FanDuel - WFBC

April 07, 2006

Homer, Homer, Homer, Homer, Homer, Homer: In his first start since learning the knuckleball from Charlie Hough to extend his career, Texas Rangers pitcher R.A. Dickey served up six home runs to the Detroit Tigers. The only pitcher to give up more: Charlie Sweeney of the St. Louis Maroons, who gave up seven to the Detroit Wolverines on June 12, 1886.

posted by rcade to baseball at 07:14 AM - 61 comments

How long can the Simpsons references continue? Better question: how long can you keep it up with good Simpsons references?

posted by yerfatma at 07:33 AM on April 07

I turned this game on for about 5 minutes last night in the fourth inning, what I saw was Chris Shelton, HR, followed by a walk and two more HRs. I was thinking that the Tigers might actually have a good year, this year......

posted by elovrich at 07:47 AM on April 07

Charlie Hough is apparently for shit as a teacher. And that's the kind of pitching I expect from the Rangers this year - hoo hoo!

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:13 AM on April 07

I thought they were broadcasting batting practice. That's basically what the Rangers have to offer, though. Knuckleballers are only really valuable because they can pitch and pitch and pitch, allowing a bullpen to get some rest every so often. They'll notch you a win here and there, but they'll get tagged just as much. Luckily, nobody in the left field seats was seriously injured.

posted by dyams at 08:29 AM on April 07

RA be out of the Ranger rotation in a week or two and replaced by Robinson Tejeda.

posted by MPeter at 08:40 AM on April 07

Knuckleballers are only really valuable because they can pitch and pitch and pitch, allowing a bullpen to get some rest every so often. Blasphemy. Tim Wakefield has been with the Red Sox for 12 years. He's their No. 2 starter. He notched 16 wins last year and led the team in wins, strikeouts and complete games. Charlie Hough was the Rangers' best pitcher for many of his years with the team. Holt Wilhelm and Phil Niekro are Hall of Famers. Knuckleheads are a strange lot, but the ones who are good enough to master the pitch over time can do a lot more than eat innings.

posted by rcade at 08:43 AM on April 07

Let's not forget that the Tigers lit up KC for 6 homers the game before. Sounds great until I remember it was KC they played homerun derby against.

posted by gradys_kitchen at 08:48 AM on April 07

Blasphemy. So you get to a key game late in the season and you have your knuckleballer scheduled to take the mound. How confident are you going into that game? Most of these guys are just what I said, good sometimes, horrible the next. There are a lot of variables that go into determining how the pitch will be moving on a given day. Most knuckleballers are .500 pitchers (Charlie Hough was a perfect .500 pitcher for his career). I'll never forget Wilbur Wood for the White Sox. His records from '71-'75 were 22-13, 24-17, 24-20, 20-19, and 16-20. In that time he pitched 1,680 innings with 109 complete games! That's incredible. Like the old saying goes, it takes a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games, but, like I said, whether he was winning or losing (both of which he did consistently) no other pitcher would even have to warm up. The team could let him go, knowing he's not going to (most likely) blow out his arm. I still think that's the biggest part of Wakefield's value, especially with Wells, Schilling, and (quite possibly) Beckett missing time, is his ability to eat innings. With the potent lineup behind him, that's usually enough.

posted by dyams at 09:14 AM on April 07

rade - I think history tells us that successful knuckleballers are the exception, rather than the rule. Wakefield may be one of the all-time greats when it's said and done (I doubt very much we'll see the numbers of Niekro and Wilhelm again - it's a dying pitch) and upon looking at his career numbers they are good - not great. And Hough had a long career as a power pitcher first - then switched to the knuckler and threw on an additional ten years to his career. I swear his career keeps getting better and better the farther away we get from it. The Charlie Hough I remember was an innings eating, run giving up machine.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:15 AM on April 07

Don't forget Wilbur Wood was the last pitcher to start (and lose) both games of a doubleheader. Wood was also the first White Sox pitcher to record four consecutive 20 win seasons. In his best season (1971) only Vida Blue had a better WHIP.

