The Someday Knuckleball

August 4, 2017
 As long as "The Greatest Third Base Man of All Time" is currently being discussed (there’s a "Hey, Bill" on that topic, concerning Pie Traynor and how and when he got, and lost, that title), I was reminded of this piece which I wrote decades ago, so long ago that I got it off a computer that is wholly incompatible with current technology, The narrow margins make it look like verse, but no, it’s meant to be prose—I just can’t do anything about the margins, or about anything else for that matter. This is exactly how I wrote it, and how I left it in my "unpublished" file, for a good reason. It wasn’t quite finished, and it quickly became outdated.

 

I wrote this essay, disguised as a short story, a long time ago, probably the late 1980s, early 1990s. Internal evidence suggests strongly that it dates from Don Mattingly’s peak, around 1985 or 1986, because I completely wrongheadedly decided Mattingly was going to become the consensus All-Time Great at first base, eclipsing Gehrig, which he could have if only he’d had a dozen more 1985s. In any case, it was well before Mariano Rivera broke into the major leagues, and well before he claimed the title of World’s All-time Undisputed Dominant Reliever-- since its subject is a sort of pre-Mariano, narrated in the form of an after-dinner talk.

 

The speaker was meant to be someone like Bill James, as you can see from the opening lines, and the form was supposed to some vague sort of encomium at the end of a very successful career. I don’t like it much, as a story or as an essay—not enough character and plot for a story, and totally outdated as an argumentative essay. (It is interesting, though, as a document noting the changes in the game since the 1980s: I allude at one point to the "third-string catchers" on every big league club, just as teams were beginning to adopt a two-catcher maximum.)  I was fascinated by the idea that no one as of the mid-1980s had put together a long and dominant career as a relief pitcher, and how late it was in baseball history that we still had even one position, reliever, that hadn’t had a truly dominating world-class star.  As I go on (and on) to explain, every other position had had several players who dominated MLB at their position when they were young, and again in their peak years, and then again when they were older players. Third base had been the last position, in my view, to feature a player who excelled over a long period of time in Eddie Mathews, and then added to that in Mike Schmidt and George Brett, but there still wasn’t a reliever who fulfilled my simple if difficult terms, of excellence coupled with longevity, so I decided to point out that oddity in this story, by creating a dynamic young reliever who got better and better as his career progressed.

 

It was odd, I thought, that MLB hadn’t promoted guys to the role of closer earlier in their careers than it sometimes did at other positions. I still find it a little odd, just because for other positions you need to master a lot of different skills at the very highest level of competition, but a closer can do okay with only two skills:  throwing very fast and throwing with excellent control. Not that these two skills are available at your local supermarket, mind you, just that there are only two of them, and with those two, a teenaged hot-shot should be capable of pitching one inning very effectively. He needn’t master the pick-off move, the change-up, the fielding, the breaking ball—of course they’re desirable, just not absolutely necessary, given fabulous control and a great fastball.

 

Obviously, there’s something screwy with my reasoning, because teenaged closers still don’t exist, but that was my reasoning, and so I wrote this piece about a teenaged closer who just added to his repertoire, one tool per year, and kept on getting better and better and better. There. You’ve now read the piece, but please continue if you’d like to read the literary version:

 

 

 

THE SOMEDAY KNUCKLEBALL    

 

 

 

                Some men rank beers for a living. That's all right with me, but I

         can never figure where these guys get off to criticize me, who

         ranks ballplayers for a living. My standards, I figure, are a

         little clearer than "This makes me belch a lot" or "Went straight

         to my bladder." My standards are dominance, longevity, consistency.

         A first rate ballplayer‑‑take Yogi Berra‑‑was the best

         player at his position( that’s one), for a long time (two), without ever

         really having a bad season (three). I'm prejudiced against guys

         like Mantle who, great as they were, carry with them the baggage

         of shoulda‑coulda‑woulda. You know: "Mantle woulda been the

         greatest ever if he didn't have osteo‑whatchamacallit." So we

         lose Mantle off my list. Gone, forget it, goodbye. The best, by

         my standards, were Berra‑Mathewson‑Mattingly‑Collins‑Schmidt‑

         Arino‑Musial‑Speaker‑Ruth. Practically any season, for any of

         these guys, is a terrific year. When I was growing up, and I came

         up with this list I had Honus Wagner at shortstop, and Brooks

         Robinson at third, and Lou Gehrig at first base, and those three

         are first‑rank too. But I never had a relief pitcher. Until the

         last couple of years. Which is why I'm here tonight.

