Hitting with Hudgens: A Clockwork Orange-and-Blue

: A small white room, empty except for a bare table and a chair of the type commonly found in a dentist’s office, or perhaps in a prison. Upon closer inspection, an alert observer will notice that the chair features leather straps and an odd assortment of plugs and wires.

The door opens and a boyish, tentative Mets minor leaguer enters the room. He is in uniform, carrying a bat. His metal cleats click on the tiled floor. He looks around, confused. A moment later, NY Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens enters. Behind him follows a slight executive wearing a fashionable Italian suit, carrying a heavy sheaf of papers in both arms. In turn, he is followed by two lab technicians, dressed in traditional white coats.

Player: Mr. Hudgens, sir! Thanks, it’s really a privilege for a new draft pick like me to get a chance to work on hitting with the coach from the New York Mets.

Hudgens: Instructor.

Player (confused): What?

Hudgens: Not coach. Instructor. I am a philosopher of the at-bat.

Player (takes a swing at an imaginary baseball): Well, I sure do love to hit.

Hudgens (eyes the bat in the player’s hand, says disdainfully): You won’t be needing that.

Player (looks down at bat, back at Hudgens uncertainly. He’s not sure if he’s being punked or not): I thought . . . um . . . ?

Hudgens: You can leave it with Benjamin.

[Lab technician steps forward, accepts bat from player, opens door and flings the bat out of the room.]

Player: Careful, that’s ‘Wonderboy.’ I named it after . . .”

Hudgens: Sit.

[Player sits in chair. Lab technicians move forward, strap in player and begin to apply various electrodes to the boy’s skin. His eyelids are held open by a metal device.]

Player: Wait, ouch, this hurts. What’s going on here?


Hudgens: In Phase One of your indoctrination, you will watch a basic training film.

Player (attempting the lighten the mood): Great, I love movies.

Hudgens (his lips form a weak smile that does not reach his eyes): We’ll be back in eight hours.

Player: Wait, what? Eight hours? Can I get any popcorn? What if I have to pee?

[The door slams shut. The film begins and a pattern emerges. The first scene is of a Mets player swinging at a pitch. It is immediately followed by a horrible car crash, blood everywhere, people screaming. Then another shot of a player swinging, followed this time by the air bombing of civilian villagers in Vietnam. A girl runs down a dirt path, naked, bleeding, horrified. Cut to image of Mets batter swinging . . . and so on.

MV5BMjAxODIxMDQwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTA0MTk4Mw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_The player, strapped in, unable to shut his eyes, sits in terror. His screams go unanswered. After each scene of a player swinging, he vomits all over himself, again and again until there is nothing left.

After 5-6 hours, the pattern shifts. The scene now is of a player taking a called strike on the outside corner, followed by a shot of blue monarch butterflies flitting in a field of yellow poppies. Another Mets batter stands, bat on shoulder, a tough pitch at the knees for a strike. A shot of a beautiful woman sunbathing on the beach. And so on and so forth.

At last, the door opens.

The lab technicians unstrap the player. He blinks, stunned, numbed.]

Hudgens (enters): Very good, we made real progress today. Excellent.

Player (stammers): I don’t . . . I don’t . . . understand. Why did you . . . ?

Hudgens: Behavior modification. Simple, really. We are remapping your synapses, building new associations in your cerebral cortex. For Phase Two . . . Paul will review some data.

[The tiny executive steps forward, drops heavy sheaf of papers on table. He pulls up a chair, adjusts his glasses, turns to a pie chart on page one . . .]

Player: Aaaaaarrrrgghhh!

[Days, weeks pass. We again find the young player alone in a hospital room, staring listlessly.  His head has been shaved. We see an ugly scar and realize that he’s been lobotomized. Hudgens enters room along with nurse and the familiar men in lab coats.]


Hudgens: Ah, at last, Phase Six is complete. How do you feel?

Player (blandly, robotically): Very well, thank you.

Hudgens: Excellent.

Player: Very well, thank you.

Hudgens: We’re almost done. But first we’re going to play a little game. It’s called word  association.

Player: Very well, thank you.

Hudgens (frowns): Okay, I’ll say a word, and you respond with the first thing that pops into your brain. Understand?

Player: Very well, tha —

Hudgens: Shut up! [Awkward silence.] Swing.


Hudgens: Take.

Player: TITS!

Hudgens: Swing.

Player (vomits, wipes face with back of hand): PRISON RAPE!

Hudgens (nods with satisfaction to assistants): Walk.

Player: Money, booze, women, sex . . .

hitting3Hudgens: Very good, son. You passed the test. Good luck, you are ready to join the New York Mets minor league team in Brooklyn. You’re a Cyclone, son. Welcome to the program!




SOME FACTS: A former hitting coach for the Oakland A’s (where else?), Dave Hudgens was hired by the Mets after the 2010 season. It’s all been downhill from there. At what point will this organization admit that it’s been a disaster?

