Boy, if life were only like this!
Actually, sometimes at the Winter Meetings, life really is like this ...
Wednesday night, I was standing around in the lobby, minding (as usual) my own petty business, when Brad Ausmus walked toward me and stopped to chat with a couple of acquaintances.
I'm not usually not the sort to buttonhole these famous men just for the sake of buttonholing -- I'm not too old for autograph-collecting, but I'm highly discriminating about it -- and I rarely have handy questions that I'm just desperate to ask.
But just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about pitch-framing and Brad Ausmus was the big star. While writing it, I thought of a couple of things I would like to ask him. But of course I couldn't. Now I could.
So when he finished talking to his friends, I said, "Brad, do you have time for a couple of questions?"
"Uh, maybe. About what."
Of course I'd gone about this backwards. You're supposed to introduce yourself, affiliation included, and then ask for someone's time. Anyway, I finally remembered my manners and told him who I was.
"Wait, what's your name?"
"Hold on a minute," he said, and started scrolling through text messages.
Hmmm, I'm thinking. This could go a couple of different ways...
It went the good way. He found the text, clicked on a link, showed me the top of the column headlined ALL HAIL BRAD AUSMUS, PITCH-FRAMING KING, and said, "This has already helped me settle a couple of arguments."
I had just a few questions: I wanted to know if Ausmus had been conscious of his specific techniques while framing pitches, and I wanted to know if these things can be taught, and I wanted to know if he's got time, as manager, to actually engage in such teaching.
"Some of these things," he told me, "can be taught, especially to younger, maturing catchers. It's tough for me, positionally speaking, to get overly involved in those things."
Ausmus told me that when he worked for the Padres -- and specifically with Josh Stein, now assistant general manager -- he became familiar with the modern pitch-framing statistics, and looked specifically at the individual pieces of pitch-framing. He'd probably done these things when he was catching, but that was just always the way he'd caught.
I should have asked Ausmus who taught him to catch that way.
Maybe next year. Sometimes life really is like this.