Assuming no one ever reaches first base against Mets closer Frank Francisco this year, it’s safe to say the former Texas reliever will have a very successful 2012 season. In the more likely event, however, that batters occasionally reach first, those attempting steals with Francisco on the mound have a 33 for 36 rate of success over the past four years, due in no small part to what one scout calls “pretty common knowledge” of Frank’s wildness when holding runners.
If Francisco’s inability to throw to first turns a single into a near-automatic double, it might be fair to question a $12 million dollar investment, unless of course his troubles are more mental than physical. If that’s the case, would be well advised to consider the case of former catcher Mackey Sasser, whose habit of double-pumping prior to tossing the ball back to the pitcher virtually guaranteed opposing teams would run on the Mets at will. Toiling as a coach for Wallace Community College, Sasser spoke with the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron in 2009 about his attempts to break the yip-habit.
After Sasser’s yips returned while he pitched batting practice, turning a simple duty all college coaches must perform into a chore, a friend suggested Sasser talk to Dr. David Grand. Grand, a Long Islander, finally helped Sasser “let it all go,” Sasser says, the first step in curing the problem that inexplicably began in July 1990 after a collision with Atlanta’s Jim Presley.
“I wish I would’ve known David Grand while I was playing,” adds Sasser, who played for the Pirates, Giants, Mets and Mariners from 1987-95. “It’s hard to explain all these years later, that your career is shorter because you couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher. Someone asked me why I still tried to end the problem and I said I wanted to know why it happened. Dr. Grand explained it to me. He made me relax.
“He works with a lot of trauma cases and it’s a lot of suppressed things that happened to you over your lifetime. You haven’t been able to throw it away or get rid of it. He dug up some things from my childhood that were traumatic, with my father or me [Sasser lived with his father after his parents divorced when he was 10 years old] and he made me see. It is a relief. I think a lot of players could benefit from what he does.”