Five Horrible Baseball Cliches That Need To Die

Eugene KimCorrespondent IApril 5, 2008

5. "He throws a rising fastball"—I hear this all the time from announcers who claim that so-and-so pitcher is so hard to hit because his fastball "rises." It may look like it's rising due to a combination of a pitcher's height and delivery, but it's physically impossible. Sorry.


4. "He can adjust the bat in the middle of his swing"—The latest offender is Lou Piniella, who made the claim about his new Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome. Trouble is, it's not possible. There's a limited amount of time where you can hold your swing up, but once it's started, it's not changing.

Humans can't perceive an unexpected break in a pitched ball in the last 5-10 feet of the ball's trajectory, and then react in the last fractions of a second when the pitch is already to you. You could close your eyes once you began your swing and the results would be exactly the same as if you'd kept them open. That's why pitchers who are gifted with balls that break late are so consistently effective.


3. "He'll perform especially well during his contract year"—We almost accept it as an axiom that a player performs exceptionally well in the last year of his current contract because he's extra-motivated to parlay that into a gargantuan new contract, but I'm not convinced that that's the case. Here's why:

—First, we only remember the guys who perform well and then sign a huge contract and come back to earth. There are a lot of contract-year guys everyone ignores because they don't follow this pattern, so there's an element of confirmation bias (finding what you're looking for).

—Second, the end of a player's first contract usually ends up being around a player's peak seasons anyway.

–And finally, teams overpay for peak seasons, making it even more notable that they paid so much money for a guy who ends up regressing to the mean.

But even if there is a slight effect, why do players need extra motivation at all? You're already a millionaire and you play a game you love in front of thousands of screaming fans every day for pride and your team's success.


2. The Gyroball—If Daisuke Matsuzaka could actually throw it, he wouldn't have logged a 4.40 ERA last season.


1. The adjectives constantly used to describe Jamie Moyer—Have you EVER read a story mentioning Jamie Moyers that didn't precede his name with "the crafty, soft-tossing veteran lefty..."? We know he doesn't throw hard already, no need to mention it every time you write about him. In fact, here's the template for Jamie Moyer stories in the media:

"The (opponent) was baffled by the assortment of pitches by (veteran/soft-tossing/crafty) lefty Jamie Moyer, who has been in the league for (# of years in league) years—almost as long as some of his teammates have been alive.

Can we please just call him Jamie Moyer?