Spring Training Is Hilarious

I'm sure most of you have read this already, but just in case you haven't:

In layman's terms, Bloomquist said, he has cut down on his swing, which allows the velocity generated by the pitcher to provide the impetus for driving balls through holes in the infield and gaps in the outfield.

"Ironically, when I don't try to do as much, I actually do more," he said.
...
He likened his new hitting technique to playing pepper with the pitcher. The harder the pitcher throws, and the better contact he makes, the better chance he has of hitting the ball hard and getting a hit.
...
"It's nothing huge," Bloomquist said. "I'm not going up there trying to drive the ball into the gaps as much. I'm trying to cut down my swing and stay within myself. In the past, when I tried to hit the ball harder, my swing got longer and I started popping the ball up to right field. It looked like I had zero power."

I usually don't like to quote that much from an article, but, gee whiz, there's too much awesomeness in there to leave alone. To recap:

  1. Willie is a vastly improved new hitter
  2. Willie used to go up looking to hit for power
  3. Willie's solution is to not swing as hard
I'm not sure which is my overall favorite part of this article, but I think it's that last line in the bit I quoted, where Willie implies that he's actually stronger than he's looked over his 917 total Major League at bats. You know, the 917 at bats over five seasons in which he's hit as many home runs as Mike Cameron did in one night. I don't know who has the worst career isolated power in the history of baseball, but Willie's .072 can't be too far off, at least as far as the post-dead ball era is concerned. I mean, from what we've seen, Willie's unquestionably one of the weakest hitters in the league. But apparently it's all lies! Willie is strong, and he's going to better demonstrate said strength going forward by swinging slower. Perfectly sensible.

Seriously. That little white guy we've seen make countless sorry pinch-hit and spot-start appearances over the past few years? That was a guy trying his hardest to collect extra-base hits. Generally speaking, pretty much every last ounce of strength in his body was going into each of his swings. Think about that for a second. If Ichiro is supposedly a guy who can turn on the power whenever he wants, Willie's the complete and total opposite.

So anyway, Willie's solution to his struggles can basically be summed up as "hit like a wall." That is, he wants to slow his swing down to the point at which he has complete control and is able to make contact on every strike. In theory, if he didn't swing at all, and instead just held his bat over the plate and moved it up or down to adjust to each individual pitch, and the ball and the bat had a perfectly elastic collision every time, the ball would go out just as fast as it came in, so a 90mph fastball would turn into a 90mph comebacker. Of course, there's no way that would work outside the realm of the hypothetical since theoretical physics are nothing like the experimental variety, but then again Willie was beyond hopeless when he tried swinging, so maybe he ought to attempt something that at least makes sense on paper. If nothing else it would allow him to blame his 0-for-4's on science instead of himself, which would make for some terrific interviews.

Reporter: You didn't have your best game out there tonight.
Willie Ballgame: Kinetic energy lost as heat? What a country.
Reporter: You and Newton wouldn't make the best of friends.
Willie Ballgame: What's up with these damping constants, anyway? Are they making these balls underwater?
Reporter: So walk us through one more time why your approach is any different than bunting four times a game.
Willie Ballgame: I'll show you where you can put your coefficients of restitution.
Reporter: You're a nerd.
Willie Ballgame: You're a hack.
Reporter: You suck at your job.
Willie Ballgame: You're a towel.
Reporter:
Willie Ballgame: My clothes are dirty.
Reporter: You know I'm pretty sure you rub mud on your uniform before you even come to the ballpark.
Willie Ballgame: So what happened to Finnigan again?

I love this story already. Here's to next week's missive on how Julio Mateo plans to throw more strikes by ditching his slider and changeup.

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