Roy Halladay and the ABC's of Pitching

Roy Halladay and the ABC's of Pitching


Much has been made of Roy Halladay's legendary workout regimen. After injuring his groin during the Phils Game 5 win over the Giants in the NLCS he took a couple of weeks off and then got right back to the business of preparing for the 2011 season. He shows up at the Carpenter Complex for pre-dawn workouts, he runs stadium steps, for all we know he probably jazzercises.

Yes, Harold Leroy Halladay is 6'6" and 230 lbs. There's no question his physical gifts are immense. But his physical prowess only tells part of the story. If fireballing right-handers of that size were guaranteed success based on their physical stature alone then all 6'7" and 230 lbs. of Jerry Spradlin would be in the Hall of Fame.

It's not size that distinguishes Doc from his peers. What separates Halladay from other pitchers is his ability to focus on each and every pitch separate and apart from both his last and next pitch. He takes the zen mantra of living in the moment to the extreme. To Doc it's all about the now.

How did he get like this?

Last year's Sports Illustrated cover story on Halladay provided a unique glimpse into what makes him tick. By this point you likely know that early into his big league career the Blue Jays sent him down to A ball to rediscover the stuff which made him the 17th overall pick of the 1995 amateur draft.

It was during this time that Brandy Halladay, Roy's wife, picked up a book for him which she hoped would help restore his sagging confidence. The book was called "The Mental ABC's of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement." The book was written by Harvey Dorfman.

Who is Harvey Dorfman? How did he come to help transform a struggling pitcher demoted to A ball into the most dominating pitcher in baseball and a potential Hall of Famer? Why have you likely never heard much, if anything, about a man who has helped players like Greg Maddux and Alex Rodriguez?

Well, the answer to the last question is that you haven't heard much about Dorfman because that's the way he prefers it. Answering the first two questions is a bit more difficult.

Fortunately, writer Karl Taro Greenfeld was able to spend time with and interview Dorfman. Greenfeld's Men's Journal story tells how Dorfman found his way from high school teacher to trusted confidant of some of the greatest players in baseball history.

After reading the story it's hard not to draw parallels between Dofrman's work and the work of Bill James and other sabermetricians. Both initially worked on the fringes until the Oakland A's acknowledged the potential of their work. Early on both were dismissed by the baseball establishment.

However, their work produced results which were impossible to ignore. Eventually the rest of Major League Baseball determined there was value in their respective disciplines.

If you're the least bit interested in what helps to make Halladay such a succesful pitcher then I urge you to read Greenfeld's piece.

Photo Credit: Carr/AP

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

NBA Playoffs: Raptors advance past Bucks despite blowing 25-point lead

MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.

Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.

The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.

Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.

But the Bucks finished one comeback short.

The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.

Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.

The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).

NHL Playoffs: Crosby, Bonino lead Penguins to Game 1 win over Caps

NHL Playoffs: Crosby, Bonino lead Penguins to Game 1 win over Caps

WASHINGTON -- Sidney Crosby scored two goals in 52 seconds, Nick Bonino had the winner in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.

In a high-profile showdown of Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, Washington's captain also scored and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the goal that tied it in the third. But Marc-Andre Fleury made 15 of his 32 saves in the third period to help Pittsburgh to the win.

Crosby was a threat to score just about every time he touched the puck. He beat Braden Holtby with his first two shots of the second period.

Holtby stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced but allowed Bonino's goal with 7:24 left.

Game 2 is Saturday night (see full recap).

Karlsson helps Senators edge Rangers 2-1 in Game 1
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Erik Karlsson scored on a bad-angle shot with 4:11 left in the third period, sending the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the opener of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.

The Senators captain beat fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist from just above the goal line. The shot pinged off Rangers center Derek Stepan before going into the net.

It was Karlsson's first goal and seventh point of the playoffs. The 26-year-old defenseman, who has been playing with a foot injury, also logged more than 28 minutes in the win.

Game 2 is Saturday.

Ryan McDonagh scored for New York, and Lundqvist finished with 41 saves.

Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa, which eliminated Boston in six games in the first round (see full recap).