With Mariano Rivera hurt, Roger Clemens on Trial and Ozzie Guillen lacking a filter, this season has gotten off to a pretty dark start. Nevertheless, there are always several “feel good” stories that develop over the season, showing us why Baseball is always a good thing. Picture it! June 1986. The Boston Celtics win the NBA championship. Americans are still trying to sanitize after touching all those hands in “Hands Across America”. Chicago Cubs Second Baseman Ryne Sandberg meets his new teammate – Jamie Moyer.
The future Hall of Famer didn’t see much in his new teammate. “There wasn’t too much about him that said long-term major league pitcher.” Twenty-six years later Jamie Moyer is still getting major league lineups out, most of which werenʼt even born when Sandberg first met Moyer.
How does Moyer do it? He has a 4.23 ERA, less than 2,500 strikeouts over a twenty-five year career and a win/loss record barely over .500.
I would hardly call those Hall of Fame numbers.
You can say that he has extraordinary motivation. In fact, you can say Moyerʼs motivation helped him to become the oldest pitcher to notch a win. Does he have discipline? Of course, he does. Name me one professional athlete that doesnʼt demonstrate extreme mental or physical discipline and Iʼll show you an out-of- work athlete…or anyone starting for Rex Ryan. But, how is Moyer still playing fifteen years after Sandberg hung up his glove for the final time?
In a time when mangers can insult entire sectors of their community’s fan base to former icons on trial for perjury, baseball always finds a way to provide us with more feel good stories than not. One is Jamie Moyer – the Father of Reinvention. Once Moyer realized he wasnʼt going to be Nolan Ryan per say, he found a way to make himself useful to his organization at all times. Thatʼs right, folks! When in doubt, make yourself indispensible. For example, pitchers tend to lose velocity later in their career. For Moyer, “later in their career” could potentially translate to ten years ago. In 2011, his average fastball speed was about 80 miles per hour, a very slow speed for a non-knuckleball pitcher. His fastball this season is currently clocked at 78 miles per hour. Still amazing by our “common folk” standards, but letʼs face it. Miami Marlinsʼ Jose Reyes can run to the mound and grab the ball out of Moyerʼs hand quicker than that. If Moyer relied on velocity, he would have been an analyst on SportsCenter by now.
Moyer relies on control and mixing his pitches. He has the ability now to throw five main pitches: a sinker, a cut fastball, a slider, a changeup and a curveball. Five pitches? Do you know what it takes to do that? Most pitchers are lucky to have three. Moyer may not have freak speed, but he sure has a freaky amount of pitches to choose from. Not many pitchers can do that. Also, who knows? Moyer can always reinvent himself again. When (and if) he retires, the National Baseball Hall of Fame offered him an internship. Well, if he keeps breaking records at the rate he is, somebody is going to have to catalog all of Moyer’s stuff.