September 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Uncategorized
It has come to my attention that I’ve made some insensitive remarks in this space as of late. Specifically, my use of a two plays on words regarding the Giants and UGA that were perceived–not without reason–as homophobic. I wouldn’t be addressing this in this space if I didn’t feel strongly about doing so.
I would like to apologize to my readers. Not because they’re generally offensive, a lot of what I write is offensive. I’d like to apologize because the remarks I made single out and demean a specific group. That’s the last thing I want to do. That’s not what I’m all about. And I’m embarrassed I let myself do it.
The remarks I made without thinking and if I could do it all over again I certainly wouldn’t have made them. I don’t want to make an excuse, because what I wrote was inexcusable. I just want to apologize, retract my statements, and let my readers know I didn’t mean what I said and assure them I won’t make the same mistake again. Again, I’m not trying to make an excuse, but I view this as a mistake on my part. I’m just a 21-year old kid and I’ll probably make a lot more mistakes before I die, but I won’t make this one again. In no way am I prejudice against any group of humans. From here on my writing won’t be inconsistent with the previous statement.
Please accept my apology.
May 11, 2009 at 10:47 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Pitching, Uncategorized
I watch a lot of baseball. I’m in college, so I don’t have any sort of structured schedule other than class, which is usually less than 20 hour s a week. I subscribe to MLB.tv, and my favorite thing to do when I’m not busy is to watch games on mlb.tv. I mainly want to watch the pitching. The things that make me turn on a game are a) if one of my favorite pitchers is pitching, b) they’re in the 9th or later inning and it’s a close game, or c) if the Braves have some interest in the outcome of the game (i.e. NL East opponents). The first reason I mentioned, the starting pitchers, are the real reason I like watching. I don’t know why, but starting pitching is by far my favorite part of the game. I’m biased because I’ve always been a fan of the Atlanta Braves and when I was growing up they were sending Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz to the mound daily. But there are some excellent pitchers out there, some that I enjoy watching greatly. I’ve compiled a list of starting pitchers I have enjoyed watching the most since 2007:
- Ubaldo Jimenez – Power fastball, touches 100. He’s also got a slider that breaks from dugout to dugout. In any given game, he’s liable to walk 10 batters but strike out 20. If he were less wild, he’d be one of the best pitchers in the game. He’s got a fairly funky delivery, but I like it.
- Dan Haren – One of the more entertaining deliveries in the game. Haren’s is very slow and he almost stops halfway through it, especially from the wind-up. He’s a pure power pitcher, but he does a great job of not walking people, which is why he constantly rates near or at the top of the league in WHIP, QS, K/BB, and he gives his team a chance to win virtually every game. He spits out quality starts like nobody I’ve ever seen and he’s easily one of the most consistent pitchers in the game.
- Tim Lincecum – From one of the more entertaining deliveries to the most entertaining. In my opinion, Lincecum’s delivery is the most entertaining in baseball among starting pitchers. It’s very unique and completely unrepeatable. Here’s a video of his 200th strikeout last season, a season in which he went on to strike out 265 total in 227 innings with a 2.62 ERA. And won the Cy Young. At age 24. If you like strikeouts and just brilliant pitching, he’s your guy.
- Felix Hernandez – This guy could throw a complete game shutout and you wouldn’t even notice because he makes it look so damn easy. The most talented pitcher in baseball. And it’s not even close. He’s currently 23 years old. And he’s in his 5th season with the Mariners. As with any young pitcher, you never know what you’re going to get, and he’s a bit wild at times. But when you get good King Felix, there ain’t anyone better.
- Tim Hudson – Say what you will about Hudson, it’s thrilling for me to watch a 6’0″ 160 LB redneck from Phoenix City, Alabama make hitters look stupid. He’s a sinker/slider/splitter/2-seamer guy and when he keeps the ball down you may get lucky and hit a ground ball or 2 through the infield, but you’re not going to hit anything hard off of him. It’s a shame he’s out for the season, but I can’t wait for his return.
