There are a lot of clichés in baseball. One that makes me cringe, especially at the youth level, is the coach that tells his hitters to “take a strike”.
When you come to the plate, you have three strikes to work with. If the pitcher paints the inside corner on a pitch that would have jammed you anyway, I have no problem with the hitter taking it with less than two strikes. It is a borderline pitch that the umpire may or not call a strike. The important thing to remember is that this is the hitter’s decision. He should be looking for a pitch to drive. If he wants to use one of the strikes by taking a borderline pitch to start the at-bat, fine. But I am never going to tell one of my hitters to give away one of his three strikes.
I rarely give the take sign on a 3-0 count. I hope that I have taught the players to be smart and disciplined at the plate. Most of them will take the pitch anyway. But again, I want it to be their decision.
The bottom line is that you only get three strikes per at-bat. Why give one away for free?