It’s a concept that is as elusive as electricity.
We know when it has been captured. We know that it comes in many forms. The word itself invokes different definitions in different minds. If you’re a baseball mind, there’s no central agreement on the definition of POWER.
We all know POWER when we see it. Often, we associate it with outcomes. Home runs. Doubles can be POWER, too. A line drive is consistently more successful than fly balls and ground balls. Hitting the ball hard and the launch angles are all involved in projecting POWER outcomes.
Just like we can’t point to electric bolts in the real world until it randomly storms, we don’t know when POWER will strike until the roar of the crowd reacts.
How can we predict POWER when we don’t have a way to even define what it is?
I’m going to use my POWER to give you my definition.
When First Pitch continues below…
FUQUAY VINYL PLAYLIST
One week ago today, I was at Pirate City covering the Pirates during their final days of workouts. I’m using this Spring Training as my own Spring Training to build up my writing as part of a personal rehab assignment that I’ve created.
There used to be a time where I walked into the early days of camp with one goal: To get a story that no one else had.
That goal eventually led to some of my best work. That writing — whether it was The Art of Pitching: Mastering the Sinkerball, or The Evolution of Jameson Taillon’s Delivery, or the reporting on Tyler Glasnow’s new changeup in 2017 — was always me pushing myself to find and create something unique.
To me, that’s the goal of every writer, regardless of the outlet. Three people can walk up to one player and have the same conversation, and end up with three different articles. We are all artists.
The players perform their art on the field. The writers perform their art in the telling of stories. The fans read the stories to further understand the art they witness on the field.
I had more energy in those years when I was in my early 30s, rather than my late 30s. I walked into camp every year with the ruthless approach of a Conqueror, knowing I’d eventually find that story.
Last week, I did get a story that no one else will be able to create, even if they write about the same topic. However, my main goal this year is to be able to cover this sport without the return of the almost daily migraines that have plagued me my entire life.
I had a migraine at the end of the day last Friday. On Saturday, I rested my eyes as much as possible, and controlled my audio input with the following playlist, which set a nice vibe for a day off to rest and recover on Saturday.
As usual, I hope you find some new music from the playlist.
WHAT IS POWER?
My POWER is that when I am in my zone, I can write a story that adds my unique knowledge in my own unique voice, while keeping readers engaged.
Not every reader, for that’s impossible, but enough for me to run this site for going on 15 seasons now. This site has allowed me to improve my POWER as a writer over the years, to the point where I can comfortably do an article like this and just be myself and have fun.
I didn’t go into Pirate City in years past with any specific story in mind. They all eventually came to me — usually from something I saw with my eyes during a bullpen session, or something that alerted my ears in an interview that the topic being discussed was one in which I was capable of digging deeper.
In those years, I dealt with migraines all the time. There were a lot of days that I was a walking zombie at Pirate City. I was the only reporter covering minor league camp — working on little sleep, not enough food or water, and only one drive: To continue creating unique stories on a daily basis.
There was a value to that process. It got me to the point where I’ve created my own unique approach to writing that no one else can replicate — something which will be huge in the age of AI.
However, what I’ve learned is that, while I have the POWER to create a unique story surrounding the Pirates, I would get the migraines often because I couldn’t regulate my senses.
Specifically, the locker room can be very loud. I spend a lot of time in that loud environment trying to maintain my focus, knowing that there’s a conversation and a series of carefully crafted questions needed to produce each story.
It’s very difficult to hold onto and craft the wording of a question that doesn’t exist while you’re actively trying to block out tons of uncontrollable sound, movement, and the pacing of others dictating when you’d get an opportunity to unload your attempt at a question.
I was part of eight interviews last Friday, and in each of them I had to get my brain in a specific mode to ensure that I would be able to tap into my POWER and create a story no one else could create.
My plan with Pirates Prospects this year is to allow others to develop their POWER, while continuing to efficiently use my POWER without resulting migraines. I could go on about that, but POWER isn’t a long fly ball that goes off course.
Let’s get back to discussing baseball…
WHAT IS POWER IN BASEBALL?
A plate appearance in baseball is like a game of chess.
The batter doesn’t know what move the pitcher is going to lead with.
A fastball down the middle by sending the King’s pawn out two spaces?
Perhaps starting with a curveball — shoving your knight ahead of a wall of fastball pawns to follow.
Maybe you throw fastballs on the corners and wait to bring the entire house down with your Bish of a slider.
Each plate appearance, like each game of chess, is different. A batter needs to know what tools a pitcher has, what abilities the pitcher is capable of with those tools, and finally what plan the batter has for the pitcher.
Once the first pitch is thrown, the plan is out the window. The plate appearance, like a game of chess, becomes about momentum, confidence, positioning, reactions, how many different strategies you can hold in your head in a single moment, and above all, the ability to drop everything and make a decision in the splittest of seconds.
A plate appearance in baseball, like chess, is the ultimate mind battle between two humans.
Except, they use bats and balls and the goal for the batter is to hit the baseball really hard, which is universally regarded as POWER.
