Friday, December 02, 2005

Girl Hop

I have to digress today. I saw this college kid who, for all intensive purposes, girl-hopped his pitches. You know what I'm talking about, right? Ever watch those Olympic girls playing fast-pitch softball? Well, it's that funky hop-step the pitcher takes. At first I thought my mind was just playing tricks on me. There was no freaking way that this 19 year-old college sophomore was girl-hopping his cheese off the mound. It wasn't until about four pitches later that I realized he was indeed girl-hopping. I then tried to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"Maybe he's just a submariner with an awkward technique," I thought. Or maybe he was just pitching like a girl. I swear his knuckles were scrapping the dirt as he delivered. That's underhand in my book. Then you toss in that stupid step towards the plate and you've got a perennial Olympic standout. He'll just have to adjust his package under the cup in order to bring home the gold, but what the heck-- take one for your country dammit. Given the shorter distance from the mound to the plate, he'll probably pitch a 120 MPH equivalent. That would be insane. Much better than the cadre of predictable mid-80 MPH pitches that were getting rocked over the left field fence. Needless to say, I didn't bother putting this quack on my list of 90 RHPs.

I'm usually not this critical, but understand that I don't peep a word when I'm sitting behind home plate. I hold it all in and it kills me. You just never know who's listening. It could be the kid's father or worse yet, his girlfriend. Suggesting that he make an adjustment to his package may not go over too well with his main squeeze. Afterall, she probably thinks he's got a great future in baseball and can't wait to start spending his seven figure salary. Or at least she's going to make sure she's in a position to influence the powers to be that her boy should be a top draft pick.

Don't think this doesn't happen. More times that not when I go scout a workout, I'm outnumbered by girlfriends 3 to 1. These girls are the most dedicated bunch. Filing their nails and talking insatiably on their cell phones. Every now and then they take a quick glance at their payday who happens to be working his ass off trying to impress me. But these cunning little vixens know that the scouts can make or break their life of luxury. Let's just say that on a few occasions they will go to extremes to ensure a top draft selection with a nice signing bonus attached.

Several years ago, a buddy of mine who scouted with another club gave into the temptations at hand. This one girl was constantly calling him and he just eventually caved in. She figured correctly that her man was tenth round material but that she could negotiate her man into say a third round pick... the difference between a $50,000 signing bonus and a $500,000 signing bonus. My buddy went on to exaggerate this kid's scouting report and then proceeded to overpower several cross-checkers into seeing tools that just weren't there. Just when everyone was buying into this kid as a third rounder, the girl got greedy. She sent him some compromising pictures and threatened to show them to his wife if her man didn't go in the first round. He was doomed. There was no way that kid was going in the first round. He sat in the war room and watched helplessly as the first two rounds went by. As planned, her man was picked by the club in the third round. Several hours later, my buddy's wife called him on his cell phone. She wanted a divorce.

Moral of the story...don't girl hop.


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