- Scott Kazmir – Power pitchers are pretty rare. Left-handed power pitchers are even more rare. And Scott Kazmir is just that. His mid-90′s heater and power slider are a devistating duo to left-handed and right-handed hitters. Watching him work is very entertaining. A lanky kid, with very smooth mechanics. There’s nothing I don’t like about him.
- Ben Sheets – If he could stay healthy, he’d have a chance at being a great pitcher. He’s very good nonetheless. He’s got a very mechanical delivery, throws hard, and racks up a ton of K’s. He throws his fastball 94-96 MPH and he throws the biggest curveball I’ve ever seen, which usually doesn’t crack 70 MPH. Most of his strikeouts involve a curveball bouncing in the dirt.
- John Smoltz – One time, someone asked me who they should watch if they’re trying to learn how to pitch. I told them, well, if you want to throw a slider, watch Randy Johnson, a curveball, Ben Sheets, a change-up, Greg Maddux, etc.. Then I realized I hadn’t answered his question at all. I had told him who throws good pitches. What I should have said is, if you want to be a finesse pitcher, watch Greg Maddux, if you want to be a power pitcher, there’s nobody better to watch than John Smoltz. Smoltz not only still throws 97 MPH with his fastball, throws a slider that explodes and zips across the zone like nobody else’s, and a splitter that just absolutely dissappears, but the way he mixes his pitches and keeps the hitters off-balance is truly remarkable. He also has some of the best mechanics I’ve ever seen. Check out this video for a look at Smoltz’s mechanics.
- Zach Greinke – A remarkable turn around of his career. In the early part of his career he threw a slow, loopy curveball, basically as his primary pitch. He never really put anything together, and at one point tried to give up on pitching and re-invent himself as a hitter. In 2007, he came back throwing 95 MPH seemingly without effort. In 2008 he looked even better, one of the best I saw in 2008. And we all know about his historic start in 2009.
- Francisco Liriano – One of the more dominant left-handers in the game today. He’s got tremendous strikeout potential. He throws a high 90′s fastball, a slider, and a changeup, all of which are above-average pitches. The Twins are very good at developing pitchers, and though Liriano is the first Twin on my list, their entire rotation is on it.
- Roy Halladay – There’s no question Greg Maddux is the smartest pitcher to ever play the game, but it could be argued that Roy Halladay is second. Halladay flat out knows how to pitch. He knows when he needs to work quickly and pitch to contact or when he needs a big strikeout. And he delivers more often than not. In 2008, he had more than twice as many complete games (9), as Cliff Lee, the Cy Young winner and owner of the next-most (4).
- Justin Verlander – The ability to blow hitters away doesn’t make you a great pitcher. The application of that skill in a way that allows you to post great numbers makes you a great pitcher. Verlander may still be learning the application of this skill, but I’ve never seen a starting pitcher be able to blow hitters away with the heater like he does. He threw a 101-MPH fastball on the last pitch of a 112 pitch no-hitter in July of 2007. He was drug tested the following day and passed. He throws hard. They always say, major league hitters can hit the fastball. I think most major league hitters can’t hit his fastball.
- Ryan Dempster – Dempster falls into the “goofy delivery entertaining” category. When he pitches from the stretch he twists his glove back and forth during the delivery. It’s one of the wierdest things in baseball. He does it to mask the pitch as he changes (or doesn’t change) the grip in the glove. He was a relief pitcher from 2003-2007 before he switched roles with Kerry Wood in 2008 and had by far his most successful season. He was one of my favorites to watch last year. Even though his beard was nasty.
- Matt Cain – Cain’s a good ole boy from Alabama. He has phenomenal stuff. Unfortunately, he plays for one of the worst teams in the league. Maybe not this year, but he did last year, when he tossed 217 and 2/3 innings with a 3.76 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP, and 186 strikeouts that led him to an 8-14 record. It’s tough to win only 8 games with 217 and 2/3 innings of 3.76 ERA and equally tough to lose 14.