posted by ?! at 09:32 AM on April 07

Don't forget Wilbur Wood I didn't. Read above.

posted by dyams at 09:33 AM on April 07

Tim Wakefield has been with the Red Sox for 12 years. He's their No. 2 starter. While I agree with you in principle, the second statement is a bit disingenuous. Wakefield is the Sox' #2 starter only because putting him between two hard throwers theoretically makes it harder for batters to adjust day-to-day. He's somewhere between #3-5 depending on how often he looks like he did on Tuesday. I think history tells us that successful knuckleballers are the exception, rather than the rule. Or that they are rare birds. Many "knuckleballers" now in the game are guys on the brink of washing out who experiment with the knuckler (the Red Sox have an explicit policy of allowing all failing minor league pitchers to try to come back as knuckleballers, see Zink, Charlie, et al); I don't know if I would consider such a pitcher a knuckleball pitcher at all. By that logic, Wade Boggs qualifies as one.

posted by yerfatma at 09:34 AM on April 07

Wade Boggs qualifies as one. It's strange you'd say that. When I first saw Dickey throwing in this game, I had the sound down and it looked like they'd brought a position player into the game for some reason. I've never seen batters tee-off as hard as they did last night against Dickey. The ball was doing nothing. It reminded me of a slow-pitch softball game.

posted by dyams at 09:38 AM on April 07

I didn't think the Tigers had 6 guys who could hit the ball all of the way to the fences! Maybe I'll have to pay closer attention to them this year.

posted by commander cody at 09:40 AM on April 07

"Knuckleheads are a strange lot, but the ones who are good enough to master the pitch over time can do a lot more than eat innings." Well, therein lies the difference between good and (in my best Mike Myers Scottish accent) CRAP!

posted by 1651 Naismith at 09:52 AM on April 07

We Ranger fans are not surprised. Buck shoulda left him in to get the record ...

posted by mjkredliner at 09:58 AM on April 07

i'm just so happy to see the tigers hitting the ball, if only they can continue doing it the rest of the season.

posted by jindetroit at 10:00 AM on April 07

The Tigers are undefeated! Havenít been in 1st this late in the season since the summer of '84. Bless you boys! Great Knuckleball discussion.

posted by directpressure at 10:13 AM on April 07

Detroit Tigers -- Wildcard.

posted by wingnut4life at 10:46 AM on April 07

Their magic number is down to, what, 159?

posted by chicobangs at 10:50 AM on April 07

La la la, I am not listening to you...

posted by wingnut4life at 10:54 AM on April 07

Just Because you Can THrow A Knuckle Doesn't Mean YOu SHould!!! One More Bad Start And Dickey's Done. THat Knuckler had less movement than his fastball! Note* THe only Other Person TO Give Up That Many Home Runs (In The Last Century) is None Other Than Wakefield Himself. ANd It Was TO THe TIgers Too.

posted by Ultim8 at 11:00 AM on April 07

I think history tells us that successful knuckleballers are the exception, rather than the rule. There's no such thing as an unsuccessful knuckleballer. It's a pitch with no middle ground. You're either good enough to stay around forever or you're up there tossing batting practice and will soon be packing your bags. Did I worry when Charlie Hough took the mound? Of course. I love knuckeballers because of the insanity of throwing that pitch in the clutch. If Boston had scored a run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Tim Wakefield's performance would have been remembered forever. One bad knuckler to Aaron Boone and he was the goat. People thought the knuckleball was dying out with Hough, and they think today it's dying out with Wakefield. I expect there will always be 1-3 pitchers in the league with 49 on their backs serving up that crazy pitch, because knuckleheads help each other out and are mindful of the need to keep their kind around by recruiting potential new practitioners like Dickey.

