Closing in

The Sox shut out Tampa, 3-0, tonight, and are now only 1/2 game back.

The winning pitcher was John Lester, a great young lefthanded pitcher. Lefties, even mediocre ones, are a valuable commodity in baseball, partly for the simple reason that batters are less used to facing them. A great young lefty is a prize beyond value for any team.

Lefthanders in the U.S. are called “southpaws,” because years ago most ballparks were built so that batters hitting in the afternoon would be looking east—away from the sun. The result of this configuration was that the lefty’s throwing arm was to the south. (Almost all games are at night now, so it doesn’t really matter any more.) Within the universe of southpaws, there were two basic types in the kind of sportscaster-speak that has now been largely killed off by TV. “Crafty portsiders” tended to be smaller, less physically gifted, but smart and technically superior. When I was a boy, Whitey Ford was the classic crafty. “Classy lefthanders” were bigger, throw harder, and looked smoother. In my youth, Warren Spahn was the classic classy, though many would argue for Sandy Koufax.

Lester fits into the “classy” mold, and even though this is his first full season, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Boston again.


Closing in — 3 Comments

  1. ooh!

    I can throw left and right handed! And I am ‘right classsy!’ Does that mean I never need to buy a drink again Mark?

    Coming on the Challenge next year? The applictaion form is out….
    And you are all mended now too…

  2. Alan, I can guarantee you’d never have to buy a drink in Woodbury, Connecticut! How’s that?

    I can’t come on the Challenge next year because my daughter will be graduating from med school right in the middle of it. BUT…there’s a chance we can all give it a go in 2010!

  3. Reading Mr Howell’s illustrious blog this evening I see you have been good enough to sort out his pretty shocking grammar and cut out the verbosity etc.

    Pity you can’t edit the dreadful spelling on the comments I leave on your blog! (Why can’t Blogger introduce a spell-checker for the comments?)

    Looking forward to seeing you again in 2010 then.

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