Tools of Ignorance
So you want to be a catcher?
Are you prepared to…
* Wear heavy, often dark-colored, heat-attracting gear on your face, chest and legs?
* Take foul balls and errant pitches off your unprotected forearms, hands, feet, and neck?
* Catch hundreds of mid-90’s fastballs, knee-buckling curveballs, devastating sliders, sinking change-ups and tailing cutters every day in the bullpen and during the game?
* Game plan and scout the opposing pitchers and each opposing hitter?
* Sacrifice speed on the basepaths and strength at the plate because of tired legs?
* Prepare everyday by standing on your knees and having a teammate throw balls in the dirt to practice blocking pitches?
* Have your efforts go widely unnoticed by the fans?
* Call a 0-for-4 day offensively a successful game because your starter threw seven shutout innings and your team won?
* Serve as an on-field coach and general of the infield?
* Catch the throw from an outfielder, block the plate and hold on to the ball after the 6-3, 220 pound baserunner charges full-speed into you while you stand still?
* Act as a psychologist and motivator to your pitcher to keep his head in the game and perform at his best when the game is on the line?
* Learn what all 11, 12, sometimes 13 pitchers on your staff throw and how they want to use each one of those pitches in every situation to all nine opposing hitters?
* Understand every one of your pitcher’s personalities so that you can support and guide them through the inevitable ups and downs of each game?
* Block a 55-foot fastball with your body to prevent it from going to the backstop and hold a potential go-ahead run from reaching scoring position or scoring from third base?
* Serve as a backup and play every three, four or five days, but start every afternoon game that follows a night game during the summer to give the regular backstop a rest?
* Act as a mentor to a young catcher that is preparing to take your job if your body holds up and you play long enough to be considered a veteran in a big league clubhouse?
* To play the most demanding position in sports and be the backbone of a championship ball club?
Great, seeing as you are in extended spring training, I will see you at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. I need you to catch an 18-year-old that throws 97 mph but has no idea where his fastball is going. Catcher’s drills, batting practice, pitcher’s meeting, hitter’s meeting and your lifting session with the strength and conditioning coach will follow that before our game tomorrow afternoon.
The forecast for tomorrow down here in Florida is supposed to be in the mid-90’s tomorrow and humid so make sure you hydrate.
Oh, and get a good night’s sleep.