Friday, March 10, 2006


Just as Joe Torre learned (well, he never actually learned), Buck Martinez has learned that Al Leiter is past his expiration date by several.....years. Phew!!

I don't mean to be harsh. Surely a more likeable man has not worn both Met and Yankee uniforms in recent memory and Leiter stands to be a New York celebrity/personality for years to come. He is a wise baseball man with a lot to offer an organization and even more, a city. Expect to see him on television, on the radio, in print, and maybe in the restaurant next to you if you happened to be in New York.

The fact that Al Leiter is such a nice man, and that pitching is a rare and coveted commodity, has led many a GM and many a pitching coach to believe they could squeeze one last stretch run out of his arm. Imagine the following Yankified exchange from Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein":

Isn't it true that Darwin preserved
a piece of vermicelli in a glass
case until, by some extraordinary
means, it actually began to move
with voluntary motion?

FREDDY (George Steinbrenner)
A piece of what?


FREDDY (The Boss)
Are you speaking of the worm, or
... the spaghetti.

Why the worm, Sir.

FREDDY (The Boss)
Ah! In science you must be very
precise -- it can spell the
difference between life and death.
(to Carlson)
I don't want that fellow in class
next semester.

CARLSON (Brian Cashman)
Yes, sir.

Al is one of the many athletes clinging to the endeavor he loves, for far too long. I admire his passion and his willingness to fail for that one last chance. If we all had that kind of undying love for our professions, Club Med and Prozac wouldn't exist. Watching that undying love in action, for the fan on the other hand, is excruciating. Watching Leiter doff his cap and tenderize his sweat soaked brow after another string of 4 consecutive doubles or hit batsmen is enough to give me ogeda for the remainder of my natural life.

Captain Al did it again pitching for the US and I have to wonder why anyone would give him the ball in a game that counts....even if it only counts for pride. If you see him in another contest for the national team, I expect it's because the US is up by 10 or down by 10. Can you imagine him pitching to David Ortiz in the 7th inning of a 5-5 ballgame? Why do I conjure these things up?

I'll be happy when Leiter announces his retirement at the end of this World Baseball Classic. The sight of him will bring a sense of relief and appreciation instead of dread, and my nails will be lessed jagged too. For the record, here's Al Leiter's stat line in the WBC, and the play by play of his only appearance to date, against Canada:

Leiter 0.2(IP) 3(Hits) 2(Runs) 2(ER) 1(BB) 0(K) 0(HR) 27.00(ERA)

Top 3RD B:0 S:0 O:2
Pitcher Change: Al Leiter replaces Dontrelle Willis.

Top 3RD B:4 S:2 O:2
Aaron Guiel walks. Pete Laforest to 2nd.

Top 3RD B:0 S:1 O:2
Adam Stern singles on a ground ball to center fielder Ken GriffeyJr. Justin Morneau scores. Pete Laforest scores. Aaron Guiel to 3rd.

Top 3RD B:2 S:2 O:3
Pete Orr grounds out, second baseman Michael Young to first baseman Mark Teixeira.


Top 4TH B:0 S:2 O:1
Stubby Clapp pops out to third baseman Chipper Jones in foul territory.

Top 4TH B:2 S:0 O:1
Jason Bay singles on a ground ball to center fielder Ken GriffeyJr.

Top 4TH B:2 S:0 O:1
Justin Morneau hits a ground-rule double (2) on a line drive to right field. Jason Bay to 3rd.

Top 4TH B:0 S:0 O:1
Pitcher Change: Gary Majewski replaces Al Leiter


Shaun P said...

To quote the great Joe Elliott, "Its better to burn out than fade away!"

Sadly, Senator Al is fading away. Slowly.

Mike Plugh said...

I'm not sure what drives a guy like him to do this. There are a lot of guys that "fade away" because they look into the abyss and see nothing of worth in their future that can match what they've been doing since they were kids.

Al has a big future ahead of him in broadcasting or in coaching if its what he wants. He can probably work in a front office....The options are endless for a guy with his background and charisma.

Anyway...I hope to see him as infrequently as possible in the WBC.

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