Pitch counts are like calories: they’re not uniform, but they still mean something.
The topic is polarizing, and I obviously have my side. And it is closeish to Lasorda’s, but the honest truth is that I absolutely love pitch counts. It’s probably as superficial as the fact that it’s a number, and I love numbers, so logically I love a pitch count. It’s logical like not throwing at a guy.
I agree with Lasorda’s conservative opposition to limiting expectations and lowering standards–holding the boys back. Of course, I own Verlander (in my fantasy. On my fantasy. Team.) and I wanted his opening day complete game. I don’t own Valverde, and I didn’t care that it was his opening day too.
My biggest opposition to limiting pitches is personal responsibility. Detroit’s first game of the season was Verlander’s to lose. Not Valverde’s save to blow and game to win.
Pitch counts are simply an indicator–and certainly not the ONLY indicator. Just an indicator of facts. Like I said, it’s a number and I love it very much.
Secret’s out: I love ESPN’s fantasycast. I usually watch it in conjunction with a game or MLB’s gameday or whatever, but it always gives me a pitch count and nothing else always does.
Earlier today I glanced and saw a guy (not mine) at 16 pitches with two out in the 7th inning. I thought, “that’s probably pretty good.” Because there’s no logical proof in which he could’ve been the starter. So I can easily correctly assume he’s a reliever, and maybe less easily and correctly, 16′s not bad, probably.
That was my entire bullshit assessment. Didn’t even check to see how he’d done with those 16 pitches.
But that’s the beauty of it; that’s what I love: what a pitch count can tell you. You can divide the count by innings pitched and find an average per inning, for the fun of it. After that, meander around to count the pitches per inning and see where they were heavy. That can lend insight. I’m not paid to do all of that, so I don’t. But if I were, I would probably love it. Numbers that don’t necessarily mean anything more than they do. But could.
I’m qualified to write about pitch counts because I obsess over the 2K MLB games during the winters. And also I play catch, and I’m fully aware of the gaining and losing control that occurs from continuously throwing. I get all of that. And I understand when gameday shoots out a “scout” report of my pitcher not doing historically great past the 57 pitch mark or some bullshit like that. But seriously, there must be a wall.
I think that wall is what Lasorda’s getting at. Because you gotta practice how you play.
My band had a show this weekend, and we practiced hard harder and hardest for a straight month. Our show was Saturday, and the lead up resulted in practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday AND Saturday before the show.
I was making Polish dinner with my roommate Thursday night, and I was uncharacteristically unable to open the jar of sauerkraut. Not only that, but I couldn’t pull the plastic apart to free the pierogi. My roommate had to do both. And it was worth it: he felt like a man, and we both ate like kings. Polish kings.
Anyway, at Saturday practice, we blew through the whole show, did the two-song opener and the closer, and reblew through the show. Mere hours before PLAYING THE SHOW. After having done a similar session the night before.
When I sat for the sound check, my right foot was slammin at double-bass pace from the sheer adrenaline and sobriety. A beer-and-a-shot in and my arms forgot I’d already ruined them for life. The Letter Girl took the stage and murdered music so hard high school band directors state-wide actually GAINED a sexual experience for every drumline they’d used as the punchline to a cowardly, low-hanging “joke.” You’re welcome.
When I woke up the next morning, hungry, hungover, and already nappy, the only thing I REALLY wanted to do was smash drums. It was the only thing I thought I might be capable of.
Today my arms felt stronger and uselesser than ever. Hopefully it won’t last too long, but drums are probably the only thing my hands are capable of right now. Not opening doors or carrying multiple objects. They’re programmed to destroy.
My suspicion is that pitching is a lot like that. When you do it well on repeat, you program your body with a specific function. And once it’s used to it, that’s what it’s good at. Even if nothing else.
So, yeah. If you’ve lost your steam, you know it’s gone. You can feel it. And if you’re just a bit jumpy for a second, you know the difference. And the number does not.