Anyone with enough physical strength, agility, hand-eye coordination, and experience swinging a baseball bat can hit for POWER in a batting practice scenario.
This article, for example, which expresses my own POWER, is planned. It’s not a reaction. I went through and edited it. Several times. I’ve been playing with the concept for months. I didn’t write it in the linear fashion that you’re reading it in, thus, I could never replicate this thought process as a freestyle speech in person.
Planned POWER has historically been mistaken for in-game POWER. The difference is simply that one is an ability, and the other is the ability to use that ability in any situation.
That’s why we get excited when Dylan Crews bashes home runs in batting practice sessions, and following it up with destroying some early-season college competition, because it shows POWER. Crews is able to do his thing on command right now, and the chess match of a plate appearance against him must be frightening for NCAA pitchers. There’s a reason he’s the top prospect in the upcoming draft.
On July 9th, the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the first overall pick, will have to project whether the POWER that Crews has will eventually lead to POWER in the majors.
How many rounds of chess will Crews win against some of the smartest and most tested minds in the world? Will he eventually see enough MLB-quality pitches that he will get to a point where knowing what an MLB pitcher is going to throw becomes second-nature? Does he have the confidence to step in a box and know that he can command the plate appearance?
That last part is the ultimate key.
A plate appearance in baseball is a battle. It’s a real-life strategic game of chess. Each side brings their tools, and once you’re in the Majors, each side is bringing POWER. The pitchers throw fireballs, the hitters swing lumberjack axes, and they’ve all destroyed demons at lower levels to get to this point and this plate appearance and this pitch, and…
With my migraine vanquished after a day resting my senses, I was ready to go last Sunday. Most of this article was written then, as was the first draft of my upcoming Baseball America feature on Henry Davis.
I went out for sushi on Sunday evening. I sat at the bar at my favorite local place in the Orlando, Fla. area. On this night, my goal was to order whatever I felt my body needed for nourishment, giving myself plenty of time to eat before my second viewing of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Following a shitty few years filled with a divorce, uncertainty about what I wanted to do with my future, and the realization that I’ve always had sensory dysregulation issues — not in that order, but all slightly connected — I decided I was going out to treat myself. Trendier writers than I would come up with a term for what I was doing. They would call it something like “Single Girl Spring” and millions of 18-35 year old women would adopt the phrase to emPOWER themselves to not feel like total losers eating alone at the bar on Sunday night.
So, I’m celebrating Single Girl Spring last Sunday. Just as I’m finishing the spicy volcano salad that my body insisted I needed, I look up and a very attractive woman is walking my way. She sits a seat away from me at a mostly empty bar in a crowded restaurant of mostly families. In my quick glance, I see she’s about 5′ 3″, petite, brown hair, and makeup for armor down to glued on lashes.
I am 6′ 4″, 250 pounds, with a natural deep voice. It’s very easy for me to come across as intimidating just by simply existing as myself. That wouldn’t be the case on this night, as I was already starting to sweat from the sweet Thai chili sauce on my volcano salad. My nose was running. I had to clear my throat before I could talk. I was sitting 0-2 early, and didn’t know if I should swing the bat.
What made things worse is that my phone died, so I was then sitting at the corner of the bar with nothing to do but stare at the Sake menu, trying to think of something to say over the noise of the restaurant.
Ultimately, my food arrived before my sweat subsided. She was texting and talking with her friends, who were likely out at other locations celebrating Single Girl Spring in their own way. I ate my sushi and thought about how I can say any kind of message with no shortage of words while writing, but I have extreme difficulty finding words in live conversation.
We didn’t talk. If I were to go back in time, I’d probably just make some light conversation with her, and wouldn’t care that she entered my life at a very disgusting moment in post-spicy food consumption history. I don’t have any time for a woman in my life right now, but could use all of the live conversations I can get.
My POWER is that I can express any thought on paper, like a batting practice home run.
When I’m in the batter’s box in the game, aka a conversation in the real world, my POWER diminishes due to sensory dysregulation.
To be honest, in my case it’s an unhealthy elevated sense of proprioception that prevents me from ever relaxing my mind in public and removing my own self-imposed filters. Though, I ended up falling asleep a bit toward the end of my second viewing of Ant-Man, so I am able to get somewhat relaxed in public.
Anyway, Single Girl Spring is starting off lit.
What good is POWER if you can only use it in batting practice?
What is POWER if you only can produce it when you know what is coming next?
We love seeing POWER from hitters in the game of baseball, because it’s a sure sign that one human definitely won the battle against another. In that regard, POWER can be possessed by the pitcher in the form of a swing and miss pitch. There’s nothing more POWERful than seeing a finely tuned athlete flailing a bat at air in a feeble attempt to express his own POWER. The whole experience is like watching a POWER vacuum, where the pitcher is responsible for removing the air from the batter’s lungs.
Yet, when a baseball is launched forcefully in the air with an obviously high exit velocity, it’s the air that leaves our lungs in the audience as we stand and stare and scream at the sight.
