Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Jays Talk: Silent Optimism
It's been awhile, so go easy on me . . .
I had a friend show me how to throw a knuckleball, back when I was throwing the baseball as a physics experiment and learning all of the grips. The knuckleball was one of the oddest pitches to throw (next to a screwball, which I do completely wrong. I look like I'm throwing a grenade when I let a screw-gie loose!), and I couldn't get my head around throwing a ball super slow, with no spin, and to let the wind take over.
My friend told me to throw it like a shotput, and to push it towards the plate. It works to great effect when you mix it up with other pitches. The slow knuckler just freezes batters when they're not expecting it. Junkballer Bill Lee says that you really don't use your knuckles to throw the pitch, instead to use your fingertips. And to, "extend the tips of your fingers when you throw, as if you're helping push a ball of socks into the laundry hamper."
The last time I threw a knuckleball, my friend at bat was waiting for it and hit a comebacker right to my balls. I wish I wore a cup that day. Or at least had faster hands.
I love the acquisition of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in the Blue Jays rotation. I never thought we would ever see the likes of him in the city of Toronto, but we have him.
The knuckleball is such a peculiar pitch to throw, and to watch being thrown. It could be sometimes frustrating to watch, because of its tendency to end up in the seats. Sometimes it would be awesome to watch as it frustrates the opposing hitters, because of the perplexing way the pitch misses their bats.
Knuckleballers are an odd bunch too. They seem to never get any credit, but they always get 100% of the blame. There never seems to be any patience when it comes to them. Usually, they're in the game to mop up some innings in a lost game, or a sacrificial lamb in a doubleheader, or an afterthought to an injured pitcher. They seem to have a fraternity of their own.
I like the part when knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield retired, part of his retirement speech inferred to R.A. Dickey as "the one to carry the torch now."
Even better than that, in the movie, Dickey said that he will keep pitching until the next knuckleball artist comes around. It's totally feasible. He's only 38. He's smart, eloquent, with that Tennessee drawl of his, and quite the personality.
Probably a lot of naysayers hate how ineffective he is when things aren't working. I think it will be the case of 'you don't know what you have until it's gone.'
All I have to say is, be patient, and enjoy R.A. while you can, because you won't see the likes of him, or that pitch, after he's done with baseball.
(On an unrelated note: I had an R.A. Dickey dream where we were best friends and he was taking me everywhere for our bro-date. All I could remember was that drawl, and every time he spoke, everything was okay. It was weird, because we all know who I want to be best friends with . . .)
8===D - - - -
When's OUR bro-date, Colby?!!!!!!!
- I wasn't going crazy, like all of the other bandwagon jumpers, this winter when all of the trades and acquisitions took place. There are lots of factors that needed to be put in order before you could say that we are a good team.
- Mark Buerle and Josh Johnson look totally unenthused over the trade up north. Buerle being away from his family and dogs, and Johnson leaving his right arm in Miami.
- Jose Reyes was a great pick-up. We all know of his injury history, though, and could see something like his ankle sprain or something along those lines being imminent.
- J.P Arencibia is still a lazy defensive catcher. He'll often disguise his glaring holes behind the plate by showcasing his offensive side. Really though, home runs don't matter, when you've let the opposition score five or six runs against you. He calls a lousy game, and doesn't expand the strike zone for the pitchers. He still lets through a lot of passed balls, waving at most, instead of using his body to keep it in front of him. No matter what improvement he shows, he's still goddamn lazy.
- I hate when Rajai Davis starts a game and he does all of the wrong things. If you want a pop up to first, just get Adam Lind to lead off.
- Let's just put this early losing spell in the words of Dodger great Tommy Lasorda as, "just getting all of the losses out of the way." Let the winning begin.
- It takes a team some time to gel together before they start something good. This summer's World Baseball Classic was the worst ever timed event for the Blue Jays. A lot of players participated and ended up missing the pleasantries and comraderie of team play through spring training, and you ended up losing your every day third baseman because of it.
- Brett Lawrie is a beast on third. It showed how deficient we were at that position when we have jags(Just A Guy) at that post. When Brett came back, he showed the range, the speed, and the athleticism that we were missing.
- Just to remind you guys that there is an extra wild card position up for grabs this year, and that any team can get hot at the end of the season. Remember, to win it all in the playoffs, you have to be the first to win 14 games. If you get that wild card, you have to win 15 first. Possible? Totally.
- Also, with the exception of Johnson and Rasmus, pretty much all of your current roster will be back next year. And to boot, we have a surplus of young pitching coming back from injury in the likes of Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison next year.
- Really guys, it really can't be all that bad. Years ago, I paid a full price ticket to watch Tomo Ohka pitch live . . . batting practice it seemed. It rained baseballs that day, and not in the good way. Let's hope the rainy season is over.