When we watch the Mets play we often get to see veteran pitching coach Dan Warthen trudge to the mound to impart wisdom to a struggling pitcher. I've been watching baseball now for close to 60 years and pitching coaches have always been allowed to come out and help while hitting coaches (aka batting instructors) never have been.
Dave Hudgens has been the Mets' batting instructor for the past three years. (I think I like that term better since we all know that the Mets do a heckuva lot more batting than hitting). I can't recall his doing anything in the dugout other than spit sunflower seeds but what if the rules changed and MLB allowed some technology in.
When we watch NFL games the quarterback receives the play in from the sideline via a receiver in his helmet. The coach or offensive coordinator tells the QB what play to run. What if the same type of technology could be used but in a batter's helmet? Of course, with the way the Mets pinch pennies I would half expect them to put in a landline instead of a wireless system. God knows how much cord would be needed to allow Eric Young Jr. to leg out a triple.
But we'll assume for now that the Mets use wireless or Bluetooth to allow Hudgens to communicate with the Mets batter. We'll assume it's the bottom of the 4th inning and the opposing team has just taken a 1-0 lead (trying to be realistic here). David Wright has led off the inning with a crisply struck single to right and we'll pick it up with Hudgens talking to Lucas Duda as the big firstbaseman moves from the on deck circle to the plate.
Hudgens: OK, big Luke. Stand up tall and look menacing. Try to put a little fear into this pitcher. We're going to make this at bat count. Good, now reach down and pick up some dirt, adjust your batting gloves and wrist bands. Get yourself comfortable up there. Our research shows that this pitcher you're facing throws his fasball as his first pitch 85% of the time when there are men on. So that's what you're looking for. If you see one of those down the middle just go a-hacking. With David on first you have that big hole between 1st and 2nd to shoot for. I'll be quiet and let you concentrate now.
[pitch comes in. Duda doesn't offer at it.]
Now you see that would have been an ideal one to pound. Right down the pike, an 89 mile per hour heater. Can't figure out why you and Daniel and others insist on just watching that first pitch. But, nevermind, we still have two strikes left and we can make some hay.
Don't forget to look down at Coach Teufel at third. I know Terry only calls the hit-and-run about once a season but you don't want to be the guy who misses it. Skip would give you the Ruben Tejada treatment for the rest of the year. Just in case you've forgotten the sign the indicator is Teuf touching his nose. And then the actual sign is when he moonwalks from the front of the coaching box to the back of it.
OK, we're good. It's not on. Now it's more like 50-50 that this guy will throw you a breaking pitch so keep your eye out for it.
[pitch comes. It's a slider a bit inside that Duda jumps away from.]
Lucas. I know it's a split second decision but you coulda held your ground there and "taken one for the team". You're a huge guy and that ball would have nicked you in the side of the leg. Come on man. Think , think.
Check out Teuf again. Be aware that David might be running on one of these pitches. I know that throws you off but almost everything does when guys are on base. Put that out of your mind and just look for a pitch to drive.
[pitch comes in. Duda swings and dribbles a foul down the firstbase line]
That a boy! That's what we want to see. You almost did something with that one. We're going to get to this guy yet. Just hang in there big fella. The count is now 1 and 2. This guy might throw you anything at this point. Just protect that plate just like we talked about before the game.
[pitch comes in. Duda doesn't swing but it is called ball 2, just a bit outside]
Well that one worked out pretty well for us. One suggestion though. Best that you keep both hands on the bat while the pitch is coming in. Scratching your ear with your left hand there would've really messed us up if the plate had been in the zone. We'll work on that at BP tomorrow.
OK. The count is even. This pitcher doesn't want to go 3-2 on you so he'll be trying to throw a strike on this pitch. We've got him where we want him now. Time to make this guy pay.
[pitch comes in.]
Ah Jeesh. You gotta be swinging at that one Lukie. We'll talk about it when you get back to the dugout. Aha, here you are now.
=========================================================== Larry writes a humor column for us at The Real Dirty Mets Blog once or more per week. You can follow Larry on Twitter at @dr4sight There he comments on the teams that drive him crazy: the Mets, both NY football teams, the NY Rangers, and the Knicks.