June 6 , 2006
Pitching. Yes, P-I-T-C-H-I-N-G.
What, you were gonna say oil? Please. Earth has oil up the yin yang. Plus, everyone knows where to look for it. Can you say the same thing about pitching? I don’t think so.
And have you tried drilling for pitching in Alaska lately, or in the Antarctic, or off the coast of Santa Barbara? Yeah, you might stumble onto a nice prospect, but what are the odds he’ll end up refined? And you might as well forget about that expedition for a left-hander right now.
The sport's scouts, inspecting every nook and cranny, have uncovered gems from just about every corner of the world, with the possible exception of the Middle East. They’ve signed pitchers, who upon further inspection, turned out to be older than they were first thought to be, and still more who proved to be younger than they were first thought to be.
Green pitchers are then given the best that money can buy; in instruction, conditioning, healthcare and lifestyle training. They're pampered, pandered to, coddled and raised from pups.
And yet, the state of pitching as we know it today is this: good one day, bad the next; effective for a week or a month, downright ugly the next; up one season, down the next. You think Danys Baez and Lance Carter and Jae Seo and Brett Tomko are hard to watch? And that's from an organization that really knows pitching.
When all $10 million buys you is the occasional “quality start,” this is just the way it is. That’s pitching, folks. Major league pitching, in the 21st Century. Get used it.
BTW, "The Weaver Start" is a better name for the quality start than the quality start, and it's about time MLB made it official. Three earned runs in six innings? What is that? Quality? That's not quality, that's Jeff Weaver…
The Quality Individual: Luke Hochevar, Kansas City Royal. Works for me.
What I Did on My Summer Vacation: OK, Spring, if you want to get technical about it. I finally made my virgin visit to Petco. It’s a damn nice place, and I wish the Padres well. Like say, four playoff appearances and 11 winning seasons in 36 years in the place, along with the worst winning percentage in World Series history (.111), for a team with at least two appearances. Why tempt fate when you can stick with tradition?
Actually, the locals are proud of their latest civic treasure, and they oughta be. If Los Angeles can only be so lucky with the Coliseum.
More importantly, Chris Young pitched a near no-hitter. And guess what? His teammates didn’t talk to him during the late innings. And guess what, he blew the no-hitter. Oohh, there’s a surprise.
And five days later, the same scenario. Young tossing a no-no, and the Padres ignoring the poor guy, until out of sheer loneliness, he gave up a coupla knocks.
And Carlos Zambrano, left to his own devices by the Cubs the other day, came this close to making history against the Astros.
If there’s a lamer superstition in sports than not talking to a pitcher while he’s laboring to complete an entire baseball game without allowing a single hit...wait, there’s nothing lamer. 200 some no-hitters out of a hundreds of thousands of ball games, and an uncountable number of no-hitters broken up in seventh, eighth and ninth innings, every last one of them with the silent treatment in full affect. Do the math.
If it were a custom with some basis in reality, with even the flimsiest evidence of success, sure, I’d say “go for it.” But the verdict is in. Men in lab coats brandishing slide rules, inside the Administration and out agree. The science is incontrovertible.
NOT TALKING TO THE PITCHER DURING A NO-HITTER DOESN’T HELP HIM GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!! IT DOESN’T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, TALK TO THE POOR GUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also while I was in San Diego, and as I predicted almost right down to the hour, Jim Brower was designated for assignment. I was on semi-vacation, however, and missed the press conference. The boss was pissed…
Investors Wanted: Invest a thimble full of venture capital today, make major league minimum tomorrow…
Memo to Jim Rome: Poker is not a sport. Anything you get better at by listening to guy talk about it on the radio is not a sport. Stop trying so hard to be cool. Back away from the cool campaign. If you have to try, you’re not…
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Rhetorical Question of the Week: Albert Pujols strained an oblique within days of going to bat to defend Barry Bonds. Coincidence or a message from the baseball gods? Don't believe in the baseball gods? Look forward to a long, hot afterlife...
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From the Lips of Ted Baxter: The great Ted Knight, as WJM anchorman Ted Baxter, chiming in with a halftime score: “The Vikings, seven, and the Lions seven. But I understand the game is much closer than the score indicates.”
Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…
Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Sure, we’ve had a couple of communiqués go unanswered, but we’re still down with the Dodgers powers that be. The project is worthy of persistence, and we’ll just keep moving forward. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…
Remember, glove conquers all….
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