- Greg Maddux – I saw Greg Maddux pitch his last game ever in 2008 in the playoffs against the Phillies. He pitched 2 innings allowing 2 hits, 2 runs (both unearned), walked 1, and struck out 3. It was thrilling for me to once again watch my boyhood idol pitch in the post-season in front of a national audience. And he was still just as good. Just as sharp. Just as smart. The dude wasn’t called the professor for no reason. He was the smartest pitcher to ever put on a jersey. One time, he threw a complete game using 76 pitches. No matter how old he is, he’ll still always be entertaining.
- Nick Blackburn – Maddux-like loopy stuff. He’s an odd pitcher. Certainly not over-powering, but a junk pitcher that knows how to use it. And he’s very interesting to watch. Another Twins starter on the list.
- Jon Lester – Of the pitchers I saw pitch in 2008, Jon Lester was one of the best. The ball just flies out of his hands, it doesn’t even seem like he’s trying and his fastball hits 94 MPH. He threw that no-hitter, but his day to day preformance was just spectacular. A true treat to watch. Some pitchers are entertaining because they’re good and some are entertaining for reasons other than they’re good. Jon Lester’s entertainment value comes entirely from him being very, very good.
- Chad Billingsley – I’m a sucker for youth, but Billingsley is one of the top youngsters in the game, and he’s extremely fun to watch. He takes the mound like he’s been in the league for 20 years, and he’s 2 years removed from his rookie season.
- John Danks – Another very interesting young lefty. He’s got a great slider and change-up. I don’t really know why, but I always love watching him.
- Javier Vazquez – A strike-pumping machine. Vazquez throws just as many strikes as anyone in the league. Sometimes he throws too many and it works to his disadvantage, but there’s something to be said about a guy who both pounds the strike zone and misses a bunch of bats. Very entertaining to watch with his variety of pitches, my favorite of which is his curveball.
- Rick Porcello – A 2-seamer machine who seems nearly un-hittable when he keeps the ball down in the zone. The life on his fastball is great. Some of the best in the game. I also mentioned I’m a sucker for youth, and he’s only 21. He’s in his rookie season, so I haven’t seen too much from him, but what I have seen has been great to watch, great enough to rank 21 on my list.
- Jair Jurrjens – I like the fact that his delivery is very compact from the shoulders down but not compact at all above his shoulders. An interesting delivery. He pitches to contact and gets a bunch of ground balls. He’s a really good pitcher, extremely entertaining to watch, and he got traded from Detroit just like John Smoltz. The comparisons with Smoltz are fun, and I hope he faces Smoltz when the Braves play the Red Sox either during the regular season or the World Series. And I hope he pitches a gem and wins. Even if I also hope Smoltz pitches a gem.
- Clayton Kershaw – The ball flies, and I mean FLIES, out of his hand. It doesn’t even look like he’s trying. Tommy Hanson, the Braves’ best pitching prospect, has a pretty hurky-jerky arm action and it looks like he’s laboring when he throws. Kershaw throws harder with extremely smooth mechanics and never fails to amaze me every time he has the ball. If you looked at the 2 pitchers without a radar gun, you’d think Hanson throws harder because he labors so much, but Kershaw throws harder despite barely flexing a muscle.
- Cole Hamels – In addition to being a master of his craft, he’s got one of those weird, hilarious deliveries. He looks like he’s really baked before throwing pitches too, which makes me laugh as well. I love watching, especially when he isn’t facing the Braves, because he was 2 outs away from shutting us out twice last year. A fantastic pitcher. One of the truly dominant left-handers. He’s off to a slow start, but it appears he’s getting back on track. He beat the Braves this season. He’s a stud.
- Glen Perkins – Not a very good pitcher, but I like short pitchers who pound the zone with junk. Left-hander. Very fitting that he plays for the Twins and pounds the strike zone.
