CC Sabathia is many things. He is a Cy Young Award winner, the owner of a .261 lifetime batting average, and the active Major Leaguer who appears to have the best shot at winning 300 games.
But perhaps most importantly, he has replaced Wilford Brimley as the human being who most strongly resembles a Walrus:
As you can see, Brimley, in his even older old age (was Wilford Brimley even famous before he turned 60? Has there ever been anyone else who has only been famous as an old person?), has begun to look more like your cranky old neighbor with an awesome mustache and less like a large, flippered marine mammal.
No one can be sure why Brimley has started to look more human than pinnibed. Perhaps he has developed an aversion to bivalves, or perhaps it is just the affect of his body being racked by the ‘beetis.
Sabathia, on the other hand, should continue to feast on (many, many) clams moving forward, just as he does American League hitters.
And though that’s slightly less important than Walrusishness, it’s still pretty awesome.
And what’s especially awesome about the way Sabathia pitches — and perhaps this has something to do with his walrusy qualities — is that he does it in such ridiculous quantities.
Much has been made this postseason about Sabathia’s rough start in last year’s playoffs, and many have attributed that outing to fatigue after a long season of starting on short rest.
But in Sabathia’s three final regular season games — all thrown on three night’s rest and after he had already thrown more than 230 innings in the season — he struck out 21 batters in 21 2/3 innings while walking only four batters and posting a 0.83 ERA.
So I think it’s fair to wonder if CC’s bad outing was only that, a bad outing, and he’s not that affected by pitching on short rest.
Sabathia told reporters before last night’s game that his fastball might not be as sharp. And if we look at his velocity charts from 2008, we can see that there was a dip in his fastball velocity in the final start. But really only in that final start, and it wasn’t the lowest mark of his season.
Maybe that’s notable, and maybe Sabathia really couldn’t keep up throwing on three night’s rest all year long. Or maybe he just hasn’t been conditioned for it, and he actually has the capacity to remain effective for more starts and more innings than anyone in (very) recent vintage.
After all, not too long ago Nolan Ryan — a freak, no doubt, but a human nonetheless — threw at least 280 innings in five out of the six seasons from 1972-1977. In one game, in 1974, he threw a 13-inning complete game in which he struck out 19 batters and walked 10.
In other words, I wonder if certain pitchers have the capacity to pitch a lot more often, and a lot longer, than they are ever allowed in today’s game. Of course, I’ll never find out, because the Yanks would be foolish to risk an investment like the one they’ve made in Sabathia on such an experiment.
So I suppose I’ll just have to take pleasure in how much he looks like a walrus. Coo coo ca choo.