Eating Humble Pie
With the halfway point past us, and the All-Star Break upcoming, now seems as good a time as any for yours truly to eat some humble pie.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I have some strong opinions. Unlike many other bloggers and pundits, I’m not afraid to stick my neck out and make brash statements, stern criticisms, and outlandish predictions. As a result, I’m sometimes (read: often) wrong. Also unlike many other pundits and bloggers, I’m willing to admit to my stupidity.
So today I’ll owe up to my most glaringly incorrect projection: that Mike Pelfrey would not succeed in MLB in 2008.
I stated this point so many times it became annoying to many of you — or as we old schoolers say, I “sounded like a broken record”. But from spring training until a few weeks ago, I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Pelfrey would be a failure — at best inconsistent — until he a.) used an off-speed pitch; and b.) gained more experience and polish in the minor leagues. In fact I went so far as to suggest he’d never be a Major League starter, and he’d be much better off moving to the bullpen ASAP to prepare for a career as middle reliever.
Boy was I wrong!
In his last eight starts, Pelfrey has been hands-down outstanding five times, and OK to good twice. In the other start, he was so-so — put pitched well enough to notch a win. After starting the season 2-5, Pelf has won his last five decisions, and pitched well enough to win at least three others. Whereas in the past he’d follow up an encouraging start with three poor ones, he’s now strung together eight consecutive impressive outings — plenty for me to prove he’s legit.
Something changed with Pelfrey about a month ago. Interestingly, the Kafkaesque transformation occurred about the same time that Pedro Martinez returned to the club. Out of nowhere, Big Pelf had confidence in his fastball and in himself; he started throwing inside; he didn’t play around much with that flat slider; he set up his four-seamer with his two-seamer, and vice-versa. Most importantly, he began challenging hitters and throwing strikes. Now, with Rick Peterson gone and Dan Warthen in charge, Pelfrey is starting to work his old overhand curve back into his repertoire. The rest of the NL better be shaking in their boots over that revelation, because if Pelf can dominate hitters WITHOUT changing speeds, what’s going to happen when he starts mixing in a knee-buckling curve? The first Mets no-hitter is not out of the question.
Go ahead, serve up a big fat slice of humble pie … I’m happy to eat it.
Humble Pie: Honorable Mention
Another pitcher with whom I had extreme criticism for was Scott Schoeneweis. At times I was downright nasty in my feelings for his performances. However, the Show has proven to be more than useful in varied roles out of the bullpen, sporting a 2.88 ERA. I still think he allows too many inherited baserunners to score, but he’s been much more effective than I ever imagined. Great to see, since from all accounts Scho is a likable, good guy and popular teammate — and a Jersey native.
Serve me up a second slice of humble pie, I deserve it and again, I’m happy to devour it.
Humble Pie: Future
I would LOVE to eat my next slice of humble pie in honor of Carlos Delgado. I really would. There was a time that I thought the world of Delgado, and I’d like to feel that way again. To his credit, he’s been hustling here and there over the last two months, and has gotten his uniform dirty on at least two occasions. Keep that up, keep hitting homers, and start acting like the leader the Mets need you to be, and I’ll be happy to stuff another slice in my big mouth.
To be continued (let’s hope) …