Sunday, March 06, 2005
Why I am Excited About Justin Verlander
And Why You Should Be Too, Even if You Are a Red Sox Fan Who Does Not Know Who Justin Verlander Is, or a Fan of Some Other Team, Although God Knows Why You Would Be
This is Justin Verlander. Doesn't he look nice? The answer is yes. Be forewarned: I will use lots of italics in this post. Why? Because I bloody well can. And because I like emphasis.
1. He is 22 years old and just entering the Detroit Tigers system. That's because he went to college (albeit a college I have not heard of-- Old Dominion University? I would look it up, but no, lazy). We all know what Billy Beane and Theo Epstein think of players drafted out of college as opposed to players drafted out of high school. No? They think that these players are much more likely to not eventually suck in the majors. And we all know what I think of Billy Beane and Theo Epstein. No? I think that they are wicked awesome.
2. John Sickels has him as the number one prospect in the Tigers' system, and even though he thinks the Tigers' system is overarchingly "dismal", number one is still good. I do not think that John Sickels would lie to me. He does not even know me, so why would he lie about the (potential) awesomeness of Justin Verlander? He would not.
3. According to Baseball America, "He has enough stamina to still reach the upper 90s after 100 pitches in most starts, and hit 99 seven times in a recent outing against Virginia." If that doesn't make you wet yourself in excitement, you are not a baseball fan of any team. That is Rich Harden-type* throwing. That is awesome.
4. Also from BA: "Verlander can throw a baseball on a line from end zone to end zone on a football field. His father, mother and 12-year-old brother form a relay to get him the ball back during these long-toss sessions." If that doesn't make you wet yourself and then immediately pass out from excitement, you have never even heard of the sport of baseball. Take your foreign self out of this blog.
5. He was considered the hardest throwing pitcher in this summer's draft. And he's ours! All ours! *insert evil cackle here* Seriously, since when have the Tigers had the best of anything? They have the best catcher in the game right now, but that's a relatively recent development. The Detroit Tigers: they have some things which are undeniably the best. I cannot adjust to this new world view.
The next two reasons are based on this photo:
Thanks, unwitting Detroit News photographers!
6. Justin Verlander's mere presence made Dave Dombrowski smile in a genuine fashion. Maybe if you are not a Tigers fan you do not understand the significance of this. DD does not smile. He does not smile so often that there was an entire thread on the Tigers' message board about his not smiling. Justin Verlander: bringing sunshine and smiles to Dave Dombrowski's heretofore dark and dreary life.
7. Justin Verlander wears a purple shiny shirt with aplomb! Purple! Shiny! Shirt! Like he's about to go out clubbing, and is really secure in his sexuality. Justin Verlander will continue the recent history of secure men on the Tigers (by which I mean, Pudge and Ugie). Justin Verlander also seems to have coincidentally matched his shirt to DD's tie, which deserves special commendation. Hooray for accidental sartorial matching between prospect and general manager!
8. By all accounts, his big problem is his control. He has the arm strength, he has the velocity. You cannot learn arm strength. You cannot learn velocity. Control is a thing which you can learn. Granted, not everyone can learn it. But you cannot take someone who comfortably throws a 65 mph fastball and turn them into someone who comfortably throws 99 mph heaters. But you can take a 99 mph fastball thrower and teach him how to control his pitches. Justin Verlander is still young. Justin Verlander can do this thing. He has a problem, but it is fixable.
9. Justin Verlander: clearly not on steroids. We will not have to deal with allegations and accusations and the scary mullet of Jose Canseco. Maybe if he bulked up a little it would make me feel better, like I would no longer fear that he was going to snap his arms off like tiny, brittle toothpicks with the force of every pitch he throws, but even if he does no one is going to call him a 'juiced pitcher'.
10. At the end of that BA article, Justin Verlander's particular pitching style (Power-with-a-capital-P but a prediliction for walks) is compared to that of another pitcher who had similar stats. That pitcher is Nolan Ryan. Nolan Ryan. If that doesn't make you wet yourself, pass out, and fall out your window to splatter messily on the street in sheer excitement, you are a terrorist who hates apple pie**, rock and roll, capitalism, and baseball. I am turning you in to the Feds.
*Rich Harden is wicked hot. I have actually discovered the secret of Billy Beane's pitcher recruiting standards. He simply acquires the hottest pitchers that he can. This is a team that at one time had Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Rich Harden on it all at once. That should not be allowed. There should be revenue-sharing of hot pitchers. Oakland should have to give of its hotness to less-blessed teams.
Actually, they did, this offseason bolstering the hotness of the Cardinals' and Braves' pitching staffs. Maybe there is hot pitcher revenue-sharing already in place and Major League Baseball is keeping it from us, the fans. They do not want us to know the truth of how this league is run. Remember, when Skip Bayless runs his first expose article on these sordid dealings, you heard it here first, kids.
**I hate apple pie.