Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jamie Moyer etches his name into the history book with first win for Colorado Rockies

Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to ever record a win.
It was a joke to many around baseball, and a rallying cry to many cynical Colorado Rockies fans. Jamie Moyer, approaching his 50th birthday, made the starting rotation out of spring training.

Fans around the league mocked the Rockies for trying to get fans to come out to the game to watch the oldest pitcher in the game. Skeptical Rockies fans used it as an excuse to say that the owners of the club are cheap, something that many casual fans cling to.

The cry was that the Rockies, who boasted about their farm system for so many years, were so depleted that they ended up going with a guy who was last in a farm system before the Colorado Rockies had ever been thought up.

Throughout spring training, Moyer made statements that most passed off as typical athlete-to-reporter talk, half-truths that were enough to get the reporter out of his locker. He said that he didn't care about becoming the oldest Major Leaguer to win a baseball game on the mound, he said that it was about contributing. Of course no one believed him. This is a kid's game, in most people's eyes the 49-year old was probably better served retiring and spending time watching his son play baseball at University of California-Irvine.

The tears that Moyer shed in the clubhouse after the game with interviewers proved that this was about more than some silly record. Moyer said after the game, choking back tears, that this victory was as good of a feeling as his first one in the big leagues. He talked about how long the last year and a half had been, spending all of that time rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, when most around the game mocked him for even considering a return to the mound.

There are certainly still doubters. There are certainly people who still think the move is crazy, but it doesn't seem that Moyer has a problem with it. People have been doubting him his whole career. Over a decade before he was a 20-game winner the Cubs released him and asked him to be a coach. The then 28-year old stubbornly declined and opted to go out and win over 200 more wins in his career.

Those who mock the acquisition are letting their cynicism blind them. Moyer may be exactly what the Rockies have been out to find for the past 20 years. He is someone who can actually pitch.

See, Moyer doesn't rely on the strikeout. He simply can't. The lefty has never touched 90 MPH on the radar gun, and for the most part, his fastball is in the upper-70's. Most high school games feature pitchers with fastballs moving with higher velocity than what Moyer brings to the mound.

Those who don't understand the game make fun of the Rockies for having such a soft thrower. The only problem, the very fact that Moyer has never possessed the ability to throw heat is the exact reason why he is such a good pitcher.

Without having to rely on a fastball to blow by batters, Moyer has had to learn to hit spots. His just-above-battting-practice velocity means that he can't afford to miss location, even slightly. Yet, with all of that against him, he has found a way to win 268 games at the Major League level.

Many of the Rockies pitchers who have come before Moyer could learn a thing or two from him. Many of the young pitchers on the staff currently should be hanging around the southpaw like a crow hangs around a dumpster outside of a restaurant. If a guy with such little velocity can have so much success, imagine what someone with the talent of Jhoulys Chacin or Drew Pomeranz could do with some of that pitching insight.

This move was no gimmick for the Rockies. Sure, it is an admission that the farm system isn't where it needs to be, that the pitchers the Rockies have put their future into haven't turned the corner, but it isn't a gimmick move to make fans come and see the sideshow. This was a move made to help the Rockies win baseball games.

For those who are still critics, consider that Moyer, in three starts, possesses an ERA of 2.55, good enough to be among the leaders in the National League.

A win for the Rockies is good for the fans, but the win for Jamie Moyer is one that should be celebrated by everyone who has been told in life that they didn't have the talent to do something that they loved. It is a testament to hard work and dedication.

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