Think happy thoughts . . . think happy thoughts

I’ve always kind of admired Lou Piniella. For all of his bluster, he seems like a sensible and innovative kind of guy. Which makes this rather surprising:

Modern technology is a wonderful thing for 21st Century baseball managers, who have computerized scouting reports and stats at their fingertips at all times. But sometimes older is better, and after watching his players go back to the video room one too many times to replay poor at-bats, manager Lou Piniella is ready to put his foot down.

“We’ve talked about closing down the video [room],” Piniella said. “But what happens invariably is the pitching coach will go down there from time to time, and so will the hitting coach.

“But if we have to, we’ll close it down for the players, at least during the game. Visualization is a great tool. But at the same time, boy, visualize good things. Don’t keep putting bad pictures in your mind.”

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. The Cubs are lost and he probably feels he has to get a little more radical than usual in order to get them to snap out of it.

We learn from our mistakes, however, and given how many mistakes the Cubbies have been making lately, you’d think that order of the day would be more video, not less.

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  1. Michael said...

    Video does not necessarily help. Not everyone, even at the major league elite level, can make appropriate corrections themselves.

    If they come away from a video session thinking “I’ve got to swing earlier,” or “don’t swing at the low-and-outside breaking ball,” they may be hurting themselves more than helping.

  2. Millsy said...

    I think video is an incredibly useful tool for improving plate approaches, swings, stances, etc. for a baseball player.  However, while I disagree with Pinella’s reasoning, I think looking at video mid-game can counter its effectiveness.  I know as a pitcher, even trying to change mechanics mid-season is difficult, let alone at each at bat in a game.  This is the epitome of “trying to do too much”.  If you’re focused intently on where your stride is, where your shoulder is, what pitch you’re bad at hitting, WHILE you’re up at bat each time, you’re likely to be less focused on the task at hand: swinging at that ball you see coming at you.  I think the video would be put to better use after/before games, rather than in the middle.

  3. Mark R said...

    In response to Millsy and Lou and the rest of the don’t-overthink-it camp: these are major leaguers. They really ought to know what they’re looking for in the video room and make whatever incremental adjustments are necessary. They have the basics figured out, or they wouldn’t be in the majors. Right?

    And if looking at tape mid-game were really hurting players, wouldn’t that show up in the numbers?

  4. Ron said...

    Shouldn’t they be concentrating on the game at hand, and not sitting in a video room?

    It’s a great tool for evaluation, but it shouldn’t be used during games and it shouldn’t be the only tool used. That’s probably Lou’s point.

  5. ADC said...

    fwiw, I read (somewhere, can’t remember) that Chipper Jones rarely looks at the video of bad at bats, rather he watches clips of good swings as positive reinforcement. So, what Lou is saying does make some sense to me.

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