        

         Simply, there never was a really first‑rank relief pitcher. There

         have been years that the best player in the game was a

         reliever‑‑1963 with Dick Radatz, maybe, 1950 with Konstanty‑‑ and


         maybe even whole periods when that was true, like the long

         stretch in which you could have seriously argued that no one

         dominated the game like Sutter or Fingers. This isn't to put

         relievers down. To play first‑rank ball, by my standards, you

         have to figure into the MVP voting from practically your rookie

         year until you get into at least your late thirties. Wonderful

         players like Dizzy Dean and Williams and Koufax and Jackie

         Robinson, who all either started late or finished early or missed

         seasons for good reasons and bad, wind up getting discussed in

         terms of what they would have done in some ideal life. Players

         like Aaron and Cobb and Rose and Berra and Mathewson all get

         talked about in terms of what they did and, by my lights, that

         makes their careers first‑rate.

        

        

         That's what made Newton remarkable. He pitched his first World

         Series in his teens, and his last in his forties, and he finished

         second in the MVP voting both times; and in between he had seven

         better World Series. He dominated the game for twenty‑three

         years, and who's done that? No other reliever, I'll tell you.

        

         Even before he came up, he was known. Like I said, he was

         nineteen when he pitched in a Series, but it seems that he was in

         the minors forever when they called him up. He'd pitched in the

         Olympics the year he graduated high school, and he dominated the

         Double‑A league that the Phillies sent him to at age 18, and the

         next year, when the Phillies insisted on sending him to Triple A,

         there was practically a riot in the City of Brotherly Love lasting from April

         until mid‑June when he got called up.  He was just a kid, but Phillie fans

         carried on so much you would have thought he'd won a hundred

         games in the minors and saved hundreds more. I looked it up. His

         minor league record was 11‑3 with fifteen saves, in parts of two

         seasons.

        

         He was a funny‑looking kid, and never got much better looking. He

         had this huge adam's apple, which got hairier the older he got, until

         it got so hard to shave he took to letting his chest hair grow

         halfway up his neck. And sloping shoulders, so he looked more

         like an antelope than an athlete. Coupled with long skinny arms,

         those shoulders and his hunched-over posture made him look like

         some weird forest creature grazing on all fours.

        

         Even though he had a major‑league curve from the moment the Phils

         signed him, and a major‑league fastball in the womb, probably,

         the Phillies wouldn't have brought him up if he didn't also have

         the best control in their whole system,. And even then, they

         wouldn't have called him up if they didn't need a reliever in

         the worst way. They'd been in third place all season, sometimes

         a close third, sometimes a very distant third, and their bullpen was

         destroying them.

        

         The Philly pen was worse than inept. If it had just been inept, they could

         have traded for somebody. The bullpen was ept, all right, but only for a

         game or two at a time. Their veteran relievers would have one or two bad

         outings, then come in and blow the other side away for a couple of innings,

         and then come right back with a few more awful outings. By mid-May,

         they had an ERA in their bullpen of better than a run an inning, with a few

         hitless appearances mixed in. Management had decided that the terrible

         appearances were just bad luck, a whole season’s worth of bad relief jobs

         squeezed in together at the beginning of the year.

        

         Then it got to be the middle of the year. The bullpen ERA was still

         in the high sevens, and‑‑worse‑‑the management had lost several

         chances to pick up ace relievers (at suitably ace prices) until

         now there was no one available anymore. So they called Frankie

         Newton up.

        

         He had a terrific fastball, and a good curve and control, from

         git‑go, and they just needed him to pitch a couple of innings a

         couple of times a week, and they needed it bad. Most of all,

         the kid to his credit was relaxed, especially in the big games. He

         couldn't fail, the way he saw it, because he was only a kid. If

         he screwed up, the Phils would get the blame, for rushing him

         up too fast. And if he pitched well, he'd get all the credit, so

         he pitched wonderfully. It took a lot of maturity to see how he

         could use his youth to his advantage.

