As I’ve been busy, I haven’t had the opportunity to post more regularly. In the meantime, here’s one from Fantasy Sports insider Drew Farmer.
One more knuckleball is one too many
By Drew Farmer | Twitter @DrewMFarmer | Facebook @DrewMFarmer
One more knuckleball is one too many… or perhaps one more season in the Big Leagues is too many. For former Major League Baseball player Phil Coke, the knuckleball was an attempt at preserving his Big League career. It was a chance for one more day in the sun as a member of the elite class of the boys of summer. Yet, one more knuckleball is one too many.
Coke’s dream of returning to The Show at 35-years old was spurred on by the befuddling pitch that defies bats, catchers’ mitts and the laws of physics. Coke hoped he could master the greatest pitch in a hurler’s arsenal for one more chance at MLB glory. It is the pitch few attempt and even fewer master. It is an uncontrollable slow-moving bastard of a pitch. But the nine-year veteran of the mound just didn’t have it and the knuckleball was too elusive.
Coke made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees as a relief pitcher. His stuff was average as his four-seam fastball hit the mid-90s and topped out at 97 on a good day. He was hittable, and for the most part, Coke’s ERA showed it. Good left-handed relief pitching is difficult to come by, however. The need for an arm to gobble up innings is a necessity and Coke played the role perfectly for the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. His success as a relief pitcher provided Coke with the chance to play in the Big Leagues as a journeyman. The need to play match ups late in games gave Coke an extended career. Perhaps one others haven’t been afforded.
Coke’s best season came in 2010 as a Tiger. He recorded a 7-5 record while posting a 3.76 ERA in 74 games. He also had two saves. But as the arm declined, so did Coke’s chances. Every season was a fight to stay with an MLB team. Every spring there was the fear of being cut. He had to perform on the days he was called upon. Two innings here, four innings there; whatever he could get was a chance to impress. It was also a chance to move closer to the exit, if he gave up runs.
After bouncing around the bigs in 2015 and 2016, playing for four different teams, Coke’s MLB career was finished. He went to Japan and pitched one season for the Orix Buffaloes. It was more of the same for the hurler, and after just one season, the club parted ways with Coke.
Despite registering a 4.56 ERA in Japan, Coke had one last go at an MLB career. In the spring of 2018, he attempted a comeback. He was accompanied by a new pitch; the unharnessed, unreliable knuckleball.
Coke hoped to make a club in spring training, but the best he could do was a contract in Mexico with Acereros de Monclova. The knuckleball didn’t last long, however. Coke was released less than two months after signing on with Monclova.
The lefty reliever wasn’t able to get the knuckleball to work and impress clubs. Nor could he get his knuckleball to defy the bats and batters in spring training or south of the border. The odds of returning to MLB with a new pitch in his mid-30s were always against him. Although Coke is still searching for a team that will let him take the hill just one more time, it looks like one more knuckle ball is one knuckleball too many.
I was invited to be in studio for Season 10, Episode 2 of Vancouver Canadians Game Day by host Rob Fai, along with four other guests (Lou Filippo, John Stewart, Niall O’Donohoe, Steven Von Vooght).
Here is the link of the show.
I was part of the first half hour as well as the final hour, where “The Bullpen Session” was in session – a round-table discussion about the hot topics in baseball.
I had the opportunity to talk baseball with Rob Fai last Thursday (April 19) as Vancouver Canadians Game Day made its 10th season debut. It wasn’t my best effort, but it’s always exciting to talk baseball.
Thanks to Rob for having me on in the first segment*. I strive to do better in future appearances.
*Not sure how long these links stay online, but I have downloaded a copy of the audio for my own collection.
This day in knuckleballing history: April 4, 1989: In a matchup of the two winningest pitchers in the majors over the past seven seasons, it was the knuckleballing Charlie Hough who outpitched Tigers ace Jack Morris, a future Hall of Famer, as the Texas Rangers beat Detroit 4-0 on Opening Day.
From 1982 to 1988, Hough had recorded 111 victories with a 3.58 ERA and 84 complete games. Morris, meanwhile, had logged 126 wins with a 3.55 ERA and 97 complete games during that same stretch.
But in this opening-day matchup, it was Hough who pitched just a bit better with a complete-game five-hitter with two walks and five strikeouts.
“Charlie’s my idol,” Morris, who fired a six-hitter with eight strikeouts, told USA Today afterward. “Just once in my life I’d like to pitch a game without sweating the way he does. Just once before I die, that’s all I ask. It must be great.”
Okay, so recently I was researching something on YouTube and came across an upload that was a documentary about the 1990s Cleveland Indians. This documentary, titled “The Dynasty that Almost Was,” was produced and originally shown on MLB Network.
I have to say, that documentary was a nice look-back at those Indians teams, but a couple of things made me think the writers/producers were full of it.
In the early part of the documentary, the narrator said that Joe Carter was the only major-league star on those Indians teams in the late 1980s. Okay, I understand the context. They were trying to say that the Carter trade brought them Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Carlos Baerga. I get that.
But to say that Joe Carter was the only major-league star on that team? C’mon. What about Brett Butler, Doug Jones, Greg Swindell, and Tom Candiotti? What about Julio Franco?
Yes, I get that they’re trying to emphasize the trade that brought the team Alomar and Baerga. But to say Carter was the “only major-league star”? Ridiculous.
Yes, yes, when the others departed, the Indians got nothing, or got the likes of Jack Armstrong or Glenallen Hill or Mark Whiten, none of whom were part of those powerful Tribe teams. But c’mon.
The other thing that was questionable was how they didn’t even mention the Steve Olin/Tim Crews/Bobby Ojeda boating incident. That was a huge story. How could they not even mention it?
I will say, though, overall it was great to see those former players reminisce about those days. It was awesome to hear Kenny Lofton’s thoughts about the dismantling of the club that began the year after they got to the World Series the first time.