For as many times as we hear that baseball is a sport of talent, skill and luck, it's time to step back and realize that a lot of pitchers in the history of the game had much more than that. We've seen a ton of great pitchers step on MLB mounds over the years, but we have to wonder, what puts the all-time greats over the top?
What makes a pitcher with average "stuff," who failed as a starter in the minor leagues only to be stuffed into the bullpen, a great reliever? Is it intimidation that makes them formidable?
Let's think about this for a second.
Recognized as one of the most intimidating pitchers of all time, what made Randy Johnson such an intimidating presence? Looking back on his days with Seattle, surely his size and lack of control had something to do with it, but if you think that the bushy mustache and rocker's mullet were something for the ladies, well, think again.
A lot of the game's greats—and even the not-so-greats—have used intimidation to boost their repertoire, and one of those intangibles that certain intimidating pitchers have is "the stare."
Sure, when you first read that last line, it doesn't sound like much.
"A stare? Are you kidding me, Greg?"
No, I'm not kidding you. Let's take a moment to think about it.
Sticking with Johnson as our example, let's set a scene:
Two outs. Top of the ninth inning. The year is 1993, and you're on the road in Seattle. Johnson is still on the mound, trying to finish one of his 10 complete games from that season.
After two quick strikes, you step out of the box for a second and step back in, taking a deep breath. You tap the plate with the bat, look up and there it is.
Down in the count by two strikes, it feels like Johnson is staring a hole right through your soul.
Your heart skips a beat as he goes to the windup, and you suddenly realize you're out of time.
It's too late to step out of the box, and before you know it, the 6'10" right-hander is blowing a 100 mph fastball right by you—strike three.
In all seriousness, those stares have been some of the most memorable parts of the game, and while I'm sure I haven't found all of them, let's take a look at 25 of the greatest pitchers' stares in the history of baseball.