October 13, 2010

The flaming workhorse

Chuck Finley, 1996 Fleer

We’re all familiar with the popular saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s heat. And where’s there’s smoke ‘n heat, there’s California Angels left-handed pitcher Chuck Finley.” Never, in my opinion, has this popular phrase been so well dramaticized than in this very card, which depicts Chuck Finley pitching amidst the backdrop of a fiery, pitchforky, dragon thingee. Translation: I’m Chuck Finley, and I’m coming straight outta hell to pitch against your ballclub. And I got some smoke n’ heat with me. You want some? Didn’t think so.

I would like to know more about this Chuck Finley fellow. For example, what are his hopes and dreams? Also, is he a workhorse? Possibly we can find out:

The big southpaw (6-6)

Indeed, I’m not sure anything better represents Chuck Finley’s bigness and left-handedness than his 6-6 record from an undetermined year/time period of his baseball career. Amazingly -- because I looked it up -- Chuck Finley was (is still???) six feet, six inches tall, which many people in the field of writing things correctly would write: 6’6”. That’s almost like 6-6! What a coincidence!

(Not a coincidence: All these sixes for a guy who pitches straight outta hell.)

is one of the American League’s most underappreciated workhorses.

Leave it to the American League to take their workhorses for granted…again. I mean, what else does a person who pitches a lot have to do to get some respect? Pitch better? Yeah, okay, maybe. But then they’d cease to be a workhorse in the traditional sense, and would instead become, most likely, a “really good pitcher.” And those guys get plenty of love. Sure enough, it’s 2010, and workhorses continue to lack in the appreciation department. I don’t see anybody throwing a parade for Kevin Millwood (190.2 IP, 4-16, 5.10 ERA). (By the way, in Greek mythology, the workhorse has the body of a horse and the head of Kevin Millwood.)

Possessing a solid fastball and a very effective split-fingered heater, Finley collected a career-high 195 Ks in 1995.

Listen, the last thing I want is to be accused of underappreciating Chuck Finley’s workhorseness. It’s just that, I don’t know…I guess I kind of figured that it would take more than “a solid fastball” and an “effective split fingered” fastball to inspire the damning flames of Hades. Personally, I would have reserved that type of hyperbole for like, Randy Johnson or something. Then again, if you consider not only his pitching, but also the tempestuousness of at least one of his former “flames,” then, well, yeah. It works.

After all, like my dad always said, you can’t cook up some love, or baseball, without what?

Smoke n’ heat, yo.


Anonymous said...

he has so much hair on the front pic and such a clean cut on the back pic...

Seth said...

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that this blog is back. Funny, funny stuff.

tourist504 said...

My aunt went to school with Mr. Finley. I remember back in the day when I was a kid heavy into card collecting, she asked me in her thick Cutoff, Louisiana accent, "Do you have any Chuck Finley cards?" I was like "Um, yeah. Like a billion of them. They're super common." Then she told me how they were good friends in school. Since then I've saved all my Finleys. I'll never forget how she was totally on a first-name basis with him, calling him "Chuck" in her native cajun drawl (which is both adorable and unmistakeable). People from the Cutoff area have a very distinctive way of speaking, and I bet a million dollars Chuck still has it.