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Blog Entry

Glavine makes his next pitch

Posted on: May 6, 2010 8:19 pm
Edited on: May 6, 2010 9:09 pm
 

Most ironic development in the 2010 season?

Retired ace pitcher Tom Glavine, now a special assistant to Braves president John Schuerholz, signing on as a spokesman for the company that developed and licensed the technical aspects of a certain computer program to ... Questec.

As in, the computerized strike-zone grading mechanism that caused freaked-out umpires to squeeze the zone a few years back ... which nearly blew up Glavine's golden years in the game.

Funny how in life our enemies can become friends, and vice-versa, huh?

The pitching program Glavine liked well enough to sign on with is called PitchSight, and it was developed by L-3 Communications of Burlington, Mass., about a year-and-a-half ago.

In a nutshell, PitchSight is a computer-based system that has the capability of tracking a number of elements designed to aid a pitcher's growth and development. Two cameras and a computer help spit out graphs charting a pitcher's release point, pitch speed, arm angle, the break of a pitch and the location of a pitch.

The intent is that by using the program, a pitcher will be better able to repeat arm angles, pitches and other technical aspects that needs repeating to be successful.

Glavine, who won 305 games in the majors and should be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2014, likes and believes in PitchSight for several reasons.

"It's pretty simplistic -- there are not a lot of bells and whistles," he says. "You can get instantaneous feedback. You can be in the middle of a bullpen session, stop and immediately dial up a pitch and get information that is pertinent with no guesswork.

"One thing that separates it from video is that in video, there's some gray area as to what you think you're feeling and what you see when you're watching."

By its graphic nature, Glavine says, with PitchSight, "what you see is what you get. There is no guesswork."

"Virtually every year down the stretch, I'd go through a period where I wasn't comfortable," says Glavine, who also offered tips and helped tweak the program while it was in development. "Sometimes you feel way off when in actuality you may be only a little off. Sometimes you feel just a little off when in actuality you may be way off.

"Sometimes you'd watch video, but there was still room for interpretation."

Glavine thinks this program would have helped him ("I'm not saying I would have won 100 more games").

And just think, if he's right, it probably could have done so with far fewer words than it took, say, former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

"And less expletives," Glavine says, chuckling.

The system sells for $30,000, plus installation. Ken Riddle, L-3 Communications vice-president, says Boston College is among those currently testing the system. The company is hoping its system will catch on with some major-league teams, which it thinks could benefit in expediting the development of younger pitchers in minor-league systems.

As for the idea that it's revenge for Questec?

"This is absolutely something to help pitchers out," Riddle says, chuckling. "I'm not sure I'd call it revenge. It's a different application of technology."

Or, as Glavine says, "You're stealing an evaluation tool pitchers were not real fond of, and now it could be an evaluation tool that is beneficial to pitchers. That's why I like it."

Likes: Still love the XM radio baseball package where you can listen to every game every night (and the MLB Extra Innings package on the tube, too). If only XM had been around a couple of decades ago, just think how many folks could have heard Ernie Harwell then. ... How about the play of Andruw Jones this year? White Sox fans may love it, but Dodgers fans surely are thinking about how badly Jones stole Los Angeles' money. Michigan summers. ... The Hold Steady at the Belly-Up Tavern in San Diego (actually, Solana Beach) on Tuesday night. Their new disc, Heaven is Whenever, sounds great and the show was stellar. Constructive Summer and Stay Positive were among the many standout numbers in the live show. ... These opening acts for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' summer tour: Joe Cocker, Drive-By Truckers, ZZ Top, Buddy Guy, My Morning Jacket and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Now that's strong. ... Finally, season four of Friday Night Lights debuts on Friday night. Nice job, NBC, keeping it on ice for so long that it again faces long odds of getting good ratings. Talk about giving a great show no chance. Of course, there was no room on the schedule, I know, with the lame Jay Leno 10 p.m. show going.

Dislikes: Farewell, Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. What a bad week. First Ernie Harwell, now the ace of the Phillies 1950 Whiz Kids.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Mama, take this badge off of me
"I can't use it anymore
"It's gettin' dark, too dark to see
"I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Mama, put my guns in the ground
"I can't shoot them anymore
"That long black cloud is comin' down
"I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
"Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door"

-- Bob Dylan, Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Comments

Since: Feb 11, 2008
Posted on: May 8, 2010 2:18 am
 

Glavine makes his next pitch

Wow , this is very interesting.To most longtime baseball fans, think you will find a large majority that would agree Glavine's strike zone was six inches further off the outside of the plate than most hurlers.
 Perhaps it was an optical illusion created by television cameras, or a certain angle of delivery that belied the eyes of oh too many National League umpires.
 Nothing to take away from Tom Glavine's success, think he could have done nearly as well, but it is of my opinion, if there was one pitcher who " got the calls" over the last twenty years, Tom Glavine would be my immediate response , without a close second. Thanks for that Mr. Miller, keep us posted.


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