Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lester's Quest

"In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. But in practice there is." - Yogi

Ray Miller's advice to pitchers included, "work fast, throw strikes, and change speeds." Up until recently, Jon Lester hadn't consistently listened, or at least his arm hadn't.

Early on you sensed something different, more life on the fastball and more movement on the cutter. Sure, Kansas City has offensive challenges and they're not the Yankees, but Lester used both sides of the plate (example DeJesus' grounder to Youkilis in the ninth), changed speeds, and altered hitters' location, working the fastball up and curve ball down to get outs consistently.

First pitch strikes helped, too, making the Royals hit his pitch.

I don't think Lester has overall the repertoire of stuff (yet) of Clay Buchholz. But he's improving his command and his consistency, and he has that left handed 'thing' going for him, more powerful than the Coriolis effect.

Left handedness remains the anomaly that keeps Jesse Orosco pitching until eligible for Social Security, and that uniqueness that keeps the Lee Guettermans and Graehm Lloyds of the world in the game seemingly forever. Steve Howe got enough chances because he was lefthanded and kept getting guys out that being a drug addict got overlooked. Bill Lee couldn't have won 17 games three times with that stuff if he were right handed.

But all that aside, I remember being an intern and resident over twenty-five years ago, watching chemotherapy patients suffer endless indignities because the treatment just wasn't that good for many cancers, and our hope outstripped our performance. But maybe their suffering didn't go in vane, as better treatments helped make dreams come true for some.

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