        

         After the Phils won that year’s Series, with Newton pitching seven

         scoreless innings against the Tigers, Newton improved a little

         every year, although if you'd have asked Jack Pokey, the team's

         owner, if Newton could bear improvement, he'd have thought even

         the question reeked of ingratitude. But the next spring, he

         sharpened his curve, and the spring after, he put on a little

         weight, which went straight to his fastball, and the next year,

         he got to fielding fairly spectacularly, which up to then he'd

         never really noticed as a part of his game, and then the next

         year, he got his pickoff motion down almost perfect, and then the

         next year, he started monkeying with a better grip on his change‑up,

         and the year after that, he learned how to hit a little bit‑‑not

         much, maybe .190 or .210, like that, but a big improvement on his

         previous contribution, which stood at .165. I'm skipping over a

         lot of crises here‑‑like the time Haunches Frye, his manager,

         tried making a starter out of him, or the time he was suspended

         for his pickoff throw of Tim Whitted, which broke Whitted's

         ankle, and ruined his career. Never understood how the

         Commissioner could have felt, let alone ruled, Newton was

         aiming for a fast man's moving ankle. Somewhere in here, though,

         Newton must have developed his mythical knuckleball.

        

         No one knows where it started, this knuckleball of his. Ed Worth,

         his catcher starting for three years when he was twenty five,

         swears he couldn't have even thrown one before Johnny Yyke, the

         knuckleballer, came to the Phillies. But Yyke's widow makes the

         point that her husband hated young pitchers, and would have died

         in boiled oil before he ever taught a young pitcher his money

         pitch. Other players point out, besides, Newton was throwing it

         in the bullpen years before Yyke came to the team. And some

         players claim there was never any knuckler at all‑‑the whole

         story of his knuckleball was an elaborate hoax, maybe the biggest

         hoax in all of baseball history.

        

         The story was spread by the biggest flakes in the game: bullpen

         catchers. Players to this day sometimes say bullpen catchers,

         though they're on the official rosters, aren't even major‑

         leaguers. The first-string catcher's in the game, the second

         stringer's on the bench, and the third stringer's in the

         bullpen,  risking his fingers two or three times a game, warming

         up relievers on a second's notice, usually without warming up or

         putting on a mask or shinguards or a chest protector. Three years

         in the majors is about the longest they last. After that, they

         either get out of the bullpen, which most of them can't play well

         enough to do, or they're too crippled to play any more. Starting

         catchers in the minors outlast major‑league third‑stringers, and

         when the big‑league third‑string job opens up, most minor‑league

         catchers would rather wait in some triple‑A or Double‑A league

         for a better opening to come along. Most teams go through a

         different third stringer every year, and some more often

         than that.

        

         These guys, pathetic as it may seem, train real hard over

         the winters; the lucky ones, the ones whose open sores heal,

         whose busted hands function after a long winter of rehabilitation

         fool their bodies and fool some new team into believing that they

         can catch in the bullpen another year. Most of these cases look like

         some poor kid who's gotten whacked out night and day by his parents

         and his new teammates believe his crazy stories about as often as

         people believe some whacked‑out kid. One of these abused

         catchers, his chest solid welts after the winter, made a new team,

         and warned his new teammates about Newton's knuckler. "His

         knuckler?" they'd laugh, "he ain't got one." And the new kid

         would say  he caught it all last summer, don't tell him! That's

         how Newton warmed up. After a half‑dozen knuckleballs, Newton

         would be loose, and with no strain on his arm.

        

         The first few times recycled catchers spread such stories, most

         players figured they'd caught a few too many fastballs with their

         foreheads. They'd think the new kid couldn't tell a knuckler from

         Newton's fastball‑‑which for a short while became the expression

         players used for "he can't tell his ass from a dry well." But

         then the Phillies got rid of a couple more bullpen catchers, and

         then some veterans who'd been on the Reds, where one ex‑Phillie

         bullpen catcher spread knuckler stories, got traded to the White

         Sox, where another ex‑Phillies catcher was now the bullpen coach,

         and their stories matched. One Red, the old batting champion Leo

         Chin, spread the story, and from Chin's lips, it was believed. By

         the next summer, Newton's knuckler was the Unicorn of baseball,

         and everyone wanted to see the strange and terrible creature.

        

         Newton himself had put in ten years in the big leagues around

         this time, and he'd just answer knuckler questions with an inane

         laugh and a "Nah." When reporters persisted, listing ex‑catchers

         who claimed to have caught Newton's knucklers, he'd just spit.

        

         Now people would try to see Newton throwing knucklers, in his

         natural habitat, so to speak. In likely Newton situations, the

         fans would all gather around the bullpen, making the old ball

         park look like it was going to get tipped over at one end, maybe

         fifteen thousand of them, jostling for position in the seats near

         the Philles pen, waiting to see him soft‑toss. "There it is,"

         one would scream, "that was it! There, that one knuckled! And

         that one."

