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The Trouble With Javey

I checked in with the baseball journalist Pat Jordan yesterday. Pat lives in Florida with his wife and their dogs. I wondered how theyíve been holding up under all the brutal weather. Pat replied, “Susie and I and the dogs drank a our way through Frances and are going to drink our way through Ivan. The shutters have been up for two weeks now and it’s like living in a cage. Still, a small price to pay for Paradise.” Jordan is a huge fan of Miami football and is still riding high since the Caines beat Florida State last weekend. I can hardly relate since Iím not a college football guy. Instead, I pressed him for his take on whatís wrong with Javier Vazquez. As usual, Pat, a former pitching prospect for Braves, pulled no punches.

Pat Jordan: Vazquez is throwing across his body, like many left-handers do. He’s following through towards third base and not first base. When a righty follows through, his left leg and left shoulder should be pulling toward a left-handed batter, which generates power with his right arm. When a righty follows through towards a right-handed batter, all his power is spent and he’s just flinging the ball with his arm.

BB: Three starts ago Jim Kaat spoke about balance on the broadcast. He said one simple exercise for a pitcher is for him to look at himself in the mirror and balance himself on his back leg for as long as possible. YES then showed a replay of Vazquez who looked like he was leaning about a foot forward off the mound. Are these kind of mechanical problems a result of anything mental? For instance, is Vazquez trying too hard and therefore rushing himself?

Jordan: Kaat is absolutely right. If a pitcher has proper balance he can stand in that one-legged Flamingo pose all day. Vazquez, can’t because his body is already leaning toward third base or a right handed batter, and he’s rushing to throw the ball before he falls to his right. It took me months when I was coming back to pitch at 56 to be able to stand on one leg without wobbling. Your weight has to be perpendicular, going down from head to toe. If your weight is off, like Vazquezís is, leaning to his right, you can’t sustain your motion and you rush your pitch. These problems are not mental, simple to correct. I’ve done it with l4 year old kids. It’s not a case of trying to hard it’s just bad mechanics obvious to anyone except the Yankee brain trust.

BB: Also, I’ve noticed that Vazquez just can’t put guys away. It seems that he gets hurt–especially with the long ball–when he’s ahead on the count, 0-2, 1-2. Is that a case of him trying to make a perfect pitch or what?

Jordan: The reason Vazquez gets hurt 0-2 is cause he can’t generate best stuff by pulling his upper body to his left, where his shoulder, not arm, generates speed. It’s the shoulder where the power comes from. No one throws hard who uses only the arm. Go look at old photos of Koufax in his motion. As a let, his right shoulder is pulled far to his right and almost touching the ground, which, in turn, elevates his left arm and gives it speed. But what the fuck do I know? I’m only a half-ass writer.

BB: How much influence does Mel Stottlemyre have on his pitching staff? As much of a Yankee icon as Stottlemyre is, heís been criticized for not getting the most out of his pitchers.

Jordan: There, my diagnosis. I could do a better job than Stottlemeyre. If he’s such a great pitching coach why do the Yankees send their troubled pitchers to Tampa to work with Billy Connors? The only reason Bill Connors is not the Yanks pitching coach is because he’s too fat, not the proper Yankee image. Iíve forgotten more about pitching that Stottlemeyre will ever know. I was the one who wanted to raise Weaver’s arm motion about 30 degrees so his fastball would sink more to lefties. The Dodgers did it and he’s having a good year. Why didn’t the Yankees do it? Cause they’re lazy. They buy guys and let them play. The have no concept of teaching or refining talent. They’re stagnating. Torre could let the Paul OíNeill guys just play because they were smart and corrected their flaws themselves. These guys are clueless, and need help. But again, what the fuck do I know?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver