Saturday, June 25, 2005

Blass-ted? McYankee speaketh.

Matt Mantei gets celebrated for his 'electric' stuff. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Mantei has plus velocity and a sharp-breaking curveball. However...

Aside from general ineffectiveness, Mantei came into today's action with 24 innings pitched, 18 walks, and 4 hit batsmen in 89 batters faced. He hit one batter in three faced today. He's hit three left-handed batters this season already, not easy for a right-hander with a tailing fastball.

Does Matt Mantei have 'Steve Blass Disease' or at least some variant? Blass was an effective pitcher for the Pirates who developed the inability to throw the ball over the plate or even remotely where he wanted it. Numerous players have suffered from the condition since. Off the top of my head, I can think of Mackey Sasser, Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, Matt Young (throwing to bases), Mark Wohlers, and Rick Ankiel. I suppose that strictly speaking, only pitchers can have Blass Disease, but let's be liberal and inclusive.

Knoblauch had a well-documented case, because he played for the Yankees, hit Keith Olbermann's mother in the stands with one of his throws, and became the butt of one of Bill Scheft's* jokes "they should send Knoblauch to Cuba, so he could overthrow Castro." I also recall a closeup of Knoblauch LOOKING AT HIS THROWING HAND while throwing (errantly) to first. No wonder the ball didn't end up in the first base zip code.

Anyway, diagnosing Mantei seems like a reasonable concern. Tim "McYankee" McCarver asked whether Mantei even belongs on the team, after lamenting the Red Sox 'tragic' defeat of the Yankees last year.

My vote is that Mantei does have what we in medicine call a 'form fruste' of Blass Disease. And as Martha Stewart might say, "that is not a very good thing."

*Here are some Scheft references:

Most of the reviewers of his book seem to hate it, so I'll guess that Bill made a lot of enemies in his career.

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