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How To Play Pepper
Friday, January 16 2009 11:35
Does anyone remember “playing pepper” growing up? There are many people nowadays that don’t remember, or even heard of the pepper game.
Pepper is an baseball activity that can employ 2 to 4 (or more) players. There is one batter who stands about 15-25ft in front of a group of fielders with gloves on. The game begins when the ball is tossed to the batter who then uses a short, light swing to hit the ball on the ground back towards the fielders. The fielders field the ground balls and continue tossing the ball at the batter. The concept of pepper is to keep everyone, including the batter alert, active and helps to develop quickness and good hand-eye coordination.
The Double Cut relay is one of the most beautifully choreagraphed plays in all of baseball. The Double Cut is the defense's strongest weapon against balls hit down the line or in the alleys. It requires speed, communication and quick decision making from all players on the field. The relay's primary goal is to throw out the lead runner trying to score, while the secondary goal is to stop all runners from advancing extra bases.
A Double Cut situation is needed on ALL balls hit to the fence down the line or in the gaps. In these cases, unless the runners are ridiculously slow, the defense must assume the runner(s) will advance at least two bases, so the defense will set up three (3) bases ahead of the lead runner. In the flash video on the left, the offense starts with a runner on first base and a ball is hit down the left field line to the fence.
Step 1: Immediately, the defense assumes a two-base advance, so the relay will be set up to throw to home plate (Runner 1st, three bases away).
Step 2: Both LF and CF will sprint to the ball. While the LF will most likely get to the ball first, the CF is there to help back up and help communicate the relay if necessary. The RF moves down towards the infield to help back up a possible back pick throw to 2B.
Step 3: The shortstop and second baseman will sprint into relay position, calling to the outfielders for the relay as loudly as possible. In most cases, the shortstop will handle the lead relay while the second baseman positions himself 5 yards behind the shortstop to protect from any errant throws over the SS's head or short hops. The relay must be seamless and any missed throws will allow the runners to advance and score, so the second baseman's responsibility is extremely important to this play. In a perfect relay, you should be able to draw a straight line from the LF, through the relay INFs to the target; in this case, home plate.
Step 4: While the third baseman covers 3B, the first baseman sprints to second base (trailing the runner) and awaits a possible back pick play to 2B. This is extremely important, as more often than not, most of the attention is focused on the primary runner and a play at 3B or Home plate. Many times, the trailing runner can lose focus and round 2B too far and can be back picked at 2B so LOOK FOR THIS PLAY.
Step 5: The Catcher remains at home and directs the play, lining up the relay Infielders and making the final decision on which option the defense will take.
Option 1: (Primary Play) Relay to HOME Option 2: Relay/Backpick to 3B Option 3: Backpick to 2B
Shown at Left: Option 2
In this video, the defense realizes that although the lead runner (primary play) will score, the batter runner can be easily thrown out at 3B. The Catcher in this case makes the decision to divert the relay to 3B and nail the batter runner at 3rd.