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Breaking Down Elena Kagan's Stance on ... the Softball Field

I'm sorry, but I can't get all that interested in the blanket coverage about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's view on this or that as expressed in a draft of a law review article she co-wrote in 1992; or in the possible hint on her view of the correct interpretation of the 4th Amendment that she shared with the clerk at Blockbuster in 1997. Sorry! Can't do it!

That doesn't mean, however, that I'm hitting the delete button on every single Kagan story. For instance, how can anyone resist this story from (via Bitter Lawyer) in which a half-dozen Major League baseball players painstakingly break down Kagan's batting stance based on a photo of her playing softball in 1993? Now you've got my attention!


Listen to the pros on this below. In short, they're concerned about her lack of "game face" (too smiley) and choking up way too much on the bat (won't be able to hit the inside pitch):

Mets catcher Rod Barajas: "It actually looks good. It looks like her weight's distributed evenly. Her hands are up. She's holding the bat the right way. That's something you could work with. That's something I could go out there and feel comfortable getting in the batter's box, looking like that."

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman: "I don't know. She's got the Barry Bonds choke-up working, maybe that's two strikes on her. I don't know. She doesn't look too aggressive. She doesn't have a very intimidating face working, either. It looks like she's friends with the pitcher or something. It's not terrible, though. It's not great, but it's not terrible. It's not looking too aggressive. She's not looking ready to hit. She definitely looks like a Punch-and-Judy hitter, not really a power hitter."

Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez: "It doesn't look that bad. You've got two eyes to the pitcher. You've got good balance. All the balance is on the back leg. It doesn't look that bad. Batting stance looks OK -- but I don't know the swing. I think the batting stance is perfect, right there. Maybe she brings the bat a little longer. It looks good so far."

Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur: "First of all, I'll say that she's choked way too far up on the bat. It looks like the lower hand's kind of too much over, knuckles need alignment. You can tell she's gripping the bat way too hard. She's not going to be able to get it there. The stance is not very good. Her feet are kind of open here. That's not going to make for a real good, powerful stance. Smiling at the pitcher is probably not a great idea. I do like how the head is turned. Her shoulders are nice. She's balanced. But it's not a very strong stance and you can't smile at the pitcher or you're gonna get hit. You're gonna get hit."

Nationals closer Matt Capps: Declared it a "good stance" overall, but "even the good hitters are pitchable. It looks like she's choking up there and she's locked down, so it looks like she's going to give you an aggressive fight -- which is probably a good thing in the position she's going to be in. But with the bat head going up like that, I'm probably going to try and throw the ball on the inner part of the plate and see if I can't jam her. I'm going to go hard in and soft away, and try to mix up the timing a little bit. It looks like with her stance, she's going to have a hard time getting to the ball on the inner half of the plate. Anything breaking away from her, with me being a righty, she'll be a little bit in front of.  Just the position of her hands and the position of the barrel of the bat, that's a lot of travel for that bat head to come all the way around through the middle. Where if she lowered it, she could just drop it down on the outside part of the plate hard. That's a lot of bat-head travel to get to the inner part of the plate. I don't know, I'd have to see her swing. Maybe her hands are quick enough at this stage of her life where she could still get to it."

Former relief pitcher Jeff Nelson: "Whoever chokes up, you've got to throw them inside. Anybody who chokes up has a hard time hitting that ball inside, so they need to get around on it a little bit earlier. It looks like she wouldn't be able to handle the ball inside. Choking up lets you get around faster, but in most cases they want to have quicker bat speed. Choking up gives you quicker bat speed, but you still have to jam her, pitch her inside. Her stance probably needs a lot of work. But she's very smart, so she'd quickly figure out what a pitcher is going to throw anyway. I guarantee if she saw a breaking ball come at her she might be sitting on her butt on the dirt. She's probably never seen one of those. It looks like she is probably a low-ball hitter, so you pitch her up in the zone, too. She'll swing right through them. You look at Barry Bonds, he choked up, and he was a low-ball hitter. You want to pitch up in the zone and they usually wind up swinging right through it."

Posted by Bruce Carton on May 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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