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Book Review: Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer

February 12, 2019 | by JB Branson | Comments Comments Off on Book Review: Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer
Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer
Skip Lockwood has a fascinating story to tell.

Have you ever been at a baseball stadium or at home watching a game and get the strongest urge to be gripping an old, worn-out baseball? True baseball fans know exactly what we are talking about. You want to feel the laces under your index and middle fingers. You want to smell the dirty leather. We’ll be completely honest with you; we made it through the first chapter of this book, closed it, set it down, and headed straight for the garage. We needed to grip a baseball.

In case you are a younger or casual fan, Skip Lockwood was an MLB pitcher from 1970 to 1980. He started out as a starter with the Brewers and in 1971 threw 208 innings with a 3.33 ERA, good for a 2.5 WAR. In 1975, Lockwood found his way to New York as a converted reliever for the Mets. He was, quite frankly, untouchable, pitching 48 innings that season, with an 11.36 K/9 and a 1.47 ERA. Lockwood was basically 2018 Adam Ottavino. The next year (1976) was just stuff of bullpen legends: 94.1 innings (who does that anymore?), 10 wins, 19 saves, 10.30 K/9, and a 2.67 ERA. Not bad for a man that was signed by the Boston Red Sox at the age of 18 to play third base.

The stats are incredible, but the story is even better, and you can’t find that on FanGraphs. Insight Pitch is an autobiography that focuses on everything you can’t see at a game or on television. Lockwood describes the emotions of being a high school superstar athlete scouted by the top professional teams, and even brings you to his kitchen table to his first contract negotiation – which was unbelievable to us. The reader feels the mental struggles of a professional hitter, and enjoys a truly bizarre and hilarious ride in the life of a traveling minor league baseball player. Hands down, Lockwood had one of the most adventurous and interesting careers of any professional athlete. There was even a stint down in Puerto Rico, and a one-on-one agility session from an American Olympic legend.

The story is fascinating, yes, but that isn’t the reason you won’t be able to put this book down. Getting to live inside the head of a late-inning reliever at the big-league level is honestly a priceless opportunity, and Lockwood portrays it in such an addictive way. The mental aspect to baseball is severely underrated, and getting to “experience” the emotional stress of the last outs of a close baseball game in front of tens of thousands of fans had us sweating. We’ve even used Lockwood’s calming techniques he used on the mound a few times in our life after reading this book.

If you are a baseball fan of any level, even just casual, this book is well worth the read. From seeing how “old-school” managers treated their players and only cared about the surface stats (ban the win), and teammates pulling extremely impressive pranks on the new guys, to getting traded and arriving to a new team just as the game is starting, this book covers literally every little facet of the game. The hardcore baseball fan, however, absolutely needs to read this book. Reading the names of Lockwood’s teammates and managers is like going through an old box of baseball cards in your basement.

On a scale of 1-10, we give Insight Pitch a 1976 Skip Lockwood K/9.

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Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what your impressions of Skip Lockwood’s tale are.

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The Wire Troll: Dylan Bundy Finally Starting

July 17, 2016 | by JB Branson | Comments Comments Off on The Wire Troll: Dylan Bundy Finally Starting
Well, we’re finally getting our wish Sunday as Bundy will start — and get a very favourable matchup against the Rays, to boot. Taken fourth overall in 2011, the rookie hurler has a chance to stick in the rotation, at least for a time being. He’s only about 40 innings shy of the innings cap Baltimore has set on its prized prospect, so this is likely going to be a short-term pickup. But if you need pitching help with major upside, Bundy’s your man.
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The Wire Troll: Luis Valbuena Responding to the Pressure

July 10, 2016 | by JB Branson | Comments Comments Off on The Wire Troll: Luis Valbuena Responding to the Pressure
Since coming off the DL after undergoing 2015 Tommy John surgery, McCarthy has had his strikeout pitch working, fanning 14 in 10 IP while going 2-0 with a sparkling 2.70 ERA. Watch for the Dodgers to slowly stretch him out in the second half, which will make him even more valuable. With good veteran pitching hard to come by, McCarthy won’t last long, so pounce while you can.
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The Wire Troll: Bud Norris Seeks Redemption

July 3, 2016 | by JB Branson | Comments Comments Off on The Wire Troll: Bud Norris Seeks Redemption
We’re not saying Chisenhall has been hot over the past month, we’re just saying we saw two hobbits throw a ring at him. The lefty is hitting .560 with three homers over his last five games, and a cool .342 BA over the last month. Chisenhall is hustling righties as usual, but has also been respectable in limited time against the southpaws. He has filled in admirably for the injured Michael Brantley and played a large role in the Indians’ recent historic win streak.
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The Wire Troll: Oh My, a New Closer in St. Louis?

June 26, 2016 | by JB Branson | Comments Comments Off on The Wire Troll: Oh My, a New Closer in St. Louis?
But if Moya keeps up his current torrid pace, he could finally be up for good. Since his call up, the 6’7”, 260-pound mammoth is hitting .370/.433/.778 with three homers through seven games. Moya’s current BABIP is extremely high, but even in Triple-A he was sporting a .298 BA, a product of much better plate discipline compared to previous campaigns. Even if his playing time gets cut dramatically once Martinez returns in 4-to-6 weeks, the power potential from Moya is more than worth your attention.
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