Tuesday, December 12, 2006

F-Bomb Meets Black Jesus

FreeDarko hearts F-Bomb:

A long time ago, I had the idea to write a post about Francisco Liriano, and how, being the quintessential Freedarko baseball player
As if you needed further validation of the boy genius. And therein lies the essential heart of the tragedy. Of Felix Hernandez. Of Mark Prior. Of Pedro Martinez. And certainly of Liriano.

Because baseball is not a game that leads itself to an appreciation of style. The game has been so broken down into the subatomic component parts, which makes the game a joy for the brain wizards out there, that there is very little room for the aesthete.

The one exception (aside from the truly transcendent defensive shortstop) is for a certain class of pitchers. Not the raw Hadouken power of a Randy Johnson in his prime or the junkie-fresh goodness of a Jamie Moyer. No, this is a different type all together: the monochromatic genius of Mariano Rivera's one pitch arsenal; Greg Maddux's minimalism; the classical opera of vintage Pedro, four pitches working in concert.

For all the excitement and highlights provided by the day-to-day grind that is a baseball season, they are all primarily functional - a long home-run is nice, but it counts the same as a wall-topper (and more importantly, is identical in the box score). But there are a few things that the seamheadz really haven't quantified. Picture Barry Zito's lollipop curve turning Hideki Matsui inside-out, or the bottom dropping out of the Rocket's 91-mph forkball and you get the idea.

But it goes beyond these exclamation points, to the innate way a true master of his craft has when he grasps the game's inner rhythm, forcing the opposing batters to become a little slow, a little late on every pitch. Shattered bats and pop-outs to the catcher ensue. And above all else, they do it quickly. Circa 1999, I saw Pedro 2-hit the Twins in a game which would have taken about 20 minutes had the Sawx not bothered to hit. I could have sworn he caught the ball from Varitek, stepped on the rubber, and threw without ever really pausing.

That thing which enables the truly special ones to do what they do is so fragile and ephemeral, and the annals of the game so strewn with the corpses, rotator cuffs and ulnar nerves of those who tried and failed, that we know we are lucky to see this potential truly realized. Martinez came the closest, but the Petey we see now is a very pale shadow of the Amadeus we knew. 7-innings of moxie, braggadocio and jheri-curl juice is what we are left with.

It seems so unfair that every young auteur on the scene is stricken down, as if one arm can not survive that much potential locked inside. And just as the jazzy-fizzles at FD weep at the very mention of the word "microfracture," especially when combined with "Amare," we mourn what already seems lost when the Grim Reaper, Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe come for the next in line.


Kaiser said...

Fortunately, Dr. Jobe and his crazy ligament swapping has a pretty good track record, so maybe all is not lost. That is the truly bizarre thing about TJ surgery, that many patients can come back stronger, so it requires of us fans just a little...er...patience.

FreeDarko's crowning ("He is who we thought he was"?) of F-bomb spread joy throughout my atrias and ventricles when I read that, and I love the FDness of your post, Pooh. It's great to be an aesthete-worshipper when it comes to baseball. Where else could I watch Freddy Garcia pitch almost a perfect game against Johan Santana two years ago, still lose 1-0, and me feel kind of sad for him (even though my hate for the ChiSox went to 11 that year)?

I loved watching Pedro pitch that game too, even though he was not "mine".

Kaiser said...

On an unrelated note, and via Batgirl:


I don't even know what to say about this.

Pooh said...

Good point re: perfect games. I should have mentioned that that is why it is bush league to bunt to break up a no-no...

Regarding the wrassling, AJ is a nor-brainer, but WTF is David Eckstein doing? And how many body-slams did he foul off before getting his first move in?

Kaiser said...

I heard he just kept slapping A.J. in the face. Plus, he's the type of guy who would bunt to break up a no-hitter because "he's gritty."

Gotta be a bit, right? And when did this TNA wrestling league come about? And could it possibly have a better name? And does the fact that Big Sexy Kevin Nash is in it mean I will be forced to watch it?