The Breakdown: Rooting for the whiff
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Normally, I don’t enjoy watching good defense in sports. It’s just pretty boring. I mean, if I’m tuning in to a Patriots’ game, I don’t want to see Tom Brady go 3-18 for 27 yards; I want to see bombs (completed) downfield; I want to see one-handed grabs by Randy Moss for touchdowns.
Same goes for hockey and basketball.
(Note: With basketball, I usually get that wish granted, as playing defense in the NBA pretty much means standing in front of your man while he drills a jump shot.)
Simply put, offense is more exciting – that is, unless we’re talking about baseball.
Over this past weekend, we saw a couple of great performances in the majors, both with some nice Colorado ties, too.
Saturday, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay threw a perfect game. It’s the second one this year, but still, the Arvada native is only the 20th pitcher in MLB history to face 27 batters and send all of them back to the dugout with their bats, er, tails between their legs.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco on Sunday, the Rockies’ flamethrower, Ubaldo Jimenez, stayed hot – as hot as any pitcher (through June 1) in the history of baseball. Jimenez threw a complete-game shutout for his 10th win of the season (in 11 starts) and has an ERA of 0.78. Oh, and he did it by throwing against another NL phenom and former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. In case you’re scoring at home, Jimenez is on pace for a 32-3 record this season and to break Bob Gibson’s seemingly untouchable record for ERA in a season of 1.12, set in 1968. (Although, those numbers are extremely unrealistic for him – or any modern pitcher – to reach.)
Not bad. Actually, it’s great – one of the best things you could ask for as a fan.
In a sport that ballooned biceps have helped turn into a nightly home run derby, the best aspect of a baseball game is still pitching. Hands down.
Sure, I’ll admit that watching Barry Bonds and his giant head take batting practice in 2006 at Coors Field was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen – synthetic or real – but when it comes time for the game to start, a homer doesn’t quite do it for me.
Home runs can be fun. Some parks even let off fireworks when they happen, but I’d always rather see a batter get burned on a breaking ball any day.
Not to demean the accomplishment of going yard in the bigs, but there are plenty of players that can – and do. The MLB is filled with great hitters, guys who can belt 30 home runs while hitting over .300.
There just aren’t as many great pitchers, and watching one of them – like Halladay or Jimenez – is as good as it gets.
Let’s look at Jimenez. Besides his gaudy stats and dominating start to the season, if you’ve ever watched him pitch – even on TV – he just makes the batters look silly. He throws a two-seem fastball that cuts a ridiculous amount and can hit up to 101 mph on the gun. Then, he can drop a breaking ball from the batter’s head to the dirt that comes in in the low 80s.
When he’s on, he’s unhittable. It’s amazing.
I’m not quite sure what it is about it, but it always impresses me more when one pro athlete can make another look like a fool. Maybe it’s the fact that it makes the fooled player seem more human, more, you know, like all of us. Or maybe it’s just that when one athlete shows absolute dominance and mastery over not only his opponent but also his sport, there’s nothing more impressive.
If we’re watching football or hockey or basketball, give me the offense.
When it’s baseball, though, I’m rooting for the whiff.
Bryce Evans wishes he could see some decent pitching when he watches his Cubs, and he can be reached at email@example.com.
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