Baseball Magic Trick

If you are around this game long enough, you will pick up little tricks of the trade.  Small modifications that can be made to give you even a slight advantage are part of the game.  But have you ever used a magic trick?

What if I told you that I could make home plate grow and/or shrink?  A good magician never reveals his secrets, so be thankful that I am not a good magician…and that this really isn’t magic at all.

A post by Baseball Toolshed was making the rounds yesterday addressing players and their body language.  I completely agree with the article, stating that poor body language will have a negative impact on your performance and send you spiraling downward.  Having a positive attitude and reaction toward failure will allow you to be more confident.  That confidence will help translate into production.

Now, let’s take it a step further with Player A vs Player B after striking out looking on a questionable call.

Player A
Immediately turns and jogs back to dugout
Sets his bat and helmet down
Gets ready to play defense
Encourages teammates
Player B
Turns to look at the umpire
Shakes his head as he slowly walks to dugout
Throws bat or helmet
Pouts alone on the end of the bench

Umpires are human.  They see how players and coaches react to their decisions.  When Player A comes up for his next at-bat, the umpire may really bear down because he knows he missed a call last time.  Player B will not get the benefit of the doubt.  That borderline pitch will definitely be a strike.  The pitch two or three inches off the plate will probably be a strike too.  Player B’s home plate just widened by about six inches.

How can home plate shrink?  Let’s compare Pitcher A vs Pitcher B after a borderline pitch is called ball four.

Pitcher A
Receives ball back from the catcher
Focuses on the next batter
Pitcher B
Stares down the umpire
Shakes his head or makes a gesture with hands

Pitcher A realizes that the umpire might have made a mistake, but it happens.  There is nothing he can do so he focuses on the next batter.  Pitcher B won’t get another call if he keeps up that behavior.  In fact, his plate will shrink.  That fastball two inches off the black that has been a strike might be seen a little differently next time by the umpire.

Umpires are not cheating.  Most of the time, these situations aren’t even intentional.  An umpire can see home plate in different ways depending on the actions of those around him.  It’s human nature.  Or is it magic?

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