Saturday, November 05, 2005

Caught Looking

I believe it was Yogi Berra that once said, "Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical." That brings me to Dallas Parker. Yesterday afternoon I arrived at Wekiva Community College not knowing what to expect. The coach and I spoke on Thursday about getting Dallas at least five innings of work so I could see what this kid could do. I peeked over at the bullpen and saw Dallas warming up. Whew. At least he made it to the field.

I walked over to the pen to get a feel for his pitches. For those of you who don't know, I'll let you in on a little secret. When a pitcher warms up, he sometimes signals to the catcher what is coming next. If he waves his glove forward, it's a fastball; pulls it back for a changeup; moves it side to side for a slider; turns it over for a curve; and pushes it down for a splitter or forkball. Makes it easier for me to understand what I just saw.

He looked a bit sluggish on the hill. Not quite the pop when I first saw him. Still some good movement though. The forkball totally fell off the table and plugged itself in the dirt. A couple more pitches and the coach signaled Dallas to the mound. I took off to find my seat behind home plate. Of course, I had all the weapons with me: Jugs radar gun, notepad and pen to record each pitch thrown, and a video recorder.

Making my way over behind home plate, I was horrified to see two scouts from opposing teams sitting exactly where I was going to sit! It was too late for me to turn around when they spotted me.

"Hey Cutter. Diego gonna pitch?" one of the scouts asked, pointing to my radar gun.

Dammit. They came to watch Diego at third but now they're going to find out about Dallas. Gone are the days when top talent goes unnoticed until draft day. In the back of my mind, I sorta hoped that would be the situation with Dallas. I should've known better. If you're really good, you're not a secret for long.

"Well look who it is. Dumb and dumber. Don't you guys have some expensive talent to watch elsewhere," I replied, knowing each of their team's payroll was significantly higher than my club's. "You're in my damn seat. Move it."

"Why? You lookin' at a pitcher?" the other scout asked as he spit into a cup. It was a courtesy to give up the seat right behind home plate if someone needed to clock a pitcher and you didn't.

"No, I've got my radar gun just to see how fast your new GM fires your candy ass. Of course, I'm looking at a damn pitcher."

They both eyed each other and smirked. I could see what they were thinking. Old Cutter's lost his mind. There's no pitchers around here. They vacated their seats and started to move down third base line.

"How's Russell Reed?" one of them asked, knowing whole-heartedly that he was putting my face into a pile of crap. I immediately flipped him a bird. Jerk. He would've killed for the opportunity to take Reed but he knew damn well we hadn't signed him yet.

As the players took the field, Dallas stepped into his office and began to throw his final warm up pitches. I looked over at the two. Both had stopped talking. I think I even saw some dribble coming down one of their chins as Dallas delivered a four-seamer that topped 93 MPH. I had to admit that it was comical to watch the two overweight scouts practically knock each other down trying to get out to the parking lot. Seconds later they returned with you know what-- their freaking radar guns.


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