By: Glenn Brewer

The Quick Pitch Craze

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It all started with a cranky Larry Bowa and outspoken former Mets player, Jeff Francoeur.  The new craze in the baseball world of late is the hated quick pitch.  The Philadelphia Phillies have addressed their concerns and now the latest team, the Nationals, have shown their discontent for the quick pitch.  The batters have been confused, surprised and angry at the recent weapon used by the Mets bullpen.  Hansel Robles appears to be public enemy number one for the quick pitch, but history tells you to look no further than veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins.

In 2013, the Mets took a flyer on an aging veteran that could still bring the heat.  The Mets desperately needed some veteran help in the bullpen and most importantly at an affordable cost.  Enter LaTroy Hawkins to Flushing.  While serving as the elder statesman of the bullpen, Hawkins had a large influence on current relievers Jeurys Familia, Bobby Parnell, and Hansel Robles.  Unexpectedly, Hawkins found success with the Mets, and went onto a solid season with a 2.93 ERA and 13 saves.  Despite being sellers at the end of the season, the Mets decided to keep around the veteran leader.  In the following off-season, Hawkins was offered a closing opportunity by the Colorado Rockies.  To no one’s surprise or blame, Hawkins took the job and left behind his students in the Citifield bullpen.  Little did we know the impact that would be felt from Hawkins’s short stay in the clubhouse.

Now to the quick pitch.  Throughout the season, we have grown accustomed to seeing the quick pitch from the bullpen.  Although, no one could have predicted the impact it would have in the stretch run of August and September.  Robles decided to get greedy with the quick pitch and tick off some already agitated Phillies members.  The consistency of the use of the quick pitch in this particular game became dangerous.  Robles took the quick pitch to a new level and began throwing the pitch while the batter’s head was down.  No one disagrees that this was a dangerous ploy by Robles, but nonetheless he would not stop remove the quick pitch from his repertoire.  This was just another learning lesson for Robles, and in fact Hawkins phoned Terry Collins to after the incident.

Before we get to the recent issue with the Washington Nationals, let’s address the current problem baseball has with the length of the games played.  MLB has introduced a clock to speed up things in between innings and move the players back into the play of game quickly.  This   worked efficiently at the start of the season, but you cannot keep the kids tamed for long.  Once the season dragged on and the spotlight was off the new rules, the players gradually turned back to the slow and aggravating superstitions.  The point of this rule is not to have consecutive pitches, one after another.  The purpose is to eliminate a player from stepping out of the box and adjusting every piece of equipment or uniform possible.  Pitchers are guilty of this delay, just ask Steve Trachsel.  Take a BRIEF moment and get back to the main attraction, baseball!

Now back to Labor Day afternoon in our nation’s capital.  Without Tyler Clippard available, the Mets asked Hansel Robles to record 6 outs.  Robles was lights out, and to no Mets fan’s surprise, continuing quick pitching.  Finally it came to a halt when a player I personally respect, Ryan Zimmerman, was struck out looking on a quick pitch.  The cold stare that Zimmerman gave Robles was enough to tell the story.  Zimmerman was angry, but what exactly was Zimmerman doing?  Seconds had gone by while he stood in the box and Zimmerman turned his head to the pitcher.  If you are in the box, be ready to hit.  Michael Taylor was more amused than Zimmerman when Robles quick pitched him for strike three.  The current MLB players are too used to taking their time, and not doing what they are paid to do.  Robles and all pitchers have every right to throw a pitch when the batter is in the box and staring at the pitcher.

Familia has shown off the quick pitch himself this season.  It is more comical and accepted when Robles pitches, because he is not attempting to save a game in the ninth.  Familia has had a stellar year, but it is time for him to let go of the quick pitch.  This Mets team needs him focused and ready to execute every pitch to the best of his ability.  Familia’s two hits given up to Jayson Werth off the quick pitch fast balls are enough to convince me to have Familia leave the quick pitching to Robles.

About Glenn Brewer

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