What I’ve learned this week
-Dylan Bundy gave up a hit. Don’t worry though, the player who committed the egregious sin of singling off of the Tulsa Terror was unceremoniously doubled right the hell up and off the basepaths.
-Last week Bundy went head-to-head with Matt Barnes of the Red Sox organization. Barnes is older than Bundy on account of him being born a few years earlier. Regardless, Barnes held his own and his dominating ways resulted in a promotion to High-A Salem. The former UConn (insert mascot name here), struck out 12 unsuspecting yucks in his High-A debut. At the end of that day, he led MiLB with 54Ks. If he keeps doing this, he may have a shot at a bullpen job for the Sox. Their pen still sucks.
-Justin Verlander completed 6 innings in both of his starts last week. The second one marked the 48th consecutive start that he has completed 6ip. Not really a lot more I can say about that.
-Endless Summer threw a no-hitter for the Lost Angelestest Angels. It really was pretty remarkable. His fastest pitch was 92.8 mph. What’s the best way to throw a no-hitter without devastating velocity? Effectively commanding 6 pitches appears to help. 52 two seam fastballs, 16 four seam fastballs, 15 change ups, 16 sliders, 14 curveballs, and 8 cutters. 6 different pitches thrown with relative wanton disregard for the count and hitters have very little chance of guessing correctly. Don’t let his SoCal, floppy haired appearance fool you, this guy is a crazy, competitive son of a bitch who uses a deceptive delivery, great command and several plus pitches to make you look bad. I consider him an ace.
-Speaking of the Angels. Albert Pujols hit a home run and all seemed right with Angel universe, then 2(!) of their key relievers came up gimpy at the end of the game. I’m not one to believe in signs, but I just don’t think this is their year. I’ve seen what it looks like when things just don’t fall into place for whatever reason. Age, acquisitions, and injuries can take an odd toll on an otherwise talented team. Even coming off a championship season that saw an amazing run capped by a transcendent superstar performance, things can go woefully wrong. Dammit I’m not talking about the Angels anymore, am I? Take some time off Big German. Take some time off.
-One time, last week, I saw Roy Halladay walk the bases loaded. It’s true. He also blew a big lead in another game. I’m serious. No really. Google it.
-Mariano Rivera tore up his knee. Baseball threw up in its collective mouth. He is pretty damn rare. A Yankee who emits sympathy for a potential career ending injury. I was struck by how the collective baseball Illuminati lined up to say “job well done”. Results AND respect. Truly a rare combination. The Texas Rangers’ “veteran” reliever Joe Nathan has 268 career saves, Rivera has 608. In the post-season when the pressure is the greatest and the opponents are at their best, so is Rivera. In 141 post-season innings, his E.R.A. is 0.70 and his WHIP is 0.759. The Texas Rangers organization has played 43 post-season games, Rivera has saved 42 post-season games. If it is the end, which he says it isn’t, his career has been amazing and I’m more than glad I saw him do his thing.
-Lots of the minor league studs are starting to get into stud form. The hitters who were expected to hit are hitting and the pitchers who were expected to pitch well are doing so. I primarily use Twitter to update stand-out performances, but I can always share little things here, like the fact that Wil Myers is going to be the reason your wife wants to sit in right field when the Royals come to town next season. You won’t mind though, ’cause you’ll get to see him play as well.
At this point most people know my favorites are guys like Taijuan Walker who may be a big league starter before he can buy a beer, Zach Lee, and Dylan Bundy. But the undisputed king of my affection had a VERY big week with regards to action on and off the field. Billy Hamilton stole a crap ton of bases, maintained good, solid contact rates, continued to play below-average shortstop and most importantly ended the week with an article in the Sunday edition of The New York Times. I still have almost no idea what he is saying in any of his tweets, but I know he’s the fastest player baseball has seen in twenty years. The Reds have a Cuban kid who throws 104 and a farmhand from a small town in Mississippi who can get down the line to first in about 3.7 seconds. Fun stuff.
I’m going to go a little more minor league heavy next week as I go looking for interesting stories in the smaller stadiums. In the meantime, keep watching baseball and checking the Bakersfield Blaze (apropos name, I know) boxscores to see how many bases Billy Hamilton steals. I’ll try to think of some more metaphors to describe his speed, but I think they’ll all fail to match Satchel Paige’s famous description of Cool Papa Bell. Paige liked to say that Bell was “so fast, you could turn off the lights and he’d be under the covers before the room gets dark.” Rest assured I got nuthin’ better than that.