posted by rcade at 11:40 AM on April 07

Well, if Ball Four is any indication - it is a fraternity. I personally think that the knuckleball is the most overrated pitch of all time - and the successful knucklers are the ones that mix in the occassional other pitch as well. Wakefield throws about 80% knucklers. I'm not advocating it's elimination from the game - just that my team stays knuckler-free. I have Tom Candiotti nightmares from the last time.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:52 PM on April 07

dyams: Read the whole sentence. Not. Just. the. First. Three. Words. What we need is someone throwing the Eephus again. The knuckler would look like a fast ball after that pitch.

posted by ?! at 01:03 PM on April 07

Luckily, nobody in the left field seats was seriously injured. Funny!

posted by stofer71 at 01:09 PM on April 07

There's no such thing as an unsuccessful knuckleballer. That's what I was trying to say. Thanks. You're either a successful knuckleball pitcher or some asshole throwing a ball way too slow.

posted by yerfatma at 01:17 PM on April 07

People thought the knuckleball was dying out with Hough, and they think today it's dying out with Wakefield. http://www.soxprospects.com/players/zink-charlie.htm

posted by jerseygirl at 01:24 PM on April 07

That's a prospect?

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:39 PM on April 07

From the first time Dickey put on a Ranger uni, I knew it would spell disaster. He needs to pitch for a hopeless team, like the Devil Rays.

posted by Joe88 at 02:25 PM on April 07

A goog manager knows when to pull the pitcher; there goes Buck Showalter's Manager of the Year Award, and 159 more games remain.

posted by Bud Lang at 02:26 PM on April 07

That's a prospect? That's a knuckleballer.

posted by jerseygirl at 02:55 PM on April 07

THe only Other Person TO Give Up That Many Home Runs (In The Last Century) is None Other Than Wakefield Himself. ANd It Was TO THe TIgers Too. iNtereSting ENough, BOston aLso WOn tHAt GAme. I'm just excited that the Tigers are playing well so far, not that that means anything since they've only played three games but hey, I'm excited.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:41 PM on April 07

Please leave Charlie Hough alone. He did his job. He taught Dickey the knuckleball to extend his career. That's exactly what happened, his career was extended 1 game!

posted by INOALOSER at 03:52 PM on April 07

RA has set his own threshhold. Next time he pitches, if he pitches again, when he gives up five homers, it will show his improvement as a knuckleballer. Knuckleballer. Why does that sound dirty?

posted by graymatters at 04:17 PM on April 07

I thought they were broadcasting batting practice. That's funny Go PADRES!

posted by mrrocnron at 04:56 PM on April 07

See, the thing about the knuckleballer is that he's only as good as his catcher. Look at the transition Wakefield has to make with Bard this year. He has been spoiled by having Mirabelli catch for him the last couple years. The knuckleball is very hard to control, thus, very hard to catch. When a batter is confidant that the pitch will not be controlled by the catcher, it dictates at which balls he will swing. Plus, it makes the fastballs more obvious. Wake's performance the other night is not only his own fault, part of the blame goes to the one who catches. fyi - the knuckleball is not as easy on the shoulder as most people think it is...

posted by DJ8881 at 05:00 PM on April 07

I would also like to point out that at this moment in time Detroit has achieved the difficult feat of having three major professional teams in first place at the same time.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 05:24 PM on April 07

See, the thing about the knuckleballer is that he's only as good as his catcher. I don't see that at all. And I'm just going to ignore you using one performance with Josh Bard behind the plate as a trend. When did Dolug Mirabelli become Knuckle Jesus?

posted by yerfatma at 05:37 PM on April 07

See, the thing about the knuckleballer is that he's only as good as his catcher. That doesn't make sense. The catcher has no bearing on the ability/skill/performance of the pitcher.

posted by jerseygirl at 05:47 PM on April 07

well jerseygirl, actually a good catcher can buy his pitcher quite a few borderline pitches if he is skilled at framing them and giving the umpire a good look at it. By this I do not mean 'pulling' pitches back into the zone, but a subtle turn of the glove, holding it for just a split-second longer than normal, letting the umpire get a GOOD second look at it. This is even more pronounced with a knuckler, because no-one is certain where the heck the pitch is going to end up.

