Saturday, October 1, 2011

Baseball has become wimpy. Exhibit A - Justin Verlander

Poor Justin. All hyped-up for Game 1 of the baseball playoffs against Yankees' ace CC Sabathia at Yankee Stadium and Mother Nature rained on the parade. The story went viral. OMG, how will this affect Justin and when will he pitch again? Break out the ice packs, masseurs, ultra-sounds, geisha girls with their fans, and some beautiful goddess feeding him grapes to soothe the pain and calm his nerves.

To all of which I say -- is this what baseball has come to? Somebody needs to start manning-up.

Verlander threw about 25 pitches before the rain came, and now it's said he'll be back in action on Sunday -- on short rest. What the hell does he need rest for? It's not like he just climbed Mount Everest or ran a marathon. He only threw pitches for one inning in a baseball game, and now he needs a day off?

Evidently, this is what MLB has come to. In olden times, some pitchers would throw both games in a double-header. Starting 50 games a year wasn't unusual because they had "rubber arms".

(They didn't need 8 or 9 guys in the bullpen. One or two were enough. That just takes up roster spots from guys that can actually play. And what's up with long relievers, middle relievers, set-up men, and closers, anyway? If your starter and 2 other pitchers can't get it done -- then you lose the game. Go on to the next one.)

These days, starters are on a "pitch count". Evidently, they have "tiffany" arms. They're expensive and are to be admired, but if one little thing goes wrong, the poor things just might break -- and we couldn't have that-- even though they likely make as much money per start as some neighborhoods make in a year.

Not that long ago, double-headers were routine. Every team had them, and they made for a terrific family outing at the ball park. Typically, the first game would start at about 1 PM,  and finish up at 3 or 3:30. Both teams would go into their locker rooms, take a short breather, put on clean uniforms, and come back out for the second game -- at about 4:00. Not any more.

On the rare occasions double-headers are played these days, it normally involves a make-up game that Mother Nature got in the way of earlier in the season. At that, the first game will go off at 1 PM, but with all the "relief" pitchers involved, usually won't finish until at least 4 PM. Do the players go into the clubhouse, catch their breath, put on clean uniforms and come back out for Game 2? Oh hell no.

That second game isn't going to happen until maybe 7 PM. What are the players doing for those 3 hours? Nobody knows for sure, but I'd guess taking naps, playing cards, and tweeting might be in play. Or maybe this is more ice, massage, geisha, and grape time. More important -- what are the fans supposed to do? Twiddle their thumbs? Eat more hot dogs? Drink more beer?

Everybody forgets that Mom and Dad left home at 11AM for a day at the ballpark with the kids. They likely already knew they'd have to skip a house payment to pull this off, but by the time the second game's over at maybe 11PM, the kids have fallen asleep, and probably have school the next day. Mom and Dad have to load them back in the car, drive home, get to bed well after midnight, and get up the next morning to go to work themselves.

All of this because millionaires want to relax for a few hours in a luxurious clubhouse? Something is horribly wrong with this picture, but I digress.

Look at it this way. In 1968, pitcher Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers took the mound for Game 7 of the World Series on 2 days rest against the mighty Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals -- arguably the best pitcher in the game at that time. Lolich had pitched on 3 days rest the whole year. As you know, Lolich and the Tigers won that game.

Since those days, baseball players are supposedly in much better physical condition. They have weight rooms, trainers, physical therapists, and eat healthier. Most have off-season regimens they follow to stay in shape. In the past, before the money exploded, even the stars of the game were working second jobs selling cars, insurance, or whatever. They smoked, drank, womanized, and carried on in any number of ways. But guess what? When it was game time -- they were ready. The Hall of Fame is full of guys like that.

But now poor beleaguered Justin has thrown 25 pitches, so he must have his due rest. He can't possibly be available for a couple days, at least.

The saddest part of all this is that the media and most fans have bought into it.

Not me. The dude's getting paid more money EVERY YEAR than the average fan and his/her entire family will make in their lifetimes. For that, he should be willing to pitch until his arm falls off, if necessary.

Isn't this the same guy that led the major leagues in innings pitched this year? Are we back to the "rubber arm" thing again?

Evidently not. He needs a few days off to recover from the devastating effect 20-some pitches took out of him.

The poor dear. Bring on the massages and grapes.

But I still think it's wimpy. As fragile as newborns are -- even THEY don't get babied THAT much.



  1. Hey JL, I know you do not think pitchers are as valuable as everyday players, and yes I do believe they are papered. But why all the hate for a good message, geisha girls, and grape time. Like you, I do miss the good old days. Specially when pitchers had to bat ! Double-Headers rocked ! and you could get into Tiger stadium after the start of the seventh inning for free. I guess back in the day when smoking, drinking, and whatever was going on cortisone was the pitchers main drug of choice. Maybe Leyland will remember the good old days and let Verlander pitch on short rest. Maybe that would change your thoughts on how valuable pitchers are. Maybe they have some cortisone in the club-house. Maybe KISS will get into the Rock n Roll hall of fame. Maybe I will just sit back and think of the good old days with good old NO 7.

  2. Hate? Surely you jest. I don't hate anybody or anything -- except maybe liver -- or how my ex used to react when Gene Simmons stuck his tongue out. Other than that, I just call em like I see em. Am I an idiot? Probably, but don't believe me. Contact sports editor Jeff Kuehn. He'll confirm it. JL

  3. You have to be kidding me. Which banana boat did you just come in on, John? Who other than Wilbur Wood - a knucklballer - has started both games of a doubleheader since 1960?

    The name of the game is money and with the amount invested in these guys, management has dictated that they have a pitch count, days of rest, etc.

    You going off on the players as soft is the most illogical piece of crap I have seen in a long time. If this is typical of your blog, you won't be doing it long.