Smoak, Bledsoe, and Slo-Mo Training

Dalai Lama 'An Open Heart' Dept.

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Malcontent sez,

 

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Hey Doc, what are your thoughts on Smoak's new training method(written up at Baker's blog)? The technique sounds like it makes sense, wouldn't it be fun to see a Saunders-like resurgence, with the new shorter fences.
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Matty sez,
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Baker's piece yesterday on Smoak's new training regimen (including "slow practice" and aiki-like first principles of mental readiness and simplification, as well as the revelation that Smoak should be a "pitch stalk" hitter) made me think of you...sounded like a Dr.'s Rx to me. :)

So...what say you?

Geoff Baker sez,

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A closer look

Just kidding.  But those who "get" Baker will note the air of comparative respect at the Bakery as it pertains to Bledsoe's work.  Baker is usually quite skeptical when it comes to this type of story, but withholds the skepticism on this one.  As so often, Baker's judgment turns out to be right.

Not to make a value judgment or anything, Bledsoe's work is (a) wonderful, (b) undoubtedly Smoak's last chance to fix himself, on a physical level, and (c) an approach that will undoubtedly work, on a physical level.

Will explain precisely why we say so.

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=== Therein Lies a Story, Dept. ===

Bledsoe's work is, consciously or subconsciously, an attempt to adapt Eastern thought in a Western context.  For those who just joined us, of whom there are thankfully many lately, Asian cultural thought is an area of great interest for Dr. D.  Especially as it pertains to budo generally and sports movements specifically.  Sports mechanics are a sub-topic within the topic of budo.  Slinging a stone has a lot in common with throwing a baseball; archery has a lot in common with throwing a football.

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I first studied aikido at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America.  (Entrance pictured above.)  At the time, this dojo was the only legitimate Shinto shrine on the continent.  Barrish Sensei is the doshu (head) of his own (worldwide) ryu, as well as a Shinto priest.  

For those amigos there IS no separation between physical movement and mental attitude.  At a time when I didn't think anybody else could "wow" me, this guy's aikido definitely did so, 3-on-1, 4-on-1, whatever.  And the aikido flowed from his personality, his way of life.

When he teaches aikido, it's axiomatic to him to teach it first in slooowwwwww motion, agonizingly slow motion, sometimes while standing in frigid glacier water.  There's a reason ........

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The past week or so, I've been tearing apart one of the Dalai Lama's books, word-by-word, virtually rephrasing the whole thing in an attempt to "grok" it.  Have done this several times before, to this same book.  Am pretty serious about trying to benefit from those ideas within Buddhism which are accurate.

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Have read Ichiro's book, and The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (hasn't everybody?), and as you might guess, have grok'ked them from a spiritual point of view more than from a physical point of view.  

When Ichiro gazes into the facade of the upper deck just before a pitch, that is the point of preparation that interests me, even more than the ..... drumroll .... SLOW MOTION golf swings that he takes when he's on deck.

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Point is, I think I got an idea about what it is that Bledsoe and Smoak are trying to do, and what the plusses and minuses of this approach are, and especially the LIMITS (or not) of what such benefits might be.  

Matt asked what I meant when I called it a "softball" question.  Well, it's a little bit like asking Al Gore "do you have any thoughts on biodiesel by any chance?" ...

Glad you asked  :: locals roll eyes as Gore starts winding up ::