        

         A knuckler, as most of you know, rides the air currents, moving

         slowly but at random, buffeted an inch up, now a half inch down

         on the diagonal. No one, least of all the pitcher, knows where

         it's going, and no one, least of all the batter, can pick up a

         pattern in the motion of a good knuckler from fifty-five feet away.

         Now these fans, or these fools, were a good two hundred feet

         away, and practically straight up above Newton as he warmed up,

         so how they could see a pitch moving centimeters at a time, is

         beyond me.

        

         But at least the fools had ignorance to claim as a defense.

         Broadcasters, who should have known better, were

         claiming, "You can see old Newton warming up with that knuckler

         in the bullpen," from maybe four hundred feet away. "Looks like

         it's really moving today, Vin." "Oh, yeah, Joe, that knuckler's

         just dancing the night away."

        

        

         Well, maybe Vin and Joe would claim senility as their defense, I

         sure don't know. I'm an old man, I get called to talk at these

         things about players from my time, and them two geezers are still

         doing the game of the week. Last time they made any sense at all

         must have been 1995. Joe's been wandering around No‑man's land

         for decades, and Vin's been at least a buck short for that long.

         Hell, everybody in those days was gabbing about Newton’s

         knuckler. And when he'd come into a game, the first few years,

         people wondered when he would throw it in a game for the first

         time.

        

         Batters, especially. The first year word got out about the

         knuckler, they'd be looking it for it in a tight spot. Newton'd

         come with men on, tie game, he'd throw two fast strikes over the

         plate, and the batter would start wondering if this was the time

         he'd choose to throw the pitch. Only it never was.

        

         Even in World Series games, batters would concentrate extra on

         the ball's spin, hoping to pick up the first Newton knuckler, and

         Vin and Joe would be yakking away, speculating on what he was

         saving it for. But it was always boom‑boom‑boom, fastballs on the

         corners, with an occasional curve or change to keep the batters

         straight, even in the seventh game of the series.

        

         Most people figured that Newton was perfecting the pitch until

         his fastball left him, but as the years went on, and he lost a few

         miles‑per‑ on the fast one, he just threw his curve a little

         more, and got by on smarts. I figured that by this time, it had

         become a psychological weapon more than anything else. If a

         batter was thinking "Where is that knuckleball?" with only 1% of

         his brain, and if he'd never seen the pitch just knew it was the

         best one ever, that was maybe more valuable than the pitch

         itself.

        

         Young writers would ask him about the pitch from time to time,

         and Newton wouldn't even acknowledge the question, except to say

         "I don't throw one, man. What the hell are you talking about?"

         The last few years, when he'd lost his fastball except as a

         surprise, and pretty much lost his stamina, pitching maybe

         thirty, forty times year, the word was that he was a valuable

         pitcher for his sixty‑odd innings. I think his knuckleball might

         have helped him hang on an extra year or three. He always

         stayed a great pitcher, like I said, but some managers can't

         afford to keep a reliever who can only work twice a week, no

         matter how good he is. But with Newton, those managers had to

         think that once Newton felt sufficiently humbled by the

         experience of not pitching three or four times a week, he'd

         finally cough up his knuckleball. He never did, of course, but I

         wonder. Maybe Newton will listen to all these speeches tonight,

         go home, and five years later when he's elected to the Hall of

         Fame, I think he'll make a return as a knuckleballer. Maybe he'll

         be the first man to get elected to the Hall of Fame twice.

        

         And you know, there's one other thing I'd like to say, kind of an

         afterthought., If he doesn't do something like that, he'll still

         be the greatest reliever of all time, to my mind, but I'm not

         sure any more that he's really first rank. I was just thinking

         what I said before that the truly great ballplayers are truly

         great because there's no shoulda‑woulda‑coulda about them. Well,

         I'm just thinking, if he'd a mixed a few knucklers in there,

         maybe he would have gotten a few more key outs, maybe he would

         have picked up some key saves he didn't get, maybe he would even

         have appeared in and won a couple of more series. Thinking now,

         Newton does cause me to wonder what he would have done and I

         suppose I'm always going to keep an open mind about Newton until

         I see that knuckleball someday. Thank you. And Newton, thank

         you, too. This's been an interesting evening.

 
 

COMMENTS (17 Comments, most recent shown first)

steve161
Yeah, Cohen's memory is a wonder of nature. I've heard it said that Howie Rose, their radio guy, is similar. I vaguely remember having a memory something like that, but the years have eroded it.

