I’m going to type “it’s time to answer some reader mail” into AltaVista’s Babelfish, translate it from English to German, from German to French and then from French back to English. Then, I’ll take what comes out of the wash, translate it from English to French, French to German and then back to English. And we have: “it is a time, in order to answer to the station of the reader.” This entertains me.
This week’s YOU, tenth in an ongoing series looking at today through the looking glass of yesterday focuses on two unusual mammals, one of the marine variety, the other a pitcher with an unusual adaptation. The passing last week of left-handed knuckleball pitcher Gene Bearden, hero of the 1948 American League pennant race, has me missing Stellar’s Sea Cow. It’s a silly emotion because I’ve never seen a Stellar’s Sea Cow, and neither has anyone living. Stellar’s was ejected from the big game back in 1768. Still, to know that there was once such a magnificent creature on this planet and to have missed a chance to see it is quite depressing.
Stellar’s was the mega-manatee, a huge version of the endangered Florida marine mammal. Like Cecil Fielder, it weighed as much as ten tons and could reach lengths of up to 100 feet. At one time Stellar’s had a large range, but due to hunting by primitive fishermen with pointy sticks they hung out exclusively in the Bering Strait by the time they were officially discovered in 1741. The Russians, who found them quite accidentally, exterminated them in about two minutes, give or take 27 years. The eighteenth century is known as the Age of the Enlightenment, which proves that historians have a sense of humor.
Having gone back and read what I just wrote, the following now seems sort of trivial. Aspiring writers, avoid this sort of segue: knuckleball pitchers are baseball’s version of Stellar’s Sea Cow circa 1767. If you were around to follow the game in the 1980s, you had a good chance of seeing at least two starts by a knuckleball pitcher in any given week. Back when it was morning in America, Phil Niekro, Joe Niekro, Tom Candiotti, and Charlie Hough made a combined 917 starts (1981-1990), and at times they were each very good. In fact, Hough was consistently one of the best pitchers in the game.
John Patterson and Juan Cruz: good riddance, or highway robbery? The Astros drop another roadblock in Morgan Ensburg’s way. Itinerant pitcher Bruce Chen’s destiny likely includes fitting for a few more major league uniforms. All this and more in Friday’s Transaction Analysis.
The Diamondbacks may not look deep, but they’re one of few teams with solid upper level pitching prospects, they’ve got a deep bench, and they develop pitchers well, if slowly. As they unwind some of the financial machinations that brought them a ring, they’re slowly becoming the type of team fans like to root for–homegrown, but recognizable. Is that good enough to win this season? They should be healthy enough to find out.
A rundown of the contenders for the two open Indians rotation slots. Thurston or Cora: who’s the man at second? This could be a big season for Ichiro! on the Mariners’ career lists. All this and more news and notes from Seattle, Los Angeles, and Cleveland in today’s Triple Play.