Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whatta a golf match

I was rooting for Jason Dufner despite the disconcerting waggle.
I'm not sure that was a waggle.
Really? What did you think it was?
Something a bit more deeply seeded. A psychological kink, perhaps?
Hmmm. It certainly was disconcerting.
Does the name Mackey Sasser mean anything to you?
Yes it does.
I rest my case.
Does the name Mackey Sasser mean anything to you, dear reader? He was a Mets catcher in the late 80s, maybe 90s, who's career was cut short by his inability to throw the baseball back to the pitcher after a pitch. He'd try to, then double-clutch, then try again, then double-clutch again. It could go on for several more repetitions before he finally released the ball. And then, once released, the ball sometimes reached the pitcher on the fly; other times it hit the dirt in front of the pitcher's mound. Frankly, it was agony to watch.

Major league pitching is as much about mindset as it is about technique. Imagine having to keep your head screwed on straight when you can't even get the ball back from the catcher in a predictable manner.
I could understand his waggle better if it was a predetermined thing. Like everybody else's.
You mean like a standardized set of physicial motions you go through to prepare your body to strike the ball?
Yeah. Like everybody else's waggle.
You, as I understand it, are suggesting something a bit more deeply seeded.
Of course I am. I just said it a minute ago.
I always shot foul shots the same way: I'd lightly toss the ball in the air and let it bounce once, during which time I'd arrange the legs of my basketball shorts so they weren't binding. That done, I'd catch the ball, crouch down and bounce it twice quickly, for timing. That done, I'd catch it the second time and rise out of my crouch while rotating the ball so that the seams were horizontal and the lettering (Spaulding, Wilson, etc.) was no longer visible to me. I'd splay my four fingers across the open expanse of leather, look up at the basket, align my elbow, and let fly. I call it the Modified Winter Method.

There was a bit more to it than that--mostly related to the Zen of the thing--but I always did it the same way. And that was one of the two things that bugged me about Dufner's waggle. Which is to say, he seemed to have no predetermined number of waggles before striking the ball. It varied as a function of club selection and mood, as near as I can tell.

And the second thing--and this is huge--is that one usually comes to a pause after the waggling is done. A moment to compose oneself before the deed itself must be done. With Dufner, the last waggle immediately preceded the shot. You could suggest that all the waggling was, in fact, an integral part of a vastly complicated (both physically and psychologically) swing motion.

Thank God Lucien Freud's grandfather wasn't around to see this.

Anyway, it bothered me a lot.
Upon reflection, I'm not so sure everybody else's waggle is as standardized as we seem to be suggesting.
Perhaps not. But I stand behind everything I just said, regardless.
And you, as I understand it, don't play golf.
No. I do not.


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