February 27, 2013
LaCoss, Part Two
We've all met Mike LaCoss before, right? Good. (When you search Mike LaCoss these days, that post is No. 3 on Google's Mike LaCoss radar. It appears above his Baseball Almanac page. We are mainstream here now, folks. In specific regards to Mike LaCoss, but still.)
I would like to talk about Mike LaCoss a little more because I found something that is baffling to me.
Mike was one of the handful of Giants starters who went on the disabled list in '90, and weakened the team's chances of repeating in the NL West.
"LaCoss to DL - Giants chances of repeating further weakened" is a headline I have just thought up that I think would have been appropriate for that occasion. Sometimes I like to think of headlines that would have been awesome 20 years ago based on information I have read on the back of a baseball card. This particular headline would have been perfect to include in a high school time capsule circa 1990, because that year is best remembered for the various injuries sustained by the starting pitchers of the San Fransisco Giants.
He missed over three months after arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
I can never remember if it was his left knee or his right knee. It was his left knee.
Before being injured, Mike pitched a strong four-hit 3-1 victory over the Dodgers for his second straight win.
You guys are probably waiting for the baffling part. Sorry - I'm not sure why I copied down all the other crap. My bad. Here is the baffling part:
An All-Star pitcher in '79, his out pitch is -- you guessed it -- a split-fingered fastball.
I'm sorry, I just, WHY WOULD I HAVE GUESSED THAT?
Seriously, why would I have guessed that? No disrespect to Mike LaCoss, but was the average person so acutely aware of his split-fingered fastball? I feel like maybe not everybody knew about Mike LaCoss' out pitch.
Could it be that Mike LaCoss is tossing a split-fingered fastball on the front of the card, and the back of the card assumes that the 10-year-old kid viewing the card has excellent still-shot pitch recognition? Did some part of this text get accidentally deleted? I am at a complete loss here.
Ironically, I feel as though we here at The BBC Blog, in some small way, might have brought just a modicum of fame to Mike LaCoss' split-fingered fastball (by calling it a forkball, btw). But this card predates that post by two decades. Is it possible I am in some sort of time warp where blogs exist but Mike LaCoss is still playing? That seems more feasible to me than the idea that the effectiveness of Mike LaCoss' split-fingered fastball is common knowledge.
I don't know, maybe I am underestimating America's familiarity with Mike LaCoss' pitch repertoire. He did, after all, give Topps that famous split-fingered pose in '89 ... maybe he was just giving an insatiable nation what it so desperately wanted. If so, therein lies yet another irony -- that I once so callously attempted to sarcastically highlight his split-fingered fastball when that pitch needed no highlighting and was, in fact, already more famous than I could ever hope to be. Is the joke on me? I fear it very well might be.
Maybe I would have guessed it. Maybe I should have guessed it. This is bothering me very much, you guys. I have a full-time job, btw.