Yes, there’s a difference.
Sometimes, he wouldn’t swing at a pitch the whole at-bat, and walk on a full count. Sometimes he’d strike out looking. Sometimes, he’s foul off eight pitches before walking on a full count. Again, look how patient he is! Yeah. So patient that he swung at 10 pitches out of twelve. But, the point is, just because he didn’t swing at the last pitch, it didn’t make him patient.
When a kid is anxiously waiting for his ice cream to be scooped, the parents will remind it to be patient. That’s patience. Calmly waiting for a positive result. A kid waiting for an ice cream that isn’t coming isn’t patient. He’s stupid.
That distinction came up again with the 2004 Red Sox. Both the Sox and the Athletics were known for taking pitches. Terry Francona was asked if there was a difference between the teams. He answered that if the Sox saw a pitch they like, they hit it.
They were patient. The A’s were just waiting.
Which is important to remember when you’re watching the 2015 Red Sox. Patience doesn’t mean taking pitches. It means waiting for a pitch you like. That pitch might be the first pitch. How frustrating is it to have a batter watch a first pitch fastball go right down the middle for strike one, then strike out on two tough sliders. Bet you wish he had swung at that first meatball. It bugs me when people whine after a player makes an out on the first pitch. Somehow a flyball on the first pitch is bad, but on the third pitch it’s acceptable.
That’s some of what is happening with the Sox. They’re so busy being patient, that they forget to swing. I wonder if that’s the difference between players like Kevin Youkilis who were naturally selective and someone like, maybe, Castillo who is being told to be selective. I remember when I was playing Little League, my coach told me not to swing at the first pitch. Usually, that just meant I started my at-bat down 0-1. Pretty much guaranteed that I was swing at the second pitch at that point. I wasn’t naturally selective. I was told to take pitches.
Maybe even the veterans on the team need to be reminded that they’re supposed to be patient. Not just take pitches. When they see their pitch, though, they need to aggressively swing at it. Maybe it’s a reminder to go back to their natural flow. Maybe they’re trying too hard to do it all at once. Maybe they’re waiting too long before jumping into action.
Maybe they need to stop taking so many pitches.