The Art of Catching
"This is about the third 'Tip of the Week' where I harp on catchers to push the pace of the game. Am I crazy? Probably, but that's beside the point. Here's a question for you. From 2003 to 2009, can you guess who the five quickest working pitchers were? Just five schleprocks named Greg Maddux, Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Jake Peavy. I might be crazy, but I'll take that starting staff.
"Once again, let me reiterate that working quickly works. And I think it's important to understand and teach that the catcher (as much as anyone) is responsible for this facet of the game. How quickly you catch the pitch, get it back to the pitcher, and put another sign down will dictate how quickly a game moves. Here are the simple facts: Pitchers who work quickly are more effective. The defensive players behind a fast-working pitcher are more consistent. Hitters facing a quick pitcher are less effective. Girlfriends of pitchers who pitch quickly are happier. Short games are a thing of beauty.
"White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper on Mark Buehrle's pitching style: 'He sets the pace; he's attacking. He doesn't give the hitters time to think and regroup. He may get away with not making some pitches because he's on the attack.'
"Here's another fascinating thing about Buehrle's approach: he'll go through entire games without shaking off his catcher. 'Sometimes I don't pay attention to what a hitters' tendencies are ... my catchers see their tendencies, so I just go with what they say,' Buehrle said. Mark wisely understands that execution and location are far more important than the right pitch.
"From a hitter's perspective, here's what Darin Erstad has to say. 'You hate it. You're trying to be slow and calm in the box, and it feels like he's already let go of the ball.'
"I'll finish with this Greg Maddux quote on why he loved working with catcher Eddie Perez: 'Eddie got the ball back to me in exactly two seconds after every pitch. That allowed me to work at whatever pace I wanted.'"