Run downs usually occur when the defense has done something mentally correct [e.g., hit their cut-off, keeping the double play in tact, or picked a runner off] and in fairness to the offense let’s concede their hiccup could have been physical [e.g., they fell] as much mental. Either way you now have a runner in a “Run-Down.”
Initially the Run-Downs seem to catch everyone off guard, starting off slow. The runner takes off in one direction only to come to a screeching halt, turn, and take off in the opposite direction. Done correctly they end pretty quick, almost as soon as the runner realizes they messed up.
Now I have never performed an actual calculation, but I truly believe increasing the number of throws during a Run-Down increases the odds the runner will be safe. It certainly creates more opportunities for mistakes. A slight defensive hesitation and let the “Cat-N-Mouse” games begin!
Excluding errant throws, which may be a result of one of the options listed below, most players approach Run-Downs one of three ways.
When the defense approaches a Run Down emotionally, the runner is in control. Basically the defense reacts to the runner versus taking charge. Always a step behind, yet they want there throw to beat the runner only to find he is heading in the opposite direction. This usually results in an errant throw unless the runner is just as emotional [e.g., a bit out of control], tired and gives up.
Complacency during a Run-Down usually results in interference or no one covering a base. Defense is technically sound, but they fail to take control. Like a machine they display the Ball-up, throw once the runner commits, automatically following his throw just as he has done a 1000 times, but satisfied he has done his part he collides with the runner. This contentment, or going through the motions, can actually be worse! Lazily you follow your throw, only to find he has gotten by you and is safe.
Imagine a run scoring on a Run-Down between third and home.
Mentally is the only way to approach a Run-Down. It may appear obvious, but to keep emotion and complacency at bay, a player needs to remember it’s the runner that made the mistake, not you. So stay in control.
- Get the ball to your teammate between the runner and the base he is attempting to advance to.
- Under control, arm up, ball facing the runner and capable of an accurate throw with the snap of the wrist, walk him back towards the base he came from.
- Narrow the gap, firmly tossing your teammate the ball when close enough or when the runner has committed, then follow your throw by sprinting in a wide semi-circle (avoiding the runner).
- Position yourself in line with the player you threw the ball to.
In most cases the runner will be out in two throws, but the maximum should be three. Just remember to stay calm, position yourself [glove side/throwing arm side] and avoid the runner. Again, ensure the best of the worst is when the runner is safe at the base they started from.
Just never let them advance!
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Until next blog!