Monday, March 29, 2010

My Not So Secret Love Affair

We all know I love catchers.  I love the players who catch and I love catching.  I love that catchers are involved with every pitch of the game.  They aren't the most loved player on the field.  They don't get the same praise as pitchers and it's surprising when they hit 40+ home runs or have a batting average over .310.  They are the "backstop".

It's a nickname that was taken literally for a time about 150 years ago.  The catchers were simply there to stop the baseball.  Otherwise, the game was up to the pitcher.  They got even less respect when they started to wear equipment.  Why should the backstop have to protect themselves?  Five years ago there was no equipment.  This year all of a sudden they're weaker?  They simply got no respect.

Today, there is Joe Mauer, Jorge Posada, the Molinas.  Otherwise, the big name players are mostly outfielders.  People have a better understanding of the toughness of catching but still don't get it all.  Even the ones that aren't big names have a tough job to do. Catchers have to deal with an entire pitching staff.  They have to know which pitchers like to throw which pitches in which counts.  It's a lot to type, much less carry-out everyday.  Even the catchers that toil in the minor leagues have a tough job.  They have to catch young pitchers.  They've probably caught more pitchers than the average fan can name, while being a role model and mentor to younger catchers.  They're the ones teaching the rest the tendencies of pro batters and pitchers.  They wouldn't be but pitchers with any talent are called up.  There are usually 12-13 pitchers on a team and 2-3 catchers.

It's simply a demanding position.  I didn't start catching until last year.  In fact, I used to hate catching because it would take away from batting practice time.  But now, I'd rather catch the batting practice than take the swings.  I hate when I play in a game and feel like I didn't do anything.  When I catch I always know I was a part of that game.  Standing in right field isn't always going to get my uniform dirty.  Catching assures I finish the game knowing I was a part of it.

I can't imagine enjoying playing any other position as much as I enjoy catching.  It makes me more sore than I ever want to be, but I love where the soreness comes from.  Catching simply makes me happy.

Let's Go Mets!

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