- Johan Santana – As the Braves are currently working him (he’s thrown 94 pitches in 5 and 1/3 innings), I’ll take some time to pay tribute to the best pitcher in baseball. He’s truly amazing. There’s a 90% chance you’re going to see brilliance every time he takes the hill. 3/4 lefty who throws a fastball, slider, and devastating change-up.
- Ted Lilly – He’s a power pitcher who doesn’t throw very hard. Funny how that works. I really like watching him, he’s all about those K’s. An exaggerated delivery that never fails to amuse. A very, very entertaining lefty, though he’s not that great. I once saw him snap off a 3-2 12-6 curveball to a left-handed hitter that started about 6 inches above his eyes and ended right over the plate slightly below the hitter’s hands. The hitter flinched, but didn’t move and struck out. An incredibly good pitch. One of the best I saw last year. The hitter? Kelly Johnson.
- Gavin Floyd – Strike-throwing junkerballer. He’s a pretty crappy pitcher, but he’s fun to watch nonetheless. Nick Blackburn’s evil Twin. (So many opportunities for puns there, I’ll let you fill in the blanks).
- Randy Johnson – He may be the last lefthander to win 300 games. He’s a strikeout machine. And he’s 6’10″. One time my dad said Randy Johnson’s batting song should be Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)”. He’s basically a side-armed pitcher. And he throws the best slider the game has ever seen. His nickname is “The Big Unit”, which is an awesome nickname.
- Jeff Francis – It’s a shame he’s out for the 2009 season. He’s got impeccible command and was really starting to develop into a dominant starter. I loved watching him during Colorado’s magical run in 2007. He’s had injury issues since, but he’s still very fun to watch.
- A.J. Burnett – A truly dominant pitcher. Today’s version of Nolan Ryan. Tons of walks, tons of K’s, tons of wins, tons of losses. He’s not a “great” pitcher, but he has truly great stuff. I don’t hold it against him for signing the more lucrative contract to play in New York, closer to his family and in a bigger market. I still like watching him pitch. Especially when he’s on. He once walked 9 batters in a no hitter. Nolan Ryan topped out at 8 BB’s in a no-no during his 3rd of 7.
- Scott Baker – My favorite true fly-ball pitcher in the league. If you’ll look at my stats guide, I note that it doesn’t make you automatically good to have a high groundout to flyout ratio. If you can get outs without getting ground balls, more power to you. As a corollary, it doesn’t make you automatically bad to have a low groundout to flyout ratio. But it’s hard for pitchers to get outs without either a) inducing ground balls or b) striking out batters. Baker does neither, but he’s still a good pitcher that has no trouble getting outs. He gets help from his very talented outfield defense. Another Twins guy who pounds the zone.
- Aaron Cook – In the all-star game last year, he pulled a houdini in a very crucial situation, bottom of the 10th, game tied. That is, he got 3 outs with the bases loaded and didn’t allow a run. He’s a ground-baller, which bodes especially well for his home park, Coors Field. I’m a fan of seeing pitchers make use of their resources. Cook does this very well. A very efficient and underrated pitcher. It’s always a thrill to watch him, especially with that really talented infield defense in Colorado.
- Chris Young – Last year Yadier Molina broke his nose by hitting a rocket right back at him. He is from Texas, and if you look at him you’d probably guess he’s from Texas. A big, athletic guy who just looks intimidating on the mound. His fastball is a plus plus pitch. I don’t know why, but the way he brings it just makes him seem like a fierce competetor. And those are always fun to watch.
- Jake Peavy – He hasn’t been the same since he won his Cy Young in 2007, but that is partially due to injuries I think. He’s got a violent delivery, but he’s got the stuff to justify it. He’s a good ole boy from Mobile, Alabama, and went to one of my best friend’s high school, St. Paul’s.
- Kevin Slowey – Kevin Slowey is pretty damn good. He doesn’t throw bad starts. Honestly, he’s never really shut down the opposition, but he never lets the game get out of hand. There’s something to be said about predictibility. I also am acquainted with his sister.