And why wouldn't you have a similar appreciation for Vin Scully's storytelling? (Admittedly, it was most effective when he worked alone. Once again, thank the higher powers for mlb.tv.)

You're more critical than I am--probably not surprising in a professor of English. What I want from a broadcast is to be told something I didn't know: Why a particular play happened the way it did (that's what Morgan was especially good at), or what the strengths and weaknesses of a particular player or team have been (which I, not devoting all of my waking hours to baseball, may have missed). It's why I prefer a neutral crew, all things being equal, but some of the team broadcasts, including the Mets', are very good at it (some, like the Yankees', are beyond terrible).

In general, give me substance and I'll tolerate most styles.
7:45 AM Aug 8th
 
Steven Goldleaf
I'm a McCarver fan, find him capable of genuine wit. Morgan, not so much. He spouts so much nonsense, I can't get my mind to accept what he's saying--he's really a very low-level moron. I crack up when I see his name on "Baseball for Dummies." My standards are fairly low actually: I can watch the game, thank you, so just tell me what happens on the field, and do far more shutting up. A lot of "colorful" broadcasters are all about branding themselves, catchphrases, personal BS I don't care about (Do you need to hear more about Keith's garden? Not me) --what knocks me out about Cohen is how much Mets history he has on the tip of his tongue--a guy gets hit by a pitch, and Gary's all "The last time a Met went on the DL from an HBP was June of 1977, when...."
6:17 AM Aug 8th
 
steve161
Hey, we agree, sort of. I like Cohen a lot, even though his voice gets ugly in the upper registers. And I like the threesome, on the whole, though I don't agree with their constant trashing of replay and Darling's fealty to the unwritten rules. But on the whole, one of the best team telecasts.

There are a few others, but you've got to spend 100+ bucks on mlb.tv to hear them. I don't have any other option. But if you want variety, I'm pretty sure I haven't heard anyone else use 'rib-eye'.

But honestly, Steven: is that really how you judge a broadcaster? What I look for, especially in a color man, is somebody who knows more about the game than I do (which is most of them) and who can teach it to me (which is some of them). It's why I kept going back to Joe Morgan, despite his innumeracy, and Tim McCarver, despite his tendency to make a point sixteen times.
3:43 PM Aug 7th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Is "idiosyncrasy" the same as "repetitious blather"? Gary Cohen seems ok to me, interesting, knowledgeable and far from plain vanilla without relying on the same five or nine verbal tics all the time. Maybe he wanders off-topic too much to suit me, but I blame that on Keith Hernandez, who is one verbal tic after another. (The first six times, "A rib-eye steak" for RBI is semi-witty. The past few decades, I've gotten sick of it.) Darling also seems intelligent and perceptive to me. Those first three bozos I listened to from 1963 through the early 80s drove me nuts, Murph, Kiner and Lindsay Nelson.​
8:20 AM Aug 7th
 
steve161
Now I'm curious: what plain-vanilla announcer, utterly devoid of idiosyncrasy or distinguishing marks, is your ideal? I can't think of one, because no one is going to offer a play-by-play job to someone lacking a personality.

Obviously you haven't heard Scully much. Any time the count was 2-2 with two out and/or a 2 in the score or two baserunners--Deuces wild. If there was anything he did that I could have done without, that was it.
6:15 AM Aug 7th
 
Steven Goldleaf
More amused than bothered, at the self-indulgent limitations these guys put on themselves--bothered only to the degree that it was a deliberate folksy attempt to create a persona, a brand, an individual stamp. Just tell the story, man, don't get me all wound up in your personal BS.

As a prime example, a "honeydew list" is Murphy's jolly way of complaining about the things his wife insisted that he do around the house: "honey, do" this or that. Why am I finding out the state of an announcer's marriage on a regular basis? Beats the hell out of me.

I'd heard "pulled the string" only from Murphy--and he said it every time a guy threw the change. Took me years to figure out, and even then only by guesswork. A metaphor, like "a buck short" (which I got, as you can see by my use of it in the story to describe Vin's shortcomings,) is only useful as far it is colorful and surprising--when it becomes someone's catchphrase, it's just annoying. "How about that?" I don't know, Mel, how about it? "Holy Cow!" I don't know, Phil, (or Harry), I'm just not that reverent about bovines. "Deuces wild" (which I never heard, but I didn't hear Scully that much) "What the heck are you talking about, Vin, I don't play cards often." I'm guessing a 2-2 count, with 2 outs? It's just tedious to me.

