Thursday, February 26, 2004

Tom Glavine: Excuses Are Like bleep Holes, Everybody's Got One 

The NY Times ran the obligatory pre-season Tom Glavine story: Glavine Plans to Feel More at Home Away From Home. The article was good for one thing: it capsulized almost every excuse we have heard as to why Noodle Arm Glavine imploded last year. Let's review the excuses:

1. He missed his wife;
2. He missed his children;
3. He missed being at home in Atlanta;
4. The NY sports media was aggressive;
5. Bad defense backing him up;
6. Bad offense with no run support;
7. He was forced to battle an ever changing strike zone;
8. He was forced to battle injuries;
9. Lofty expectations taking away from his focus leading to lack of control on the mound; and
10. Felt every pitch had to be perfect due to excuses 1-9.

There's no doubt that these excuses are legitimate. But as the cliche' goes, excuses are like you know whats and everybody's got one. Glavine's arsenal of pre-packaged excuses is most troubling, however, because it leaves out the one excuse that trumps them all. Glavine would serve himself and his team well to admit to himself that he suffered last season for two primary reasons: first because he lost some zip on his fast ball, which he used to keep hitters honest to set up his outside junk; and second, because he did not get the call on the outside part of the plate when throwing said outside junk that he probably should never have gotten for the past 15 years anyway. In a perfect world, this is the interview I would like to hear from Noodle Arm:

Hot Corner: So, what the hell happened last year?
Noodle Arm: Well, I missed my wife, kids, home, the media was rough on me, bad defense, no offense, Questec, injuries, lofty expectations, which all made me feel like every pitch had to be perfect.
Hot Corner: Um, okay, what really happened last year?
Noodle Arm: Damn Hot Corner, you're a pit bull of an interviewer (sweating). Okay, fine, you got me. Here's the deal. I aged quickly. I lost about 2 MPH off my fast ball. So now when I went inside with the heat it was a little less effective. This affected me in two ways. First, hitters were more likely to turn on my inside fast ball and hit it hard. But second and more troubling was that hitters were able to take the inside ball and hang out over the plate and sit on my outside breaking stuff. (Glavine starts weeping openly).
Hot Corner: Can I get you a tissue?
Noodle Arm: No, I can do this.
Hot Corner: Go on.
Noodle Arm: Okay, I've collected myself. Well, not only did I lose some zip on my fast ball, which was never overpowering, but umpires stopped giving me the outside part of the plate. Whether because of that damn Questec or maybe I just lost the "Braves pitcher" mystique I don't know. But they just stopped giving me the call. So between my inside fast ball not being as effective and not getting that outside call, I was basically a sitting duck. It was ugly.
Hot Corner: You're right, it was ugly. Okay Tom, now that you have finally admitted what the real problem was, what do you plan to do about it?
Noodle Arm: Well I don't want to let my teammates down and especially the NY Mets fans, who are the best baseball fans in the world, so I embarked upon a strenuous off season strength, conditioning and flexibility program to either halt any further decline in my pitch speed and maybe even to get a little zip back. I also recaptured the control I lost. While I can't control what the umps will and will not call on the outside part of the plate, I can control my heat. By getting an effective fast ball back, I'll have a little more wiggle room to dangle my off speed stuff on the outside part of the plate.
Hot Corner: Really? I heard you spent all off season whining and begging Mets' brass to get new fielders?
Noodle Arm: I did that too.
Hot Corner: What's your favorite baseball blog?
Noodle Arm: The Shea Hot Corner of course.
Hot Corner: That's all I have for you, thanks.
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