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

Former Eagle Byron Maxwell benched by Dolphins

Former Eagle Byron Maxwell benched by Dolphins

Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell is not starting tonight against the Bengals. Maxwell, who the Eagles traded this past offseason, was already seeing his playing time diminish. Now, he will sit in favor of Tony Lippett, who has not seen a single snap for the Dolphins this season.

The Eagles big trade this offseason keeps getting better and better.  They acquired the 8th overall pick in the draft in exchange for the 13 overall pick, Maxwell and Kiko Alonzo. Not only were they able to rid themselves of Maxwell’s awful contract, but they were able to get value for a player who is now not considered an NFL starter. 

The 8th overall pick that the Eagles acquired from Miami was flipped to the Browns among other picks to move up to number two. As you may know, that number two pick became offensive rookie of the month Carson Wentz. 

At the time of the trade, Maxwell originally failed his physical due to a shoulder injury. It was reported that the shoulder was so bad that he could not perform a simple pushup, but the Dolphins traded for him anyway.

The Byron Maxwell trade was the stepping stone for the Eagles to land their quarterback of the future, and this news can only make them feel better about the move. Howie Roseman had an incredible offseason cleaning up the mess Chip Kelly left behind, and Maxwell’s benching will certainly help his case for executive of the year. 

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

Brett Brown has 'completely different feeling' in training camp this year

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Brett Brown left training camp last September with an unsettling feeling. He had just completed long days of scrimmages, drills and planning, and yet he sensed the Sixers were not ready to tackle the 82 games that lied ahead. 

“I remember driving back to Philadelphia last year knowing in my heart of heart that this group was going to be challenged,” Brown said Thursday following the morning practice session at Stockton University. “That was a frightening drive home. That drive home scared me because I felt like, I know what we have and how are we going to be able to maneuver through this?”

Brown was right. The Sixers lost their first 18 games and began the season 1-30. They stumbled the rest of the way, finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a dismal 10-72 record. 

“We really didn’t know who the point guard was,” Brown said. “We came in extremely injured, we were trying to make the Nerlens (Noel) - Jahlil (Okafor) thing work, there really weren’t a lot of veterans to look around [and see], and you knew it.”

Now in his fourth training camp as head coach, with 47 wins and 199 losses with the Sixers behind him, Brown has different emotions as the team nears the end of training camp on Friday. 

Instead of a constantly-changing lineup of players, the Sixers are building a roster that can serve as the foundation for the future. There are nine new players on the team, including first overall pick Ben Simmons and rookie Dario Saric. Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut after two years of injuries, and the Sixers added veteran leaders in free agency.

Brown has a clearer picture of what the team could look like this season and beyond. He is coaching training camp to enter a new chapter, not to simply make it through the upcoming months. 

“You can leave and you can sniff reality,” Brown said. “Now what I see is there’s depth. There are challenges positionally as we’ve talked about. But there’s talent. There’s point guards. They’re sprinkled in with some veterans. How we grow it and play it is still on the table. To me, it’s a completely different feeling that I have now that I did not have last year.”

The additions of Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez at the one spot lessen the coaching load for Brown. He also can turn to T.J. McConnell from last season. The depth is a far cry from when the Sixers were quickly changing at that position and didn’t find a consistent starter until they traded for Ish Smith in late December.

“That position, I think, is vital when you start putting a bunch of 20-year-olds around it and trying to find some type of organization,” Brown said. “You just can’t replace a point guard’s intellect. You can’t replace, I think, somebody that has great command from that position. It certainly helps me.”

Brown expects to feel “proud” when the Sixers wrap training camp on Friday. He is looking forward to getting the season underway, beginning with two practices at the new training complex in Camden before their first preseason game Oct. 4 against the Celtics. 

Brown anticipates his drive home this time will be a much different trip. 

“I feel comfortable that we’re ticking boxes and we’re achieving the goals that we set out from the start of what we wanted to get done in Stockton,” he said.

The Sixers continued to monitor load management on Thursday, as Okafor, Embiid and Gerald Henderson did not participate in the morning scrimmage. Bayless also did not go through the scrimmage because of a sore left wrist.