Something Happened To Him

The very first entry in this blog was about the spring training work of a young relief pitcher, so impressive that it inspired home plate ump Tim Tschida to come over to the pitcher’s bench and say it was the most remarkable thing he’d seen all spring. Daniel Bard had not only struck out the Tampa Bay side, but he had cleared 100 MPH four times, and, according to Tschida he had put one in each corner of the strike zone. 

“How can you resist the temptation to take him north?,” I asked Terry Francona. The Boston manager laughed. “He’s still so young. If something happened to him, it could be crushing. But you’ll see him by summer.” 
Tonight here at Yankee Stadium, something finally happened to Bard. 
Brought in to protect Boston’s lead after 31 innings without a run and 36 without an extra base hit, having logged a save, five holds and 42 strikeouts in his first 30 appearances, the rookie instead surrendered a blast to Johnny Damon, who seemingly began to swing as the ball left Bard’s hand. With all false modesty aside, I then turned to one of my oldest friends, ESPN Radio Network Senior Director/Executive Producer John Martin and said “if Damon can time him, Teixeira can time him.” Teixeira promptly timed him into the upper deck. 
And now Francona has more to worry about than being swept four games here and falling six-and-a-half out. He has to deal with Daniel Bard’s first “something” – his first big league loss – a pivotal moment in the kid’s career and his team’s season.

11 Comments

He was throwing heat tonight, whether Damon or Tex hit him or not. You had to figure, the way the game was going, that it was going to be a pitching battle at the end because, well, that’s the way it started. You’re right when you say that Francona has to deal with the consequences of this past week.
I have to say, even as a Yankees fan, it hurt to continuously see the ‘scoreless inning’ stat for Boston come up every time a new inning started. Their hitting was just struggling, even for the big guys.

If he has the mental toughness of Colby Rasmus he’ll be okay. He’s got a long career ahead of him and I hope someone to mentor him.

Is it just me, or is there a striking resemblance between Bard and Mr. Kyle Farnsworth? Similar looks, similar build, similar hanging slider and late-inning temperament.

Booyahkasha, Mr. Olbermann. Booyahkasha.

By the way, you keep on clowning Bill O’Reilly for me.

-EJ the Kid From New York
http://yankeesquad.mlblogs.com

As the old saying goes – you can’t win ‘em all. Just like every other pitcher out on the mound, Bard was going to have to learn what it feels like to lose to the big boys. And by giving up 2 HRs to the Yankees, well — that’s a tough way to learn but Bard is officially a big boy now. And he will feel that much better when he strikes them out in October.

Jen
http://faithful.mlblogs.com

I think it’s a bit early to hang a ‘Farnsworth’ tag on him but certainly experience has taught that if a power pitcher cannot locate his pitches and effective change speeds, major league hitters will catch him. You can’t just rely on throwing it by people.
What I thought was interesting watching that game was the colour analyst (and I can’t remember now who it was) said that when a fastball power pitcher like Bard gets hit by his best pitch (the Damon home run), he’ll often come back at the next batter with a breaking ball. Sure enough that’s what he threw to Teixeira. So it wasn’t so much a matter of timing him as it was being a smart hitter. But the timing point works as an overall theme to be sure.

As a wise man once said, one of the most important tools for a relief pitcher to have is a short memory….

Great blog Keith and I really enjoyed your series on Cooperstown. I have spent numerous summer weeks in Cooperstown and truly enjoy the small town atmoshpere for the Hall of Fame. I could not think of a better place for baseball to house its history and treasures. Not sure if you are a golfer but the Leatherstocking course (the course where the HOF outing is held every year) is a blast to play.

P.S. Right on target on your Commentary the other night re the health care “debate.” KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

Good blog Kieth, the kid better have a short memory. I like you but you do a better job with sports than politics.

Nice job discussing Daniel Bard, although he picked a bad time to lose his first game with the Red Sox. He’s going to be making the news for years to come. From what you’re saying he’s got some heat with his fastball, I bet the Yankees saw that and that’s why they hit him well too.

Matthew Tang
http://matt7.mlblogs.com/

My first visit to your baseball blog Keith – watch your show daily from the Brixton in south London – big fan of your show – you do a tremendous job, and play a vitally important role in American political discourse. As an American living in London – I can say the British are hopping mad about the Republicans’ NHS slurs – even if they don’t articulate it loudly.

Was watching this game last week (very late at night) and couldn’t help think that Bard must have been suffering from a tremendous sense of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of that moment, and environment of Yankee Stadium. I think it was mistake to put Bard in the game, unless the Red Sox knew the series (not even the sweep at that point) was a loss.

But he’ll bounce back, and haunt the Yankees again and again in the next few seasons. He seems steely and determined. Maybe he wishes he had signed with the Yankees back in 2003.

I’m sorry Victorino was interfered with by a fan. I’m also sorry that a Phillies fan interfered with the Cardinals’ batters on their last trip to Philadelphia. This clown used a laser pointer to distract Lugo and Pujols by shining it in their
eyes during their at-bats. They were unable to identify who
thought that was good gamesmanship. It was the only at-bat Lugo didn’t reach on that game. The city of brotherly love.

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