Tag: Justin Verlander

The Tigers are Tamed; The Royals are Kings

A coach of mine once told me that momentum is made up. He said all that really happens is we convince ourselves mentally that we are in a state of retreat, when in reality we are still every bit “in the game” as our opponents are. I 100% agree with him, but the Kansas City Royals may need some more convincing.

After not being in the playoffs for 29 years, the Royals have gone 4-0 in their first four playoff games. In doing so, they have secured themselves a spot in the American League Championship Series and are now just eight wins away from bringing home a World Series Championship. All things seem to be “go” for this 2014 Royals team, and if these last games are any indication, they have no intention of slowing down.

They overcame the Oakland Athletics in an extra innings battle, and then came back only a few days later to sweep the Detroit Tigers (one of the postseason favorites). In doing so, the Royals overcame three of the most dominant pitchers in baseball: Max Sherzer, Justin Verlander, and David Price–and outhit some of the best bats the sport has to offer: Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Torii Hunter. How did they do it?

The answer is simple: with a smile on their face.

“They’re all enjoying it…we get to this type of atmosphere and we’re flourishing,” Royals Manager Ned Yost said after the ALDS sweep. He wasn’t alone in the sentiment–Royals starting catcher Salvador Perez added, “We feel so happy to win the last two games.”

So how can it seem so simple yet do so much? Because in reality, it can be that simple. The influence of a positive mindset is so vastly overlooked in competitive sport, but as we can see through the success the Kansas City Royals are having, it can really make a difference. Especially considering they were up against the odds, on short rest, and playing against one of the best teams in baseball. The impact can’t be overlooked.

Give it a try sometime. Next time you need to do something, no matter how daunting it seems, tell yourself that you can be successful. Put a smile on your face while you do it. Do it again and again until it becomes genuine, and you won’t be disappointed. Change your mindset, and the results will follow.

Konnor Fleming

Baseball Vision

In the game of baseball, things happen fast. The higher levels you play, the faster it gets. And at the top, with the big boys in the MLB, things happen almost so fast that you can’t even see it. With pitchers like Justin Verlander, Brian Wilson, and Aroldis Chapman throwing fastballs at up to 105.1 mph, you can quite literally blink and miss it. Couple a pitcher’s ability to blow fireballs past a hitter in .395 seconds with their ability to come back with a changeup that seems to mosey in at 80 mph and it’s clear to see that hitters have their work cut out for them. That’s why so many hitters in the MLB log countless hours in the batting cages, studying opponent pitchers’ tendencies, and doing whatever they can to get an edge.

One such technique is pitch recognition, the ability to quickly determine the pitch thrown based on the rotation of the ball and appearance of the laces. But how can players practice such a thing without getting out on the field and facing live pitching?

Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

Developed by scientists at the University of California Riverside, a new app called UltimEyes was created to help train batters’ brains to work better. In an effort to help “expand brain power,” the app shows a series of blurry, wobbly lines that overtime get closer and closer. By studying such lines, players can become better at distinguishing different lines and help make their vision more acute, which translates to being able to tell the difference between a slider and curveball, for example. UltimEyes was an instant success at California Riverside, helping their team score 42 more runs and earn five more wins than in their previous season. It was so successful, actually, that it made a believer of Coach Doug Smith, an admitted skeptic.

“I’m a bit of an older school guy, but I think if you don’t look at the science part of it when it’s staring you right in the face, you’re not very bright,” Smith said of the app and the process.

UltimEyes is available on the App Store via iTunes for $5.99. While that may seem like a hefty price for a single app, it seems a small price to pay to strengthen your brain and take your game to the next level.

For a look at the different pitches themselves, check out this article by ESPN also accounting the importance of pitch recognition.

Konnor Fleming

References:

New vision app helps baseball players keep eye on the ball. (2014, July 10). CBSNews. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-vision-app-is-changing-the-game-for-baseball-players/