Monday, May 11, 2009


Buck Martinez made an interesting point today on XM's Baseball This Morning regarding whether DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak will ever be broken. He thinks not, because Joe faced 73 pitchers in those 56 games, whereas today a hitter would face any number of pitchers that he had not seen before, or had seen little. Deep in games, Joe would have seen the pitcher 3 or 4 times already. Buck cited games during the streak in which Joe saw the same pitcher 5 times and finally collected a hit. Now a hitter faces situational matchups designed specifically to get him out. Scott Graham's argument was weak but maybe right: that statistically anything is possible, and other records we never thought would fall have fallen.

Speaking of fallen, the Bucs started off 11-7 and have since lost 12 of 13, so they're out of it by mid-May and I can turn my attention to the Phils.

We saw a minor league game Saturday night and my younger son watched the whole game (and consumed many treats) without complaining, so I have entered the Golden Age of parenting. My older son scored the game, prompting the couple behind us to whisper how clever we were to find a way to keep him occupied, but he has been scoring games for years at his own initiative. He even tracks balls and strikes and the fielded location and relative arc of batted balls.

In other baseball news, apparently there is an ambidextrous pitcher having success in the Yankees system. There have been others who could throw both ways (Tulane pitcher and future Major League Gene Harris could do it while I was there in the 80s, but never actually switched arms on the mound as far as I know), but this guy is both an anomaly and a success. The catch is you have to start training the kid to do everything with either hand when he is 3.

You can see something right now that hasn't been around in baseball since the late 1800s: a switch-pitcher.

His name is Pat Venditte, he's 23, and he's pro baseball's only ambidextrous pitcher. This living piece of history is more than a YouTube star; he's throwing almost daily for the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees' Single-A club. And he's not just throwing: He's blowing through hitters like a Cub Scout through Skittles. At one point in April, the closer's ERA was 0.00 in 6 1/3 innings, and he hadn't blown a save in five games.

Last season, he had 23 saves for the Staten Island Yankees, with a 0.83 ERA. And best of all, the kid can relieve himself!

He wears a specially made six-fingered Mizuno glove with two thumbs. (His Dominican teammates call him Pulpo, Spanish for "octopus.") When he warms up, he throws four pitches righty and four lefty.

I feel bad for Dodgers management who were daily reaping from all things Manny and then this. And for all the dads who get to explain to their kids, as I did, that Manny will make $15m this year for cheating and will be joyfully welcomed back after his 50 games off. But eventually he becomes a rich retired ballplayer who everbody knows is a cheater, and he will pay that price forever. (I didn't ask what they would have done in Manny's situation; $15m buys a lot of Skittles.)


Dude said...

I remember Steve Trout could switch pitch though he never tried it in a regular season game. I've never seen a pitcher relieve himself on the mound, though I did see Steve Lyons drop his pants at first base.

Tom said...

I hope this guys makes the bigs. It would be fun to see in action.

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