Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pinkhat Service Announcement

Bottom of the third with two outs, and Pedroia taps the ball right to the Royals second baseman. "I could have hit the ball like that, " I say to Dave. He doesn't state the obvious- that I couldn't hit a beachball with a wiffleball bat. But he does point out the other obvious, at least to a bluehat.

Pedroia didn't mean to hit that ball. He was trying to check his swing and made connection by mistake.

A checked swing is when the batter tries to stop the bat in mid-motion. According to Watching Baseball Smarter, the catcher points to the umpire (first or third base) with the best view to make the call whether the batter held up the swing or swung past the front edge of home plate.

According to Dave, the home plate umpire makes the final ruling about a check swing and has the option to call on the umpire being pointed at by the catcher. And according to Remy's book Watching Baseball (More Smarter?), the umpire isn't really looking at whether the bat went past the edge of the plate. It matters more if the batter had control over the head of the bat as demonstrated by his wrists not "breaking".

Once I started watching at-bats for this, I saw checked swings over and over. Example: Youkilis in the fourth checks the swing once and the umpire calls ball. On the next pitch, Youk tries to check the swing again and the ump calls strike.

This isn't the first baseball game I have watched,* so how did I never know about this? The rule really matters if you are trying to understand how balls and strikes are accumulated. No wonder I gave up following "the count" so long ago. I thought all those checked bats were strikes.

I feel the need to close with a PSA.** Bluehats, if you love your pinkhat, try explaining the game to him/her. Maybe he/she paints his/her toenails, online shops, or just stares blankly at the TV because baseball isn't self-explanatory. A loving "honey, I was sooooo surprised to learn this and thought you might be interested too" goes a long way.

Even if YOU have always known about checked swings.

*If you consider watch and glance at to be synonymous.

**Pinkhat Service Announcement.

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