Hitting the ball in the air consistently is easier said than done. It implies applying theoretical changes to the way a batter hits the ball, often altering a lifelong routine. The hands, the launch angle, the hips, the legs… it isn’t an easy exercise. However, the New York Mets’ catcher Wilson Ramos decided to give it a try.
Why would a hitter try to lift the ball more often? Thanks to analytics and advanced metrics, we have come to understand that a batter would enjoy better results at the box if he hits line drives and fly balls than if he consistently puts the ball in the ground. Liners are considerably more difficult to field and often result in a high hit probability, while flies lead to increased slugging numbers, namely doubles, triples and homers. You can’t hit it out of the park if you don’t lift it.
So why did Ramos seek a change in his approach? According to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News, he was getting tired of the critics and whispers.
After all, he hit 18.4 % of liners, 19.2 % of flies and an absurdly high 62.4 % of ground balls in 2019. He led the league in GB %. He is not particularly proud of it.
The Mets’ catcher had the drive to improve
Mets fans were particularly vocal about the situation. They often criticized the catcher’s offensive output from the stands and through social media.
“I heard a lot of bad things last year about hitting the ball the other way and not putting the ball in the air,” Ramos said to Thosar. “At some point, I got pissed. But I have to take those bad things as a positive. You can come back here and feel mad about the people talking about you, or you can come here and be the same person.”
Not only is Ramos trying to alter his swing – he already has a home run and a couple of well-struck balls this spring – but he is also getting familiar with new pitchers and experiencing fatherhood. He is also trying to improve as a framer.
It took him a month to become familiar with the change in approach from a ground ball hitter to one trying to join the “flyball revolution.” It remains to be seen which results he can achieve in the games that count. Certainly, the New York Mets and the fan base are intrigued.
“Years ago, people that hit for average were great players,” Ramos said. “Now, you can hit .300 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI and they don’t care. Now, if you hit 40 homers, .250 and 75 RBI, you’re one of the best players in baseball. So it’s totally different.”
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My husband woke up in the middle of the night, worried suddenly that our kids would fall victim to a pandemic virus and die.
“I just wish they were home,” he said.
You’d think you would stop worrying about your kids so much when they are old enough to be out in the world. But I know how he feels. I had a dream earlier in the week that our younger child was in some sort of danger I had no way of alleviating, and I woke up in a panic.
In the middle of the night it’s easy to focus on dangers and worries. The middle of the night is no time for rational thought — that’s what morning is for.
But even in the morning I worry about the world we are leaving our children. Will they have jobs, health insurance, clean air and water? Will they have access to fresh food?
Will they have kids themselves, and what will the world be like for those kids?
A report released just after Valentine’s Day found that the health and future of every kid worldwide is threatened by carbon emissions, pollution and general planetary degradation, as well as targeted marketing of soda and fast foods, tobacco products and alcohol.
The report, commissioned by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the science journal The Lancet, looked at the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals from the perspective of how those goals measure up for kids. It discusses how children are affected by poverty and war, traffic and air pollution, health care and education, as well as dangers ranging from rising sea levels to increasing carbon emissions to crime and pedestrian safety.
Who wouldn’t be up all night worrying after reading a report like that?
The answers, the report says, all stem from global commitments. The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by member nations in 2015, are lofty — among them affordable clean energy, clean water and sanitation; an end to poverty, hunger and war; and environmentally responsible consumerism, all by 2030.
It’s time to put children at the center of those goals, the report says. In other words, we need to think less of our own inconvenience and more about what the world will look like when our kids and their kids are grown. Will they survive? Will they flourish?
The report calls on governments worldwide to take action, to invest in child well-being, and to measure policies and decisions by how they impact our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
When you think about whether there will be clean water anywhere in the future, maybe a plastic-bag ban isn’t too onerous. When poor kids worldwide suffer the most from air and water pollution, maybe loosening environmental regulations to save corporations money is a poor choice by governments.
“The health of children, and their future, is intimately linked to the health of our planet,” is one of the key messages of the report.
It’s not good nighttime reading. But it is the perspective we need when we’re thinking about our own goals.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on March 15. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.
Stanford seniors Walker Little and Foster Sarell took some time after the Cardinal’s second spring practice to chat about how last season is fueling this season’s motivation, the expectations and impact of Little’s return, and to give us a glimpse at some of the personalities inside the Cardinal’s O Line room.
So we’re here with offensive tackles Foster Sarelll and Walker Little. First question for Walker. How are you feeling right now? Where are you from maybe being back on the field?
WL: Yeah, I mean, I feel good. Knee’s coming along well, rehab’s going well, we’re on track. Hopefully, I’ll start running pretty soon here and build up for some drills in Spring Two. I feel like I’m a lot stronger in my upper body and trying to work on some other weaknesses. But it’s been productive and I feel like I’m in a good spot right now.
