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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Screwball Southpaw-in-Chief Shakes Off Top Catcher in Afghan Series

Related Link » Obama seeking options on forces
“President Obama has asked the Pentagon's top generals to provide him with more options for troop levels in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials said late Friday, with one adding that some of the alternatives would allow Obama to send fewer new troops than the roughly 40,000 requested by his top commander.”
— ‘By Anne E. Kornblut and Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, October 31, 2009’

In baseball, the pitcher on the mound is in charge of initiating the play. His batterymate, the catcher, is his commander on the field, in that the catcher suggests, by signaling, what pitch should be thrown to the opponent at bat. In so doing, both pitcher and catcher know what the batter doesn't (because the batter is facing the pitcher when the catcher signals the pitch). Moreover, the middle infielders (and possibly the center fielder, if he has really good eyesight) are also aware of what is about to be delivered to the batter, so they can better prepare for any hit ball.

In general, the catcher is best qualified to direct the pitching tactics. Unlike the pitcher, the catcher is one of the position players (the eight defensive players on the field not including the pitcher) who normally play every game. The catcher is in the best position to gauge the batter's individual talent, having observed, up close, most opposing batters in action.

The fly ball in the ointment, so to speak, is that the pitcher, unlike the position players on the team, has a greater personal stake in the games he pitches, because he is the only player to whom the team's wins and losses are attributed personally (for the games in which he is the pitcher of record). And a pitcher's won/lost record is his livelihood, much like the position players' individual batting statistics are theirs. It is not uncommon, therefore, for the pitcher to shake off his catcher's signals until he gets one he is most comfortable with at that moment, despite the frequently better knowledge the catcher has of specific at-bat situations.

And so it happens that a pitcher, who may be a screwball specialist, for example, will shake off his catcher's signals for a fastball or a changeup, in order to pitch his specialty in a dangerous situation, and in so doing delivers a walk-off home run.

"Cy Young" Obama

UPDATE [November 1, 2009, 9:31 AM]:
“I think that clearly it is very important for a commander-in-chief whenever he can, in whatever way possible, to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers, our fallen military, folks, but I think, you know, what President Bush used to do was to do it without cameras, and I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House press pool with photographers and asking family members if he can take pictures.” [emphasis added]
— ‘Liz Cheney, responding to question by John Gibson at Fox News radio, Oct. 29, 2009.’

Post #986 Screwball Southpaw-in-Chief Shakes Off Top Catcher in Afghan Series

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