Hideki Matsui hit a triple last night for the first time since April of last season and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register writes that it may have cost Torii Hunter a whole bunch of money.
According to Plunkett the two players “had a friendly wager” on whether Matsui and his arthritic knees could leg out a triple this season, and “the wager was definitely not for any amount of money like, oh, $5,000.”
In other words, it was for $5,000. Here’s what Hunter had to say afterward:
I was like, “What the …? Ah, hell no.” I’m not talking to Matsui anymore. I saw him running the bases. He was making all kinds of faces, trying to get me. I didn’t realize it was a triple until I got to the dugout then everybody let me know.
Matsui ought to go double or nothing on Hunter hitting a triple. Hunter has zero in 135 games after hitting just one in 119 games last season.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.