Vlad the Insaner
by Ken Arneson
2004-01-12 15:36

Clutch hitters don’t exist? Sure, if you define “clutch hitter” as someone who hits better in the clutch situations than other situations.

I have a slightly different definition. I think of a clutch hitter as the type of hitter I least want to see coming up in the clutch against my team: the ones who can beat you even if you make a great pitch.

Now before anyone spouts statistics at me: I’m not talking about numbers. I’m talking about my emotions. We get signal.

There are guys who live on mistake pitches, like ARod and Giambi. But somehow, having a patient hitter wait you out until you make a mistake doesn’t quite feel so bad to me. Having someone beat you on a good pitch feels much worse.

What!

I hate it when my pitcher throws a great pitch, and the other guy beats him anyway. And I really hate hate hate the guys who do it over and over again. Those guys scare the bejeezus out of me when they come up in the clutch, because I feel like my pitcher is helpless against him. Getting him out seems like nothing but luck. How do you pitch to those guys?

Secret collect: there are only a handful of guys who scare me like that. Ichiro is one. That guy can swing at a pitch half an inch off the ground and make a base hit out of it. God, that’s annoying.

Garret Anderson is another. I hate it when Anderson is up with men on base. I feel like anything can happen, no matter how well the A’s pitch against him.

The NL poster child for this type of hitter has been Vladimir Guerrero. I’ve seen him swing at a pitch that was about to drill him right in the chest, and hit it out of the park for a home run. Yikes! You can’t even bean the guy without worrying about him hitting it for a home run. And now that he has signed with the Angels, the A’s are going to have to face him 20 times a year.

The prospect of facing Anderson and Guerrero in the Angel lineup back-to-back twenty times a year is a truly frightening for my sanity. Those two guys are going to drive me bananas. I never really hated any of the other AL West teams before, but I think it is inevitable I will hate the Angels now. Eau, my sanity! Perhaps I shouldn’t watch. Obvious exit: HALLWAY, WINDOW, SAUCEPAN. What to deux?
> SQUEEZE THE SPONGE AND LET THE CAT OUT.

In A.D. 2004, war is beginning. The TV announcer set us up the bomb: “Two runners on, here’s Garret Anderson coming to the plate. Vladimir Guerrero is on deck. You are on the way to destruction. You have no chance to survive make your time…YOUR HEAD A SPLODE! HA HA HA HA…”

Oh. My. Head. After their turn ends, main screen turn on. My head sounds like that. Green and yellow easter eggs crack open, spilling their mess. Stomper wipes. It’s no cleaner. A voice in my head begins to talk to me in a British accent. It says, “You must trust in the Force of Statistics! Let go of your messy emotions! Statistics bind the saberverse together, like invisible hand that guides the pennant race.”

Holy Toledo! Another secret collect! BACK OFF, BABY! The A’s can zig. Victory shall be ours, for great justice… :P

This is Ken Arneson's blog about baseball, brains, art, science, technology, philosophy, poetry, politics and whatever else Ken Arneson feels like writing about
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