Alterations of the Fastball

One of the most common pitches in baseball is called a fastball. Ranging from 90 to 104 mph, pitchers use this pitch to try and overpower the batter and prevent the ball from being hit. While some pitchers don’t have the power to throw one too hard, they use some movement on the ball to confuse the batter. Because the ball reaches the plate so fast, the batter has the least amount of time to react to the location of the pitch. There are a couple ways that pitchers can grip the ball in order to have different characteristics. The index finger and middle finger can be critical when putting movement on the ball.

One of the variations of the fastball is called the four-seam. This is used when the pitcher needs to get a strike, so can be used early in the count to get ahead of the batter. There is little to no lateral movement. This is the fasted pitch a pitcher can throw.

Another variation of the fastball is the two-seamer. This is also called a sinker or a tailing fastball. This is because it has more movement. This pitch is much harder to have control over, but makes it hard for the batter to hit due to the combination of speed and change of direction.

Third, a sinker is a pitcher that is thrown in the same manner. However, the thumb is shifted underneath the ball, so the ball will result in being slower than a two-seamer. Greg Maddux, Derek Lowe, and Pedro Martinez are mainly known for their dominant use of the two-seam fastball. Because sinkers tend to sink, the result from throwing this pitch will be an increase in groundballs.

On the other end, a rising fastball has the opposite traits. While this is considered a baseball myth, some batters have stated they saw a fastball rising. Players that faced Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden reported they saw this. However, scientifically, this pitch is near impossible. This is because the amount of backspin needed to overcome gravity is very large. A more definitive explanation is that a pitcher threw a fastball, then threw another fastball in the same manner but more explosive. Therefore, a batter expects the ball to arrive slower than it actually does. Plus, tall pitchers have encourage this perception, as they will throw higher fastballs than a batter will normally see.

A cutter is similar to a slider, but uses the same grip as a four-seamer. This will create more spin on the ball. This will cause an unexpected motion to fool batters. Mariano Rivera is most known for throwing a lethal cutter.

Finally, a splitter is thrown with an adjusted grip. This ball does not have the tight spin like a fastball. This will have more characteristics of a knuckleball, but will be faster.

How to Bring More Parity to Major League Baseball

Angel stadium in Anaheim

When a product becomes extremely profitable in an industry, there is a standard response: more businesses enter the industry. This is done in order to steal a portion of these excess profits. More and more businesses enter until additional entries will not result in a net profit.

This process does not guarantee that every company will make the same profits; rather, it makes profits attached closer to quality. The companies with the best products rise to the top.

The MLB as a Business

In Major League baseball, this process has been hindered. The structure of team placement has artificially created 30 monopolies. Shielded from competition, their enormous profits are not the result of supplying a superior product.

With rare exceptions, teams within the MLB do not compete with each other. To illustrate, how many people decide between attending a Pirates game or a Yankees game? Very few. The people living in New York are not going to spend an entire day driving to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates lose. They would not do this even if the Pirates were the greatest team in the history of the game. The 30-minute trip from their apartments in New York City to the ballpark ensures they will attend a Yankees game or a Mets game instead.

This means the Mets and Yankees compete, correct? Yes, but they compete for greater than 19 million people in the New York Metro Area, at least. Assuming the Mets and Yankees each attract 50% of this population, that leaves them with approximately 10 million potential ticket-purchasers individually. The Pittsburgh Metro Area has fewer than 2.5 million people! Even if the Pirates won 100 games, they will never be able to make as much money in ticket sales as a New York team. This does not even factor in the potential revenue from television deals.

The same holds true across the country. Many teams have an entire market to themselves, but they belong to small markets with a low ceiling to their profitability. The markets where two, or maybe three, teams actually compete for the fan base have the luxury of massive populations.

Fortunately, modern technology has helped make teams more accessible to out-of-town fans. Nonetheless, fandom remains closely tied to location. Even if the Internet and TV packages topple the barrier to watching any team on any night, a fan has one or two options when it comes to attending games on a regular basis. Barring the invention of teleportation, this problem will not be solved soon.

The close correlation between population and revenue ultimately dooms a franchise like the Pirates or the Royals. Even if the ownership pumped money into the team and created a 100-game winner, the increased number of fans attending the game or watching on TV will be marginal. The increase would almost certainly not be enough to earn a significant profit on the additional money spent.

