Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.

Bum and Mike chimed in on this post about the silliness of personal catchers. In the Yankees' case, it's Randy Johnson pitching to anyone not named Jorge Posada. In the past, Greg Maddux has had his own guys for many years, and knuckleballers usually have a set receiver. No Brokeback jokes, please.

The knuckleballers (Wakefield and, um, nobody else) have a legitimate reason, I think. They're weird, bizarre, and also throw oddly.

Bum correctly points out that the pitcher does have the final say, and usually there's some kind of game plan anyway. Mike adds this point, which certainly rings true:

I think Johnson can't deal with the fact that hitting is just as important to Posada as the pitchers are. Johnson being the jerk (for lack of a better word) he is, feels that he deserves a catcher's complete attention, something players like Flaherty and Stinnett can be since they are useless at the plate.

He adds that Maddux was probably that way with Javy Lopez. Of course, the Braves also loved catchers. They'd bring three to every postseason and then wonder why Luis Polonia was the best pinch-hitter they had.

My only addition would be that it's really not that hard to call a game if you have a game plan and a good pitcher who can hit the spots you actually call. You'd think personal catchers would actually be more useful with mediocre hurlers -- the catcher would know how and when the pitcher was likely to miss.
Mickey Mantle wrote how he once called -- from center field, no less -- all the pitchers to a game Whitey Ford was starting. He said he never wanted to do again because it was nerve-wracking, but Whitey threw a shutout. Considering that Mantle was probably seeing three of everything, that says something about the myth of the personal catcher.

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