Foster what’s been the impact of having a guy like Walker come back for that extra year and what can he bring to the offensive line?
FS: I personally like we have a good relationship and we like to talk about technique and stuff. So it’s been really great just to have him around have another year so we can just kind of talk about stuff. I really enjoyed that and I think it’s gonna only benefit us as players and stuff from here out.
Walker how tough was it just to sit that entire year, essentially not be able to play but maybe gaining from watching from another perspective?
WL: Obviously you want to play, especially getting hurt the first game. You come into the season with so much hype and expectations of what you want to do that year and dreams and aspirations and when it gets cut short like that it’s tough to sit there. But I try to use it on both, physically getting better and mentally to be able to learn the playbook, watch Foster and some other guys and critique them and learn from them. They did a lot of great things and I tried to watch as much film as I could and get better mentally.
Foster throughout the year, we heard a lot of focus on finding the best kind of fit for the players and finding the right schemes, the right plays. How do you feel you guys did that especially in the run game and how far do you think you are from finding that scheme that’s going to get Stanford back to the running games that people saw with Christian McCaffrey and Toby Gerhart?
FS: Yeah, I mean last year we were dealt a tough hand, the injuries and we had a lot of young kids playing. I think the personnel we have is going to be the reason why we’re so successful. I think these freshmen are really going to establish themselves and become really good players. And then from that, and we’re going to take that to wherever we want to. I think we have a lot of potential. We’ve just got to put in the work and see where that goes from there but I see nothing but great things coming from us.
Foster can you talk about what you saw from Walter Rouse last year, you know where he started from that first start in the Coliseum to where he is?
FS: Yeah, he developed a lot. He gained like 20 pounds in the season. I think from where he started to where he finished, he improved a whole lot. He focused on what he needs to focus on. He’s very coachable. I enjoyed being around him. I think the sky’s the limit for the kid.
Walker there’s a little bit of a competition for the guard spots this year. Give us that tackle’s perspective on the guy next to you and what that relationship is like?
WL:The line as a whole, you all want to have relationships with everyone and there’s a lot of communication that goes on. But definitely being a tackle, you only have one guy next to you a lot of times and it is that guard. It’s nice to have a good relationship, being able to communicate to get the job done effectively. Oftentimes your blocking schemes require a lot of communication and a lot of working together. So it’s nice to have a good relationship with a guard, and I’m sure whoever that is, that we’ll be able to build chemistry and play good games.
For both you guys 4-8 isn’t the standard that Stanford Football’s held itself to over the past decade. How much of a chip on your shoulders is showing that last year is an aberration and that this year’s Stanford Football team is not a 4-8 team?
WL: Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely driving us. Last year was a little bit embarrassing. For us, we didn’t come here to go 4-8. None of us want to go 4-8, and we feel like we have a better team than that. So we’re trying to use it this offseason to drive and people aren’t having high expectations for us so we want to try to prove them wrong and come out here every day with a workman’s attitude and mentality and we’ll show them all wrong in the fall.
You guys have a pretty good relationship so let’s do a little lightning round. Between the two of you, who’s the best dresser?
WL: Oh, man…
FS: We dress very differently.
WL: Yeah. I don’t know. We’re both pretty casual.
FS: You have definitely more of a like…I don’t know.
WL: I just say we’re tied. We don’t dress up much.
What about pet peeves? Foster, what’s Walker’s pet peeve?
FS: These are not lob questions. What the heck? I don’t know pet peeve. Do you have one for me?
FS: You got some lobbers, some nice dunks? These are hard.
So last year, Simi did a good impression of Coach Kennedy. Who on the offensive line would be the best impersonator of Coach Carberry?
WL: Yeah, Drew Dolman. He could absolutely destroy it.
FS: He’d kill it.
WL: If you need one of those just get Drew.
FS: He probably won’t do it but just know he’s elite. If you put pressure on him..
WL: He’s really good at it.
And then who’s the one person on the line where what you see or what you may think from their outward appearance does not match what you get when you get to know them personally. For example, we heard that Bryce Love was the trickster on the team and I think he never gave off that impression.
FS: I’d say Branson’s quite the intellectual. He’s very smart, he’s super-talented, jazz pianist and stuff like that is very impressive. Drew’s ME.
WL: He’s a smart kid mechanical engineering, so I’d probably go Branson too. He’s really talented musically and he’s a genius.
FS: He is a genius. He’s really smart.
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R.J. Abeytia has been contributing to The Bootleg since 2014. You can follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Abeytia and follow The Bootleg @TheBootleg for up to the moment Cardinal news and analysis. Also, you can follow The Bootleg on our Facebook page. Drop by and give us a like!!
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