This has led to a large and vocal group of people calling for a salary cap. The intentions of this move are pure, but display a tremendous lack of creativity. The end result may be more parity, but the dominance of the same teams year after year in sports with salary caps provides evidence to the contrary. (Philosophical side note: Should the big-market teams, which represent a larger population, be forced to suffer more losses so that the smaller population represented by small-market teams can win more games? Aren’t more people happier when the Yankees win a championship than when the Marlins win?).

Revenue-sharing exists as a second-best solution. This policy takes money from the high-payroll teams and distributes it to the low-payroll teams. With a salary cap, the teams have to at least draw crowds to earn money. A simple redistribution such as this could give an incentive for teams to spend less of their own money to earn more of the rich teams’ money. Obviously, this could be worked around by developing a system that factored both revenue and winning into the equation for doling out funds. Nonetheless, a revenue-sharing program is not the best possible solution.

The optimal solution arises from the insight at the beginning of this article. When a market draws excess profits, it needs new entrants. Two teams already exist in New York City, but why not one or two more? The same is true of the Chicago and Los Angeles Metro Areas. The Pittsburgh Metro Area cannot be increased, unless the U.S. government takes a page out of China’s playbook and utilizes forced migration. However, the markets of these large Metro Areas can be dispersed across a greater number of teams. The Yankees will not like the competition, just as Coke would prefer not to compete with Pepsi, but the fans with a brand new stadium built closer to them will quickly attach themselves to this new team: the New York Subways, sponsored by Subway.

This policy of improved team placement would most effectively level the playing field in the MLB, without the downsides of the other proposals. Unlike a salary cap, additional teams will not distribute money from players to billionaire owners. Contrary to revenue-sharing, bottom-feeders cannot make a living off of more successful teams. Allowing more teams to compete in large markets will create markets that are all approximately the same in terms of profitability. This policy would make team revenue closely correlated to winning, not market size.

Top Five Most Influential Figures in Major League Baseball History

The history of Major League Baseball is rich in tradition. The game has changed many times throughout their history, and has left an unforgettable impact on us all. Baseball has survived during tough economic times in the United States as well as many wars that players served in.

But through it all, the game has seen many memorable moments that gave fans a reason to watch. Then there are five men who have influenced the game like no other, and will never be forgotten.

So here is the top five most influential figures in Major League Baseball history:

5. Curt Flood

Flood is one of the most pivotal figures in the history of the game. Flood was a great defensive player in his playing days, but that is not why he made this list. Flood is most remembered for challenging the reserve clause and helping to bring free agency to the sport. Flood eventually took his case to court to challenge Major League Baseball for what he thought was an unfair ruling when denied the right to become a free agent. Although Flood lost his case to the Supreme Court, he is the one most responsible for the reserve clause in baseball being done away with in favor of free agency.

4. Alexander Cartwright

Cartwright belongs on this list for obvious reasons. Cartwright is credited for inventing the modern game of baseball. He was a member of the New York Knickerbockers, who played a game of stick-and-ball game in the mid-1850’s. It was in 1845 that Cartwright, with the help of a committee, drew out the rules and guidelines for this new game. Some of the rules laid out by Cartwright still exist in today’s game such as 90 feet between bases and four bases in a square diamond. Though the game has changed rules in many ways throughout history, Cartwright left a mark that still is remembered by lifelong fans who love the grand game of baseball.

3. Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth in 1918

Babe Ruth is arguably the most dominate player in the history of the game, and certainly one of the greatest to ever live. In his early career, the game struggled because of World War I as well as the beginnings of what would later become the Great Depression. In addition to that, baseball had lost touch with many fans as the Black Sox Scandal had given the game a bad image that could have really crippled the sport. When Ruth was sold to the Yankees from the Red Sox before the 1920 season, he was a pitcher and played the field on days when he did not take the mound. Ruth then played the field throughout the rest of his career with Yankees, and had changed the game with hitting many more home runs than the rest of the players at the time. Ruth out-homered many teams by himself during his seasons with the Yankees, as this also helped to bring fans back to the game after they had lost trust with it. With all that Ruth did, there is no question that the game would have suffered more scrutiny without his contributions that forever changed baseball.

2. Jackie Robinson

What Jackie Robinson endured as a player in Major League Baseball is immeasurable. Robinson was the first African American to ever play in the Major League Baseball, and it was not an easy transition from the Negro Leagues by any means. He was verbally abused by fans and teammates as well as opposing teams. Finally, Dodgers’ management had told players who did not approve of him playing that they could find another job. Robinson had broken the color barrier once and for all, and his heroic way of handling the pressure of doing so will never be forgotten.

