Committing Blasphemy

This is a groundbreaking moment in the history of MetsToday.com — we are committing outright blasphemy.

Because today, we take the words of the great Sandy Koufax to task.

In a quote from the NY Post, Koufax had this to say in regard to Oliver Perez:

“People pay too much attention to delivery,” Koufax said. “Pitching is precision throwing. Sometimes delivery is overrated. You don’t want to change what you do. Delivery shouldn’t interfere with your ability to throw. You make it a simple situation so you can retain it. You don’t want it to be something different every time you throw. If I can help somebody I’m happy to. I don’t have all the answers. Nothing works for everybody. It’s a question of trying it. Every pitcher should try everything to find out what works for him.”

I’ll agree with the last sentence. I’ll also agree with the part about pitching being “precision throwing”. And I’ll agree with the idea of keeping things simple, and repeating mechanics.

But, I cannot, under any circumstance, agree with the notion that “delivery is overrated”. In reality, delivery is EVERYTHING. If a pitcher’s delivery is just an inch off, it can drastically affect his command.

Oh, and I also am not blown away by Sandy Koufax in the role of teacher / coach.

Therein is the blasphemy, in case you missed it.

That’s right — Koufax, to me, isn’t going to make much of a difference with the Mets’ pitchers this year because, to be frank, he’s not a coach. He WAS, however, an outstanding pitcher in his day — maybe, the best pitcher ever. But that alone doesn’t make him a miracle worker as a teacher.

Consider this: how many homerun hitters are the product of training under Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, or Willie Mays? How many catchers will tell you that everything they learned, they learned from Johnny Bench? Is there one Gold Glove shortstop who learned the position under Ozzie Smith? And how did Jose Reyes do as a leadoff hitter / basestealer under the tutelage of Rickey Henderson? Yeah.

I think you get the point: superstardom does not necessarily equate to skill as a teacher. There is something to the old saying, “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”.

I bring this up not to throw mud in Sandy Koufax’s face — he is, after all, a legendary pitcher, a beloved Dodger, and great friend of Fred Wilpon. Rather, I want to make clear that Ollie Perez, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, etc., will not suddenly “get it” or put together a Cy Young performance in 2010 after speaking to Koufax. Yeah, I’m raining on the parade, I’m being negative, I’m squashing the hope that springs eternal this year — and, I’m blaspheming the immortal Sandy Koufax.

But, someone has to even the scales. The “big story” yesterday in every Mets media outlet, and by every beat writer, was the tired, old, and annual Sandy Koufax advice article. We read the same nonsense every spring, with only the names of Mets pitchers changning.

I have no pride, and am fine with smacking the rose-colored glasses off the faces of potential season-ticket buyers. Rip me below in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. gary s. February 24, 2010 at 10:00 am
    joe, i think wilpons buddy, koufax’s annual visit is 90 per cent p.r. and 10 per cent result oriented.i think very few met fans believe there is anyone on the planet who could make ollie a great pitcher after a 15 minute chat.it’s more to make daddy wilnot look like a big shot than anything else.that being said, tomorrow fred wilnot has arranged for the ghost of babe ruth to appear and give david wright a few tips to restore his home run swing.
  2. DCwill beat the mets February 24, 2010 at 10:40 am
    test my comment was too short. but its long enough for the smal IQ of the little arrogant metsie fans that come here. All 3 of you hahahahahahahahahaahahahahaah
  3. Nick February 24, 2010 at 11:27 am
    Good for you Joe, standing up for what you believe, against popular opinion, and with the threat of being ostracized from the community for taking Koufax and all legends down a peg (I’m thinking McGwire as the Card’s hitting coach).
    Can us fair-weather fans, still pretend Ollie Perez is going to get some kind of shot in the arm and turn it around? I commend your honesty and committment to whats right, but good God Joe, Hope is all we have!
  4. cmacfin February 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm
    Who the hell is Sandy Koufax anyway? enuf. Wilpon has an eternal hard one for the Brooklyn Dodgers as he showed in the horrible way he turned Citi Field into a shrine for the wrong team. Sandy’s team is in LA.
  5. Josh February 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm
    “And how did Jose Reyes do as a leadoff hitter / basestealer under the tutelage of Rickey Henderson? Yeah.”

    Rickey joined the Mets as a special instructor in 2006. From 2003-05 Reyes had an OBP of .303 with a walk rate of 3.6%; from 2006-09 Reyes had an OBP of .355 with a walk rate of 8.9%. That seems like a pretty significant improvement in his ability as a leadoff hitter. Whether that’s due to Rickey’s impact or simply maturation as a hitter is debatable, but the timing does coincide and drawing walks was certainly one of Rickey’s strongest skills.

  6. joejanish February 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm
    OK Josh you got me. I was referring to the more recent, and more concentrated, effect of Rickey on Reyes — when he was a full-time coach in 2007.

    Rickey took over in mid-July 2007 and was not brought back for 2008.

    Take a look at how Jose’s stats plummeted after Rickey was brought on full-time to see why Henderson wasn’t retained. Most people felt that Rickey had Jose thinking too much about stealing bases for the sake of stealing bases, resulting in Jose being exhausted down the stretch. But we beat that horse two years ago.