, backing up, always in the right spot. Everybody made a big stink about that play Derek Jeter made in the playoffs against Oakland last year. I'm telling you, somebody here would have made that play. We're well-drilled."

Come October, the country will get a chance to see what Mientkiewicz is talking about. It'll be eye-opening for those who haven't seen much of the Team That Almost Wasn't. A wake-up call from the best defensive infield in the game.

Good Morning.


This article appears in the September 30 issue of ESPN The Magazine (http://espn.go.com/magazine/)

Redsland
04-27-2007, 10:44 AM
When I think of PTGTRW, I think of a player who has a plan at all times. Tony Gwynn at the plate. Cal Ripken in the field. He knows the game situation, has a sense of what the next pitch will be, and wants to do something specific with the ball if and when it gets to him.

My definition requires concentration and baseball smarts, plus the ability to execute your plan, whatever it might be. Ability is god-given, and can be assumed, by and large, in major leaguers. Concentration doesn't seem ilke a lot to ask for. So that just leaves baseball smarts. Those come from repetition and a desire to improve. Some players lack the reps. Some lack the drive.

So, yes, PTGTRW can be taught, but only to people with the ability to play the game and the drive to play it right. People like Bronson Arroyo, who always has a plan for each hitter and always knows where to be on the field.

IslandRed
04-27-2007, 11:21 AM
Deciding whether to bunt or not is all on the manager.

Being able to do so when called upon is all on the player.

And it's a lot harder than people seem to realize. It's a skill, and if you don't work hard on it, you won't be able to do it under pressure.

That's a good point. Regardless of how frequently (or not) a team chooses to bunt, there are certain situations where it might be called for, and the player should prepare for it. A sacrifice bunt is like a stolen base -- teams may eschew them most of the time, but when you gotta have one, you gotta have one. We just shouldn't be surprised when players struggle at those "one-off" skills. It's the rare player indeed that can do everything well.

IslandRed
04-27-2007, 11:34 AM
I read an article about 2-3 years ago on ESPN.com. I'll see if I can dig that up today. Anyway, the article was about the Twins and how they take infield before every game. It suggested that that was a key to their success.

The Twins do a lot of things right. But there's such a thing as being TOO rigid about PTGTRW, and too obsessed with the little things. As in, "David Ortiz." They've candidly admitted they were too focused on all the little things he didn't do well, and didn't properly value the one big thing he does extremely well. You don't send Ortiz to the plate with a runner on second and ask him to move the runner over. You want him to mash the whoozis out of the baseball.

Redsland
04-27-2007, 11:57 AM
They've candidly admitted they were too focused on all the little things he didn't do well, and didn't properly value the one big thing he does extremely well.
Sounds familiar.

Chip R
04-27-2007, 12:45 PM
The Twins do a lot of things right. But there's such a thing as being TOO rigid about PTGTRW, and too obsessed with the little things. As in, "David Ortiz." They've candidly admitted they were too focused on all the little things he didn't do well, and didn't properly value the one big thing he does extremely well. You don't send Ortiz to the plate with a runner on second and ask him to move the runner over. You want him to mash the whoozis out of the baseball.


Good point. Obviously the Twins didn't feel Ortiz could help them go to the next level or maintain where they were at. The Sox seem pretty happy about it. Whitey Herzog traded Keith Hernandez to the Mets because he thought he was a poor fit on his team. Perhaps the Twins felt that the big thing Ortiz did well didn't fit in with their style of play. Who's to say Ortiz would have had the same kind of success in MIN that he did in BOS? But the Twins did him a favor. It's better to let a guy go somewhere else if he is a square peg in your round hole.

But hte larger question is could the Twins have taught Ortiz to PTGTRW?

Razor Shines
04-27-2007, 04:36 PM
MOST teams don't do it. I miss it a lot. Used to be quite a kick to watch teams take traditional infield and outfield.

I believe it's a major reason many teams miss the cutoff man and can't throw anyone out from the outfield.

And the synergy created by whipping the ball around has been felt by every player who ever played the game, IMO. I'm all for individual instruction, but I think it's a big mistake to ignore traditional infield/outfield practice.

Yeah I totally agree with that. Especially an infield who are relatively new to each other, I would think you'd want them on the field together as much as possible.

No, taking infield will not trump talent, but the Reds have a talented infield and as Ltlabner said why would you not want them out there working together to maximize their talent? I think they are wasting some of that talent by not taking infield before the games. Taking ground balls by yourself is great, but it feels completely different when you're taking ground balls as a team. I hate to think that during the season the only chance these guys have a chance to get a feel for their teammates is during a game.