1. Branch Rickey

There shouldn’t be any doubt that Rickey is number one on this list after what he did for the game on and off the field. The biggest achievement as a Major League Baseball executive was the signing of Jackie Robinson, which broke baseball’s color barrier. Later on in his tenure, he signed the first Hispanic superstar player in Roberto Clemente. Rickey was also very instrumental in developing the foundation of the minor league farm system. Minor league baseball had seen a steady decline in attendance throughout the 1930’s, and it was Rickey who was most responsible for many teams later adopting the farm system in their own organizations. According to most historians, this is the single biggest reason why minor league baseball exists today after many hardships that it had endured.

These five men forever impacted the game to what it is today like no other. Without all of their contributions on and off the field, baseball would be a far different game today. Major League Baseball has a very proud history, and it is these guys who were the most helpful in preserving that for all fans from the past to the current game.

How Would Major League Baseball History Be Different If Steroid Users Forfeited Their MVP Titles?

Baseball and steroids

There was an interesting article on today. The article decided to take away every MVP trophy won by an accused steroid user and instead give that MVP to the player with the most votes that has so far never been accused of steroids. I want to take it a step further though and take a look at how different history would be if that did occur. If the Major League Baseball MVPs were given to the “rightful winner” then who would we look at completely differently?

First let’s note which Major League Baseball players have been accused of steroids by at least one source and also won a MVP, and also who that MVP would fall to if we eliminated them.

Old Major League Baseball MVP Winners

  • 1988 AL MVP Jose Canseco
  • 1996 AL MVP Juan Gonzalez
  • 1996 NL MVP Ken Caminiti
  • 1998 AL MVP Juan Gonzalez
  • 1998 NL MVP Sammy Sosa
  • 1999 AL MVP Ivan Rodriguez
  • 2000 AL MVP Jason Giambi
  • 2001 NL MVP Barry Bonds
  • 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada
  • 2002 NL MVP Barry Bonds
  • 2003 AL MVP Alex Rodriguez
  • 2003 NL MVP Barry Bonds
  • 2004 NL MVP Barry Bonds

New Major League Baseball MVP Winners

  • 1988 AL MVP Mike Greenwell
  • 1996 AL MVP Alex Rodriguez
  • 1996 NL MVP Mike Piazza
  • 1998 AL MVP Derek Jeter
  • 1998 NL MVP Moises Alou
  • 1999 AL MVP Pedro Martinez
  • 2000 AL MVP Frank Thomas
  • 2001 NL MVP Luis Gonzalez
  • 2002 AL MVP Alfonso Soriano
  • 2002 NL MVP Albert Pujols
  • 2003 AL MVP Carlos Delgado
  • 2003 NL MVP Albert Pujols
  • 2004 NL MVP Adrian Beltre

So what does it all mean. If all the Major League Baseball MVP trophies were taken from the old winners and given to the new winners (by the way, I’m not saying Major League Baseball should or will do this, I don’t) then what would it matter? What would be different?

The biggest travesty of the steroids scandal in Major League Baseball is all of the players that were clean and were cheated out of something they deserve by players that cheated. If Mike Piazza has a MVP I don’t think many people think of him differently because he already is known by many as the greatest offensive catcher. Pedro Martinez is already known as one of the best pitchers of all-time during his dominant years and Derek Jeter, well, everyone already thinks he is God.

But imagine if you’re some of the other Major League Baseball players on this list and you didn’t use steroids. If Mike Greenwell, Moises Alou, Luis Gonzalez, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Delgado and Adrian Beltre all had a Major League Baseball trophy on the mantle then it would completely change their resume, they would be looked at in a whole different light. Some of those guys weren’t great for very long but if they had that one MVP trophy it would be something and for players like Luis Gonzalez and Carlos Delgado, who had productive careers, that MVP trophy might raise and extra level or two on the possible Hall of Fame candidates list.

Steroid use is no secret. But its use should not go without punishment.

Even though Pedro Martinez will always be revered without winning a MVP trophy in Major League Baseball can you imagine how special that accomplishment would have been. When was the last time a pitcher won the MVP? 1992? How many pitchers have done that in the history of baseball? 10 – 20? Pedro Martinez would be in a pretty elite class. Pedro Martinez probably should have won the Cy Young over every player on steroids that season anyway. 313 strikeouts and 34 walks? Ridiculous.

