What We Need More of are Knuckleballers

All off season long, you’ve been reading this one in the headlines:  Eddie Bonine!  Eddie Bonine!  Hey everybody, here comes Eddie Bonine, that guy we all like!

I wrote a half-ass blog post about him when the Phillies signed him to a minor-leaguer, but I believe I left one thing out: the guy throws a knuckle ball.  And, according to this site I never read, that is spectacular news.As Tim Wakefield has taught us, nothing works more effectively than a knuckle ball, all the time.

Let me just stop me right there.  Knuckle balls are so dangerous, its like renting your basement out to a serial killer.  You can’t trust it.  You can hardly sleep.  You’re willing to ignore his request to only enter the premises through the basement doors, or that you can’t even picture him in your head without dragging a burlap sack full of body parts behind him.  But damn it if, once a month, his rent is right on time.

The guy in the article I linked to goes into the history of knuckleballers in Philadelphia: there were two.  One was burning out his career and the other went on to commit suicide by slitting his own throat.  So.

Let’s talk about R.A. Dickey.  His first name is one of the less-common two letter abbreviations usually deemed acceptable for a first name.  His last name has the word “Dick” in it.  He plays for the Mets.  Clearly, he’s a sexual assault charge away from being a living joke.

But he isn’t.  The Phillies were ripped apart by Tim Wakefield in just the worst series you’ve ever seen during 2010 Interleague Play, and in the next series, those scheming Mets called up a prospect who, just like Wakefield, specialized in hurling a pitch that Willie Stargell once described as “…like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor’s mailbox.”

And Dickey did to the Phillies exactly what the Mets theorized, stretching our horrid mid-summer losing streak even further.  In a way, it was a stroke of genius, but coming amidst a sea of Mets-ish bullshit and jackassery, the “genius” label winds up much more watered down than if it was part of a long line of great moves for the Mets in 2010.

My point is, a knuckle baller worked in that situation.  The Phillies, right now, have a shambled bullpen, starved for southpaws, desperate for consistency.  Sure, Bonine’s got a minor league contract, and he has other pitches, but why sign a guy with a knuckle ball if you aren’t fantasizing about putting him out there and seeing success with it.

After his wind-up, who knows what in hell is going to happen out there.  It could find the strike zone.  It could wind up inside somebody’s ear.  It could be a walk off three-run double.  It could sprout wings and join a migrating flock of geese returning from the south.

I’m saying, there’s a certain level of confidence or desperation involved in purchasing and utilizing a knuckle baller.  The bullpen is what it is right now–and it is in need of fixing.  Now is not the time to be trying something new; to be buying that funky looking device off QVC that you saw on TV at three in the morning when the model of proven success or at least marginal stability is out there somewhere.

Okay, that’s it.  Resume freaking out about the Jayson Werth thing.

Tags: Eddie Bonine Knuckle Ball Mets Suck Phillies R.A. Dickey Time Wakefield

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