Sports

Felix Bautista vs. White Sox is a must watch TV


Noisy.

Noisy.
Screenshots: NBC Sports Chicago

I join many others in giving MLB fans a rough time. The need to lift and drive has added to the game a huge amount of unattainable attacks and it can be frustrating to watch the men simply make immediate contact with a horde of passing people. But we also try to protect them as best we can, with the diabolical ingenuity they face every night. Not only do beginners armed with ICBMs exploding from their hands or sliders that can crack the sky as they dash towards freedom, they then have to deal with two or three produced depressurizers. Special appearance to burn bright and fast and go out to the death of a hero on a storm of velocity and rotation.

The attackers did the best they could with what they were asked to face and adjusted the only way they could. The biggest exposure you can get a few times you can actually get the ash to stick to the cowhide. Last night was a stark reminder of the mountain they had to climb.

Orioles’ Felix Bautista hasn’t played in a long time, this is his rookie season. In just over four months, he’s become one of the more fearsome relievers in the game, with a 102 mph fast orb and a splitter that seems to alter the Earth’s rotation. He may also have The most amazing entrance for a closer look at this side of the Mets’ Edwin Diaz.

Part of the fear is that Bautista isn’t exactly in control all the time, even though his walking count isn’t bad at all. You don’t have to draw the angles by 102 or with that divider. You just need to be in the area. The White Sox inquired directly, especially Jose Abreu.

Bautista was brought in in the eighth inning last night, with a two-time lead but the sox rallied, to get five points. He beat Luis Robert with ease, but that’s when things got tough.

First at 2-2 on Eloy Jimenez, Bautista sent a 102-mph fastball to the backstop, and it hit the screen so hard it bounced right back to catcher Adley Rutschman, not allowing the runner from third to score. The very next pitch…

Sure, it might have got Jimenez on the pad, but they don’t make a pad for 102. And out of the game went Jimenez.

Which meant that Abreu came to the plate, already knowing he was facing one of the nastiest relievers in baseball, and he’d just watched from the on-deck circle as this lunatic sent one fastball 10 feet high and the next one burrowing a hole into his teammate’s arm like it was looking for oil. And the Sox needed the runs on the basepaths!

There isn’t a tougher task in sports than having to regularly get bat to ball, and solidly. Which is why a 7/10 fail-rate is considered world class. And these guys do it every night facing this type of voodoo. And on the occasional night they have to complete a task like Abreu’s, which is step into the box late in a game the White Sox really need to win, down two, bases loaded, against some of the best stuff there is and now you’re convinced that there’s a small chance that stuff isn’t going to allow you to walk safely back to the dugout. While professional hitters long ago lost that fear the rest of us had for that brief instant as a pitcher releases a baseball where you ask, “Is this going to be in my teeth?”, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t lurk in the deep recesses. How can you know where the baseball is going when the guy hurling it doesn’t? Indiana Jones knows fuck all about a leap of faith.

Abreu, bravely, got a count full before striking out swinging on a fastball above the zone. I’m just impressed he didn’t pull a John Kruk and go on about his day. There will be other ABs.

But that’s the job, stand in there and try to make contact against a violently hurled rock with only a semblance of direction and motive. What a way to run a railroad.

On the positive side of the ledger, here’s Aaron Judge defining the word “torque” for those unfamiliar:

Listen closely and you can hear the baseball impersonating a screaming mimi. It’s probably a little more desperate than the normal, subtle wail, because what sound would you make if you were being projected into a group of people who sit in the Yankees outfield?

And finally…



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