I caught the last couple of innings of the Mets-Marlins game and was able to finally catch a glimpse of the much-talked-about Dontrelle Willis. So, what's not to like? The announcers kept comparing him to Vida Blue because a) they both have a high leg kick, and b) they both made big impressions at a young age. Plus, they both have really cool names. The kid has all it takes it be a media darling, let's just hope he doesn't get a swell head.
Willis doesn't only have a high leg kick, he has a little Fernando/Luis Tiant twist in there too, and he slings the ball sidearm. Not only that, but dude hit the corners and threw strikes. Yikes. Oh yeah, he 1-hit the Mets, and out-pitched Tom Glavine in the Marlins 1-0 win:
"I don't want to give him any credit, but he deserved it," Floyd said. He added that Willis's deceptive delivery often threw off his timing. "The second time up, I tried to open up my stance so I could see the ball a little better," Floyd said. "Nothing worked. He is all arms and legs, but he's got a good head on his shoulders."
..."It felt like we were back in high school," [Jason] Phillips said. "You know, you see the crosstown lefty who throws from every conceivable angle. I didn't know who he was before the game started. I sure do now. He may have looked like some guy from high school, but his ball was moving in and out, and he kept it down."
At 6'4, Willis is a bundle of nervous energy. He was emotive and loose. Let's hope the Marlins don't run him into the ground.
In related news, it turns out Mike Piazza may return this season after all.
BRRRR STICK 'EM, HA-HA-HA STICK 'EM
Bill Madden is reporting that the Yankees will sign Stick Michael to a six-year extension worth close to $4 million:
Michael, who has served in numerous capacities in the Yankee organization for Steinbrenner since his playing days as a shortstop with the club from 1969-74, became general manager for the second time when Steinbrenner was under suspension by baseball in the early 1990s.
It was during his second tenure that, with the Yankees at their lowest ebb, Michael engineered a series of deals that led to the franchise's resurgence. Among them were the signings of free agents Jimmy Key, Mike Stanley and Mike Gallego and the linchpin trade with the Reds of Roberto Kelly for Paul O'Neill.
The Yankees play their next 17 games against the likes of the D-Rays, Mets, and Orioles. This should give us a good idea of how the season will shape up. Will they fall back into mediocrity, or will they seize the opportunity and go on a run? Their competition has nothing to lose and will undoubtedly play the Bombers hard, the question is, how sharp will the Yankees play?
Bernie Williams took 20 swings from each side of the plate yesterday, and Nick Johnson will have an MRI bone-scan this Friday.
The Yankees now lead the Red Sox by a full game (and the Blue Jays by two) after the Boston bullpen blew a lead for Pedro Martinez last night in Chicago. Pedro pitched five innings.
DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS
The New York Yankees Report, a comprehensive blog devoted to the Yanks, has an impressive and thorough analysis of Rocket Clemens' career. Well worth perusing.