The player whose reputation could benefit the most from these MVP trophy changing hands is Frank Thomas. During this steroid era many great players have been chopped down and it seems Ken Griffey Jr. is the last one remaining, but let’s not forget Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas was a great hitter, a great power hitter, extremely feared and won two MVP trophies. Don’t forget, we’ve now taken away 4 of Barry Bonds’ MVP trophies. That means the record for MVP trophies in the history of Major League Baseball is 3. If Frank Thomas was awarded the 2000 AL MVP trophy then that would be his third MVP. Frank Thomas would be tied with the likes of Mike Schmidt, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle for the most MVPs in Major League Baseball history…until 2008.

Barry Bonds no longer has 7 MVP trophies. Bonds now has 3 MVP trophies along with Frank Thomas and others. Albert Pujols has two MVP trophiess. If Albert Pujols was awarded Barry Bonds’ 2002 MVP and 2003 MVP then he would now be at 4 MVP trophies. Albert Pujols would have record for most MVP trophies in Major League Baseball history and he is only turning 29 years old this year.

5 Best Closing Pitchers in Baseball History

Historic pitcher

Perhaps no other job in sports is as stressful as that of a closing pitcher in baseball. Often, the difference between being a hero and being a goat comes down to one swing of an opponent’s bat.

Being a closing pitcher in baseball is like a kicker who is expected to kick a 45-yard game-winning field goal in dozens of games each season, or a boxer who is expected to deliver a knock-out punch in the last round of every boxing match.

Nonetheless, the history of baseball is full of men who have lived up to the challenge, and here in my humble opinion is a list of the best closing pitchers to ever play the game.

1. Dennis Eckersley. Although only being fifth in all-time saves, Eckersley belongs on this list because he was the very epitome of a closing pitcher. A Hall-of-Famer, the “Eck” piled up 390 career saves; no small feat considering that he was never labeled as a closing pitcher until he was traded to Oakland in 1987, a full eleven years into his pitching career. Had Eckersley been used a closer during his early years in Cleveland and Boston, there is no doubt he would be the all-time leader in saves. Eckersley was also a 6-time All-Star, another reason why he is number one on this list.

2. Rollie Fingers. Fingers revolutionized the position of relief pitching. In an era where starting pitchers rarely left the mound, Fingers managed to accumulate 341 career saves, placing him 10th on the all-time list. Another Hall-of-Famer, Fingers was a 7-time All-Star, and 3-time World Series Champion.

3. Bruce Sutter. Despite only playing eleven seasons, Sutter managed 300 career saves. This number is incredible when you consider the fact that he only pitched in 661 career games. Sutter was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 2006, and was a 6-time All-Star.

4. Trevor Hoffman.
He is baseball’s all-time leader in saves with 554, but Hoffman’s numbers reflect the modern era of pitching, where closing pitchers are no longer a specialty, but a necessity. Unlike Eckersley or Fingers, Hoffman played the majority of his games as a closing pitcher. Nonetheless, Hoffman is a 6-time All-Star and a future Hall-of-Famer.

5. Lee Smith.
With 478 career saves, Smith ranks third on the all-time list. Despite being a 7-time All-Star, Lee Smith is not in the Hall-of-Fame, a fact that leaves many people scratching their heads. The only possible reason for Smith’s exclusion is the fact that he pitched in an era where closing pitchers were becoming common throughout baseball. If there is ever a place in Cooperstown for Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, or Mariano Rivera, there surely will be a place for Lee Smith.

How to Break in a New Baseball Glove

Baseball glove close up

When we get our first decent baseball glove, they are usually made of leather and are firm, not tending to open and close with ease. We usually tend to follow the older trends of breaking in the new glove, as they have been proven over time. However, if the manufacturer has a process included with your new glove on the proper way to break it in, you should follow those instructions.

Finding the Right Glove

Before spending all the time and energy necessary to properly break in a baseball glove, you want to make sure you’ve found the right glove. If you already know what you’re looking for, then by all means buy it and get started.

But if not, shop around a little. Buying a new baseball glove is a bit like buying a new pet — it’s a rather long-term commitment. Take the time to really find the right piece of equipment for you. Do research online and browse reviews. Sports equipment costs money. Would a gymnast be able to smartly spend the money to buy the best home gymnastics bar without first doing research on the top models? Of course not. It should be the same with baseball gloves. They aren’t cheap either, so being thorough with research beforehand will help you save money.

