The best part of writing about baseball? First, you get to watch baseball. Then you get to write about it. That’s how it works. The worst part? The worst part is that you can’t watch it all. No way. There’s like — add the two, carry the one — well, I’m no sabermetrician, but there’s like a lot of baseball to watch, way too much for the average human even if that human owns some sort of picture-in-picture-in-picture technology by which to watch, say, the trinitarian terror of Trout and McCutchen and Harper wreak simultaneous havoc.
What is this a long way of saying? This is a long way of saying that until Monday night, I had not personally witnessed (nor even been impersonally aware of) Johnny Cueto’s revolutionary wiggle. Have you seen this thing? The Detroit Tigers sure have. And so have fans of the Royals, at least those lucky enough to have witnessed the dominant shutout — four hits allowed, zero walks given, many wiggles supplied — that the newly acquired Cueto provided in his Kauffmann Stadium debut.
A trip through the archives reveals that Cueto introduced his wiggle-icious windup against the Nationals on July 7, rendering Ian Desmond but a helpless bystander. Watch the scene and realize that Desmond, poor Desmond, has just witnessed the dawn of a new age. Watch it and realize that Desmond just got Cueto’d!
It’s just crazy amounts of awesome, is it not? It’s as if Luis Tiant and Gale Sayers — well, that would be a biologic impossibility — as if Luis Tiant and whoever is the Lingerie League’s most evasive tailback spawned a super-incredible love child who boasts an outstanding four-seamer/changeup combo and who suddenly belongs on So You Think You Can Dance. Cueto thinks he can dance, and does. Taking the Tiantian pause to a delightful extreme, he turns his back to the hitter and promptly stops — so dramatically that you think you hit the pause button — and then shimmies like he’s trying to evade the Lingerie League’s leading tackler. You half expect — no, fully expect! — Cueto to add the terpsichorean equivalent of a triple Salchow, even if, were a runner on base, the umps would be like, “Um… balk?”
For his part, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus thinks the windup is illegal, as if Cueto should be ticketed and forced to attend Defensive Pitching School this weekend. Indeed, after watching the righty go all Dirty Dancing on a ninth-inning whiff of Ian Kinsler, Ausmus told the Associated Press: “Really, the way the rule reads, you’re not supposed to even alter your motion. That’s the way the rule reads.”
Well, boo you, Brad Ausmus!
Remember: We watch baseball. A lot of it. And watching baseball is supposed to be fun. Seriously, does this look like someone who’s busy reading the rulebook?
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.