posted by elovrich at 05:58 PM on April 07

One More Bad Start And Dickey's Done Actually, the Rangers sent him to Oklahoma City today.

posted by Ufez Jones at 06:13 PM on April 07

actually a good catcher can buy his pitcher quite a few borderline pitches well said. catchers can be assholes like that, but you love it if it's for your team. See, the thing about the knuckleballer is that he's only as good as his catcher have any of you guys ragging on this quote ever heard of a catcher who handles his pitchers well. with any pitcher, a catcher calls the location and types of pitches all game long. they really are the unsung heroes of the game. if a pitcher pitches an incredible game, no mention goes to the catcher, who probably was the person framing all the called strike threes and dictating how to pitch to every hitter to get them out. on another note, to everyone saying that knuckle balls suck, have you ever tried to hit a good one? it'll fool the shit out of you.

posted by SavyMcSaverson at 07:19 PM on April 07

jerseygirl...Don't you just hate it when statements directed at you make it sound as if you know nothing about baseball when, in fact, you are knowledgeable about the game?

posted by ayankeefan at 08:34 PM on April 07

Ankiel and Dickey,2 guy's i will hardly forget.

posted by irishmic2004@sbcglobal.net at 08:38 PM on April 07

If Charlie Hough was or was not a good/great pitcher was never the point for me. He was fun to watch.

posted by commander cody at 11:34 PM on April 07

When wakefield is pitching well, I love watching him. When he's not, nothing is worse. With a knuckleballer there's such a fine line between unhittable and batting practice. See, the thing about the knuckleballer is that he's only as good as his catcher. That doesn't make sense. The catcher has no bearing on the ability/skill/performance of the pitcher. posted by jerseygirl well jerseygirl, actually a good catcher can buy his pitcher quite a few borderline pitches if he is skilled at framing them posted by elovrich Sure, but that's still a bullshit statement. Yes, a catcher can help any pitcher, and the ability just to catch the ball is a plus when it comes to a knuckleballer, but only to a point. A crappy knuckleball is crappy no matter who catches it. A great knuckleball is going to be unhittable regardless of who's catching (not to mention the calling of the pitches doesn't really even come into play with a knuckleballer). If Boston had scored a run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Tim Wakefield's performance would have been remembered forever. One bad knuckler to Aaron Boone and he was the goat. Actually, this was one of those rare cases where wakefield got a pass. Grady played the goat.

posted by justgary at 12:43 AM on April 08

jerseygirl...Don't you just hate it when statements directed at you make it sound as if you know nothing about baseball when, in fact, you are knowledgeable about the game? Comment icon posted by ayankeefan at 8:34 PM CST on April 7 If you're asking seriously, and that wasn't an attempt at a backhanded jab, the answer is "No, I don't really give a god damn."

posted by jerseygirl at 03:03 AM on April 08

Sure, but that's still a bullshit statement. Yes, a catcher can help any pitcher, and the ability just to catch the ball is a plus when it comes to a knuckleballer, but only to a point. A crappy knuckleball is crappy no matter who catches it. A great knuckleball is going to be unhittable regardless of who's catching (not to mention the calling of the pitches doesn't really even come into play with a knuckleballer). Ding ding ding. Thank you.

posted by jerseygirl at 03:03 AM on April 08

Yeah, and a quarterback is only as good as his center. Jeez, don't you guys know anything? As a catcher, you generally don't call pitches to a knuckler; you may, as DJ8881 pointed out, save a couple of extra strikes during the course of a game, but the only reason people (wrongly) fixate on the importance of the catcher is that if he's not on his game while catching a knuckleball pitcher, you know it, because pitches go rolling to the backstop all day long.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:52 AM on April 08

have any of you guys ragging on this quote ever heard of a catcher who handles his pitchers well. with any pitcher, a catcher calls the location and types of pitches all game long. There endeth the lesson. Thanks. So you're saying Josh Bard isn't as good as Doug Mirabelli at saying "Knuckleball. Somewhere over the plate" for 80% of the pitches? I get that a Gold Glove catcher would get to a few more of the wilder offerings; I don't think anyone here needed that explanation. What I want to know is how much of an effect can a"good catcher" have on a knuckleballer's performance vs. a regular pitcher? Framing pitches is a lot less important than just corralling them.

