Life Without a Fastball, Part V: Screw-Job

Secret government medium Zippy DaChemlow has finally completed his first season of professional baseball. Since leaving the USS Jimmy Carter in March of 2018, Zippy took his first steps on land and walked all over the competition at both the AA and AAA level. After collecting an astonishing number of wins, strikeouts, and a kick-ass ERA, it was time for Zippy to do a little more training before experiencing his first contract negotiation.

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Zippy trains with the late Patrick Swayze to increase his throat-ripping attribute.

In real professional baseball, there is almost no money available for new players. In rough terms, rookie contracts state that the team that drafted you gets to do almost whatever they’d like to your status for 6 full years. In MLB: The Show 18, the Blue Jays organization has the right of first refusal to our lanky lad, but since they’re fair and Canadian, of course they gladly offer Zippy a 1 season extension. Choosing to attend these negotiations without an agent or a lawyer, Zippy considers the $80,000 offer on the table. All of Zippy’s expenses are being paid by his government, a la Ellen Page’s character in “Beyond: Two Souls.” Without rent, food, or beard cream financials to worry about, Zippy attempts a counter-offer that he thinks will ensure a long successful career with the Toronto franchise. Zippy slides his offer across the table, scrawled on the back of a Tim Horton’s doughnut wrapper. After a .02 second reverie by the Blue Jays general manager, Zippy is immediately signed and locked in for the 2019 season.

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Zippy’s Art of the Deal.

As Zippy is not on the MLB 40-man roster, he was not able to participate in Spring Training. While disappointed about losing the opportunity to sample orange juice for the first time in Florida, Zippy instead takes to the practice mound in Buffalo and works on that now famous Screwball.

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Zippy has always said it was “more fun without the batter anyway.”

After watching Zippy throw one perfect Screwball after another in the drill, the Buffalo pitching coach has a quick word with our hero before walking back to the clubhouse.

“Boy….and I don’t say anything I don’t mean….but boy, that’s the best gol’ darn Screwball I’ve ever seen in 45 years of baseball.”

Wiping a tear from his eye, the coach patted Zippy on the back, walked to the side of the dugout, and immediately chain smoked a few Marlboro Reds before calling it a day. Zippy is now gleaming with pride. “The best Screwball? Wow, he must’ve seen at least 3 other people throw that pitch back in his day” Zippy thinks to himself while hitting the showers. “I’m gonna do right by this man. Next game, I’ll show everyone how good a pitch this is.” As Zippy is scheduled to take the mound for the 2nd game of the Buffalo Bisons’ season, Zippy has a plan to properly thank his pitching coach for the praise. For the entire game, Zippy with throw ONLY the Screwball, and nothing else.

As he gets into his rhythm, Zippy throws his #1 pitch no matter the circumstance, count, or hitter. He ignores the catcher’s pitch signals completely, but at the same time, he is not missing his targets. At first, this plan seems to be working. All batters seem to do is drive the ball into the dirt, creating easy ground balls for the Buffalo infield. Zippy tips his cap towards his coach, who seems slightly concerned that his quirky hurler might have somehow forgotten two of his pitches. After all, he can’t physically throw it straight.
Zippy pitches to contact.

The primary issue with throwing only one pitch over and over is the predictability the batters have of where the ball is most likely going to be thrown. Sure, most every Screwball that hits the low and outside target will result in a positive disposition. However, Zippy never wanted to upset his catcher. If he called for a belt-high Forkball (the closest thing Zippy has to a Fastball) Zippy would lay an ol’ loopy “Screwer” that a talented hitter could turn into an easy base-hit. Soon enough, the inevitable happens and Zippy gives up 2 runs, including a home-run to the opponent’s best hitter. Zippy is still a good pitcher, but under this self imposed rule he’s no longer a great pitcher. In rare act of realism, the Bison’s manager pulls Zippy after 5.1 innings and 74 Screwballs.

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6 pitches were “Swing and Miss-ed” let that shit sink in

Recording a record low 2 strikeouts and only causing 6 “swing-and-misses”, Zippy’s plan didn’t quite work out the way he intended. All things being equal however, the Bisons still managed to win the game and Zippy’s ERA starts the 2019 season on a respectable note.

The next morning Zippy walks into the pitching coach’s office with a strut and kicks his feet up on the desk. The pitching coach can barely speak, he’s completely flabbergasted after yesterday’s performance. Has Zippy forgotten everything? Does he even remember the other two pitches he’s supposedly learned? As coach lights up his 1st smoke of the day, Zippy leans forward and says quite confidently,

“so for the next game….what do you think of my Palmball?”

Be sure to stay tuned to “Life Without a Fastball” as Zippy looks to make the big leagues in his 2019 season. In the mean time, follow Matt on Twitter for some hot-takes on why Alex Cobb should win the Cy Young.

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