May 1, 2009

What's the point?

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There was a time when pitchers trusted their fielders to catch the ball without pointing wildly to a pop fly. But an ugly trend has slowly developed. And now there is a pointing pandemic.

It all began with pitchers pointing out towering fly balls directly over the catcher, an attempt to guide their battery mate when blinded by the sun. Fair enough.

Eventually, pitchers took the liberty of pointing to the sky on any fly ball hit over the infield, should all four infielders be miraculously focused on the ground. OK, so pitchers are "control" freaks in two ways.

Now, however, most fly balls hit anywhere on the diamond - even the outfield - provoke pitchers to point frantically. Unacceptable.

Did you ever see Joe Montana or Magic Johnson point out the trajectory of their passes? No. They trusted their team-mates. And pitchers need to do the same.

Additional digit-dangling occurs when pitchers point to umps to acknowledge a well-called game. Pitchers also point at their outfielders after a great catch. Pedro Martinez famously pointed at batter Jorge Posada when, uh, noting dandruff flakes in the Yankee catcher's hair.

Julian Tavarez has made an art form of pointing, by sticking his finger in the direction of anyone to whom the ball is hit. Perhaps it helps him count outs.

Hitters have also adopted finger-wagging, pointing to the Gods when crossing home plate after a home run. Sometimes the Big Fella even gets a heavenly point after a walk. This is baseball, not Our Lady of Perpetual Forgiveness.

And Manny Ramirez is known for joyfully pointing at fans and team-mates with both hands. The double point has become quite popular, too.

Did Babe Ruth start the trend in 1932 when he pointed towards the bleachers in the World series and famously "called" a home run shot? Who knows.

But I have some advice for Major League players: keep your fingers to yourselves. Waving them in the air is pointless.

1 comment:

Billy Vasquez said...

Thanks for pointing this out.