This is one of those older throwaway stories that came up on the 1st episode of Starting 9 with Jake and it instantly brings me back to why I love this game so much. I'm out in Omaha with Mintzy and Brandon Fucking Walker doing the College World Series stuff when I run into Al Leiter at a Starbucks. His son Jack had just pitched a gem the night before and racked up a massive pitch count in the process. It was the talk of the town. Can you believe they let Jack go that deep? How could Tim Corbin do that? WHAT A MONSTER
He was getting an iced coffee in front of me and I was powerless. I had to say something.
Hey Al - I work for Barstool Sports and was just curious if you were having a heart attack last night watching Jack throw that much
Legitimately 20 seconds later we were seated across from each other at a table. Al was passionately talking about Jack's mechanics and how it's more about Stressful Pitches than it is about Total Pitches. Sure he threw 120+ but not even 15 came under heavy stress. I never really considered stressful pitches as more burdensome but then again I didn't do 19 years in the big leagues. Al Leiter did and he certainly knows his shit.
But does he?
We talked for 45 minutes straight. Good hard baseball talk. Along the way he inquired about my own career which I obviously had no problem talking about. Anyone who knows me knows that I'll rattle off Big Ten college baseball stories and insights from the late 2000's like the people listening actually give a fuck. I'm all in. You don't have to do much to get me going.
So there we are in a downtown Omaha Starbucks, working on my mechanics. I showed him my bread and butter gif and he instantly went to work on me.
You got a weak back side. Too much early collapse. Long and slow arm swing and an unstable core at the point of separation. Nothing we can't clean up obviously but it's going to take some work. How old are you again?
Yeah you got plenty of time to fix the delivery
Al to be completely honest, I think my playing days are behind me. I'm old and broken.
I threw over 200 innings, won 16 games and made the NL All Star team at that age. It's never too late.
This went back and forth longer than I think you'd believe me. It was one of the more surreal baseball moments in my life and it wasn't even that significant relatively speaking. It was just me and a guy who made 382 career starts chopping up the dynamics of college baseball and MLB. And truthfully I don't even think I registered with him as a Barstool guy. To Al Leiter I was just a dude that wanted to talk baseball at a coffee shop and he ends up giving me nearly a full-bodied morning hour.
To me that's the power of this stupid game. It has such a profound power to bring people together and tell stories and share experiences. That's what Jake and I trying to get at in the Starting9 reboot.
There's plenty of good young players but the real juice is in the connectivity of the game. Retired players that walk this planet as living legends. Actors and musicians that go to baseball as an escape from reality. Cultural icons that have carved out a name in society as Baseball Guys. Basically the kind of conversations that can breath some fucking life into the experience. That's the plan and I can't help but think about sitting in a Starbucks with Al Leiter doing dry reps on my windup. That's the exact kind of attitude we want to embrace and I hope that makes sense.
If it doesn't then maybe just tell me if you have an In on the following people:
- Kevin Costner
- Paul Rudd
- Jerry Seinfeld
- Wade Boggs
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Jim Leyland
- Rickey Henderson
- Kid Rock
- George W. Bush
There's a bunch of other names but you get the point for now. I'm all ears for suggestions just promise me you're subscribed to the YouTube page.