Happy Opening Day everyone! Hope you all are enjoying all the games as much as I have!
For this year's first #NECCCATCHERMEME, I thought I'd address something we get asked all of the time. Something that tends to be a point of contention and causes a bit of controversy and confusion among catchers, parents and coaches who have listened to us describe the skills that we teach. In particular, the receiving skill.
I want to make this abundantly clear....I absolutely, without a doubt, 150%, HATE the term FRAMING. I. FREAKING. HATE. IT!
"Well Jay, all I hear about on TV and from coaches in the game is how good the best catchers in the world are at "framing". What on earth are you talking about?"
What I am talking about is very simple. In fact, it could be called semantics, but I am not going to stop there.
Do we teach what we believe to be the most effective way for a catcher to present the pitch to an umpire? Yes. Do we teach the catchers to receive each pitch in a certain way, depending on where the ball crossed the plate in an effort to allow an umpire to call it a strike? Yes. Do we in any way advocate moving the glove after the ball has hit it in an effort to fool an umpire into calling a pitch a strike? NO CHANCE! Why, you might ask? It's simple, IT DOESN'T WORK! Ball hits the catcher's glove, the umpire sees it hit the glove, the umpire hears it hit the glove and then the glove moves. Umpires are NOT blind deaf or dumb.
The quieter a catchers glove, the more borderline calls that catcher will get. The more movement the glove makes, the more it looks to an umpire that the catcher thought a pitch needed to be helped back into the zone. If a pitch needed help, how on earth could it have been called a strike? Simple, it couldn't have. And that is the conclusion most umpires will arrive at as well.
Now you might be under the impression that you've been taught the same thing....to not move your glove after the ball hits it. And for a lot of you, that skill of receiving has been taught to you as framing. After all a picture frame doesn't move, right? You are most definitely right. So why don't we refer to what we teach as framing? Because the majority of people in the games of baseball and softball believe that the skill of framing is a catcher's ability to turn a ball into a strike. That is simply not what we advocate, nor do we ever want there to be any confusion with what we teach.
So, will we ever describe what we teach as framing? Most likely not. We teach "proper receiving". If the games started to widely adopt the understanding that moving your glove after the ball hits it and trying to "steal strikes" just doesn't accomplish anything, only then would we consider changing our terminology.
Until then... #DEATHTOFRAMING
Thanks for reading! Please LIKE and SHARE if you enjoyed reading this! And keep an eye out for future posts like this during the whole Spring and Summer where we will break down the catcher's position at the highest levels in ways that will help all you catchers out there understand how to make yourself into a better player.