Here’s a resource that may be able to get you started on your search.

Steps to Breaking in a New Glove

One of the more popular methods of breaking in a new baseball glove is to place a baseball in the meshing, wrap a piece of string or a big elastic around the glove, and submerge the duo in a tub or sink full of room temperature water. You take the glove out after about 12 hours, and let it dry naturally, still tied closed. Repeat this process three times, and the glove should be almost perfectly broken in.

Baseball mitt

The next step in breaking in a new glove is to wear it, and to wear it a lot. Not just at the ballparks and when playing toss, but even when at home watching the NHL playoffs, MLB baseball games, or during what you do during whatever spare time you have. Once the glove is comfortable in your hand, it is ready for the ballpark, but not quite a game. You should give about a month to wear the glove in properly, or it may not form properly.

When to Start Using It

You should use your new baseball glove in practices and pre-game warm ups, and while playing pick up games. You do not want to use your new baseball glove before it is completely worn in and comfortable in your hand during game situations. When not in use, keep a baseball inside the webbing of the glove, and keep it tied shut. The glove is ready when it opens and closes with ease.

Extra Tips

Tips on breaking in a new baseball glove also include using oils, like leather softening oil or saddle oil, and wrapping a baseball inside the glove while not in use. Apply the oil liberally to a clean, cotton rag, or a chamois, and, using some elbow grease, rub the oil into the glove until the glove is pretty well dry, and all parts of the glove have been oiled well.

When using oil to break in your baseball glove, it is better to have pressure on your glove while the baseball is wrapped inside of it. Many players put their gloves under their pillows or mattresses, but any heavy object, or pile of objects that will press heavily upon your glove will do.

With a properly broken in baseball glove, you will notice a major improvement in your catching abilities.

Play ball!

How Popular Fashion Has Infiltrated Baseball

Known as America’s pastime, baseball has developed an ethos that has, until recently, transcended both time and pop culture. Pushing through the effects of two world wars, the Great Depression, segregation, and seemingly countless other economic, social, and political challenges, baseball has remained essentially the same in regards to its style and grace. With the exception of the designated hitter rule, the unpopular instant replay, and skyrocketing salaries, the heart of the game-the passion and substance-continues to draw fans to the park. In essence, each trip to the park is both a modern extravaganza and a reflective history lesson.

However, what has escaped the unseen preservers of baseball’s customs and has started to penetrate the game itself is the absurdity of the sloppily worn uniform. Yes, the old school pinstripes still adorn each Yankee who runs out of the dugout, and Dodger blue remains ever-present in the afternoon sun, but styles have changed. Gone are crisply worn caps, bent at just the right angle to obscure the glare of a high sky; the long solid stirrups, undercut by pure white sanitaries, and held up by slim-fitting pants that slid just inches below the knee; the well-preserved jersey, buttoned near the top and smoothly rounding out the shoulders while falling directly to a tight tuck inside the belt.

Until recently, baseball has appropriately failed to embrace the fashion trends fluctuating through regular society. While the 1920s saw men dressed in pressed suits and dual colored leather shoes with a young flapper attached to an arm, never did the third base coach wave a runner to the plate wearing the latest fedora and toting a tommy gun for intimidation. While the 1960s and early 70s revealed a society riddled with an individualistic coming of age through protest and drugs, never did a team send its players out onto the field with tie-dye button-up shirts and large peace signs as belt buckles.

The current game, however, has slacked, and, as a result, the once steadfast uniform has begun a less than holy transformation. Players now stretch pants to their shoe tops, even going so far as to use elastics to bind them to the shoes’ souls. Rather than looking like ballplayers, they resemble marching band members attempting to win a cavalcade and earn a trip to an area college bowl game. As fans, we can only pray that the low-slung drawers seen on city streets and hip-hop videos do not weasel their way in; if so, we will quickly come to know exactly who is wearing his lucky golden thongs.

Like the pants, hats have altered in appearance. Many position players and pitchers alike have elected to wear pin-straight brims. In terms of functionality, this rigid-brimmed style serves no purpose; instead, it makes a societal fashion statement, much like the overdone gold chains of the once-popular Mr. T or the flamboyant orange anti-sperm shorts worn by Richard Simmons. Soon players will go so far as to leave the stickers and tags on, so they can flap in the wind and possibly judge air speeds and direction, much like the weather probes dropped inside tornadoes on any one of three Discovery Channel shows. Good thing many have decided that a quality doo rag is a critical part of the headgear for baseball. This way, if their hats fall off from playing too hard, they will remain cool, phat, and off the hook.

