Kennedy's average fastball is probably 89 miles an hour, and what was exceptional in high school when he teamed with Young on a United States junior national team is nothing special now.
But Kennedy, who studies the control artist Greg Maddux closely, has extra life on the pitch to make it seem harder.
"You're going to see 87s and 88s on the radar gun, but the way the hitters react, it's not like 87 or 88," [Kennedy's AA catcher, P.J.] Pilittere said. "He's got a nice, easy delivery with that late, hard finish on the ball where he really drives through it. Phil Hughes is the same way. He'll be throwing 91, and you'll catch it and say, 'Man, is he throwing 98 today?' That's something you can't really teach."
This brought to mind an article that Jack Curry did on Greg Maddux back in 2003:
"Why am I so good?" Maddux said, repeating a question. "I think it's probably because I understand myself as a pitcher, somewhat. I have an idea of what I can and can't do on the mound. That's probably the only reason I've lasted for the last five or six years."
...While Maddux's fastball rarely exceeds 89 miles per hour, it is a pitch he hones extensively and a pitch that enables him to be so masterly. Maddux's fastball has tremendous movement and he can usually hit a one-inch box from 60 feet 6 inches. Since he controls it like a yo-yo, it enhances the rest of his repertory. Maddux counsels teammates to spend more time controlling their fastballs and less on curveballs or sliders.
"It's unbelievable the amount of time he puts on perfecting the command of his fastball," Mazzone said. "It's his No. 1 priority. In his mind, if you can command your fastball and change speeds, there isn't a heck of a lot more you have to do."
..."I think what separates him is he's so much better at recognizing what the last pitch dictated and gathering information from that than most guys are," Glavine said. "Most guys say: `I threw a fastball in. Now I'm going to throw this.' Why? They don't know. It might not have anything at all to do with the last pitch. I think that's what he's good at. Seeing the hitter's reaction and using that information on the next pitch."
Horse of a Different Color
Curry, writing in the Times, and Gordon Edes, writing in the Boston Globe, both have stories on Terry Francona and his relationship with Joe Torre and the Yankees today. Edes notes:
For fans inflamed by provincial loyalties, it may be hard to fathom the personal bonds forged in an environment seemingly more suited for enmity than affection. But this winter, the general managers, Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman, made public appearances together, Cashman at Epstein's charity event in Boston, Epstein at a speaking engagement at a New Jersey university, one that Cashman jokingly likened to an Obama-Clinton debate. The friendship is genuine.
"We've known each other and been friendly for a long time," Epstein said yesterday.
The rivalry is real, but it's mostly for (and about) the fans. Which is not to say that players on each side don't want to beat each other, but, with perhaps a few exceptions here and there, I don't believe the players dislike each other in the same way they did in the Fisk-Munson days.