I should open with a couple of apologies. First, I’ve neglected this site unforgivably… but the summer has brought us one hurdle after another to be cleared. I hope to do much better in the future (though, of course, life may have much to say about that). Our instructional pages on this site, for one thing, sorely need updated: the latest videos we feature go far beyond what’s currently posted under “hitting”.
I also encountered a very particular frustration yesterday when I wanted to post YouTube videos on a topic utterly unrelated to baseball. I’m afraid that announcements of talks on this topic may continue to show up in the box of SmallBallSuccess.com subscribers. I tried to create a new account. But on every attempt, I got snagged in a closed circle wherein Google seemed to be trawling for more and more and more personal information without ever delivering me to YouTube. That didn’t do much for my mood!
Anyway, the rest of this space should be devoted to announcing the appearance of Metal Ropes. The book’s evolution consumed years of thought, research, and experimentation… but I’ve finally come up with some useful proposals for kids who want to try Old School hitting with the contemporary bat. My 135 photo illustrations are not always as clear as I would have liked, because most attempt to capture real-time swings. I also connect everything to some sort of Deadball Era pedigree, which some readers may feel leads to a longer discussion than necessary. Yet I think it’s important to remember at all times that these tactics have been tested in the past with wooden sticks and that they did work spectacularly well for some who employed them.
Not only that… but, on rare occasions when we can watch the MLB on my property (a weak Internet connection has ruled out the live-streaming MLB.tv option), I hear color commentators dropping stray remarks all the time that point back to the validity of my work. Only the other night, David Ross was remarking on how Ronald Acuna, Jr., loads his hands so far forward that they can go straight to the ball as he enlists his lower body to generate power. Metal Ropes discusses the rudiments of this approach from end to end! It’s no accident, by the way, that ballplayers who grew up in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela or somewhere else far beyond the reach of our coaching orthodoxy most often feature certain key elements of Deadball style. I’m convinced that when kids were largely self-taught as a result of playing on “sandlots” for hours, Mother Nature showed them the best way to drive a pitch. Of course, they probably would require adjustment later on, especially if they ascended to a level where pitching was very fast; but the correction needed was most often a simple matter of timing, whereas our coaching elite seems to want to break everything down and start from scratch. Not good.
Finally (for now), I’ll note that my wife and I caught some of the Little League World Series on ESPN… and I was shocked speechless by the enormous degree of flare that’s now going into producing paddle-like barrels! I hadn’t realized that metal bats had morphed into such disproportion over so short a time. A bat with less taper will probably be cheaper (since it’s less “state of the art”), and it will certainly be more effective for practicing the Old School style. I only hope that such bats are still “legal” and on the market. I hear rumbles from the professional game indicating to me that elite instructors are finally seeking a way back to the low line drive. Unfortunately, it looks as though the big names in bat manufacture for Little Leaguers continue to lag well behind the learning curve. The worship of the Bomb continues.
Be well, enjoy the game… and always be vigilant for other ways in if the main entry is backed up!