Baseball has a charm and allure that will slowly disintegrate if the popular world has its way. Imagine a CEO walking into a meeting with the Brooks Brothers tag hanging off the lapel of his suit, or the cuffs of his Armani pants strapped to the bottom of his shoes. Envision Bill Gates walking out on stage to launch his newest Windows application, yet all the attention going to the multi-colored doo rag he has riding atop his head, complete with the Microsoft logo stitched into the side. If this sounds absurd, it is because it is, and baseball should take steps to protect itself from becoming the next runway for fall and spring design. Before we know it, Joe Buck will turn to Heidi Klum for color commentary and Tyra Banks for on-field analysis.

Baseball Hall of Fame Welcomes Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar

Alomar Hall of Fame

The 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame class is Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, as they were elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday (check out our article on the 2010 class here). Alomar finally got enough votes in his second year on the ballot, while Blyleven was elected in his 14th year on the ballot. None of the new players on the ballot this year even came close to being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, revealing that the voters were ready to make a statement about rumors on performance enhancing drugs. Overall, it was a solid class.

According to Major League Baseball, only four players who appeared on the ballot for the first time collected enough votes to remain on the ballot next year. They were Jeff Bagwell with 242 votes (41.7 percent), Larry Walker with 118 votes (20.3 percent), Rafael Palmeiro with 64 votes (11 percent), and Juan Gonzalez with 30 votes (5.2 percent). Players not receiving enough votes included Harold Baines, John Franco, John Olerud, and Bret Boone. The requirement is to receive at least 5 percent of the total votes to make it on to another ballot.

Though some of this voting is getting pretty controversial, this was a day to celebrate the achievements of Alomar and Blyleven, whether fans feel they deserve to be elected or not. They received enough votes from their peers, even though there had been doubts that Blyleven was ever going to receive enough support to be called one of the best pitchers of all time.

During his career, Alomar played for seven teams, making his biggest marks as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. He ended his career with 2,724 hits; 1,508 runs; and 474 stolen bases. Alomar was also a 12-time All Star, won 10 Gold Glove Awards at second base, and also won four Silver Slugger Awards at second base. Along the way, he won two World Series rings as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and played in five American League Championship Series.

Blyleven played his career for five teams, spending 11 years with the Minnesota Twins. He ended his career with a record of 287-250; 3,701 strike outs; and in 1985 finished first in the league with 24 complete games. Blyleven was an All-Star just twice in his career, and never won a Cy Young Award. He won 20 games for the Twins back in 1973, and had a 19-7 record for the Cleveland Indians in 1984. Blyleven also won two World Series titles, one for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979 and another for the Minnesota Twins in 1987.

David Wells and Over Two Decades in Baseball

David Wells pitching

David Wells was one of his generation’s winningest and most durable pitchers, and he was never afraid to give his opinion on any issue, which has often led to controversy. After his impressive MLB career, he has found a calling coaching high school baseball.

The Start

Born in Torrance, California in 1963, Wells came up through the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization, a second round choice in the 1982 amateur draft. When he made it to the majors in 1987, Wells was used mainly as a reliever, and in fact it was not until he joined the Tigers in 1993 that he was made a full-time starter. With Toronto he had been 47-37, pitching in relief and making most of his starts after his first three years with the club. Possessing an average fastball but a very good curve and changeup, David Wells had great control from the beginning of his long stint in the majors, never walking more than 53 men in a single season, and less than 700 in well over 3,000 inning of work during his career.

From Detroit, Wells went to the Orioles where he had a less than spectacular 1996, going 11-14 with an earned run average over 5.00. The Yankees picked up David as a free-agent in 1997 and something about wearing the pinstripes agreed with Wells. Although he was 34 at the time and had never won more than 16 games in a season, Wells became one of New York’s most reliable starting hurlers. He went 16-10 in 1997 and then followed that up with a phenomenal 18-4 mark in 1998. He walked just 29 men that year as opposed to 163 strikeouts, and finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez.

