Boston, Jeter Setback and the Loss of Velocity

bstrong

Yesterday at Fenway Park, Boston stood proud and helped a city get past the tragic bombings that occurred on Monday at the Boston Marathon. After a day where Boston was on lockdown as law enforcement searched for a suspect in the bombing, Bostonians came out in droves and not only celebrated their city, but also to take their minds off of the past week and get lost in watching their Sox in action. The Red Sox held an extended pregame ceremony, as a they showed a touching video from the past, set to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”. They then brought out workers from the Boston Marathon, and law enforcement from the Boston area. Honesty, at this point if you weren’t fighting back tears, you aren’t human. I know I was trying to keep myself composed. Whether it worked or not, I can’t say. They then brought out a guy who had helped save a child’s life, a man who was injured at the Marathon, and a disabled man in a wheelchair who’s Dad always pushes him in the Boston Marathon. All three threw out the first pitch, and then they gave the mic to the returning David Ortiz to speak…

papi

I won’t repeat here what he said, as an expletive came out of his mouth. I was a bit taken aback when he said it, as it was a “did he just say what I think he said?” moment. Considering what had happened earlier in the week, it didn’t seem out of place. As a parent, with my son sitting right next to me, I kind of wish he hadn’t said it. But I also didn’t feel like anyone needed to apologize for it…which the Kansas City broadcasters then did throughout the broadcast. I get that Ortiz said a foul word. But in the context, was there any reason for an apology? Not really. It was done and over with it. It actually might have been better left alone.

nava

As for the game, it was a nice pitchers duel between Clay Buchholz and James Shields, and going into the eighth inning, the Royals had a 2-1 lead. Then some of that Boston magic sprinkled across Fenway, as Daniel Nava hit a three-run home run off of Kelvin Herrera and put the Sox ahead, 4-2. The Royals would get it to 4-3 in the ninth inning, but with a couple of runners on base, Andrew Bailey closed the door and preserved the win for Boston. In all honesty, the Royals were behind the eight ball before the game started. Everyone was cheering for Boston, other than us Royals fans. Boston got their feel good comeback, while Kansas City got another bullpen collapse. It was probably how a lot of people in New England pictured it unfolding, but it still would have been nice for the Royals to hold on to the win. I’ll be okay with that if the Royals sweep the doubleheader later today.

jeter

In other baseball news, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees had a setback in his rehabilitation this past week and it looks like his return from the nasty ankle injury he received in the playoffs last year won’t be until around the All-Star break. I know this made the rest of the American League East happy, and probably a lot of Yankee haters as well. But the truth is that it hurts baseball to have Jeter out. I hate the Yankees as much as anyone, but I have an insane amount of respect for Jeter and all he does. Jeter makes baseball better and any period he is out hurts the game. I’m sure some Yankee fans and even some sportswriters make Jeter out to be better than he might actually be, at least on the field. But Derek has always been so much more than just a great ballplayer. He is also the Yankees team leader, a guy who any youngster in New York should look up to. He does a ton of charity work and does whatever is asked of him when he does public appearances. He is gracious, humble and has great character. He also has spent close to twenty years dealing with the New York media, all while being single. The fact he has never been tied up in the messes his teammate, Alex Rodriguez, has says a lot about what kind of person he is. Add onto this his feats on the diamond, and you can see why having Derek Jeter on the shelf hurts baseball. I hope Jeter makes a speedy recovery, simply for the love of the game. The game is better with Derek Jeter around.

lincecum

The 2013 season has seen a couple of former Cy Young winners struggle to pitch like an average starter, let alone to their past glory. Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum used to be two of the top starting pitchers in the game. Both were considered aces and elite pitchers. But the wheels started coming off the bus in 2012, as Halladay battled injuries and Lincecum looked lost when out on the mound. In the early parts of this season, both looked like they were barely hanging onto their jobs, let alone striving on the mound. The two have one thing in common; loss of velocity. Over the years, this happens to most pitchers, as very few are able to hang onto the velocity of their youth. Normally, that is when most guys learn how to actually pitch and not just throw. The difference between your fastball and your off speed pitches lessen, to the point that it is easier for hitters to sit on either pitch. Halladay has seemed to figure this out first, as he has had back to back good outings. Lincecum had a good outing last night against San Diego, and did a better job of locating the ball and throwing the batters eye off, shifting between a high and low eye level. That is the key if these two want to have future success.  It is all about location. If you can mix your pitches between up and down, in and out, then you will probably have success. Anyway to make the batter not feel comfortable in the box and not know where you are going to throw the ball next. Guys like Greg Maddux did that for years, moving the ball outside-inside, or up-down. It is always about location and once Lincecum and Halladay pick up on that, the sooner they will have the success of their past.

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