The tools of extreme intelligence

Catchers are a rare breed. Usually, by age 30, your body has taken a beating most people cannot fathom. Your knees and ankles are destroyed. Your thumb has been pounded by so many fastballs that it cracks every time you make a fist. Foul tips have caused so many bruises on your body that your wife has mistaken you for Barney.

So, why in the world would anyone want to be a catcher? Frankly, I am not sure that anyone actually does want to be a catcher. You are born to be a catcher.

As kids get older, baseball becomes a more complex game. It is no longer just fielding the ball and throwing it to first base. Every person on the field has a job to do and must be prepared for each pitch. During situations such as bunt coverages, the catcher becomes a police officer directing traffic at rush hour.

Catcher is the only position that can see everyone on the field. That also means that everyone else can see him. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the catcher to call plays and direct the other fielders after the ball is in play. The catcher must be loud and confident but still remain calm and in control.

The most difficult thing a catcher must do is find an effective way to communicate with each pitcher. Some need to be yelled at while others appreciate a joke or pat on the back. The pitcher’s mound can be a lonely place. A good catcher monitors the pitcher’s physical and mental state at all times.

It is hard to find a really good catcher. With Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez, the Reds have a unique situation. Dusty Baker’s main task is keeping them both sharp offensively and matching them up with the starting pitchers.

Earlier this month, Hernandez confronted Aroldis Chapman in the dugout after Chapman’s velocity was noticeably down. It turned out that Hernandez made the right move and possibly saved the star reliever a trip to the disabled list. Chapman took several days off and returned throwing his fastball in the triple-digits.

Over the weekend, Edinson Volquez lost to the Cardinals because of one bad pitch to Yadier Molina. Hanigan called for a changeup based on the sequence of pitches that had retired Molina earlier in the game. Volquez shook Hanigan off, threw a fastball and Molina hit a 3-run homer. Volquez said after the game that Molina was looking for a fastball.

Of course he was, after he saw Volquez shake off Hanigan. By the way, what position does Molina play?

Oh yeah…

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