Smoak, Bledsoe, and Slo-Mo Training

Dalai Lama 'An Open Heart' Dept.


Malcontent sez,


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.
Matty sez,
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,


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.


=== 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.


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 ........


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.


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.


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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SABR Mattremember when we almost traded Walker/Pryor/Furbush/Franklin for Upton? Remember how we all thought thatn would have been spectacularly bad? Pryor is broken, Furbush is mediocre, Franklin can't hit a fastball, and Walker is a ticking time bomb waiting for shoulder explosion. Maybe not so bad after all?7 min 42 sec ago
SABR MattThe Ms are a loser franchise because they refuse to ever take any risks...which is, of course, the riskiest thing you can do.10 min 12 sec ago
DaddyOThe M's are a loser franchise in part because they always seem to want to postpone the day of reckoning. In the offseason, they build a roster to see what they have, one that, if necessary, can be added to at the trade deadline. Then after they've gone through 50% of the season to prove that, yes, as we knew in the spring, they didn't have enough and had obvious holes, as the trade deadline nears they engage in a month of angst over whether or not they are willing to pay the price to make a bold move to redress their obvious issues, and inevitably they play it safe, telling themselves they'd rather make any bold moves in the offseason. They're always waiting for whatever they consider "reasonable" opportunities. For them, these opportunities almost never materialize, though they seem to for other clubs.28 min 1 sec ago
DaddyOTo me the M's showed their true stripes not when they signed Cano, but when they didn't double down and get someone to hit behind him. I'm getting less excited about a trade deadline add because the M's have simpy urinated away (hope this doesn't bother you or anyone else, Doc, but no other word describes it) too many games to make up for what could have been. I WILL get excited if their wait turns out to be for a prime piece that will be here at least for next year as well. But phxterry makes a great point below, that it's much easier to fix a roster in the offseason than at the trade deadline. (See next shout for continuation).32 min 53 sec ago
DaddyOTotally agreed Silentpadna. You hold back your prize chips in order to get back prize players, otherwise you're just playing Washington Generals to the big boys' Harlem Globetrotters. Re: your Dad, I didn't move to the Seattle area until 1995. Wish I could have read his work.39 min 17 sec ago
benihanaThe time to make a move has passed. The time was 3 weeks ago. Since then we've lost 7 games by 2 or fewer runs. It's also clearly a sellers market where teams with contending ownership groups and management are looking to pay premium prices for, among other things, second baseman and relievers. The M's should look to trade Farquhar, Biemel, Ackley, Taylor and/or Kelly. The ownership by committee's indecision and lack of competitive fire, coupled with GMZ's inability to get trades across the finish line have seen our playoff chances drop to 13%. A legitimate post season opportunity existed this year and ownership/management watched it go by like Brad Miller staring at strike three. In any other city it would be pitchfork time.41 min 8 sec ago
SilentpadnaI've shouted from the rooftops for years that the org needs to take a "win-now" position. Spending $1.15 or $1.25 for $1 is not a problem for me. That said, if you have any intention at all at landing the best player, you can't shoot your best chip out there for a patch. You could pick up somebody without trading Walker. If you even entertain the idea of a guy like a Stanton, that's who you hold a guy like Walker back for. I'm actually okay with the M's holding back if the price is too high. There really does have to be a line somewhere. Overpay for Stanton or Price/Zobrist? Fine. Overpay for Zobrist alone? Not bloody likely for me. Remember, this team was 9-17 in April, back when I said they were already irrelevant. I was wrong then. If I said it now, I could easily be wrong again.42 min 45 sec ago
DaddyO"Slip slidin' away. Slip slidin' awa-a-ay. You know the nearer your destination the more you're slip slidin' awa-a-ay" -- Paul Simon. min 50 sec ago
SABR MattPathetic...we're the only club in any organized sport who would read this position as "well, better be careful not to overpay to win...there's always next year"1 hour 2 min ago
SilentpadnaDaddyO, agree regarding Baker, but I'd take one guy ahead of him. Of course, that's only because he's family. My father was the TNT M's beat writer for two stints. The first 3 seasons and again through the mid-80s, long before the franchise had any money. But in terms of real reporting, and jouirnalistic integrity as a package, Baker is hard to beat.1 hour 2 min ago
phxterryIn fairness to GMZ as we criticize him for failing to pull the trigger to fix the M's offense, it's difficult to construct a properly balanced roster at the trade deadline, when sellers are demanding overpays and there are few players available. The M's current roster deficiencies were known in the spring, and were not addressed, for whatever reasons (genuine or manufactured). Tough to fix roster holes now without major over-pays. Well, the M's flirtation with the WC this year was nice while it lasted. I hope Felix continues his good health in 2015 and Cano's regression doesn't start til 2016. Maybe the M's will stay in contention through August next year. And maybe, just maybe, we won't have to watch Endy Chavez next year. Baby steps.2 hours 1 min ago
DaddyOWhen Baker came to Seattle he figured out what this franchise was all about and proceeded to hammer on it's deficiencies over and over and over again until many got sick of hearing about it. But Baker did something no Mariners beat writer had ever done before...investigative reporting. He did his homework, and he didn't pull his punches in order to retain access, something every M's beat writer had previously done, and something characteristic of the current crop of writers. Baker was like a predator who, once locked onto his prey, wouldn't let go. As such, yes, there were times where it seemed like he was in a feeding frenzy (a sort of insanity). But I'd take Baker over any other Mariners' beat writer in history.2 hours 51 min ago
moethedogDelete "At least one will be" in the last shout. Sigh....2 hours 55 min ago
moethedogThe daily Jackson report is really good: DJ with two hits including a homer. Pizzano with three hits, he's clearly found his stroke or isn't getting bad luck BABIP'ed anymore. Kivlehan with 2 hits, a double and a triple. I'm willing to bet that two of those three guys make an impact in Seattle. At least one will be Paolini only had one hit but it was his 26th double. Landuzuri gives up 5 hits in 7 innings. Now 5-2.12 hours 9 min ago
moethedogMatt, I'll disagree. The guy is rusty, clearly not in mid-season form and yet he just allowed two hits, no more. Young pitchers figure out the walk deal. They rarely lose the stuff deal.12 hours 21 min ago
merksLooks like the M's won an additional draft pick next year after the 2nd round from the competitive balance draft today. It's the type of draft pick that can be traded which is pretty cool in theory.14 hours 30 min ago
tjmThe Colon comp isn't Chris Young, it's Greg Maddux - same pitch mix, same late movement. You can pitch approximately forever with this stuff. And, if it escaped our attention, Baker was compltely insane. As Doc sez, I mean that in a good way. Guy's a bad dog working a bone. don't go near him.14 hours 39 min ago
MtGrizzlyDivish wants to be a sportswriter. Baker wanted more. And got it because he worked his toosh off while on the M's beat.14 hours 41 min ago
DaddyObsr, I COMPLETELY agree re: Baker. Divish simply does not produce the quantity or quality of content that Baker did. I can't figure out why, cause he shows at TNT that he had the chops. Apparently he just doesn't work as hard as Baker did.14 hours 56 min ago
IcebreakerXJudging from the shoutbox, Walker is sounding like a Rafael Soriano redux. Which must also mean we'll trade him for Jason Hammel.15 hours 34 sec ago