Saturday, August 16, 2014

Some pun about how to pronounce a tween girls' name goes here

Pitch Like Pedro
Today at the Little League World Series, Philadelphia's Mo'Ne Davis threw a 2-hit shutout, walking none, striking out eight, while being female. The video is nice, and not just because she's got some heat and movement, but also because she just plain looks like a pitcher.

This, of course gets all kinds of sports media attention because it's novel and interesting, but there's a bigger point to take away, and that's this: of all of the team sports in which men play, baseball provides the lowest barrier to entry. It's not all that hard to imagine a woman who can be left-handed and throw 90 miles an hour with some amount of control, and if and when that happens, she'll have a job. Immediately, and maybe even if she only throws 80, because baseball has lots of game time to fill, and a very large number of seats as well.

Now, this wouldn't be all sunshine and puppies: baseball players can be some of the biggest meatheads on the planet, and our prototypical Jacquilene Robinson would have to suffer through the internship of high school, college and minor league ball, all of which works like a sluice to wipe out many outlier candidates. We'd also have to shake off various cultural stigma and issues if and when the Distaff Hurler takes a line drive up the middle, since violence against women remains a (not nearly rigid enough) taboo.

But all things yield to money, getting outs is getting outs, and the simple fact of the matter is that if MLB is losing out of elite athletes to the NBA and NFL and soccer (and, well, they are)... this is where the line gets crossed. Not place kicker or punter (too much of a risk on a tackle), not QB (the hits are rare but brutal), not hoop (even, say, a three-point shooting specialist or power player is just under too much pressure on defense), not the other football (well, OK, maybe goalie).

And yes, I'm ignoring hockey, where goalie has already been broached in the minors, but ignoring hockey is fun.

So, Ms. Davis? Stay loose and focused on the prize. In ten years or so, you could do something that no one's been able to do for a very long time.

And that would be... make people who aren't currently paying attention to baseball, well, do that...

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