Leave it to the breathless announcers (and the media) to keep making Dolly Partons out of fashion models. Mountains and anthills. This World Series is a case in point.
The hypesters were agog at how hard the "Big Three" of the NY Mets starting pitching rotation could throw. There was Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. They could bring it 97-98, and the latter even 100 MPH.
But you know what? It doesn't matter, especially against the KC Royals. The Royals are a fastball hitting team. A pitcher can bring the flat heat all day at 100, but unless he's got other pitches in his repertoire -- and good location -- he's going to get hammered.
Let's get real. Not counting the dying breed of knuckleballers, EVERY major league pitcher can throw well into the 90's. It's not like the old days when some aging pitcher could get by on "junk" alone. The hitters are too good and too smart. These days a pitcher has to have heat and at least a couple other pitches (slider, curve, change-up, etc.) he can control to be successful.
Look at what happened to Harvey and "mud flaps" deGrom in the first two games of the fall classic. These are really good pitchers that can throw really hard, but the Royals had little problem hitting the ball -- hard -- repeatedly. While flame throwing pitchers of old like Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, and Roger Clemens could blow many batters away on speed alone, they became truly great only because their off-speed pitches were even more devastating. If a pitcher is raring back and throwing nothing but fastballs -- even at 100 -- into a team of major league hitters that have long feasted on such heat -- he's going to get hit these days.
Game 3 was absolutely crucial for the Mets. Already down 2-zip, had they lost, the Series would have been all but over. So they sent Noah Syndergaard, a flame-throwing rookie, to the mound. His first pitch to a KC batter went zipping under his chin and all the way back to the backstop. Message sent. Yes, I can throw hard, and no, I'm not afraid to come inside. You're not going to tee off on me.
But it appeared for a while that KC was unfazed. They banged Syndergaard around in the early innings and another crucial hit or two here or there might have spelled his early demise. Did I mention KC hitters can catch up to major heat and hit it hard?
That could have rung the death knell for the Mets. Their three best starting pitchers, all hard throwers, and all got beat. But then Syndergaard settled in with a variety of pitches, and his teammates started scoring a few runs -- something they hadn't done in the first two games. Now the Series is 2-1 and still very much in doubt as to who will prevail.
Of course the bullpens eventually came into play. For whatever reasons, starting pitchers don't have the stamina they did in days of old. Why that is is a very good question, given better training regimens and only starting every fifth game as opposed to every fourth in years past.
Yet leave it to the announcers to say something dumb again. When referring to a reliever, they called him a hard-throwing righthander. Well gee. We can all see he's not a southpaw, and EVERY reliever throws hard (95+) these days. What's the alternative? Bringing in a guy that throws 80 MPH batting practice pitches? Good luck with that. And after all, they're only good for 20-25 pitches before they're totally gassed. That raises another question, but that's a story for another day.
And please spare me the "do or die time" schtick. Somebody's going to win and somebody's going to lose, but I highly doubt the runner-ups will be euthanized and embalmed when the Series is over. Now THAT would be pressure.
Final idle thought: What is it with Arby's? They advertise "we have the meats". Yeah? Well how come it's only half as much as it used to be -- even as shown on TV? And you know the sandwich you get in real life won't look anywhere near as nice as the one you see in hi def on the flat screen. They should remember the late Clara Peller of their OWN old commercials. Where's the beef indeed?