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"Sailing to Sicily"
March 21, 2013 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Jeff Sullivan, newly reunited with the Seattle mariner's blog "USS Mariner", offers his thoughts on the Marlins releasing former (and hugely disappointing) Mariner Chone Figgins--odds on, the end of Figgins major league career.
... Figgins is 35, and when he was 31, he was one of baseball’s most valuable and versatile players. How different do you think Figgins feels today, in terms of his baseball skills? Do you think he feels like he’s fallen off a cliff, or do you think he feels like he’s basically the same guy? When Chone Figgins steps back, he doesn’t understand why things should be different from how they were, because he doesn’t feel like he’s really changed.
posted by maxwelton (10 comments total)

 
Seattle Mariners blog for analysis, commentary, and... sigh.

As someone who has grown up watching the Mariners (I was 10 during the 2001 season) This is this is a pretty perfect summation of my feelings towards the team.
posted by edeezy at 12:39 AM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Considering Figgins couldn't really EVER hit, blaming his troubles on not getting enough plate appearances seems really self-serving and whiny. He had over 700 PA's in his first season in Seattle and put up the worst numbers of his career. What were the Mariners supposed to do? Just wait for him to get right?

Beyond that, it's striking to consider how tenuous an athlete's status can be. R.A. Dickey seems like a perfect example of this: when his knuckleball is on, it's nearly impossible to hit, but if for some reason it's not working, he's quite literally the worst pitcher in the league. There's very little middle-ground for him.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 12:39 AM on March 21, 2013


R.A. Dickey seems like a perfect example of this: when his knuckleball is on, it's nearly impossible to hit, but if for some reason it's not working, he's quite literally the worst pitcher in the league.

This is the cold hard truth. But -- it is also the cold hard truth for every knuckball pitcher who has played the game. If they can't get the ball to flutter somewhere near the plate, what they are throwing is nothing but wild pitches and hanging curveballs. Worse, they're throwing slow hanging curves.

This is why knuckleballers are rare in the majors, but when they do make it, they tend to be very good and they tend to last a long time, because they don't have the regular wear and tear of a power fastball pitcher, nor the staggering muscle/ligament strains of a breaking ball pitcher.

But all of them have bad days, and when they do, it tends to be a very bad day indeed. They don't tend to give up 4-5 runs. It's either 1-2, or 7+, and really the core measure of a knuckleball pitcher is the ratio of the former games to the latter.
posted by eriko at 3:19 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dickey's unique for a knuckleballer, though, because he gets so much more velocity on it than anyone else. He can get it up to the low 80s, while Tim Wakefield threw it in the mid 60s. It helps that Dickey was a promising pitching prospect and first round draft pick before it was discovered that he's missing some ligaments. He's putting a lot more wear on his arm than most knuckleballers.
posted by Copronymus at 10:12 AM on March 21, 2013


But all of them have bad days, and when they do, it tends to be a very bad day indeed. They don't tend to give up 4-5 runs. It's either 1-2, or 7+, and really the core measure of a knuckleball pitcher is the ratio of the former games to the latter.

A good example of this is Tim Wakefield in 2007. He had an ERA+ of 100, so he was a perfectly average pitcher for the year. Check out his earned runs: 11 games with 1 or 0, and 7 games with 6-8. What I'd draw from that is that despite his 4.74 ERA on the season, he was pitching well more often than not, but that the bad games were SO bad that they made his rate stats spike.

He's putting a lot more wear on his arm than most knuckleballers.

And yet not so much that the Jays were afraid to sign him to a 3 year deal. By all accounts (including Dickey in his autobiography), he could probably throw 150 knucklers a game if his nails don't break.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 10:27 AM on March 21, 2013


It is so tough when baseball players stay a bit too long. I was pretty excited when Chone came to Seattle, because he had been such a dynamic, energizing player for the Angels. Then it was unbelievably frustrating to watch him essentially do nothing for the Mariners. No wonder he doesn't really understand it himself.
posted by bearwife at 1:03 PM on March 21, 2013


It must be difficult for an athlete to adjust to the fact that his or her skills are no longer good enough to compete at an elite level. (I wouldn't know from experience - I was the worst player in my grade 5 softball league, and it didn't go uphill from there.) Athletes have usually been praised for their excellence since they were old enough to think for themselves, and their self-image is centered around their athletic ability.

From what I've read, Figgins' behaviour is more the norm than the exception - almost every player keeps believing that he can still hit, pitch, or whatever even when every major league team says that no, they can't.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 1:34 PM on March 21, 2013


Dude's shorter than most ballplayers, older than most ballplayers. I almost always root for these guys.

Good luck, Chone Figgins. I hope you make it back into the league and show them something.
posted by millions at 7:55 PM on March 21, 2013


Chone was one of my favorite Angels while he was here, but for the cost, I understood why they let him (and John Lackey) go.

But now we're at a point where if Vernon Wells gets a home run or RBI during this spring, everyone is just horrified that he'll play his way in to the lineup. Horrified.

Two more years...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:11 AM on March 22, 2013


Never mind, it's all good now.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:12 PM on March 24, 2013


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