Perfect Game

On May 17th, 1998, David Wells became the second Yankee to throw a perfect game. Eerily, the only other that had done so up to that point was Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, and Wells had attended the same San Diego high school that Larsen had gone to; and both had reputations for partying and enjoying the night life. On that day against the Minnesota Twins, Wells was in command throughout, striking out eleven men and winning 4-0, getting Pat Meares to pop out to right fielder Paul O’Neill for the final out. The Yankees rushed the mound and had all they could do to carry the portly Wells off the field. Listed at 250 pounds, but weighing considerably more, Wells has looked more like a professional wrestler than a major league pitcher his entire career, but he has always had a rubber arm.

Here’s a video of his last out and perfect game celebration:

Trades and New Teams

To get Roger Clemens away from the Blue Jays in the winter following his fine 1998 campaign, New York traded Wells to Toronto. He went 37-18 the two years he was back there, including his only twenty win season in 2000 at the age of 37. Toronto turned around and dealt the outspoken Wells to the White Sox, where he looked to be finished after experiencing back problems and throwing just 100 innings in 2001. But New York took another chance on Wells in 2002, and he responded with one of his best years, going 19-7. He was 15-7 in 2003 before signing with the Padres as a free agent, where he was a respectable 12-8 in 2004. The Red Sox inked him to a contract in 2005 and he went 15-7, and then was out for most of the 2006 season with various aliments before returning to go a combined 3-5 for Boston and the Padres.

Post-Season Maestro

Wells has pitched well in the post-season, particularly with the Yankees, where in four regular seasons he put up a sterling 68-28 record. As a member of the Bronx Bombers, David is 7-2 in the playoffs, and overall he is 10-5 in 27 post-season appearances, the first nine of those in relief with Toronto. His 3.17 earned run average in these contests is almost a full run lower than his 4.07 career standard. Wells’ mouth has gotten him into trouble frequently, as he has clashed with everyone in the game from Yankees’ skipper Joe Torre to baseball’s commissioner, Bud Selig. Wells has given his opinion on the steroids issue in no uncertain terms, not afraid to call out players he thinks are juiced, and has written a book that so incensed the Yankee brass that he was fined $100,000 by the club for some of his comments in it.

Overall a Great Career

Wells is probably not a serious Hall of Fame candidate despite his 230 wins. His earned run average is much too high to be considered for such an honor, and he has given up more hits than innings pitched over his career. But few pitchers have done more with less than have David Wells, who is one of just 17 men to have ever pitched a perfect game, and will always be remembered for coming up big in the games that mattered the most.

How to Meet a Baseball Player

As the warm days of summer take over, the American population is taken over by their love affair with baseball and more importantly baseball players. The crowd watches with awe as their favorite baseball player swings the bat and rounds the bases. Baseball players for the most part, are some of the nicest guys out there. They remember when they stood around before and after games trying to meet their favorite players. It is for this reason that meeting a baseball player can be such a joy. They are usually more then happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture.

As with all sports, there are the occasional “prima donnas” out there in baseball. For the purpose of this article we will ignore these anomalies. They make the rest of their sport look bad and do not deserve to be given the time needed to try and meet them. Follow these easy steps to meet a baseball player and fulfill your dream.

Steps to Take

First step is to do a little research on your favorite baseball player and team. Go on to the baseball team’s website and look up information about the ballpark in which they play. This will give you vital information about what time the gates open for games and when they allow people to watch batting practice.

Second step is very simple. While on the baseball team’s site buy tickets to a game. If your baseball team only allows people to watch batting practice on a weekend game, buy tickets for a weekend game to meet a baseball player.

Third step takes a little bit of planning. You will need to head out to the ballpark well before they open the gates to watch batting practice. There will be many people trying to meet a baseball player. You will want to secure the best spot possible when they open the gates to do this yourself.

Fourth step takes some baseball hustle. When the gates to the baseball stadium open you want to make your way as fast as you can to the lower level next to your team’s dugout. You want to position yourself next to the rail so you are as close as you can get to the baseball players.

Getting baseball autographs

Fifth step is the final home run. Stand there and smile. You can help your cause by holding out an item and marker for the baseball player to autograph. Well your baseball player is signing an autograph for you, remember to thank him for all of the hard work that he does on the field for the baseball team.

Bonus Tips

If you would like to meet a starting pitcher, you need to go to a baseball game when he is not starting. Starting pitcher warm up out in the bullpen and are not around where the fans are.

Checkout your baseball team’s website. Many teams have festivals to raise money for a good cause during the year. At these festivals, they set out table where baseball players sit and sign autographs and meet the fans.