What is it?
It’s when one person can maintain who they are — no matter the outside sensory distractions or the pitch that the other person throws their way — and produce the creative output they desire to achieve with their art.
And what is art but an expression of Self?
SUPPORT OUR WORK
Pirates Prospects is supported by ads, and we’re not requiring a subscription to access any of our articles. I made this decision awhile ago, figuring this world is heading into rough financial times, and knowing that there are a lot of people who enjoy taking a break from the stressors of life to read this site.
Pirates Prospects still needs user support to exist and grow, even with the advertisements.
Based on previous levels of user support, and the reality that we may be entering a recession that is starting to see Regional Sports Networks go bankrupt, I’m estimating a low-end level of support of $80,000 from site users this year.
Last year, the site was visited by half a million users throughout the year. Some of those users visited daily. Some visited weekly. Some only visited once. I’m projecting at least 750,000 users this year, based on our trends the last few months.
If a little over 1% of the site’s users this year were to donate $10 to our work, we would hit our user support goal. That’s 8,000 people donating $10 for $80,000 on the year, for those of you who like to see the math in play.
Obviously we need fewer people to donate if the donations are higher. We only need 1,600 people to donate $50 to reach that same $80,000. The donations to the site are no limit to the user, allowing for the best combination that allows us to reach our goal for the year.
The site is very fortunate that it has user support, as well as a high amount of traffic. The combination allows me to run this site, but also allows me to grow this site by bringing in other writers and making other behind the scenes changes. Ideally, I want others to be able to practice developing their POWER in the way I have done over the years.
It would be very easy for me to run a subscription site and create content where I’m writing solo for a few thousand readers. This is my attempt to produce a subscription-level site for free, with a lot of different views, supported by readers who find true daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly value in our work.
I appreciate anyone who chooses to support Pirates Prospects. You can contribute to our work here.
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
I was in Bradenton for a few days last week, and talked with several players for features. That will include a feature on Henry Davis for Baseball America, which I’ll link to at some point when it goes live.
I’ll be publishing upcoming site features on Endy Rodriguez, Davis, Travis Swaggerty, Termarr Johnson, Matt Gorski, Connor Joe, and I’ll have a column in the mix.
Our daily coverage has ramped up, with Anthony Murphy writing Pirates Prospects Daily and the Daily Video Rundown. Wilbur Miller has the daily Spring Training game recaps, although we might not have every game covered as we play with the format of bringing back game recaps this season.
Elsewhere on the site, Anthony has a great writeup on why you shouldn’t count Quinn Priester out due to low strikeouts.
If you missed it from last weekend, check out Ethan Hullihen’s mammoth article on what is happening with the Regional Sports Networks, as well as John Dreker’s early preview of the 2023 MLB Draft.
As for that story that no one else will be able to write this spring, I’m aiming to have that in the upcoming week.
Check back on Monday for the next First Pitch, focused on SPEED.
Credit to Marvel Comics for the Kang the Conqueror strips, which were used without permission to achieve the artistic ends that I desired, like a true villain.
WEEKLY PIRATES QUIZ
This quiz felt to me like batting practice POWER.
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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Tim, as someone who would disagree with you on just about everything politically and religiously but enjoys your work and writing and coverage immensely, my advice (not that you’re asking) is to go to church tomorrow
I wouldn’t waste a moment in church. I graduated that thought process when I was ten years old. You can’t go back to believing in Santa.
Media Guide ready?
It is not.
I say this with the voice of a Father, because I am one, and I’m old enough to be yours Tim.
As a man thinketh, so is he.
Based on what you’ve written repeatedly on this site lately, you’re in need of a new mindset. I totally understand your pain is real. Physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, etc. pain is real and can feel overwhelming. We all go through some, if not all, of this over the course of our life. And if it isn’t dealt with properly it can eat you up.
If you were my son, I would tell you to take time each day to write down what you are grateful for. Some days it might just be a single word. Some days it might be many pages. Most days, somewhere in between. The simple act will take your mind off of the bad and on to the good.
And when life is at its worst, flip the script by volunteering your time and talents to someone in need. Nothing I know of will lift you up like making someone feel loved and appreciated when you know there is no tangible benefit in return.
I hope this helps.
I really appreciate your sentiment, Scott.
A lot of the things that you suggests are second hand nature to me. It’s good advice for others, but my mindset isn’t an issue. I’m a very realistic person. That’s an easy mindset to have.
In fact, your advice is actually the opposite of my situation. I feel like all of my time goes to others. What lifts me up is escaping this world and all of the responsibility I have. I don’t need more responsibility.
The idea of doing shrooms and/or acid this year lifts me up.
You guys have your baseball team and your dreams of the Pirates winning again…
I’m too old to try to read this.
“What is power?”
This is a Pirates site. How would we know?
Speaking of that, who honestly remembers Reggie Sanders hitting 31 homers for Pirates in 2003?
They do play other teams…..
So power is something that happens when Ben Cherington waiver claims are on the mound . . . .
Now you got it,