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Quote of the Day: “great piece of hitting”

Jul 21, 2011, 1:30 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics designated hitter Hideki Matsui hits a opposite field double in the second inning off Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver during their America League MLB baseball game in Anaheim

I think this every time I hear it from a broadcaster or a journalist, but I absolutely love that Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch put it in words on his Twitter feed this afternoon:

My definition of a great at-bat: One pitch, one swing, damage … The “great at-bat” and “great piece of hitting” crowds are entertaining. It’s as if they’re actually educating those around them. #strokers

The “strokers” tag is the topper. Made Diet Coke shoot out my nose just now.

And of course Strauss is right.  There’s always a smugness to that “great piece of hitting” exclamation, as if the guy saying it is seeing something you didn’t.  Sure, he made an adjustment or something after 15 foul balls because he couldn’t turn on the fastball, but let’s lighten up on that sort of praise.  As Strauss says, a truly great piece of hitting is when the batter rips a line drive that almost decapitates the third baseman and leads to the hitter being intentionally walked the next seven times he comes to the plate because he has put the fear of God Almighty in the opposition.

  1. joshfrancis50 - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    That’s a great piece of blogging, right there.

    • nolanwiffle - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      Wait…what? What’d I miss? I’m not seeing it.

  2. nategearhart - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    In the same vein, whenever a hitter takes an at-bat 12 pitches then gets an out, I always hope to hear the announcer say “Way to f*** that one up, numbnuts” .

    • Phillies Homer - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:50 PM

      Why? He caused the pitcher to throw 11 extra pitches before he got out. I’m sure his coach will be plenty happy with that at bat when it causes the pitcher to tire later in the game and have the other team make a call to the ‘pen.

      • professor59 - Jul 21, 2011 at 5:58 PM

        It sure worked against Halladay the other day. When will the Phillies batters get the message and wear out a pitcher that way?

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    “My definition of a great at-bat: One pitch, one swing, damage”

    I think a 10 pitch at bat where there is damage is much better than a 1 pitch at bat where there is damage.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      You are on a roll today Fiorentino….completely agree.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      Seriously. Again Fiorentino nails it. The 10 pitch at-bat made the pitcher pitch TEN PITCHES instead of just one. This will be a better at-bat any day over a single-pitch at-bat with the same outcome. That’s why they say it’s a great piece of hitting b/c one, it is a well-hit ball, and two, it tired out the pitcher too.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        PS. if his definition is a “great” at-bat is what is quoted above, then a greater at-bat is what Fiorentino and myself describe above.

      • Phillies Homer - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Then what is a “greatest” at bat?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        Leadoff at bat in the first inning…100 pitches, then a home run. That’s the greatest at bat. Good bye starting pitcher. 1-0.

      • Phillies Homer - Jul 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM

        Ha… if there was an EDIT FUNCTION, I would have updated my post with the same thing; as after I hit submit, I was thinking… “ooh I should have included a 90 pitch at bat that knocked the starter out of the game, would probably be the greatest at bat…”

        Glad someone else was thinking along the same lines!

  4. 18thstreet - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    I’m pretty sure that opposite field singles are, by definition, a great piece of hitting. A double cannot be.

    • natstowngreg - Jul 21, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      Disagree. A line drive into the opposite corner for a double (maybe even a triple) would qualify.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Right up there with, “He put a good swing on that one, fouled it straight back.” I would argue that a good swing makes the ball move forward, at least somewhat.

    • natstowngreg - Jul 21, 2011 at 6:42 PM

      My first exposure to the concept came from Joe Garagiola, doing the NBC Saturday Game of the Week with Curt Gowdy. The concept was simple — a good piece of hitting was hitting the ball hard the other way for a hit. See, Carew, Rod.

      Now, it can apply to hitting a weak grounder to second, if it advances a runner. Or fouling off a lot of pitches, tiring out the pitcher. I know this is Master of the Obvious terriroty, but it’s amazing how our understanding of the game has advanced in nearly a half-century.

  6. bcopus - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Anybody listen to the Mets-Cardinals game last night? Nomar was waxing poetic for an hour over Laird’s bunt. According to him, Laird had the supergreat piece of hitting.

  7. 18thstreet - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Oh, they love bunts. And hitting behind the runner.

  8. dexterismyhero - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    he hit that one on the screws……Or as Harry Caray would say….here’s the windup and the pitch…Hey, we have Evelyn Harris from Naperville in the crowd…she is 82 today…big hand for Evelyn…Ball outside…Hey Steve, get me a Bud….

  9. hughhansen - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    That’s what screws me up if I think too much about foul balls. With most, if the batter hit it better, it would’ve been a ground ball to second (or pop-up or whatever).

  10. jeffrp - Jul 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Hey Craig,

    Sometimes the pitcher doesn’t throw a first pitch thigh high 89 mph fastball on the inner third that every Francoeur, Betemit and Wily Mo can terrorize third baseman with. Sometimes at bats are more difficult and worthy of appreciation.

    Just sayin’.

  11. bigleagues - Jul 21, 2011 at 6:51 PM


    I think you swung and missed on this post.

    You just narrowly defined what you think should be referred to as a “great piece of hitting” – and that doesn’t have a certain smug quality to it?

  12. simplicitymadecomplex - Jul 22, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Wouldn’t any “great piece of hitting” be any time the batter does his job successfully based on the current situation ?

    And as any baseball fan[atic] knows there are a kazillion scenarios for each any every pitch thrown in any 1 game.

    Thus a hitter has the opportunity to perform a “great piece of hitting” at any time.

    Also any piece of great hitting will undoubtedly be viewed both objectively [passes a “baseball “litmus” test] and subjectively [hey that’s my fav. player and that was a great piece of hitting].

    Just part of the beauty of baseball.

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