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benihanaI'm with you Matt. I kind of want the M's to trade Taylor, Lomo, and Ramirez for Fielder and some $$. What a murderer's row would Cano, Cruz, Fielder, and Seager make?7 hours 25 min ago
DaddyORight re: underground drip irrigation. That's what I was referring to. If you are spending $125 million on ballplayers every year you would think it would be worth it to protect that investment even if it costs a million dollars a year. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong here.7 hours 39 min ago
SABR MattFWIW, I bet 37 roto dollars on Prince Fielder this year. I think he will have a good year8 hours 28 min ago
mojicianHamilton would have been the biggest bust in the history of Seattle. They would have run the entire Z regime out on a rail for 2014 Hamilton performance alone. It says here if you are going to have a star, he should have great makeup. I think Fielder will bounce back. His game wasn't dependent on being a yoga instructor. What he has are large muscles and a disciplined plate approach, see Papi, Big. Fat guys rake.9 hours 23 min ago
SpectatorAnd how about Z whiffing on Hamilton and Prince Fielder before connecting on Cano, the only one who looks to hold his superstar value? Balance of power in the West could turn on those three contracts.10 hours 11 min ago
SABR MattYep...Taylor would probably go to AAA so that Lloyd could have his cheerleader on the bench not begging for PT and Taylor could work on his plate discipline.10 hours 17 min ago
SpectatorLloyd says if Bloomie healthy, then Miller and Taylor won't both make roster. At least that's their plan at the moment.10 hours 42 min ago
SABR MattEven with that, i wonder if the system creates irregularities on the surface in ground texture11 hours 6 min ago
benihanaFor turf lawns we are talking 6 to 12 inches below grade. Not something that's gonna pop-up even in warn spots.11 hours 24 min ago
benihanaSubsurface Drip Irrigation for lawns should be buried well beneath the sod. Hoses under the ground, not hoses on the ground. Problem is you need to dig up all the grass, lay the irrigation and then re-sod, it's an expensive investment. But should be recouped with the decreased water usage alone, never mind the injury aspect.11 hours 27 min ago
SABR MattDrip-irrigation may actually be MORE risky for players...replace the rare, small sprinkler head with a labyrinth of hoses lying on the ground.12 hours 9 min ago
DaddyONo doubt, OBF. I have NEVER understood, given the salaries paid out to players these days, why teams don't do more (than they no doubt already do) to eliminate potential causes of unnecessary injury. You can't eliminate injuries that come as a direct result of player collisions, etc, but there is more that can/should be done with facilities. Why have sprinkler heads? I'm no landscaper or hortoculturalist, but isn't drip irrigation more efficient than sprinklers? Doesn't one player-year of injury for a star player due to sprinklers pay for the entire cost of installing drip irrigation on a ball field? Maybe I'm being unrealistic, it's just something that I've always questioned when I hear about such injuries. Another example would be walls and fences, which have shown some improvement over the years with padding but still seem to have unpadded areas that could be rather easily addressed.12 hours 19 min ago
OBFDaddyO... those fields and every field that every player plays on has those same sprinklers and same soft spots... Blame it on extremely bad luck, blame it on injury proneness and ungracefulness like Matt said, but you really can't put this one on the club... thousands of players spend thousands of hours on those fields every spring... Saunders is just the lucky first to trip on a sprinkler head I guess? Yup, Matt, sure glad we flipped Saunders for something useful.12 hours 56 min ago
DaddyORe: Ackley's new baby, as a person I'm happy for him. As a fan, it occurs to me that sometimes the birth of a first child gives a player a new, even stronger reason to succeed.13 hours 27 min ago
DaddyOOh man, that's tough luck for Saunders. That's not fragility, it's just...what...incompetence by the club allowing highly paid athletes to train on fields where it's that easy to seriously hurt yourself? Frankly, I don't understand it. Isn't drip irrigation feasible?13 hours 29 min ago
SABR MattYeah...it's a freak injury, but there are players who get freak injuries more often because they are not graceful, or because their connective tissue doesn't handle stress well. Saunders seems to be both not graceful AND prone to injuries that are worse than the triggering event suggests they should be. I, for one, am glad we got value for him in trade.14 hours 7 min ago
OBFSoft Spot in the ground has got to be worse than rounding the bases (Snelling) in terms of, "Good grief what did you do to get such bad karma" ranking... Not quite as bad as, what was it, carrying a suitcase up some stairs for Sasaki, though ;)14 hours 20 min ago
OBFI feel for Saunders, totally sucks for him, similarly I feel for Derick rose as well (same injury actually, torn meniscus), but JackyZ has to be thinking, :"Heh, heh, heh... see, internet, I TOLD YOU SO!" Lots of sites raked Jack and Mac over the coals for not trusting Saunders and for trading him away (in what they saw as) an unfavorable trade... are they going to issue retractions or admit The M's were right on this one now?14 hours 24 min ago
MtGrizzly@ShiDavidi: Michael Saunders stepped on soft spot around underground sprinkler on outfield grass while shagging flies yesterday. Left knee buckled.14 hours 45 min ago
SABR MattWow...brutal15 hours 45 min ago