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The smartest guys on the field

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Remember when catching gear was called the tools of ignorance? Ya, back in the dark ages. Not anymore. It's time to retire that pejorative phrase. Read on.


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• I heard a statistic on ESPN yesterday that almost made me spit out my Diet Coke. Yet, it didn't surprise me. See, 11 of the last 17 World Series winners were managed by former catchers, including four of the last five. I have always known catchers were the smartest players on the baseball field. But the amount of success the players from that position have had lately is a bit staggering. Though, if you think about what a catcher has to do and how he watches the game, you understand why they make good managers. First off, catchers have to know pitching and the psyche of pitchers. They have to know the strengths and weaknesses of each pitcher, have to be able to manipulate them into doing what's right (and that's often not what they want) and they have to be able to communicate with an entire staff. As pitching is the most important part of the game, there's an advantage as a manager right there. But catchers also have to know hitting. Not just how they hit, what makes them successful, but a little about everyone who steps in the batters box and what they know about hitting. The goal is to get those suckers out, so the more you know about their hitting thought process, the better you can call the game. Finally, catchers have to understand defense. It's part of their job to position the defense in the right spots depending on the hitter and how the pitcher is going to work that hitter. Heck, catchers are the only players on the field looking directly at his eight teammates on every pitch, and the only player the other eight guys are watching as well. All in all, it's easy to see why catchers are A) really smart; and B) make the best managers. It's simple. And my advocating this position has nothing to do with the fact I caught baseball and fastpitch softball games from the time I was 13 until I was in my late 40s. Nothing at all.

• The thought was triggered not just by the ESPN statistic, but also by the Miami Marlins decision yesterday to name former Gonzaga Prep and GU catcher Mike Redmond (pictured) their manager. Redmond was a – yes, you guessed it – a catcher for years in the big leagues and still lives here in Spokane in the offseason. It was obvious when Redmond was spending time with the Marlins and the Twins over the years he would manage someday, but his ascension to the bigs after just two seasons managing in the minors was probably quicker than even he believed possible. Now he gets his chance to show what he can do. I'm pretty damn sure he'll be successful. I've met him a few times and he's not only smart enough to do the job – he was a catcher, remember – but he has the right personality. He's not afraid to smile and joke, but he's also got the iron in his makeup that a good coach or manager always needs. He can see your point of view but on certain absolutes he's not going to bend. He will be good at the job. Now, whether he can win in South Florida remains to be seen. But I will remind you, the last time the Marlins won the World Series their manager was Jack McKeon. A former catcher.

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• Washington State: Christian Caple was busy yesterday, pulling a case of double duty. He was in San Francisco covering the Pac-12's basketball media day. While sitting at a table watching coach after coach ascend the dais and tell the assembled horde how happy he is with his team, Christian held a live chat. He also had a post on where the Cougars were picked to finish (10th), one containing Ken Bone and Brock Motum's comments and a short one on the fallout from Brett Kingma's arrest. He also has a story on the media day overall. … But he didn't forget about football. He has this story in the S-R on the Cougar defense and his weekly pick 'em contest. This morning he summarizes everything in this post. … Where does the Pac-12 Network stand with Direct TV? They are not even close.

• EWU: Not every college football player follows a straight line from high school to college success. But the Eagles' McKenzie Murphy's route was a bit different than most, as Jim Allen's story shows. Jim also has a blog post this morning and held a live chat yesterday.

• Preps: There is some sad news this morning. The Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters Youth Sports Award Banquet is no more. After 34 years, it has been suspended for this February, a victim of financial woes. Greg Lee has more in this story. … John Blanchette has a fun column concerning Brett Rypien (above) and his run of success at Shadle Park. … Colville upset Pullman in football last night, causing a four-way tie for the top spot. … The postseason is upon us and Greg Lee has more information in this blog post.

• Seahawks: With the players getting healthier, we can turn our attention to the matchup of running backs that will occur on Sunday. It should be good. … Sidney Rice is keeping his mouth shut. … There are not a lot of trades in the NFL.

• Sounders: It's playoff time and the Sounders will get another shot at Real Salt Lake starting tonight in Seattle. Revenge isn't a factor for Seattle, but moving on in the playoffs is. … Who will play tonight is still up in the air.

• Mariners: Alvin Davis will have a bigger role with the M's next season.

•••

• That's it for today. It's hard to believe it's Friday and the weekend looms. We'll be back tomorrow. Until then …


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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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