Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sixty Feet from Grown Up

"The outside corner belongs to the man with the baseball." From The Umpire Strikes Back, (Luciano, R., 1982).

The other night, a rookie Mets pitcher with a whole bunch of letters in his name (Noah Syndergaard, I looked it up) offered a quote concerning the brush back pitch with which he opened Game Three of the World Series. "Anyone who didn't like (it)," he is alleged to have said, "can meet me Sixty Feet Six Inches away." Cute.

Baseball fans (and certainly the opposing Kansas City Royals players) know that "sixty feet six inches" is not an anatomical reference but a term of art. The front of the pitcher's "rubber" (then, again...) is precisely sixty and one half feet from the "rear point of Home Base." Since the somewhat aroused batter dusting himself off after being entertained with chin music has to cover that distance to personally interact with the pitcher - well, Ole Noah is telling them to call the Whaaaaa-mblance if they want. He'll be on the mound, if they'd care to chat.

Well, okay Big Guy!

Coupla things. First, it's a far better story if the guy (whose nickname is Thor, after the well-muscled dude with the big hammer in the movies. There might also be a god in mythology by the same name - I'm not sure) had mowed down the Royals in order, all night long. Instead, the teams exchanged leads several times before KC's Franklin Morales showed up and pitched, fielded and behaved dreadfully. The Mets took full advantage and blew the game wide open. That's baseball, played by the two best teams on the planet.

Standing on the baseball field that night, dressed in Royals uniforms, were a collection of some of the most competitive human beings in the world. They are fighting for a prize that may be within their grasp only once in their careers. Every one of them has been knocked down, plunked, maybe even beaned over the years by pitchers as desperate to get to the the majors as they were. They fight for inches, any advantage - every play contested.

That is not to say some pitchers can't intimidate some batters. Randy Johnson, nicknamed "The Big Unit," (there it is again) threw so fast and so hard that some batters came down with flu-like symptoms the night before he was scheduled to pitch against them. Nolan Ryan threw with such velocity that many batters argued balls and strikes with the umpire by alleging that the pitch "sounded outside." Noah's pitches arrive at similar velocities as the aforementioned Hall of Famers. Maybe he thought he'd give it a whirl, see what developed.

What really would have helped was a Met win in Game Four, to bolster a solid Game Three outing.


Who owns the outside corner? The men who want it most. Right now, that seems to be the team Thor thought he could rattle from sixty feet six inches away.


  1. With all due respect Sir, the man who owns the outside corner is the confident man behind the catcher in the black shirt...That's the plan anyway...

  2. Hahaha!! I stand corrected, sir. You would know...