Twitter Q&A: The randos

It depends. Many people believe there’s a utopian afterlife in store for us after our earthly existence, in which case, presumably, there will be infinite BLT tacos available. But some people believe those who do not lead virtuous lives are doomed to an afterlife spent in a torturous netherworld where there are likely no Taco Bells whatsoever.

I’ve never been dead, so I can’t confirm or deny the existence of an afterlife with BLT Tacos. And it is not my place to speculate. On this plane, the best method I can think of for returning the BLT Taco and the entire Sizzlin’ Bacon Menu to Taco Bell menuboards is to bombard your local congressional representative with letters and emails. Show ’em this:

That’s a good question. I suspect it’s a combination of factors, including — from most to least accessible:

1) It’s really hard. I watched Rob Johnson and Lucas May throw knuckleballs to each other while warming up in Buffalo on Tuesday. They both actually broke off a couple of pretty good ones among a plethora of wild and/or spinning ones. To succeed as a knuckleballer, you need to be able to control it well enough to get it over the plate at least half the time (ideally more), and you have an extremely narrow margin for error. If your knuckleball spins just a little bit, you just threw a straight, slow pitch to a Major League hitter, and he’s going to crush it. Patrick Flood covered this a couple weeks ago.

2) It’s stigmatized. Baseball is full of silly unwritten rules oft followed and enforced by players purporting to be acting to maintain the game’s integrity and old-school-ness. Stealing signs while you’re on second base is clearly a smart strategy that can give your team a competitive advantage, but if you are caught or suspected of doing so you will likely be drilled with a baseball. It’s silly, especially since every catcher takes measures to obscure the signs when there’s a runner on second.

And I think it’s that same nonsensical mentality that leads some players and ex-player analysts to dismiss the pitch (and those who endeavor it) as a gimmick, or worse, as something almost cowardly. Meanwhile, it takes a hell of a lot of guts to become a Major League knuckleballer, what with how hard it is to do and how much faith you need to have in the knuckleball actually behaving like a knuckleball once you release it.

3) This one’s a bit harder to grasp, but I wonder if the scarcity of knuckleballers contributes to their success. Presumably if every team had a knuckleballer, hitters would get a better sense of how to approach the pitch. But then knuckleballers have been scarce for a while, and if it were true that hitters’ exposure to more knuckleballers made all knuckleballers less effective, it seems like the number of knuckleballers in the league would be more cyclical. Plus the 1945 Senators had four knuckleballers on the same staff and they did alright. So forget this one.

I’m guessing it’s mostly that it’s really hard. Not that hard to throw one good knuckleball, but really hard to throw something like 99% good knuckleballs.

Someday soon I hope. I can’t stop thinking about the sandwich and I’m looking forward to reliving the glory that was eating that sandwich.

 

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