Friday, April 29, 2011
SMALLS TALK: The Spit Hit
Ok, it's gross. But once you get over the whole spit flying everywhere thing, you gotta admit - it's pretty cool.
It's become an on-deck ritual of mine, and it can either make or break my entire psyche as I approach my next at-bat.
The Spit Hit is simple, really - you spit into the air, and in one fluid motion, you take a full swing, hoping to square up your target and blast saliva particles in every direction. Hey, I already admitted it was gross.
In the game of baseball, confidence is everything. The Spit Hit is simply a last second confidence booster - a tangible reminder that I can hit anything. What a sharp eye! And such lightning quick hands! After barrelling up a loogy, I head to the plate feeling invincible. And as disgusted as on-lookers may be, deep down, well, they're pretty impressed.
I first saw the Spit Hit in college. The kid who brought it to my attention was our team's best hitter and an eventual top draft pick - he had to be on to something, right? I'd watch him do it before games and think to myself, "Now that's a hitter. Someone who can just pick anything out of mid air and put the fat part of the bat on it, no problem."
I was determined to work such an awe-inducing talent into my routine. After a few days of battling inconsistency, I eventually became a pro. I was hitting spit, sunflowers seeds, gum, you name it. Turns out, the spitting aspect is the hardest part. After you learn how to put the proper touch on the projectile, it's just back to basics - see target, hit target.
And its psychological affects are not to be overlooked. I could be without a hit in my last 30 at-bats, but if I connect on a solid Spit Hit before I make my way to the plate, in my mind, the pitcher's in trouble. It's a mental game I play with myself - baseball's filled with them. Players are always looking for that mental edge, and to me, if I can smash something the size of a marble free falling in mid air, hitting a baseball is no problem.
But in the rare occasion that I happen to miss the spit... please say a prayer for me. What just happened? Where did my hand-eye coordination go? How could I miss it? All of a sudden, I'm a wreck, and it's too late for another attempt. I walk my way toward home plate without hope, basically crossing my fingers that I get walked in four pitches. With each step toward failure, I try to reassure myself of my ability, replaying every big hit I've ever had in my head. But those had to be flukes, right? I mean, I couldn't even hit the spit! I'm doomed.
Alright, it's not that drastic. But it's worrisome enough for me to step out of the box and try a successful Spit Hit immediately after the first pitch. Gotta get that invincibility back.
That's all it is. As Henry Ford said at some point between crafting the Model T and the Explorer, "Whether you think you can or can't, you're right." Doubt always leads to an out. Confidence is essential for any hitter to be successful, and the Spit Hit is just a quick way to reinforce that confidence before each at-bat.
So once you get over the icky factor, give it a try. It may be the edge you're looking for. Just remember to wipe off your bat - for me, a subtle swipe of the pant leg always does the trick.
SMALLS TALK Series
Being Friends with Pitchers
The Yankee Core
You Play Right Field?
It's Not Always Sunny in Arizona
Helmet for Pitchers?
Approaching Spring Training
Top 5 Things I Won't Miss About My Local Gym
Getting New Equipment
Last Day at Work
My Bat of Choice
The Superstitions and Quirks of a Ballplayer
The Art of the Autograph
Greensboro's 'Bat Dogs'
Tim Kurkjian is a Man Among Boys
Baseball Movie All-Star Game: Starting Lineups
Pre-Draft Medical Questionnaires
The Ryan Howard Namesake
The Magic of the Rally
Jeter and A-Rod, How Times Have Changed
Summer Leagues - Cape Still Cream of the Crop?
SportsCenter Commercials are Better Than Most Shows
Schilling's Bloody Sock
Red Sox Nation Goes Crazy, JD Drew Can't Be Bothered
Minor League Hats are the Way to Go
Who Has the Best Uniforms in College Baseball?