2011: .264/.335/.391  * 571 BB  * 1085 K

2012: .249/.316/.386  * 503 BB  * 1250 K

2013: .237/.306/.366  * 512 BB  * 1384 K

2014: .216/.294/.308  (Note: Does not include Thursday’s performance.)


NOTE: Dave Hudgens would like to thank author Anthony Burgess for the inspiration and insights about behavior modification.








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  1. Eric says:

    I was ready to barf watching EYJ’s early at bats yesterday. With 3 balls (yeah!, high pitch count!) after each successive pitch, he kept flipping the bat as though it was ball four. All on the way to striking out looking.

    “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”
    ― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

  2. James Preller says:

    In EY’s case, however . . .

    Fast guy, can’t hit. Ultimately, hitters are individuals, not robots, and the game is situational. What’s good for the goose may not be for gander.

    Matt Harvey is an individual, marches to his tune. It remains to be seen how that works out.

  3. Eraff says:

    I attribute all of this to the Prideful Arrogance of THE TROIKA… one of the more Self Devoted, Delusional Management teams I’ve witnessed. A study in Mental Masturbation.

    It’s a severely Top Down Structure—They disdain Ballplayers and their Coaches are captive System Administrators…everything comes from the Troika.

    They’ve even Developed a Stat!!!…forget all those other Stats!!!…FOOLS!!!!!!!!

    Speaking of Stats… Did the Astros Lead the Majors in Wins/Dollar in 2013?

    I’m sure Dave Hudgens would prefer to Coach Batting Champs and Home Run Kings. He must wonder what it would be like to have his own flock of Major League Hitters.

    It IS getting better…. but we need a bit of patience with guys like d’Arnaud….and a few more Major Leaguers.

    • Michael Geus says:

      It is normal for a front office to want to institute a team culture and some type of organizational system. Over the years we all heard terms such as “The Orioles Way” or the “Dodger Way.”

      But the most important job of the front office is to acquire talent, up and down the system. You can’t make something out of nothing. And it concerns me how much focus this group spends on “approach” and how little time is spent on picking up talent.

      Remember that line in Sandy’s memo to season ticket holders last year? It was something like, “a big way we intend to improve is by helping our own players.” And then, sure enough, we were incredibly inactive on the trade front, again. Instead we had Ruben Tejada do a few jumping jacks, as if that was the problem.

      I keep getting the idea that Sandy thinks if he just gives the hitters enough Powerpoint presentations on hitting we will hit. I also picture our hitters laughing their ass off and mocking him the second he is out of the room.

      Don’t forget the origin of the 1973 battle cry “Ya Gotta Believe.” Right after the cold, corporate M. Donald Grant ventured into the clubhouuse to give a pep talk the players began mocking him. Grant came back in and McGraw was in mid-mock and then just went with it so as not to be caught. The message was that the players could not relate to Grant at all.

      When I hear Sandy Alderson talk I always think he must be M. Donald’s love child. Even if Sandy had something useful to implement about hitting the smart way to implement it would be to leave it totally to the baseball people and stop talking about it all the time himself.

      I have made it clear I have doubts about his message.

      I have no doubt he is the wrong messenger.

  4. Reese Kaplan says:

    Actually, Alex in A Clockwork Orange gave us Mets fans our mantra, “I’ve suffered the tortures of the damned, sir.”

  5. “The attempt to impose upon man… laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this I raise my sword-pen.”

    -A Clockwork Orange, Part 1 – Chapter 2

  6. Patrick Boegel says:

    When you look at 2011, things are even more stark than presented.

    Beltran was gone for August and September. Wright barely played to any effective level the entire year, Ike Davis began and looked like he was headed to the All-Star game.

    In short, the Mets had quality baseball players, some doing awesome ala Reyes and Beltran, some with the starts of promising years faded into the obscurity of injuries.

    .266 .340 .420 .761 – 2008

    619 1024

    Not terribly surprising that when you have good hitters the numbers are better, I’d hardly call Howard Johnson a maven, but the one thing you got from a HoJo right up until the panic buttons began being hit all over post Willie Ball, is if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

    When you have a group that has been in place 4 years and the first you hear of their philosophy is April 18, 2014, it is fair to say that Hunting Strikes was a PR stunt.

  7. Eraff says:

    Grandma Used to say, “Self Praise is No Recommendation”.

    • He has played very well in 2014, coming along. I keep hoping he’ll become Shawn Green, find that power stroke eventually.

      One important point about Nimmo, to me, is that he is genetically a “deep count” type hitter. He just seems to operate that way, and always has, which is why I think the Mets drafted him. I believe they are seeking plate discipline guys. And, yes, on the other hand, steering clear of the free swingers.

      I don’t have a problem with that. Sure, you might miss out on some athletes along the way — but at least you have a point of view, systemically. This goes to the main point, however, about the teachability of this skill of plate discipline. Some guys are naturally disposed toward it, whereas others are not. I’m not going to credit them so much with “training” Nimmo as for “finding” Nimmo, just like in the movie title. Though, of course, the Mets passed on possibly the game’s best pitcher to draft him.

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