Murphy also had a strikeout call, as most of these guys do, and a HR call. A man from Mars listening to Bob Murphy wouldn't have a clue what exactly he was describing half the time.
5:44 AM Aug 7th
 
steve161
Admittedly, Steven, you've heard more baseball telecasts over the last 40 years than I have--at least until the advent of mlb.tv, which has so greatly improved my quality of life. My memories of Scully are more of his radio work, and while I remember his using the phrase 'a buck short'--meaning, obviously, not quite achieving a goal--the recurrent expression I associate with him is 'deuces wild'.

'Pulling the string' has been the metaphor for a change-up as long as I can remember. But I have no idea what a 'honeydew list' might be.

I think you might be more sensitive to repetition than I am: a lot of things can happen on a baseball field, but there are only so many ways to describe them, and if, like me, you watch 200 or more games a year, you're going to hear some phrases over and over. It's never bothered me.
6:14 PM Aug 6th
 
Steven Goldleaf
BTW, what exactly did Scully mean by "a buck short"? I can hear him in head saying that about anyone and everyone in every conceivable situation, but I'm not sure at this point what that phrase means, exactly. Also if you can tell me what Bob Murphy meant when he endlessly said that a pitcher "pulled the string" on a pitch, I'll be grateful. Maybe it just means that the pitcher just threw a changeup? I do understand what he meant by his wife giving him a "honeydew list," but I don't really understand how he managed to work that phrase into several hundred broadcasts.
1:34 PM Aug 6th
 
Steven Goldleaf
a) maybe your memory is going? You say you heard Garagiola for years and never heard him say "He's in no-man's land!!!!" I heard him about once a month, I think, and that was about half of his working vocabulary.

b)both of these guys tended to repeat themselves an awful lot, retell the same stories over and over and over and over and over. That's one warning sign. My kids point it out to me when I retell a story I've told before, and I try to monitor my repetition--Vin and Joe didn't even try.
1:30 PM Aug 6th
 
steve161
a) No, I don't. b) What does that have to do with anything that would lead to an 'early Alzheimer' cheap shot?
12:28 PM Aug 6th
 
MarisFan61
(I somewhat share what you said about Mantle!)
12:53 PM Aug 5th
 
Steven Goldleaf
You guys do remember Joe working in "he's in No-Man's Land!" and Vin's "a buck short" into three or four sentences every game, don't you?
9:04 AM Aug 5th
 
steve161
I generally found Garagiola's refrain, "Things were much better in my day," pretty tiresome, but I never once heard Scully agree with him.
7:39 AM Aug 5th
 
Steven Goldleaf
"Arino" was just my default GOAT SS who played between 1985 and whenever this was supposed to take place. One of the few things I did enjoy about this old piece was that 1995 was still in the future but, to us, now, it's the distant past, and I had Vin and Joe still active in 1995, peddling their BS and early-Alzheimer's nonsense. I must have been pretty sick of listening to them back then.

The GOAT 3b-man is something Bill alluded to in discussing Traynor, that that was how he was thought of in the 1950s, not that that was the main topic of discussion. I woulda thought the throwaway line about Mantle would have been the thing you objected to this time--you disappoint me,

Good job on the productive-outs piece, BTW.
5:19 AM Aug 5th
 
MarisFan61
....I read it anyway. I think it's pretty good.
By the way, for me at least, this formatting makes it much easier to read, especially the larger spacing. I guess I'm in the same age group as the fictional author.

Part of the amusingness for me was the implausibility (equally despite and because of it) of the idea that batters would be thrown off by looking for the knuckler. I can imagine that they'd be distracted by looking for it for a few appearances' worth, but after that, either because they figured this out themselves or because other folks would have admonished them, they would have decided to forget about it till he actually threw one. For me this was kind of a Seinfeld-ian thing: a lot of the plot things are completely absurd, but rather than that being a problem, it (usually) makes the stories funnier.

BTW, what's "Arino"? Was that a typo?
11:15 PM Aug 4th
 
MarisFan61
Oops, I made a mistake too (sorry): I meant "Hey Bill," not Reader Posts.

Anyway that's not the subject of the discussion in either place.
10:10 PM Aug 4th
 
MarisFan61
Steven, you did it again! You stopped me dead in my tracks right up top.
What it says here is the topic of that discussion on Reader Posts isn't the topic of that discussion on Reader Posts. :-)​
10:07 PM Aug 4th
 
 
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