Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 317: Baseball for Beginners: Lesson #4 - The Outfielders

What a relief it was when I realized today was a baseball lesson day. I'm absolutely petrified to go perusing around the interwebs for fear of spoiling whatever Olympic events are going to be airing tonight in primetime. Seriously... this nine hour time difference is not doing anything for my stress levels—even though I'm pretty sure I said I wasn't going to let it get to me just last week. So tonight we move on to week four of Baseball for Beginners where we'll learn about the outfielders. If you missed weeks one, two and three, you can click HERE, HERE and HERE for those lessons.

The outfield (not the band from the '80's) is that vast stretch of emerald green grass just beyond the dirt of the infield that covers all the way to the wall. It's a magnificent expanse that is defended by just three guys—the left fielder who covers the left side obviously, the center fielder and the right fielder. They're responsible for catching fly balls and fielding base hits quickly to hold the runner to as few bases as possible. These players have a lot of ground to cover so generally, they should have some speed.

Outfielders tend to be a fearless bunch, throwing themselves into and over walls to try and make the catch. And home field advantage is often most important for them defensively because no two baseball parks have the same outfield blueprint. Each ballpark has its own quirks and corners and bounces. For example, Boston's Fenway Park has a left field wall that, while it stands only 305-310-ish feet from home plate, it stretches just over 37 feet high and serves as a large target for right-handed hitters. Many a potential home run has been robbed by that wall and those left fielders with vast Fenway experience, have the ability to hold a runner to a single off a ball that could've been a home run in a different ballpark.

Some of the greatest players in baseball history played the outfield. Red Sox slugger, Ted Williams, patrolled left field in the '40s and '50s and was the last major leaguer to bat over .400 when he hit .406 in 1940.  Even if you're not a die hard baseball fan, you may have heard names like Joe DiMaggio, Carl Yastrzemski, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth—all famous, Hall of Fame outfielders.

Here's just a little hint of what some outfielders put themselves through to try and get the job done... and when you're on enemy territory, you don't get too much help from those around you. Oh and well, this clip is just full of awesome so at least watch the first 30 seconds or so.

If that doesn't get you pumped up for baseball season, I'm not sure what will!

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