I had yet to take the plunge and create a Fanpost here on TC, but after reading this week's Making the Team piece on pitchers, I was inspired. The piece reminded me of what should have been the greatest moment of my Braves fandom, so I figured I'd share the short story with an audience who would appreciate it.
I take you back to July 19th, 2011. I'm watching on mlb.tv as the Braves fall behind early in Colorado, thanks to homers by Tulo and CarGo. Down 6-0 after 3, the Braves cut it to 6-2 on two Uggla bombs. Cory Gearrin then comes in and promptly gives up 4 more runs in the 6th inning to ice the game. It's the second time he's been shelled in his past 3 appearances after a pretty nice run in his first 15 games as a rookie.
So what is noteworthy about this seemingly forgettable game? Well, in the middle of Gearrin's struggles, I happened to notice something I hadn't seen before as he threw an 0-1 pitch to Troy Tulowitzki. As Gearrin came set from the stretch, right before he lifted his leg to start his delivery, he wiggled the fingers of his glove a few times. Harmless enough, and he got Tulo to fly out. So I look for it on the next pitch, against Seth Smith, and see the same little glove wiggle, perhaps even a little more noticeable this time. Ball 1. But on the following pitch, much to my surprise, he doesn't wiggle his glove (and Smith crushes it to center for a run-scoring triple). Now I'm intrigued. On the replay, I notice that the triple came off of a fastball.
Gearrin then intentionally walks Ian Stewart to get a righty-righty matchup with Chris Iannetta. I'm eagerly anticipating the next pitch sequence. First pitch to Iannetta, of course, the camera cuts away as Gearrin lifts his leg, so I can't see anything. On the 0-1 pitch, no glove wiggle, another fastball. Ball 1. On the 1-1 pitch, I see what I had been predicting: the glove wiggles this time, and it's a slider. "No way," I think to myself. Gearrin is tipping his pitches. Next pitch, glove wiggles, slider. Next pitch, no wiggle, fastball.
I watch the rest of the inning in fascination. Gearrin gets hammered. 3-run triple to Fowler, walk to Ubaldo, hits CarGo with a pitch and he gets yanked. After the inning is over, I go back and watch it from the start on mlb.tv -- I can correctly predict every pitch based on his glove. I sit there and try to figure out what I should do. Could this be why Gearrin had gotten pummeled of late, after a solid start to his MLB career? I decide, naturally, to take to the Twitta. I create an account and send Gearrin a message describing what I've noticed. I do the same to Mark Bowman, asking him to pass along the message to Braves' brass. I have visions of Gearrin sending me a grateful response, stating that he couldn't figure out what had been happening. Maybe Bowman would mention me in a tweet or in one of his articles. At the very least, hopefully it would help Gearrin out.
So did I get my 30 seconds of fame? Nope. Nada. Zilch. No response ever from Gearrin or Bowman, and Gearrin was demoted three 3 days later. The game in Coors was his last for the big squad in 2011.
Flash forward to June 11th of this past season. The Braves are playing the Yankees in interleague. Top of the 6th, down 3-0, the Braves bring in Gearrin for his first appearance of the year. I have got to be the most excited person with a surname other than Gearrin to see him come into the game. Time to watch for the glove wiggle. First pitch, no wiggle, fastball. Fastball on the next pitch, and the next one, and the next one. Come on! I'm getting impatient, but he's facing the opposing pitcher. Finally, he retires Ivan Nova on one last fastball. Up comes Jeter. First pitch, no wiggle... slider. I smile to myself. Next pitch, no wiggle, slider. He fixed it. Nevermind that Jeter lines a single to right. He fixed it.
So were hitters picking up on what I was seeing? Who knows. Is that what caused his two brutal appearances in '11? Hard to say. Did he fix it between July 2011 and June 2012? Yes. Was it because of my message? I like to think so.