The Pinetar Rag

January 18, 2011

Joba: The Smoking Gun

Filed under: Uncategorized — mcgonnigle @ 11:23 pm

This is Max and I at Yankee Stadium after our baseball angel, Bob C, gave us two tickets to the Home Run Derby. It was here that Max told me, “…this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life”, and I will always remember those words. These were the same seats we used to call Joba’s pitches about a month later. I haven’t worn that shirt since, either. My 3 year old points to it in the closet and wants daddy to wear his “crazy shirt”. Someday.

Yesterday’s post on Joba Chamberlain got me searching the web half heartedly, to see if my nephew and I were the only ones who were reading his pitches. I figured, “…SOMEone out there must have also seen this!”

Interestingly, I turned up this.

It’s a pitching coach looking at Joba’s delivery for signs of why his control and velocity declined so precipitously. He actually nails the “tell” that Max and I were using to call his pitches.

He states that the reason Joba is lower on velocity and control is that he’s not keeping his hands lower and separating them early, like he did when his stuff was sharp. But that early separation and the length of pause was EXACTLY what gave you the ability to read the guy!

So the coach here is smart enough to see the difference in his delivery, but he fails to realize that he might have been FORCED to alter the delivery because he was tipping! Why else would you go away from something that had been your strength?

It’s making more sense now. If this man is right, and the change is what brought on the decline, then the tipping was known and it got out that it was known (either the Yanks figured it out on their own or got wind of it–sometimes, tipping can be backed into when hitters just spit on a filthy pitch and seem to “know” it’s coming), and the Yanks took counter measures.

Did the counter measures negatively impact the man? I suppose it’s possible, although, I don’t personally think so. I think, if you are throwing high 90’s with ease, and into a teacup, mind you; and then you suddenly can’t get withing 5 or 6 mph of it, then either you are hurt or you had some help (Weight training? Wheaties?…), and now the help is gone.

But, the narrative COULD go like this: Hitters around the league figured out he was tipping usefully (or, they read my emails), and the Yanks eventually figured that out and they changed his delivery. It messed with the guy sufficiently that he dropped 5 mph or so, and lost some control and wouldn’t that hurt your confidence too?

That…or it was the bugs on his face in Cleveland…anyway, it was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to share this with my partner in Yankee-hating crime; my nephew, Max. He should at least know that we might have caused baseball havoc…hahaha…

Enjoy the game.

Ok, ok, now I’ve clicked through and read the related piece on Joba, and the guy pretty much details that he is tipping, but he fails to see anything wrong with that, or I guess, he doesn’t think the info can be used.


The hesitation isn’t as exaggerated with his fastball as it is for his off-speed stuff, but the change is still evident. The result is a fastball with more command, but less velocity. This is because Chamberlain, when he hesitates, is briefly stopping momentum in his wind-up.[Actually, by hesitating, you’re just pausing your hand action so as to let your body catch up. It should be done in the glove at least and really not at all, because that pause is a tip. If you have to pause your hands to let your body catch up, then your hand action is too early, plain and simple.]

Here he says things that I didn’t see the way he did and do NOT agree with:

What’s interesting is how over time, Chamberlain increased the frequency [began tipping] of how often he utilized this hesitation. Chamberlain initially used the hesitation when throwing just his breaking stuff [Disagree: he hesitated ONLY when throwing breaking balls; that’s how you could read him].

However, Chamberlain soon began applying this hesitation with his fastball as well–not everytime [Yes, every time], but whenever he wanted to increase the likelihood of throwing a strike or even to throw off the timing of a batter.[Nonsense!]

If he varied that when we were watching, it wasn’t often. You didn’t get the hesitation when he threw the fastball–THAT was the easiest thing to spot! The hard part was telling the two breaking balls apart–he used more hesitation on the slower curve.

This guy is looking at the same thing that we were, but he’s attributing it all to some high level strategy, and to that I disagree. The hesitations were consistent and they were tells. I sat in the seats and could call his stuff. I’m willing to bet that he deliberately had to cool it with the early separation and low hands and the damaging hesitation; I’m just not about to say that THAT’S what knocked him off the elite pitchers list.

My ultimate takeaway here? Who the hell was the pitching coach? Man o man, with an asset like this kid? You fool around? Somewhere, there’s a golf course missing a guy. –fog

This is me putting a curse on the Yankee bat rack in 2008, right around the Joba-time. Did it work? You ever hear of a 205 million dollar team MISSING the playoffs?


  1. I just looked it up and the game we attended and called him on from the seats was July 30, 2008. I don’t even recall the opponent. –fog

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2011 @ 12:02 am | Reply

  2. I Bing’d around and came up with the 2008 staff: The pitching coach was Dave Eiland, who was recently dismissed. Indeed…

    The New York Yankees announced today their coaching staff for the 2008 season. They will be led by Manager Joe Girardi, who was named the 32nd manager in franchise history on Oct. 30.

    Girardi’s coaching staff includes three members of the Yankees’ 2007 Major League coaching staff. Those returning are hitting coach Kevin Long, first base coach Tony Pena and Rob Thomson, who moves from Major League field coordinator to bench coach. New to the Yankees’ Major League staff are two former Yankees players, pitching coach Dave Eiland and third base coach Bobby Meacham, along with bullpen coach Mike Harkey.

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2011 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  3. More on one of my favorite topics. Apparently none other than Johan Santana was tipping his money pitch last year for a spell. It can happen. You get complacent and you get sloppy and these big league hitters are all looking for an edge:

    The Mets are now convinced that indeed he was tipping his vaunted change, digging for a grip in a way that made the glove flare enough to tell hitters he was about to throw it.

    Barajas said he could see it himself at times, but didn’t think it was a real issue until the game against the Twins, Santana’s old team, two starts ago.

    “Every changeup we threw, they weren’t even budging,” said Barajas. “You could tell something was up. His changeup is too good for guys to lay off it like that.”

    As a result, Santana lowered the position of his glove in his set-up and changed the way he reached in for the grip, eliminating the tell-tale movement of the glove. As a result, he is getting swings and misses again, 12 strikeouts in his last two starts, and some weak swings producing easy outs.

    Comment by mcgonnigle — January 22, 2011 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

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