Memo to Twins Hitters, effective immediately:
This is the Strike Zone:
In the game of baseball, each pitch that is thrown to you will be either:
A) A STRIKE - This is a ball that comes across the plate within the strike zone.
B) A BALL - This is a pitch that comes across the plate outside of this area.
Am I going too fast for any of you?
Now, check the identification label in your undershirt and take note of the name written there. Is it Vladimir Guerrero? I didn’t think so. Since you are not, you have no business swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Are you listening, Mr. Mauer? “Why?” you may ask. Because Vladdy is one of the select few persons on this, or any other planet, who has the ability to get hits on almost anything a pitcher throws at him, including balls that bounce on the way to home plate, he is an exception to the rules. You, however, are not.
OK. We’ve established that your hitting prowess is closer to Guerrier than Guerrero, so there are some basic rules for every batter to remember. If the pitcher throws you a pitch within the strike zone, it is a strike whether you swing at it or not. Since these pitches are likely the ones you may reasonably reach with your bat, it makes sense to swing when you see them. But the man on the mound is crafty and will try to trick you by throwing pitches outside the strike zone. Many of these are so far away that you would need a bat 4 feet long to hit one. Please ignore this obvious attempt on the part of the pitcher to make you look like a fool. Why take the chance that someone is taking a video of you that may end up on youtube? Or do you really want to be the next Rebecca Black?
Now, perhaps you have taken this advice and have come to the envious situation of having a count of 3 Balls and 2 Strikes, here are some very simple guidelines:
If the next pitch is a BALL: Do not swing at this pitch! Yes, Delmon, I know it is much more fun to swing the bat wildly than to wait patiently for a pitch that you might actually hit, but you must resist the temptation. The opposing pitcher is not your friend. He will try to convince you that he is a caring individual who will vote for you more than the allowed 25 times on the All-Star ballot and also donate money to have a tasteful statue of you erected in your hometown. Do not believe him. He is deceitful in all his ways. Is this the face of a person you can trust?
OK. Those of you who have taken heed of this advice so far and have not swung at the BALL, will now get a promotion from that of batter to base runner. Because of your wise decision, you are allowed to go to first base. This is called a walk, base-on-balls or free pass. I know what you’re thinking. “Last time I went to first base, Mark Teixeira glared at me and I had nightmares for a week!” Yes, first basemen can be a scary lot, but do not worry. If he does anything illegal to you, the umpire is there to help you. Ha! Just kidding. Also, there are actually some very nice first basemen around and now is your opportunity to get acquainted with one. I hear Ryan Howard is quite witty and makes an excellent Tater Tot Hot Dish.
Now, comes the hard part. If the pitch is indeed a STRIKE, within the prescribed zone, you should swing at this pitch. If you do not swing at this pitch YOU WILL BE OUT! The umpire will not be interested in engaging in conversation at this point. He has a Tupperware Party to attend later and does not want any needless delays. You will be left standing there looking like a doofus, and small children will trade 4 of your baseball cards for 1 of Sidney Ponson’s.
But, and here is the tricky part, if you do swing there are several outcomes. You may ground out, fly out, pop out, foul out, or strike out swinging. “Aha,” you say, “See, I have made an out and let down my team.” This is regrettable, but remember, the ball thrown was a strike and you would have been out anyway. At least you “gave it a good try.” However, (this is so exciting!) you might get a Hit, thus causing much merriment and high-fiving amongst your teammates and fans alike, and also making a valuable contribution towards the production of runs. Since this is, broadly speaking, the whole point of the game, it is an added benefit.
I hope this instructional has been of some value. I just know you’re going to be better tomorrow. Right?