Seeing Jamie Moyer
Sometimes, the smallest things can make a big difference. After the Orioles announced that they had signed Jamie Moyer, they announced that Moyer would make his first start at Buffalo, during the weekend of June 9-10. Had Moyer made the start on Sunday, June 10, his second start would have been Saturday, June 16 and his third Thursday, June 21. During the homestand, I was scheduled to work for BAM on the 14th, 17th, and 19th; and for BIS on the 15th and 20th. So, I would not have seen Moyer pitch at all. However, as it turned out, Moyer made his debut on Saturday, June 9; his second start on Friday, June 15; and his third start on Wednesday, June 20.
Hence, I got to see the oldest man to be the winning pitcher in a big-league game pitch. (I saw him pitch in 1987 and 1988, but at that time I didn’t know he was going to become the oldest man to be the winning pitcher in a big-league game.) Plus, I got to see him from the stands, rather than the press box. Seeing games from the press box has its advantages, but getting a good, up-close look at a pitcher isn’t one of them.
When I read that Moyer threw in the low-80′s — probably 12-15 miles per hour slower than the average major-league fastball — I envisioned that Moyer would throw like many of the knuckleball pitchers I’ve seen. He’d have a slow, lazy motion, and throw easily. Or, perhaps, he’d be like Tommy John — another older pitcher who got by with slower stuff — again, a slow, compact motion. Moyer’s not like that. He’s a trim, athletic middle-aged man, who has an efficient but hardly slow delivery. Just looking at him winding up and throwing, you wouldn’t necessarily know that he’s throwing an 83 mile-an-hour fastball. It doesn’t look that much different from a 90 mile-an-hour fastball.
That may be why Moyer is as effective as he is — or can be. Batters see him wind up and throw, and it may look like he’s throwing faster than he is. His motion looks just like anyone else’s. Of course, if his command is a little bit off, then he’ll get hammered. The fifteen Buffalo batter he faced fouled off eighteen of his seventy-seven pitches, which leads me to suspect that if they had been more familiar with him, they would have hit him harder.
The Orioles are now deciding whether to promote Moyer to the Orioles and give him some major-league starts. Whether they do or not, Jamie Moyer has had an interesting and successful career, and I’m glad I got to see him pitch two last times.