Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Some Pitchers It's All About Slowing the Game Down

In last night's game at the BOB (Bank One Ballpark) fans got to see a pitcher (Arizona lefty-Doug Davis) really slow down the pace of the game. It was like watching a pitcher play softball with a hardball.

Batter's had to adjust their focus to the tempo Doug Davis (former City College in San Francisco player) was delivering his pitches. And the Giants were very successful at making the adjustment as they went on to an 11-3 victory.

Currently there are a few other pitches who use the same approach to their game. Lefties Mark Redman (Colorado) and Jamie Moyer (Philadelphia) are the antithesis of Jim Kaat, who when he was at the end of his career was as close to quick-pitching as could be allowed (an illegal pitch where the ball is thrown before the batter is set in the batter's box. Rule 8.05(e). If there is no one on base, the pitch is called a ball. But if there are any number of runners on base, it is ruled a balk. The ruling of a quick pitch is always up to the umpire.) without getting called for the overly zealous rapid pace. He must have had what the home plate umpire (for his game) liked in exchange for being allowed to pitch in the manner he was pitching.

The other extremely slow-paced pitcher, is knuckleballer Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox. (Wakefield is the only pitcher not a left-hander of those mentioned.) But the general feeling with a knuckleball pitcher is you expect the pace to be altered and in order to grasp what is happening you, as a player, probably welcome the deliberate pace.

Watching Doug Davis reminded me of former Giant and Astro lefty, Bob Knepper. When he first broke in with the Giants (1976-1980) and later with the Astros (1981-89) I don't remember him being any different from any other lefty. But when he returned for the remainder of 1989 and throughout the entire 1990 season, with the Giants, I recall him being very deliberate in his motion and in-between pitches. The guy had a pretty decent career even though his career record was W-146 L-155.

(His best season was in 1978 with the Giants. He posted a W-17 L-11 record with a 2.63 ERA. In Houston, from 1984 thru 1986 inclusive he won 15, 15 and 17 games. His last double-digit winning season was 1988 when he won 14.)

I guess the pitching style of Doug Davis piqued my objet d'art last night since I picked up on something else during the game. It wasn't really last night's game in particular but an accumulation of games throughout the season.

Having listened to Giants' color-analyst Mike Krukow, over the past several seasons, and his baseball jargons or Krukowisms he comes up with, I was wondering why he hasn't once made a comment about Jose Castillo's elephant ears (when the lining of a player's pockets are sticking out of the pockets) since it was he who initially went to the well- for this particular jargon-in the first place.

It's just that with Castillo, the "ears" seem to be a part of his wardrobe ensemble. The Jose Castillo design, if you will.

Kevin Marquez