Today Is Pitching

The flag of Sicily, where Joe DiMaggio's roots lie. To opposing pitchers, Joe D. must have seemed just as gracefully inhibiting.

Random Notes:

Click on this from AARP, even for those of us (who’s “us”?) under 50. It’s a hoot. The quiz asks comedy fans to remember the name of Abbott and Costello’s third baseman. (The Subject line of this blog takes its name from Abbott and Costello’s pitcher.)

Speaking of pitching, “Yesterday” (maybe Yesterday is A&C’s unnamed right fielder?) Justin Verlander (“A Little Chin Music!”),  barely missed pitching a perfect game. For people learning about baseball, and I hope your eyes do not glaze over from this explanation, a perfect game means a pitcher faces the minimum number of batters (27) in throwing a complete, 9-inning game without a single batter/runner reaching first base. A pitcher must rely on his teammates not to make an error that would permit a batter/runner to reach base as well. As in life, perfection on the major league level is a rare feat. Verlander himself walked a batter (meaning he threw four pitches out of the strike zone, in this case interspersed with many strikes in the zone that were fouled off by the batter) late in the game, which broke up his perfecto. This runner was immediately erased, however, on a double play. No one after him reached first base. Ultimate result: Verlander pitched a no-hitter, still a rare accomplishment, and came about as close to perfection as possible without landing there. (Pirates’ star Willie Stargell likened hitting against Sandy Koufax to eating soup with a fork. Verlander is pretty Koufax-like himself, though reminding me more of another old-timer with the Pirates named Bob Veale.)

Additionally from this slow-news day: The Mets ended Dodgers’s Andre Ethier’s consecutive-game hitting streak at 30. (Ethier has two hits today, possibly to ignite a new streak.) I hate to unfurl the Sicilian flag here, belonging as it may to half my heritage, but Sicilian-American Joe D.’s record of batting in 56 consecutive games remains secure. It is of course said all records are made to be broken, even after seventy years. Should it happen, should someone like Ichiro, or a baby only born this very Mothers’ Day break it at some unknown date, the excitement level will surely seem unprecedented.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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