Our national pastime is rich with memories and parallels to everyday life. A friend of mine knows how much I love baseball, and I told her that I had been thinking about writing a baseball column relating to HR. She told me to run with it, so here we go!
In the first in a regular series on HR in Baseball, I will share with you how the pitcher and catcher relationship is so important to having an effective game.
The catcher is ultimately responsible for calling the correct pitch for each batter and each situation. However, he must team with the pitcher to call pitches that the pitcher is comfortable throwing, is effective at throwing, and can create the greatest good for the team.
Two examples of how much the pitcher/catcher relationship is important can be seen in the perfect game pitched by Mark Buehrle earlier this summer, and in the Yankees/Red Sox game this past Saturday.
In Buerhle’s perfect game, he trusted his catcher so much that whatever the catcher chose, Buerhle threw. Every pitch magically worked, and it resulted in the rare feat of a perfect game. Having kept an eye on Buerhle in warmups, and having discussions with him prior to the game, they created a game plan that would be effective.
Let’s look at when pitching and catching don’t get along. AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada were clearly not on the same page on Saturday. Burnett and Posada met several times during the first couple innings of the game to address communication issues, and after Burnett delivered a pitch he did not want to deliver, he turned his back to home plate and asked “Why, why, why” in clear view.
What could have improved Burnett’s performance may have been the ability that day for Posada to see that his fastball was not quite what it should be. Every time Posada seemed to call for a fastball, the Red Sox hit the ball a million miles. If there was better communication prior to the game, and better adjustments during the game, the results may have been much different.
To bring this over to business, one can look at the relationship of a manager (the catcher) to the people who work for the manager (the pitchers). The catcher may not have ultimate authority, but they do have the ability to guide the success of the pitcher, capitalizing on their talents on any given day. The best “catchers” know when someone may be struggling in an area of their work, and know when they need to capitalize on secondary strengths to bring out the best in someone on any given day.