Craig Calcaterra

Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo talks about death, “feel” and winning at roulette


Normally, when linking an interview of a player, I’ll say “[Reporter] sat down and talked with [Player] of [Team] and . . .” In this case, however, I can’t really do that because I imagine most of us have forgotten who Bronson Arroyo even plays for.

When last we saw him he was with the Diamondbacks. But then he was traded the Braves. Then he was traded to the Dodgers. And, either way, he hasn’t pitched since June of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. Now he’s in Arizona, nominally with the Dodgers, rehabbing and thinking about life.

And death. A LOT about death, actually, as the intro to Tom Ley of Deadspin’s wonderful interview with Arroyo makes clear. He’s 38 and is sensing mortality. But not despairing. More observing it in himself and others and wanting to be sure to capture and preserve as much of his youth that he has left. It’s rather unusual to hear an athlete talk like this. Most of the time they’re ignoring aging and proceeding as if they’ll never get old. Not because they necessarily believe that, but because they are in a profession that requires them to have the utmost confidence and adopt a mindset that accords with that. Not Arroyo. He knows we’re all dying and that no one can negotiate with entropy. He’s just trying to contend with it as best he can.

In some ways it may be easier for him. The most compelling part of the interview is when he talks about “feel.” He knows he doesn’t have the same physical gifts as most elite pitchers. He never threw  97 m.p.h. and has never had perfect or even consistent mechanics. But he has “feel,” he says. An innate idea of how to pitch. What to throw when and how to throw it that he knows when, well, he feels it. While he may never have been a physical specimen and may be broken down and near the end now, he still has feel and wants to see if he can make it work one last time. Until he’s able to pitch again, he’s testing out his “feel” at roulette too. And he says he’s winning at that too.

Everyone has some thing they do, and likely do well, where they simply don’t think. They just feel their way through it and it clicks somehow. It could be cooking or painting or auto maintenance or playing video games. That thing where someone asks you “how did you do that?” And you say “Um, I dunno. I just sort of did it.” That’s how Arroyo describes pitching. I bet most pitchers do that on some level. The work and the talent matter, obviously, but for the good ones . . . something just clicks as well. Since Arroyo doesn’t rely on his height, strength, crazy velocity or, is seems anyway, some professorial approach to pitching philosophy, it sounds like he relies on that more than most.

Anyway, a great trip inside the mind of an interesting pitcher. Well worth your time if you’re interested in what makes ballplayers tick.

Mets fans don’t want Yankees fans on their bandwagon

Mets Fans

The New York Times has a piece up today in which some Mets fans — interviewed at a sports bar following Tuesday night’s Game 3 win, so you can imagine their state of lucidity — were asked whether it’s cool for Yankees fans to temporarily adopt the Mets as their rooting interest.

One would think that it’d be nice to welcome people on to your bandwagon. The more the merrier, made all the merrier still by the fact that you know they’re just bandwagoners and that you’ve been living and dying with the Mets your whole life. But nah:

At Union Grounds in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, where the Mets’ march to victory blared from three walls of TVs, Jamie Meyer, 31, a film editor, used a drastic metaphor to make his point.

“It’s like postwar Germany,” he said. “ ‘Yes, I was a member of the Nazi Party during the war. But sure, I’ll come over to your house.’ No, you can’t. Some really horrible things have happened.”

That’s certainly a well-reasoned and perspective-laden bit of opinion there from Mr. Meyer. Indeed, it’s exactly like former Nazis wanting to come to your house in 1946. Really, no different at all.

The Reds shake up their coaching staff

Bryan Price

Ken Rosenthal reports a number of Reds coaching changes. Pitching coach Jeff Pico, bench coach Jay Bell and assistant hitting coach Lee Tinsley have all been dismissed. Jim Riggleman, the third base coach, is now the bench coach. First base coach Billy Hatcher is moving to third base.

Who’s on first? I don’t know (third base).

Finally, the new pitching coach is Mark Riggins, who has served as the Reds’ minor league pitching coordinator.

Bryan Price somehow kept his job as manager, but you don’t go into 2016 with what you had in 2015 if you had a 2015 like the Reds just had.

In other news, Vegas just took “Jim Riggleman will be the Reds’ interim manager by Memorial Day 2016” off the board.