Pitching is such a vital part of the game, as far as winning is concerned.

On most teams the set up man has become more valuable, on others not so valuable.

Something to keep in mind — it’s raining lightly. The infield could be very wet on ground balls.

What is a drop and drive pitcher? He is a guy who drops and drives. Very simple.

So by guessing right you might have guessed wrong.

Giambi walks too much. He’s always clogging up the bases with all that walking.

As a new day begins in New York, the sun sets in Hawaii.

If football is a game of inches then baseball is a game of inch.

If that ball had more elevation, it would have been a home run.

If the double play is a pitcher’s best friend, what is a fielder’s choice? An acquaintance?

It’s better to have a fast runner on base than a slow one.

One thing about ground balls. They don’t go out of the ball park.

The reason we call that pitch up and in is because the arms are attached to the shoulder.

He wears his hat like a left hander!

Any ball that goes down is much heavier than any ball that stays on the same plane.

The blood on his sock looks exactly like Oklahoma!

You don't want to use too many statistics. The ones that apply to a July or August game won't be relevant on Saturday.

American McCarver

Knobby’s Yips

Regarding the start of Roger Clemens’s perjury trial, I was looking for an article that makes it clear how Clemens dug his own hole — how his testimony to Congress was volunteered. He wanted to tell what appear to be blatant lies while under oath. This column by Ian O’Connor for ESPN is a good background piece. What caught my eye, though, was this:

The federal judge in the case, Reggie Walton, said he isn’t likely to allow statements from Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, and Mike Stanton that they received PEDs from McNamee.

We all know Andy Pettitte was involved in this mess, but I hadn’t recalled seeing Knoblauch’s name in the story — probably because by the time the scandal broke, his Yankee days were long since over.

Knoblauch has always been intriguing to me, because he suffered and never recovered from the most baffling of all sports maladies: the yips. Knoblauch was a fine second baseman in Minnesota, came to the Yankees in 1998 and had another good season in the field, and then, in 1999, he lost his ability to reliably throw the ball to first base. I’m not talking about turning double plays or throwing across the body after fielding a ball hit hard up the middle. I’m talking about routine ground balls. The sort of throws any competent high school player could make reliably. The more routine the play, the more likely it became that Knoblauch would fire the ball into the stands. (Knoblauch couldn’t reliably make tough throws, either. The problem was simply more glaring, and, as a Yankee fan, more nerve-wracking, on the routine plays.)

Think about it. Knoblauch was a four-time All Star and won the Gold Glove in 1997. And then in 1999 he couldn’t make short throws to first base — throws that you or I could make.

Fans behind first base needed protection. One of Knoblauch’s wild throws hit Keith Olbermann’s mother in the face. Knoblauch’s yips never subsided, and Yankee manager Joe Torre eventually had to move him to the outfield, and soon after that he was shipped to the salt mines of Kansas City. He never played second base again and soon retired. His career fielding stats tell the story.

The yips are generally regarded as a psychological affliction. You get it in your head that you can’t make a throw/putt/foul shot/whatever. Instead of just doing it, you think about it, and thus you miss, badly. Then the actual missed throws/putts/foul shots/whatevers reinforce the notion in your head that you can’t do it.

But now I’m wondering about Knoblauch. 1999 was the year Clemens first joined the Yankees, and one of the peak years of the steroid era. Knoblauch’s career hitting statistics don’t look PED-inflated, and Knoblauch has only admitted to using HGH in 2001 and 2002, which wouldn’t explain throwing problems that began in 1999. But I can’t shake the suspicion. Or maybe I just don’t want to face the idea that a world-class athlete, through no fault of his own, could become afflicted with the athletic equivalent of writer’s block and never shake it.


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