To the average fan watching a game and seeing a pitcher just miss his spot or a batter pop a fly ball to the warning track, which we have to admire how close those things are to changing an inning, a game or even a season. The art of the physics and mechanics of the game and knowing what players have to do is a whole different appreciation of the game. The grip of the ball pressure points or follow through on a pitch or a small flex of the grip or miss step of the feet that changes the bat path is the difference, is a different type of appreciation of baseball.
Pitchers have more weight on their shoulders in a game than any other player and watching a no hitter or even a shut out is a work of art. The amount of work and preparation that goes in and then being able to silence the bats of a complete line up for a game is amazing.
First take in weather conditions and what time of day affects the rotation and the trajectory of the ball and how that works in a pitchers favor or against him. Going through the line up to understand how to approach the hitters with the catcher is crucial, with set up pitches and how to establish parts of the plate for strikes. Now you get into the physics and mechanics of the game for the pitcher, the pressure point with the fingers that a pitcher puts on a ball and his follow through creating just the right amount of spin on the ball for his release point to hit his spot. Then a pitchers foot work and his plant foot and how it lands on the mound affecting the line of the ball delivery. Now as a season or a game goes on and fatigue start to take its toll a pitchers arm slot, meaning how high his elbow is as he delivers the ball will start to change and he must compensate for that also. Now unless you’re a knuckleball pitcher like Neikro, Dickey, Wakefield or Hough then lack of rotation and delivery is a completely different approach but just as intriguing.
Batters knowing a pitcher try to create opportunities to hit a pitch that is to their strength and if a pitcher is off his game they exploit that as much and as quickly as they can. Their preparation and routine is key to remain consistent each and every game, the hours of batting practice to maintain their mechanics and keep their eye to hand coordination at a high level. When a hitter gets into the batters box they first set their feet, because they know that foot position is a huge factor in the at bat and maintaining their center of balance on their swing. Then keeping a loose grip on the bat as not to tighten up the forearms could cause the tighting of the elbows and then they may under cutting on the ball. Keeping their eyes on the pitchers delivery and all the way into the hitting zone, so they can wait as long as possible before committing on a pitch so they swing into the contact zone. The difference of a long fly ball or a home run comes down to less than .100 of an inch sometimes, that’s amazing.
With so many other factors going into to the game, it is great to think of what a manager is doing with a pitcher and batter match ups or fielding positions. Baseball is not just you throw the ball, you hit the ball and then you run. It is truly a tactical battle that lasts all season, the art of the game, and one fans appreciation of baseball.