Crazy times in baseball:
•So it’s the top of the 10th inning, all tied up, back from the commercial break and … wait a minute, there’s a runner at second base? How did he get there?
“Oh, glad you asked,” says the representative from Major League Baseball. “We’re trying to make the games move along a little faster. Easier to score that tie-breaking run if you’ve got a guy on second with nobody out. So we just sort of stash him there to start all the extra innings.”
Seriously, this is actually being discussed — and will be tested in rookie-level minor leagues this summer. “Let’s see what it looks like,” Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch.”
Yes, we all know that attendance tends to wane after regulation time, people fearing a game that won’t end. It wouldn’t be “fun,” however, to analyze a game statistically and try to figure out how this mystery man fits in. Imagine, too, if you’re the pitcher starting such an inning. You make two great pitches — sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly — and game over. You lose. Try to strike everybody out next time.
•When an engaging, articulate Brian Wilson was mowing down hitters with blazing fastballs en route to the Giants’ 2010 world title, no one could have imagined him years later with the Dodgers: belligerent, beyond eccentric, with a preposterous beard (featuring that little thing dangling off the edge). Now we observe two past lives for the man. A clean-shaven Wilson says he’s coming back as a knuckleballer, and he has reportedly thrown for at least two teams in recent weeks.
This is terrific news. We’d love to see Wilson return as his perceptive, wise-cracking self. He says he taught himself the pitch when he was 12 and always tinkered with it. What really grabs your attention: He claims to be throwing it for strikes from different arm angles and at different speeds.
The great Hoyt Wilhelm threw effective knuckleballs well into his 40s, finally retiring at 49 in 1972. Why not Wilson at 35?
“I can already see myself out there, throwing up some waffles,” he told Yahoo Sports. “Man, I get to play a game. It’s going to be pretty fun.”