posted by yerfatma at 06:50 AM on April 08

You're not going to get many hitters that will just stand there and watch as knuckler after knuckler float by. "Framing" pitches for a knuckleballer, who has his pitch really working well, isn't as much as an issue as with a control-type pitcher. Catchers catching the knuckler just need to be able to corral the pitch, keep it in the mit, and also keep it from dribbling away with men on base. They also have to be willing to have balls bouncing in the dirt and off their chest, arms, mask, etc. consistently. With all that said, it would be obvious a knuckleball pitcher would be more comfortable with the guy who's been catching him for a long time. That's true with any pitcher.

posted by dyams at 07:45 AM on April 08

Speaking of sore necks, anybody here remember when Toronto tattooed the Orioles for 10 homeruns in a single game? I think it happened in 1987, Ernie Whitt accounted for three of the jacks and Fred McGriff for a pair, can't remember who else piled on...

posted by the red terror at 09:31 AM on April 08

Thanks, dyams. That was a lot clearer than what I said.

posted by yerfatma at 09:35 AM on April 08

Jerseygirl knows more about baseball than most of you yolkers combined. Also: One bad knuckler to Aaron Boone and he was the goat. WAY off base. Grady Little was the goat. Don't you remember?

posted by Venicemenace at 03:34 PM on April 08

Speaking of sore necks, anybody here remember when Toronto tattooed the Orioles for 10 homeruns in a single game? I think it happened in 1987, Ernie Whitt accounted for three of the jacks and Fred McGriff for a pair, can't remember who else piled on... Whitt had 3, Mulliniks had 2, Bell had 2 and Mosby, McGriff and Ducey had one each. September 14, 1987

posted by grum@work at 04:25 PM on April 08

There's no such thing as an unsuccessful knuckleballer. It's a pitch with no middle ground. You're either good enough to stay around forever or you're up there tossing batting practice and will soon be packing your bags. I'm not sure this observation is unique to knuckleballers. See, the thing about the knuckleballer is that he's only as good as his catcher. I tend to agree that the catcher is more important to a knucklehead than to most other types of pitchers. Most knucklethrowers have a BP fastball whose effectiveness comes in the element of surprise (because it so much quicker and behaves so much differently than the expected knuckler). If a knucklechucker doesn't have confidence in his catcher, then he will have less confidence in throwing the k-ball with runners on base and will resort more, in those circumstances, to his BP fastball -- to avoid the dreaded passed ball, or to get the ball to his weak-armed catcher faster to keep Matt Stairs from stealing third. Stands to reason that the more a pitcher has to rely on a pitch that is not his out pitch, the more he is going to get tagged.

posted by BullpenPro at 02:34 PM on April 10

That's an interesting point. Thanks for that. Of course, Wakefield gave up one unearned run yesterday and Bard looked ok, so everything's 100% fine now. In all seriousness, Wakefield pointed out that Doug Mirabelli actually had 3 passed balls (to Bard's 2) in his first outing with Wake.

posted by yerfatma at 05:09 PM on April 10

Of course what does bullpenpro know, after all he has the worst knuckleball grip Phil Neikro has ever seen. Just kidding

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 05:22 PM on April 10

You were just WAITING for me to post on this thread, weren't you...

posted by BullpenPro at 08:42 PM on April 10

You were just WAITING for me to post on this thread, weren't you... Yeah I guess I was. Of course I imagine you'll get me back for something in the future.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:02 PM on April 11

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